How to Create a Seashell Collection Display

Collecting take-home seashell souvenirs represents the essence of your beach vacation experience. Seashell collectors roam the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva, on the lookout for that perfect and intact specimen.

Sanibel and Captiva seashell collecting is a popular activity for numerous reasons- anyone can do it and you never know what you’ll find!

While seashell collecting is fun, seashell organizing can be even more so! We love hearing stories about how one of the finest shells they ever found from Sanibel is sitting on their window still or bathroom as a reminder of their lovely vacation escape.

Let’s look at the art of organizing seashells to make a magical display back home.

seashell collection display
Attribution: fdecomite on Flickr

Live Shell Reminder

It is important to more that it is legal to take seashells from the beaches of Florida back home with you. But there is an exception, and it is a big one. It is illegal to take any living shells back home. We don’t necessarily mean the shell itself. If there is a critter living in the shell, the shell is considered alive! You can take home urchins, sand dollars, and starfish if you are lucky enough to find one, but they must absolutely be 100% dried up and no longer alive.

Only Take the Best Shells

If you want to make your at-home seashell display really shine, we strongly suggest only taking the best shells. You can begin by collecting anything that catches your eye. When it comes to bringing it home, sift out the ones that don’t “make the cut” and keep the shells that are bright, fully intact, large, and/or have dazzling designs and patterns.

Consider a Beach Souvenir Shop

There are a number of really fun souvenir and shell shops. Our personal favorite is She Sells Sea Shells, but there’s also island Gifts, Suncatchers, and Tuttle’s.

If you want to keep it 100% “natural” and only take home shells from the beach, we totally understand! But if you do decide to hit the shops, make it count! Get the boldest and biggest shells you can to make your collection extra special.

Organize Seashells by Color

Take your collection and spread it by color. This may include flat whites, dark blacks, and light browns. You can also separate them by shell type. Cohesion can go a long way towards making your collection look amazing.

Choose a Shell Design

There may be an exception to only collecting the best seashells. If you have a specific theme or design layout you want, it may be best to take what fits the design.

For example, you might want to build a bowl of shells, but you may want to layer the majority of the bowl with smaller shell pieces. Small broken shell pieces can still fit your theme and design approach.

Make a plan and perhaps find pieces that fit it. You can fill a bowl with broken shells and rest a starfish at the top!

Seashell centerpiece in Sanibel

Choose a Seashell for a Centerpiece

Some of the best seashell collections revolve around a centerpiece- in other words, the main attraction. If you have one shell that stands far and above all the rest, make it a special piece. Build your display around it!

Keep it all in One Place

Collections that aren’t contained in some way are a little messy and a little all over the place. Find yourself a container or dedicate a certain area to the collection, like a single shelf. Make a cohesive and striking display that captures your imagination.

Finally, we suggest you have a mission! We wouldn’t want to see shells taken from our islands and left to dust on a shelf only to be thrown away after a few weeks. We want our seashells to come to life back at your home. Have a mission when collecting. Seek out the best and make a game out of it. It will be a lot more fun if you turn your collection into a gorgeous display worthy of your dream Sanibel home.