I guess generally w/ altars I have two or three main things I’ve learned?
1) don’t try to buy everything at once because my strongest shrines/altars have been assembled over time. So I had some starter stuff like candle holders and my main pieces came to me over time, especially my Ganesha/Lakshmi/Hindu space, I have many disparate parts in that one, all lovingly gathered over time and with great thought and purpose. You generally can’t forsee everything cool in the world. I waited 2 years for a perfect Ganesh statue even tho my space was always intended to have one, I substitued with small, cheap less ideal icons in the meantime with the future promise that one day I would get him a proper representation and now I have IMO the perfect one. My kuan yin statue took me 6-7 months of active looking because I would rather wait than settle on something that felt energetically wrong for my space. It took me roughly 5 years to find my prayer beads, and probably 6 years of being semi-actively shinto to commit to a kamidana I knew I could maintain because the time finally felt right.
2) gut an altar if it’s not working, even if it was working yesterday and it feels wrong today–my altars change based on what I feel I need in my life at the time, so you can see a shift from a darker shadow work side to a lighter healing side to a more practical working side multiple times in my photographs. In a few photos you can see I arrange an altar 3 times in the same night before it feels flowly and okay.
3) The rule of symmetry is generally a super good thing to think about. Balance is inherently tied to symmetry. I often buy two of a bunch of basics because I know if all else fails I can stick to symmetry and have a decent space even with limited objects. Symmetry doesn’t have to be the same thing, it can be matching a tall thing with a tall thing or a short thing with a short thing, it just has to be balanced to the eye. Humans are simple we like looking at things that are pleasingly arranged, symmetrical, and/or balanced in color, texture and size
4) and 4 don’t break the bank on stuff you can’t afford/promised ur deities but can’t afford, start with small michael’s candle holders if you have to and slowly save or build your way up to what you eventually want.
5) Just because you CAN put everything you own including stuffed animals on an altar does not mean you SHOULD. Cycle. Remove. Cycle back in. Repeat