Collecting Collections

Collecting Collections

September 15, 2021

THREE  different ways how ‘stuff’ gets out-of-hand.

When does an item become a collection?

Two is a pair. Three is a group. Four is ….?

Have you figured out the collection-areas in your house? We’re not talking about garbage and laundry; this is about the tangible items that just don’t have a place. Have you ever wondered how you ever collected so much stuff?

I always ask people about their collections.

What FUN!


Today we look at three ways that collections can spin OUT OF CONTROL!

  1. Friends of ours got married years ago. Somewhere-somehow, they ended up with a plush sheep.

The couple placed it on their coffee table for no particular reason. Whenever someone picked it up, the sheep went BAAAaaaaa. So cute!

The sheep turned into a conversation piece. Whenever guests came over they’d all participate. Eventually, everyone that visited brought them more sheep. Any facsimile of a sheep: Birthday cards, pictures of sheep, plush sheep, glass sheep, wood carvings…you name it!

~When we came to visit a few years later, they were living in a ‘sheep house’.

(This is what happens with people who love cats too, as there is SO MUCH paraphilia out there!)

  1. A client of mine had a similar issue. We came in to rearrange and switch their living room-dining room areas; the lady collected porcelain Royal Daulton dolls.

    Royal Daulton porcelain figurine approx. 9″ tall

I asked her about these dolls. Her husband bought one for her early on and she loved it. Then, he bought her one every birthday and Xmas for the next 15 years; resulting in a lot of dolls!

Maybe, he never knew what to buy her and this seemed to please her somehow.

They ended up buying a huge curio cabinet to display the figurines, taking up a lot of real estate in the house.
Since she couldn’t take them out and play, I asked her again if she really liked the dolls. She said yes. But, it wasn’t a real enthusiastic YES! The collection had taken over other things in her life:  floor space, dusting, AND all the money spent for these porcelain dolls!

The key QUESTION: Did she really want the focal-point in her living room to BE these expensive dolls?

The next question: Can we remove the curio cabinet from the room?

We ended up splitting the collection: her 3 favorites on the fireplace mantel, another 7-8 dolls could fit into a smaller cabinet, and the rest (?) – they went into a box for a ‘rest’ and perhaps sell later.

  1. I met my brother-in-law years ago, he collected lions. His last name translates to ‘lion’, so that seemed to be the connection. He collected high-end lions of all shapes and sizes; carvings and pictures filled his bachelor home. When he got married him, the two of them learned to blend their things together. The lions were given their own space to shine without overpowering their home. Respect and balance is important, both ways.


*Reports and articles in the design industry these day are claiming that ‘collecting’ and ‘hoarding’ is become more common.

*Reference: The Walrus Magazine September/October issue 2021 ‘The Maximalist Home’ by Mireille Silcoff.

Considering the advertising industries tactics these days:

  • Be sure to collect the whole set!
  • Since you bought this –you might like this!
  • Be the first on your block!
  • Upgrade to…
  • Bigger and better…

…and so on.

People FEEL more in control when making decisions, growing their collections and boasting their possessions to a larger audience.


Be smart about your purchases.

How many pairs of shoes do you wear from your collection?

Watches, earrings and smaller items are easier to store. Animals need care (dusting or feeding) and much larger items like musical instruments, antique furniture and cars need space!

BEFORE you make decisions, BEFORE you announce anything that can spin out of control, set some boundaries.

These ‘collections’ can GO either way:

NAY: If your ‘stuff’ is making your stressed out or becoming unmanageable or a safety hazard to self or others, it’s time to evaluate the mountain of options available and money required to liquidate and remove.

Set some boundaries and tell all of your friends: you’ll need support.

YAY: If the things you like to collect bring you joy everyday, then go for it! It’s up to you to arrange your space to work for you.

You don’t have to please others, just yourself.

Your life is your journey. Play safe and enjoy whatever is ahead.


Moving forward, Kathryn