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The Clutter Categories: THE COLLECTOR

Your clutter says a lot about what’s going on in your life, both externally and internally. While everyone’s situation is unique, I’ve found that most people with too much stuff fall into general categories: The Collector, The Inheritor, The Parent, The Shopper, The Scout, The Historian, or The Hostess.


Everyone collects something. My collections have evolved over the years. When I was a kid, I collected rocks with fossils in them. Next it was frogs – because my last name was Grogg. Now it is dragons and teapots.

The trouble starts when we begin collecting random stuff like letter openers, tweezers, cool Christmas tins, or checks from every bank we’ve ever used. According to Love to Know, the primary reason people say they collect things is just because it appeals to them – they like it!

We collect things because of the sentimental attachment we have to that item. For example, old family photo albums or jars of buttons from Auntie Erma. Sentimental things usually come to us without cost – but if we aren’t careful we pay in terms of storage space. My rule of thumb is to work sentimental collections into displays that allows you to share the memories with others.

Sometimes collections help us cling to our childhood – which is a different kind of sentimentality than Grandpa’s vintage tools or Auntie Em’s button collection. This type of collection helps us connect to a time in our own lives.

Collecting items is a way to broaden our knowledge in areas of particular interest. These types of collectors are usually interested in knowing the story behind the item, the person who owned it, what it was used for, and how similar items evolved from it. Think about those people you know who started with one camera, then branched out and began collecting cameras of all shapes, sizes, ages, and functions.

If you fell in love with Egyptian studies in a history class at some point, your collection might consist of books, art, coins, or pottery – even if it’s a replica and not the original – that remind you of that time in history.

Of course, sometimes we collect stuff just for fun – music, wine, coffee cups, artwork – and we enjoy our collection because of its uniqueness.

Money talks and we listen – some collections are born from the idea that someday something will be valuable. And sometimes it works. Unfortunately, many collectibles go up and down in value and we find ourselves with a collection of Beannie Babies whose greatest value is to gift them to a child through a favorite charity!

Flea markets, swap meets, antique malls – sometimes our collection is rooted in the community it creates for us.

Some people collect things for the prestige and recognition it brings them, whether in small circles of friends and family or in the more prestigious arenas of museums and art collectors.

Last and certainly not least, we collect things for the thrill of the hunt. My family used to joke about my husband’s hunter/gatherer search for old sewing machines to rebuild and sell.

My advice to collectors? Enjoy yourself! If your collection is manageable enough to display and share with others, you’re just fine. If your collection is bordering on hoarding or creating conflict at home, it might be time to reassess.

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