I believe that collectors don’t have to keep a home filled with clutter and that it’s possible to create a clutter free home while saving your most cherished collections.
It seems like the start of the new year inspires lots of us to work towards creating a clutter free home. This can be a bit tricky for those of us (me included) that are collectors. But collectors don’t have to have a home filled with clutter.
Today I’m sharing my approach to creating a clutter free home while saving your most cherished collections AND how I used these steps to say goodbye to one of my most valuable (but no longer cherished) collections.
Cluttered Home vs. Collected Home
I’m a collector. I love to hunt for vintage treasures to add to my collections and home furnishings. And since retiring, it’s even more enjoyable. Now I can visit estate sales on opening day, travel to my favorite antique markets any day of the week and hit garage sales Friday mornings.
But I DON’T love a cluttered home.
A cluttered home has items in every corner, across every surface and strewn across the floor. Cluttered homes have overcrowded closets and drawers and things hidden away for years. A cluttered home has lots of items within its walls that don’t have a place to call their own. These items aren’t cherished.
I DO, however, enjoy a collected home.
A collected home has furnishings that have been collected over time. It contains collections of vintage treasures on display for personal enjoyment. It can be sparsely decorated or take on a maximalist style. A collected home is filled with items that are loved and used. Simply stated, the items are cherished.
I truly believe that being a collector and creating a clutter free home aren’t mutually exclusive.
However, to accomplish both, you may have to let go of some of your collections (the ones not currently cherished). This is especially true if you have been collecting for a while AND if you are continuing to add to your collections.
Saying Goodbye to a Valuable Collection
I’d like to open with an example of letting go of one of my most valuable collections.
Last year I decided to quit collecting Fire King Jadeite and other Jadeite pieces. I also decided to let go of my current collection.
Let me explain.
My love for Jadeite had not changed, but I realized that the collection was no longer cherished. I no longer displayed or used the collection.
You may be asking, what changed? The short answer is…the style of my kitchen.
Shortly after retirement, we remodeled our kitchen. As part of the kitchen remodel, we added beautiful handmade tiles by Devol Kitchens imported from England. And they were in several gorgeous shades of green.
The pain point was I didn’t love how the Jadeite paired with the new backsplash. But I knew that the pieces were valuable, so I kept the collection in storage.
About a year or so after the remodel, I realized that my jadeite collection was just adding clutter to my home. I still loved the pieces but had no intention of displaying or using the collection as long as we stayed in our current home. The pieces were just hiding in storage collecting dust.
So, I decided to let go of a collection that was no longer serving our home. Knowing the value of the items, I decided that I would sell the collection.
And I feel great about my decision to let go. Less clutter, a fair price for the collection and a beautiful new kitchen. Win-Win-Win!
Creating a Clutter Free Home in 7 Steps
If you’re a collector and would like to take your home from cluttered to collected, then try my approach to keeping a clutter free home. In Part 1 (this post), I am sharing the first 2 steps of the process-the Planning Stage. I will share the final 5 steps of the process-The Action Stage in Part 2 (coming next week).
Step 1. Start by creating a collection inventory.
To get started, create a collection inventory. The great part of step 1 is you don’t have to make any decisions about which collections to keep or let go. You just need to create a record of what you currently own.
The collection inventory is a record of what collections you own and where they are currently located?
You will also identify: 1. if you use the collection including how often AND 2. if you don’t use the items in the collection, are they displayed for visual enjoyment or tucked away somewhere in your home?
The Collections Inventory List
I’ve created the Collections Inventory worksheet to help you go from a cluttered home to a collected home. Print it out (as many copies as you need) and get started today. After you complete the list, you can move on to Step 2.
In the first column (description/location) include a description of the collection including the approximate size of the collection AND where it is currently located.
In the second column (notes/keep/donate/sell) make any additional notes that you would like to add at this time. You don’t need to make a keep/donate/sell decision at this point. You will return to your inventory and begin making decisions during the Action Phase (details available in Part 2).
To start your inventory, begin with your primary collections. The collections that you can see when you walk around your home. Go from room to room and take notes on your collections inventory list.
Now that your list is started, move to your secondary collections. The collections that are easily accessible. The ones in drawers and closets that you access on a regular basis. These areas might contain collections that you use and/or display irregularly. Be sure to make notes, as needed, related to how often you use or display these items.
Next move to your seasonal collections. This might be a special set of dishes that you use for guests or holiday decorations that you use once a year. Be sure to include in your notes when you last used these items or pulled them out of storage for display.
Now it’s time to finalize your inventory by exploring the remaining collections in your home…the hidden collections. The collections typically packed away or covered in dust.
Take a peek in the closets or room(s) that you rarely enter or use to stash things? What’s hidden under the bed, in the back of a cabinet or in the garage? Did you check the attic and/or basement? Do you have any outbuildings? Storage buildings or barns?
Don’t leave any of your collections off your inventory. Explore every nook and cranny in your home and write it ALL down.
Step 2. Evaluate your values & goals related to creating a clutter free home.
Congrats on completing your collections inventory! You’re ready for Step 2. This step can be completed in a cozy chair with a pen and paper plus your beverage of choice.
Now that you have a list documenting ALL of your collections, take a few moments to evaluate your goals related to creating a clutter-free environment.
Each of us has different reasons related to choosing to make changes in our home. So, reflect on your values and your goals for a clutter free home before moving to Step 3.
To get your thoughts rolling, I’ll share some of my thoughts on keeping a collected home and why I strive to keep clutter at bay.
Collections and My Personal Values & Goals
Personally, I value peace. And I am more relaxed and at peace in a clutter-free home. Not only do I enjoy a home that appears clutter-free, but I like knowing that clutter is not lurking inside my closets, cabinets and drawers.
I also enjoy my collections most when I have a specific purpose for each collection.
My goal is to create less clutter by letting go of items that don’t meet one of the following three criteria.
- Useful collections, like items for the garden (watering cans & egg baskets) or to create flower bouquets (vases, pitchers & floral frogs)
- Items displayed year-round for aesthetic purposes, like my blue and white ginger jars and copper pots; and,
- Seasonal items displayed or used annually, like my vintage Santa mugs and Christmas ornaments.
Write Down Your Goals for a Clutter Free Home
I’ve shared my values and goals with you related to my collections and creating a clutter free home. Now it’s your turn. Be sure to write them down, it will help you made decisions as you move forward through the decluttering process.
Part 2-The Action Stage
Congrats on finishing the planning stage! You’re ready for Step 3, the first step in the action stage. You can find the final steps in Part 2 of this post. Coming next week!