Thursday, April 24, 2014

Collecting My Thoughts

 The problem with being a collector is that eventually it all must be dealt with, either when you downsize into a smaller home or apartment, or later on when your family must absorb it or sell it.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about collections and what to do with them when the time comes to move into a smaller home.

I have helped my mother-in-law downsize four times already so you would think I would be an expert at it.
When she sold her large family home which was packed with collections and furniture, I helped her downsize to a two bedroom condo.  Several years later, she entered a retirement home and downsized again--this time to a studio apartment the size of my living room.

 Then last year, she fell and broke her leg and I had to take out rugs, chairs and clutter to make her room safe and easy to maneuver a walker.
Bless her heart, she still has some of her Belleek and Hummels that she collected over the years.
They are part of her and they make her happy!

I inherited some of her Belleek and have enjoyed using it.  It has sentimental value and I don't think I can ever sell it or donate it.
Which brings me to my point.

Downsizing in the near future and what to do with all my stuff, plus my mother-in-law's stuff, plus my grandma's stuff, plus my grown children's stuff.
You get the idea...

My name is Delores and I'm a collector.
Is there a 12 step program for that?

Step one: Do not buy more stuff!
Do not add anymore to your collections.
Ok, I can do that because I'm truly ready to downsize.

I look forward to narrowing down my collections to what is really important to me, to keep something either for its sentimental value or because I simply love it.

Books are the one thing I refuse to get rid of though!  
I envision our next house with built-in bookshelves just waiting for my book collection!

As we prepare for the inevitable job of a future downsize, I am being mindful of the stuff in my life and look forward to decluttering, organizing and simplifying our home.
And so the process begins!

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Miss Jane said...

Love all that Belleek!My Aunt had it all over her home and then many years later my Dad brought me a couple of pieces from his trip to Ireland.
I downsized a couple of years ago. moving from a four bedroom house and two car garage to a two bedroom condo and one car garage. And I continue to 'downsize' as I find there are things that haven't been touched since they got moved.
Keep what you love. what is meaningful and what is just plain useful.
When I move again I'll probably let go of a lot of my inexpensive tablescaping pieces.
Good luck!!

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

You have some fabulous storage. I definitely need to get rid of tons of dishes that are stacked way too high. Collecting is dangerous. lol

Marlis said...

You are good. Oh gosh. We downsized to half the house we used to have. Ouch. That hurt. We moved in, I had empty cupboards, not any more. Too many dishes now. I really need to get rid of some. But I keep hearing what if in the back of my mind. But like you, I've shared some of my treasures.. good luck.. keep the beleek and the luneville (yes I spotted those in the cabinet!)

Debra@CommonGround said...

Delores, when you find that group let me know, I'll attend meetings with you!!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

I have moved so many times over that last several years that I don't have a lot of collections anymore. Though, it is very hard for me to walk out of an antique mall without something!

Thanks for popping by my blog and saying such nice things about the photo shoot at my house!

Kathysue said...

Hi D! Oh my I feel your pain. You have so many beautiful collectables. I am sure it is hard to know what to do. I really don't collect too many things but I have my fair share of STUFF!! I do have a couple of boxes of little pretties that I don't use anymore, but do not want to get rid of either. They are up on shelves in the garage for a later time, I guess??? Good luck with the purging process, I know this is a hard one for you and for most of us as well.
xo Kathysue

Curtains in My Tree said...

I have been down sizing for over a year or planning anyway.
I have had 2 yard sales and opened an etsy shop
It's hard because what you paid for something 20 years ago is worth nothing in today market, like good brand name dishes, I have a set of crystal I know I paid over $3000 for it buying it piece by piece and today nobody wants it,maybe I could get $50 for all of it
Oh Well I have donated lots of items and have gave lots to friends Your collected items are all pretty.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the bay area too. I'll take some of that off your shelves when you're ready to let it go!
Sarah K

nancy2 said...

May I recommend reading The Stuff Cure by Dr. Betty Sproule. An easy read with many good tips.

Judy said...

i hear you loud and clear. when we moved my mom to assisted living 4 years ago, it took my sister and i 7 weekends to clear out her home and then had an estate sale. the family split up what we wanted and sold the rest. there were a lot of family heirlooms and antiques which had been passed down through the years and many things too large for our smaller homes...some things out of my grandparents' plantation were at my mom's and they were so hard to let go of. she had lived in her house 40 years. i just kept telling myself they were "things" but it's hard to say goodbye to some things...when the time comes for you to downsize, i'm sure the right person will come along to take your precious things off your hands and treasure them as you have.

gme said...

I feel your pain. I have moved twice in the last 9 years, each time to a smaller home. The first move I got rid of an enormous amount of junk. The second move I really edited my collections and kept what I absolutely loved or what had sentimetal value (I inherited quite a bit of my mother's and grandmother's things and, of course, gifts from my children). My daughter came and picked out the things she wanted, I boxed up what I thought my still-single son might want someday, and the rest was sold at a city wide yard sale or donated. Since the second move was into an even smaller house, I really have to consider bringing in anything new. Something has to go out before anything new comes in and that rarely happens because I really am satisfied living with the things I just really love instead of "housing" stuff that just needs to be dusted. You have so many wonderful collections and neat stuff, it will really be a process of what to keep and what not to but whatever you keep and use will look spectacular in a new place.

Texas Heart said...

I downsized from a 4 bdrm/3 1/2 bath to a 3 bdrm patio home in 2012. Made LOTS of donations & sold on Craig's List. I decided if it wasn't essential or was just stored, then it had to go. As you get older it is freeing to let go of stuff. When you collect (as I had transferware) you see that stuff begins to own you. Weed out what you don't want or use. Visualize what you want your next chapter to be like & make it happen.

Pinky at Designs by Pinky said...

Well, as my hubby likes to say , "we flunked downsizing" when we moved here. BUT, we did get rid of alot of things. Our HOUSE is about the same size ans I still have all my collections but lately have been feeling like I need to weed it out some. So, I feel your pain. It is so hard to decide WHAT to let go. We have some of the same Hummels, I love your Beleek. We actually built a dish ROOM here in the basement!!! And I just realized I haven't shared it yet:) Good luck with the process, it isn't easy.

Antique Style said...

I feel your pain--because someone knocked on our door and offered to buy our house. We had to pack up 30 years of stuff in 10 days. I have everything in boxes as we live in an apt while a smaller (but lovely) house is being built.

The interesting thing is I do forget what I have--and when we move in, I will "shop" at all my stuff, and keep only what I love to see.

A friend told me not to shape my life around storing gifts that people gave me (that really isn't me either). It was good advice. I am also I'm passing on inherited things to nieces and nephews who are just setting up house and not only need them, but really appreciate them.

Make sure you keep enough good stuff to feather your next nest! (and I'm loving the new pantry in my plans with 60+ feet of storage--so not sure how serious I am about that downsizing!!)

Katherine said...

Love the Belleck - my mother has some and has promised it to my daughter.

I think the thing with collecting is to remember to use the pieces and enjoy them.

AntiqueChase said...

My name is Marcy and I am a dish-whore. There, I said it. I hear the first step is to recognize there is a problem.. I have done that... I have started to thin my collections into the garage and I'm torn on how to get rid of it all, garage sale or go to the flea market... donate? I paid good money for some of my stuff, vintage tole trays, candelabras, sunday oil paintings... you know what I'm talking about... I saw your pile too... :)

Cyndy said...

I have a sneaking suspicion that you are going to follow through on your idea to downsize your house, too. Wish I were in your area, I would buy it in a mad minute!

Donnamae said...

Delores...when you find that 12 step program...let me know! How is it...that our homes become repositories for everyone's things...collections, memories, dishes? I feel like I should be a curator! I, too, have my mom's things from when she moved into a nursing facility...and my MIL things and furniture...and my kids our own collections! We are also downsizing....and it isn't easy that's for sure! I'm hoping you'll come up with some great suggestions! ;)

Bonnie Schulte said...

When our 3 boys were growing up, we lived in a 2400 sq ft., 4 bedroom home. We moved 11 years ago, after 30 years in that home, to a 1750 sq foot home. I had so much that I had to sell, but saved what I could because I had a basement for storage. Well now,after 11 years, DH and I moved again, to a 1100 sq. ft. home. The hardest thing for me to sell was my baby grand piano, but I was able to keep some of my collections, and like you..I saved most of my books, enough to fill 4 shelf units.(600 to 700) Someone asked me why I would save books after I had read them, and I told her the saying,that books are the soul of the home. She made fun of me saying that.she is no longer a person I talk to. (grin) Oh..and at age 75, I am still buying more books, and I probably will till the day I die...Love reading your blog!!

Lesa said...

I find it ironic that we are the same age and are going through the "down sizing" phaze of our life at the same time. I am with you - the collections have got to go! Good luck!

Unknown said...

Let us know how you decide what to purge. I find that I'm attached in some way to all my pretties! I try and try and try, with minimal success! Maybe I can learn from yours!

Unknown said...

Oh my...been there done that. Although no matter painful it is to part with your beloved treasures, you can't look back. But to this day I still wish I had kept some things, but then I compare it to my's just gone. Just another passage in life leaving room for more memories.:)

Cynthia S. said...

Hi Delores,
I'm a lifelong collector - can I join your 12-step club! It is hard to think of getting rid of those things we had so much fun collecting over the years; however, having closed my family home with my brothers and sisters after my parents died I realize how necessary it is! I don't want to leave for my children the contents of a five bedroom house to empty. I guess we just have to start weeding out along the way. Which, by the way, is right now! I guess I will have to start this project this summer. Thanks for your post, and all the other wonderful posts you do! Cynthia

Sarah said...

Delores, you know you aren't alone. I know I need to start parting with more of what I've collected. I sold some of my French faience at auction last fall, but there is so much more. Our home doesn't begin to have the storage yours does, so I'm constantly reminded of my addiction. Ha!
All of the above aside………I'd love to be there if you decide to have a sale. '-)

Sue Malizia said...

Been in your shoes and know how hard it is to get rid of things that were collected over the years as the you meant a lot at the time. But I found that my children didn't want my things (they were my memories, not theirs) last spring I hosted a swap party with 12 friends. I invited them to bring anything of their choice of either vintage, nearly new or new in good condition to swap or just take. We all had fun taking turns picking and after a nice lunch some went home with "new" things but I mostly just wanted to let things go...the rest went to Goodwill for the next person to come across a special find. As I'm writing this I'm thinking it's time I go through things again.

Sue said...

This is a post that hits close to home. Last year I had to move my folks out of their 3 bedroom home into assisted living. They lived far away and I had very little time so most of their things went to goodwill. The sad fact is that my house is full, as are my siblings and even the next generation is full or has no special memories associated with the things.
This has made me mindful of the very full house I live in and the purging process is slowly beginning. But, like you, the one thing I am hanging onto is my books. If you have books and candles and fresh flowers you really don't need much else:-)

Sonia said...

Collecting beautiful things makes it really hard to downsize but at some point it is necessary. I have my Mom's blue and white oriental dishes and cloisonné collection as well as my mil's sterling silver and I can't bear to part with any of it. So I guess I will take your advice and not bring anything else into the house. You have such beautiful things...I know the job will not be easy but if anyone can do it -you can!

Unknown said...

A little at a time Delores, a little at a time. I've been simplifying for about ten years now. The older I get, the more I have around me equals chaos. And to be creative I have to have peacefulness. I still could simplify some more and probably will - but a little at a time. Keep what is most important to you and let the rest go - so someone new can appreciate it.

Alison @ The Polohouse said...

Hi Delores!
I am right with you. Not sure how many more years we will live here. A lot of house for two empty nesters.
I am in the mode now that if I am about to buy something while out antiquing I ask myself ;;; would THIS go to the new smaller place? If the answer is no, then I pass on it!
I have even stopped shopping TJMaxx and HomeGoods unless it is for a client's needs.

Just don't need more stuff to store! You have such lovely things though!

Great post. We will all inevitably go through this!


JudyMac said...

For the past few years, when I look at certain items I've had for quite a long time, I say, you know, I've enjoyed that item for quite a while but I don't think I have to own it any longer ... and go about finding it a new home. There is an upscale resale shop close by me now called "Second Life" that takes donations of clothes, books, furniture, artwork, household decor, etc., and the proceeds of store sales go to save a pet's life, i.e., to help homeless pets find forever homes. It seems to be doing a very good business.

Darlene said...

Somebody wise (I forget who) said, "keep only what you find beautiful or useful." I had to pass a long many of my treasures when I moved and was sad at the time but now feel liberated! Take baby-steps and enjoy the journey...

gayle said...

I still cringe when I think about my experience with down sizing...We sold a big house full of antiques and treasures. I gave a lot to a newly divorced young friend, I gave friends things that they had admired and I brought car loads of things to Good Will and other charities. The very expensive antiques went with an auction house. The man in charge convinced me that they would do the research, send out mailings and get the crowds in. Well, an auction is a 'crap shoot', you never know who will show up. The amount of money raised was very small. I wish I had given more away, I wish I had taken years to eliminate instead of trying to do it all in 6 weeks. If I had contacted my dealers, decorator and shops I think I would have done better plus I would have known where the items were and that they would be treasured. My advice after a long tale is do your research and plan ahead.

Mary Ann Pickett said...

Good luck…I just did it. I did get donate a lot of books that I knew we could read on-line on tablets. Kept the classics and my decorating books…but not all of them. I'm finding that I don't miss a lot of the things that are gone and I know the people that have them now feel happy…and it's certainly curbed my new purchases. You can do it!!!

rojospa said...

I worked with a lady who said she spent the first half of her life collecting and the second half getting rid off. So true! I have decided if something new comes in something old has to go!

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