Collector's Chest

Collector (Col*lect"or): One who collects things which are separate

How to Be a Collector Without Becoming a Pack Rat
By Tracy Alt

Are you a collector? Do you feel a sense of satisfaction when you are able to surround yourself with items that bring you joy, or is it the thrill of the chase that gets you? Whether you are already an avid collector or are thinking about starting a collection, find out how to be a collector without becoming a pack rat.

Collecting can be a very enjoyable hobby. There is nothing wrong with having passion for a particular item and wanting to fill your space with it. There is, however, a fine line between being a collector and a becoming a pack rat.
If your collection has grown so large that you cannot possibly display all of the items, if you have most of them packed away in boxes taking up all of the storage space in your home and you cannot even remember what these items look like – you have already crossed the line.

If you have already begun collecting and are finding that you are becoming overwhelmed with the size of your collection you will have to take action to get things back under control.
First, decide upon a reasonable size for your collection. Do you want to fill one shelf, an entire display cabinet or an entire room? Be realistic when making this decision. The size of your collection should match the size of your living space. If you live in a small apartment you should limit your collection to no more than one display cabinet, otherwise you run the risk of making your space look cluttered. If, however, you have the luxury of living in a spacious home and you have the room to spare, by all means, fill up a room with your collection if that is what makes you happy.

Once you have established a reasonable size for your collection it’s time to make some difficult decisions about what to keep and what has to go. Sort through the items in your collection and choose your absolute favorites. The rest need to be either sold, given away or donated.

If the thrill of hunting down the items for your collection is a big part of the joy for you, it might be a good idea to leave yourself some room to expand your collection or you will soon wind up exactly where you started - out of space and cluttered.
If you have not yet started your collection, decide upon your size limit and display area before you begin acquiring items. Once your predetermined space is filled, your collection is complete.

Remember that collections are meant to bring joy to your life. If you cannot see the items, they cannot bring you joy. When you are displaying your collection, do not overstuff your display area, be sure that you can see each item or your space will look cluttered.

Also keep in mind that you still have to clean the display area. If you have to move 85 antique tea kettles each time you dust a shelf you need to weigh that frustration against your enjoyment of the collection. If the frustration wins, it's time to scale down.

The term pack rat has become slang for a person who holds on to any item they acquire and has trouble disposing of anything. People known as pack rats typically find some kind of sense of security in material objects. Remember that collections are just that - material objects. No material object is more important than you and your happiness. Do not let your collection turn you into a pack rat and rob you of your enjoyment of life. You own your collection, your collection does not own you.

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