Downsizing A Collection

August 10, 2021

Decluttering A Collection

The items with special memories attached to them are the ones that are most difficult to let go of, understandably so.  The biggest hurdle for a lot of people when decluttering their lives is how to deal with this sentimental clutter.  I've never written about decluttering these emotionally charged belongings because I'm just not that attached to physical objects - except for my collection.

Downsizing my plant collection is the closest I've come to dealing with items that are emotionally difficult to part with.  I've been collecting for over 10 years and I've reached a point where it's time to let some of them go.  My collection grew so large it was taking up too much space and eating into my spare time.  In previous years, I've decluttered my book collection and downsized my video games, and now it's time to do the same with my plants.

When you remember where you bought something, how long you've had it, the person who gifted it to you, and the memories attached to it; there's a sense of obligation to keep something even when you don't love it or use it anymore.  You have to wrestle with your emotions when deciding what to keep and what to let go of.  The memories, the time invested, the guilty, or the money spent.  These feelings weigh heavy but collections can take up a lot of space, and sooner or later these things need to be decluttered.

When a collection starts becoming more of a chore than a joy to care for, it's time to consider letting part of that collection go - or, in some cases, the whole thing.  Unlike other items in your home, items in a collection are not items you use in the same way as other household belongings.  They're simply collectibles you enjoy owning and displaying.  The normal questions you'd ask yourself to determine whether something is clutter aren't particularly applicable.


Collections and collectibles can be almost anything at all and they tend to be quite personal.  Whether it's books, figurines, coins, stamps, or something else; whatever it is you collect can be decluttered by asking yourself a few simple questions.  These questions will help you to make intentional choices about the things you keep in your life and the belongings you allow to share your space.

Do I enjoy caring for a collection of this size?
Do these collectibles bring me joy and fulfilment?
Do I have enough space to store or display my collection?
Do I display this collectible, and if so, do I like the way it looks?
Do I feel a collection this size is manageable in terms of the space and time it takes up?



Decluttering A Collection

If part of your collection is stored away somewhere, or if you never stop to admire or enjoy the items out on display, it's time for you to consider whether you actually need to keep them.  For me, it was the time it took to care for my collection that made me realise I had to let some plants go.  I was spending entire weekends tending to them, it was just too much.  Decluttering my collection meant I could keep it at a more manageable size, and enjoy the plants I really enjoyed caring for.

If you're struggling to declutter your collectibles, even the ones you don't particularly love anymore, it's worth considering what you may be able to sell them for.  Recouping some of the costs is a great motivator for decluttering a collection.  Our attachment to items means we have a tendency to think they're worth more than they are so be realistic.  If you discover your collectibles aren't worth much, don't be tempted to keep them for the sake of it.  The money has already been spent.  Pass your unloved collectibles on to someone who will truly appreciate them.

To prevent a collection from growing out of control, dedicate a finite amount of space to it.  Only have as many of something as will fit onto one shelf, or a couple of display cases, and then stop collecting or follow a one-in-one-out rule to maintain the space.  Once you start to exceed that space, it's time to downsize again.  I was filling every shelf and corner with plants to the point where my home had started to feel cluttered.  Creating more white space by removing some plants meant the rest of my collection could shine.

When you've decided what's going and what's staying, it's time to say goodbye.  Be mindful of how you declutter.  It's best to sell or personally give away as much as possible as this puts your unwanted things directly into the hands of people who want them.  Collector's fairs and events as well as online marketplaces and auctions are the best places to sell collectibles.  Trading is also a good option with plenty of online communities looking for items you may have.  Failing that, give away collectibles to friends, family, or colleagues who may want them and donate to charity or thrift shops as a last resort.

Living simply means letting go of the things that no longer reflect who we are.  Letting go of these unwanted belongings opens us up to new joys and possibilities.  When you make space, you allow new hobbies and interest into your life.  




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