Can you remember the first thing you collected as a child? After earning the privilege of my own bedroom, I started collecting funky, inexpensive hats and used them to decorate my room. They didn't travel to college with me and when I graduated, I'd forgotten about them. When I settled into my first apartment, I collected small potted plants and to this day, I won't buy African violets because I can't get them to bloom.
Fast forward many years and I'm starting to pack for a move from NH to Arizona. We're going to become snowbirds (oh my), so it's time to decide what to take to Arizona, what to move to a lake house in NH and what to gift to others who might make better use of all the things collected over the years. This is a new experience. In the past, we had corporate (I've Been Moved) moves so the packers came and packed, the movers came and loaded up the van … and we simply unpacked once we arrived in our new home.
Collecting Memories From Around the World
Probably my favorite collectibles are an eclectic mix of furnishings and accessories representing our travels throughout North American and Asia, as we lived in Tokyo for three years. For many years we always brought one special memento from each family vacation. The ceramic zebras are from a family camping trip in Lake Tahoe, the fish from Camden, Maine although our trip took us all the way to Nova Scotia.
The teddy bears are from my first trip to Sydney, Australia when driving to the Blue Mountains. What I never realized until walking around the house to snap these photos, is how my life's experience is on display everywhere. The fish lives in the master bathroom, while the teddy bears and zebras are in our living room. In fact, some collectibles like the dolls shown here, are on a shelf in my closet.
Collecting Artwork and Antiques We Love
Do you still have the first piece of artwork you bought? Okay, I no longer have the original batik print I bought on my own, but here's the first piece of art that my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I bought at an art show in Woodstock, New York.
For young homeowners who haven't been collecting for very long, take your time finding pieces that have a lot of meaning for you. There are tricks to getting things to put on your walls in the interim. You can borrow from friends or family, possibly your local library or buy inexpensive posters. You can also get creative and find unusual things to put on the walls. In Tokyo, I found obis at the local flea market to put on the wall.
Visiting the flea market in Tokyo was a popular activity about foreigners. We got to learn a lot about their culture, and enjoyed collecting unusual things to decorate our homes. Below are some lovely shoji screens, and in a 2-story stairwell, a third panel covered in silk from Shanghai brought the decor together.
If you're curious about shoji screens, here's a company in Montana, Cherry Tree Designs, that offers custom screens that can be used as sliding doors and room dividers.
In a way, you're collecting a living album of your life so remember you're collecting memories for many years to come. When you collect antiques you're also able to use the furniture, like our kitchen tansu below which provides great storage space.
Collections Ready for Gifting
When you start collecting, you want to consider how you'll use the items and where you'll store them. When you buy a new piece of artwork and displace something that doesn't have lots of memories, consider donating the item to a non-profit you like, for an upcoming fund raiser. Filling your closets with things you'll probably never use again, just takes up space.
This move has challenged me to gift some of my collectibles. Because we're paying for this move, it makes sense to really scrutinize weight, and while our new home is bigger, for many others, you might be moving to less space (we gave away 2 bedrooms worth of furniture when we moved to our condo). So part of my packing includes gifting:
- Part of my fabric collection – to a woman starting a quilt business. While I love my fabrics, there simply isn't enough time to quilt when running a business.
- Donated my serger to Rubia, who works with women in Afghanistan and Manchester, NH, teaching them sewing skills so they can build build financial security through the sale of their heritage handiwork.
- Splitting my collection of children's books – between local friends and my two sons. While these books are works of art, kids are reading more and more on tablets.
How Collecting is Changing
What's amazing is how my collecting habits have changed over the last few years. When I started blogging, it became important to take lots of photos and it's one of my favorite hobbies now. In fact it's the perfect hobby as you save money by capturing memories in photos versus buying, buying and buying things you might never use.
If you enjoyed this article, you'll have fun scanning 100 Things People Collect. It will make you laugh, so go ahead and see how many items on the list you're collecting. My collections on the list – antiques, books, beanie babies (have given most away), hats (high school), artwork, photos (thousands), and maybe shoes (about 20 pairs). Pinterest is also changing our collecting habits and so it makes a lot more sense to me after writing this article.
Please share your favorite collectibles with us, both old fashion stuff you can hold in your hands … and new digital collections.