to hoard or to collect?

by Sharon Santoni


P1070097 So what is the cut-off line between hoarding and collecting?


When does collecting stop being a charming past time and become an annoying habit?


and what is the point in saving those tiny bits of lace that you know full well you’ll never use? …. they are beautiful, I know, and the handwork is breath taking, but is that enough ?…..


so many questions that come to mind as once again I vow to sort out ‘stuff’ and take decisions … and I wonder how you find the balance between collecting and hoarding? Do you only collect stuff you can display or are you like me with trunks full of textiles or too many paintings to hang?

Tell me please, I’d love to know.



Tamms March 1, 2014 - 11:41 pm

I ask myself that same question every time I come home from a country auction with a boatload of goodies. My addiction is vintage china and ironstone (English, French, and certain American), linens of all sorts, and well-made furniture. I buy “everything” to sell, but these are the things I seem to keep for myself. “I will not hoard, I will not hoard.”

It’s a tough call, but as long as you have room to store it I don’t see any problem. I rotate my things that I use and display, and sometimes I just get tired of them. If I do not fall back in love with them, they go in my shop.

Sharon santoni March 2, 2014 - 4:07 pm

That is the advantage of having a store Tamms!


burnside March 2, 2014 - 12:34 am

I’m sure there can’t be an absolute – a measure to satisfy us all. Many lovely things ‘pass through’ my life – ones I’ve used and enjoyed and that were so admired by a friend or a guest that it made me happy to make a gift of them.

But I’m also a great admirer of abundance, and amused to think that one day my sisters or nieces will find trunks and cupboards bursting with delights. No, I’m surely not the person to quiz about drawing lines . . .

Sharon santoni March 2, 2014 - 4:08 pm

I like the idea do simply gifting stuff that is admired by a friend. I think it is more about ‘saving’ a piece than possessing.


david terry March 2, 2014 - 12:39 am

“Hoard” it, Sharon…..particularly when it comes to old fabrics, lace, portions of otherwise damaged rugs, etcetera.

I had two large (as in VERY large) boxes which were stuffed with bits of old crocheting, lace, and various fabrics that I’d collected over twenty years. I don’t have them anymore, because (through my neighborhood association’s message-board) I met a young grad-student who spends her spare time refurbishing and “Re-purposing” (I believe that’s the term) such things. She makes pillows and purses out of them and, once per year, sells those at the town’s outdoors crafts fair. She was beyond delighted to have my two boxes of “antique” bits and scraps that I knew I would never get around to mending or using….but which I couldn’t bear to throw away.

Happily enough, there’s a business hereabouts (this area is chock-a-block with artists) called “The Scrap Exchange”…..where you can dump-off practically anything…..and it’s nearly always snapped up by some art student who re-purposes it. One local ceramics-artist makes a nice little side-income by taking your broken china, smashing it further into tiny bits, and then using the pieces to create custom-szied, Gaudi-esque mosaics for kitchen back-splashes (what do you call those things under thekitchen cabinets and above the counter?).

DO, however, simply throw out anything that has to do with an old computer/s. I just had to PAY a hefty sum to have that stuff thrown away. NOBODY has any use for the stuff.

—-david terry

Bebe March 2, 2014 - 3:12 pm

David, your comment is inspirational. I am probably in both camps – collector and hoarder, as well as family archivist (by default). I had thought about repurposing lace and embroidery pieces into pillow and so forth, but how many pillows and and-so-forths can one use? And I have not been crazy about selling at flea markets or craft fairs or even yard sales.

Ditto the broken china. Those blacksplashes sound fascinating. But would I ever do it?

You have given me inspiration to find some repurposers for my lovely bits and pieces.

Sharon santoni March 2, 2014 - 4:09 pm

Now David, why am I not surprised that you are a hoarder? 🙂


Pamela March 4, 2014 - 1:10 pm

David, always better if you can find an organisation that will recycle computers rather than throw away completely and damage the environment. Some bits of computers can really pollute. In our home town in Oz we have several collection points where we can take old computers, or parts thereof (metals, plastics etc), for breaking down into component pieces and then recycling rather than having it go into landfill. Or maybe that’s what you mean by “throw away”, anyway?

Love all the lace and bits and pieces. At our church Op Shop (where I work as a volunteer) we sometimes have women looking for old lace hankies and similar for re-purposing too. It’s a great idea. Also members of local craft groups stop by and buy old pieces of lace, fabrics, threads, knitting wools etc, then make them up into items for sale at fetes and charity stalls. One person’s unused hoarding can be another person’s pretty creation that raises funds for the needy. Cheers, Pamela

Krb March 5, 2014 - 3:30 am

Those broken bits of china make beautiful stepping stones,etc. for yards and walkways.

Mumbai March 2, 2014 - 8:56 am

my personal motto is “collect and use it” …every piece more and not in use I call hoarding. a Collection should be something you rejoice in their possession every day when looking on it. Hoard is for the why?

Peggy karrasch March 2, 2014 - 1:05 pm

When my husband and I were younger there was nothing more fun than attending auctions and estate sales. We were collectors. Gradually our style changed and we became collectors and fussier about what we brought into the house. Now at this stage of our lives the house is full and we are removing items from the attic that we no longer have use for and simplifying our life. We limit what we bring in. It is still hard to pass up those beautiful things we see but I have to ask myself…where would you put it? peggy from PA

Sharon santoni March 2, 2014 - 4:14 pm

Wise words Peggy. It is still fun though trailing the fairs !


Esther George March 2, 2014 - 1:25 pm

Hi Sharon when I was younger I bought things to decorate the house I thought I was in love with but once I got older and stopped working I couldn’t wait to throw everything out and start all over again, my tastes changed (a great improvement)…. Everything I have now I love looking at and there are stories attached to them and I would never part with these treasures. I am glad to say I don’t hoard it’s too much work. Regards Esther from Sydney. PS one confession I’ve been putting off throwing out my home and garden magazines.

Bebe March 2, 2014 - 3:17 pm

Magazines! How comforting to find another who saves their home and garden magazines. I have masses of vintage Gourmets and other beautiful food and shelter publications no longer available. Those magazines still publishing are not as good as those in the past. A dilemma.

Sharon santoni March 2, 2014 - 4:15 pm

Ah! I was just about to say that I no longer keep magazines, I simply don’t have the time to look through them!


Marsha @ Splenderosa March 2, 2014 - 5:22 pm

I agree, I finally “got it” that they are called periodicals.

Catherine B March 3, 2014 - 10:30 am

I just got rid of several years’ worth of Coté Sud, Arts & Decorations and Maisons et Décors. I had already leafed through them many times, and dog-eared pages with inspiration. But many of the other pages left me cold and the magazines took up several shelves in my office. So over a few weekends, I went through them again, tearing out the dog-eared pages plus some others, and filing them. These days I tend to organize on Pinterest, which takes up less space! I am happy to have the shelf space. Next up are the cooking magazines.
I don’t collect. I think of collections as an effort to, museum-like, assemble a large number of pieces in a theme. I sometimes hoard–like my beautiful suits from my days as boss in an office, which I can’t bear to get rid of yet have no occasion to wear. Still, I have weeded out many and cling to only a few. I have a shelf of tchotchkes, but they are not cute “objets de déco” from a shop; rather they are trophies from my travels.

mette March 2, 2014 - 1:36 pm

I live accordingly to William Morris´s words.
Therefore, I have only beautiful ( imo ) and useful things in my household, in my storage places, cupboards, drawers, closets..
I am a merciless declutterer and won´t save anything, unless I am certain it will be used on a certain date.
I have gone through the phases of collecting, but looking backwards now… What a waste of money!

Sharon santoni March 2, 2014 - 4:17 pm

I’m very good at de-cluttering for other people…. Does that count ?! 🙂


david terry March 3, 2014 - 1:36 pm

Oh…”Mette”s instincts are on-target. The only absolute imperative in this house is that I follow Morris’s dictate; consequently, I don’t keep anything that’s not either beautiful or useful (or, in the most fortuitous of circumstances, both). there are a few things that aren’t beautiful OR useful (they’re just amsuing)….but I confine those to the bathrooms (otherwise known as “Les Chambres de Camp & Kitsch”)

Of course, that doesn’t mean I automatically send supposedly un-beautiful and/or non-useful things to the dump…..there’s always someone who finds them beautiful or useful.

Just for the record?……back in my early thirties, I was finishing a dissertation on Victorian Literature (my speciality, so to speak), and I was also (for a short while there) dating a snooty-boots (as I soon discovered) and surprisingly impractical (as I later decided) lawyer.

I distinctly remember the afternoon (maybe eight months into the supposed relationship?) we got into an argument, and I asked him if he’d ever heard of William Morris. Of course, he hadn’t, so I patiently introduced him to Morris’s injunction that one should get shed of things that were neither inherently beautiful or useful.

I ended that short summary by telling him that, contrary to what he obvously thought of himself, he was (in my no doubt limited and parochial opinion) neither.

I know….it wasn’t very “nice” or pleasant of me to have said that to him…..but I was, after all, CORRECT in my assessment, and the household was much more pleasant and practical once he’d been shown the door.

He ended up marrying some woman and, as I’ve heard, adopting a batch of foreign-born children. For all sorts of reasons, I’ve never spoken to or visited the joint…..but I sincerely doubt it’s very beautiful or useful.

Avuncularly yours as ever,

David Terry

mette March 4, 2014 - 6:58 pm

Hah, we are soul mates!
I so liked the part where you decluttered that man out from your life, terrific!

Yvonne @ StoneGable March 2, 2014 - 2:48 pm

No such thing as hoarding when we collect something that makes our heart sing!

The Enchanted Home March 2, 2014 - 5:21 pm

First off…..Good news just successfully added you to the blogroll (updated it and it appears to be working perfectly:)

Oh boy I am glad my husband is not seeing this he would swear I am a hoarder but a neat one:) I have collections of sooo much, really too much. China, blue and white, shoes, handbags, you name it…I guess I love stuff and love being surrounded by pretty things. I am trying however to “streamline” myself a bit and hold back. I certainly have more than I need but all my discipline goes out the window when I see something I really love:)
Magazines..don’t even get me started, I have Southern Accents that are 20 years old! And they aren’t going anywhere:)

Emm March 3, 2014 - 5:16 pm

Oh, dear. I was hoping I could interest someone in my several years’ worth of copies of Southern Accents — my all-time favorite fantasy magazine and surely now quite valuable as collectors’ items. 🙂

Linda March 2, 2014 - 6:10 pm

I have collected things over the years, but when it was time to downsize, we sold and gave away many things that we no longer were actually using. We have collected china, including things that had belonged to our parents, and we love to set a pretty table with it, at the same time remembering . . .
The family heirlooms we have inherited continue to bring joy to us and have fascinated guests (maybe they are just being polite?!) who visit. As for magazines, I have kept the very first issue of “Victoria”, a magazine I have loved since its beginning. And I continue to gain inspiration from a Norwegian country-style magazine, even though I do not speak Norwegian. I cannot seem to part with those few magazines that remind me of my Scandinavian heritage.
Linda xx

Nella March 2, 2014 - 11:36 pm

I have every single Victoria magazine, as well as the premier issue….I still get so much inspiration from them…my collections make me happy…right now! N.

john saunders March 2, 2014 - 7:55 pm

I think if you can store what you aren’t using you are safe from being a hoarder-
hoarding is when the stuff starts interfering with your life-
taking space one needs to live and taking money one needs to live-

I am in the process of moving to an old house and have much of my grandmother’s and aunt’s and parents stuff to go thru and use-
lots of stuff I a hanging on to until I get into the house and can see how the house works and what room I will sleep in , etc

I am going to get in touch w/ a comment poster who leaves in the same state I do and ask him abtou the scrap donation place near him- I could certainly add some to their treasures !

so my thought is “if you can control it, you can have it !”

john in north Carolina

david terry March 3, 2014 - 1:38 pm

It’s called “The Scrap Exchange”, John. It’s in downtown Durham, where I used to live for 26 years.

—-david terry

john saunders March 5, 2014 - 11:29 pm

thanks david
I am going to check around the charlotte area and see if there is anything like that there-
I used to live in durham way back just up the street from the blue light-

john in nc

jeanne illenye March 2, 2014 - 10:04 pm

Yes, by all means collect and/or hoard such magnificently delicate items from the past, wrought with loving care by nimble fingers. We must be stewards of these precious items for future generations to appreciate. I’m always amazed at estate sales how these delicate beauties are marked at just a few cents for what I believe to be precious gems connecting us to a bygone era…and that to me is priceless.

Colleen Taylor March 2, 2014 - 10:30 pm

I do both, them I sift through & get rid of when I realize I can’t use it. I have gotten rid of some art supplies when I sold one of my homes, moved, regretted & bought the same things only better all over again. You could say I have a very organized hoarding collection!

Lin March 2, 2014 - 10:48 pm

Its strange because my husband just died in 2011 and prior to that i was a prolifc shopper. Since he is gone I have a policy for myself that” its one thing in and one thing out”. Its working rather well. I am staying in my house and trying to make it more mine rather than us…its difficult because some of those “things” I love remind me of a fun time we had together.
I actually have thought ..hope ..that my daughter in law and my neices will have fun checking out my stuff after I am gone so I have left some notes in some of my treasures explaining what that particular items signifigance is.
Tough call Sharon…enjoy your is short…cheers

Bebe March 3, 2014 - 4:01 pm

Lin, I so appreciated my late Mother’s leaving little hand-written notes with things she had kept, treasures, mementoes. I am doing the same thing. It may make a difference to my children and grandchildren.

Cate Lohse March 14, 2014 - 3:00 am

We do change in some way post losing a loved one… I so love the way that you have left little notes, telling the ‘stories’ Lin.
The “something in, something out” principle is rather sobering when you are standing in an amazing shop or market!!
If I decide that a piece won’t fit… I have taken to photographing the item so that I can still enjoy it, only in a different format.
I collect ‘Australian Country Style” zine…
A good rainy day activity for 4+yrs., is to get colourful zines and safety sissors… a big table or the floor… glue sticks and scrapbooks.

Enjoy Lin… Regards Cate

Contessa March 2, 2014 - 11:14 pm

Iam right there with you SHARON!In fact, I just sat down to take a rest from the cleaning out!My Son called me a hoarder the other day and I was stunned!I have many collections and lots of stuff after closing a shop.Too good to toss but can I let go of it all……….NO.I’m taking baby steps.The other day I cleaned out ONE SMALL BOX.It felt good but I have many more to go!Today, the rain is coming down hard and I am making chicken broth and cleaning my office………..the room I love the most in the house with bits and pieces.A Gift pile,empty boxes in case I need to wrap a gift,Christmas started in one nook…….so many postcards that have been sent to me or that I have collected!BOOKS…….TONS of BOOKS which I read and adore……..will I ever look at them again?Probably NOT but can I let them go…………….NOT YET!Good luck to You……………..if you figure it out let me know!

sally March 2, 2014 - 11:27 pm

Dear Sharon
Im in the ‘hoarding’ camp..Im positively frightful, but I have given in to it……because so often it really pays off
A charming whim will become fashionable and I will have just the thing to complete an outfit or vignette…..after all the love for exquisite preserved old things is inherent in the Brocanteuse…. someone had to hoard them once, so they would still be around now ( at least that’s my excuse!! )

Lori March 2, 2014 - 11:58 pm

Oh I try and struggle! But I too have to much. As I did my sorting as I put away things just after the holidays, I noticed just how much. I told myself a couple of years ago that I would try to behave, so I did not go out searching but instead it made me a bit crazy and I repainted and restyled 3 of the bedrooms. This is good, but did not ease my graving. So instead in June I will have a vintage sale. And then I will try to behave! (Try) 😉

Karen (Back Road Journal) March 3, 2014 - 12:06 am

It is a fine balance. I believe that if what you have is storied neatly and you have room for it, it is a collection that perhaps if you do not use, will be passed down in your family so that the fine crafts that are not readily available anymore can be appreciated for another generation.

Lin Powell March 3, 2014 - 12:24 am

This post comes at the perfect time. Just as I am looking at my “collections” and wondering what I should do with it all. I am trying to downsize a bit. But I am starting with the least important and putting my beautiful collections away for another time. For now, my collection of recipes I will never use can go instead. The lace will go back into the cupboard…just in case I might need it someday.

Linda March 3, 2014 - 1:01 am

Bottom line here is…what makes you happy? Is there joy in the “having” or in the “using”? I collect things to decorate my home or use for entertaining. I have learned over the years to be more discerning with my “collectible” purchases, focusing on items that will have a specific place or purpose. I am sure that my children will appreciate this when I’m gone and they have to deal with all my “stuff.”

Joanne Boulter March 3, 2014 - 2:23 am

For me the difference is if your mind and your heart make the same decision then the choice is right. When your tummy tightens beware dejunk. Works for me!

Joanne Boulter March 3, 2014 - 2:24 am

Also don’t think your children will take care of all of it because they will junk it or send to good will.

Sue M. March 3, 2014 - 4:23 am

Fom the beautiful items I’ve seen that you post…you’re definitely a collecter and seller, not a hoarder.

Peggy Braswell March 3, 2014 - 8:00 am

reading the comments + so glad someone saves “Victoria”, ha ha I have the first copy of it + magazines are bad, just bad + anything linen embroidered with initials + remember one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. happy collecting ya’ll.

Frieda March 3, 2014 - 8:51 am

Bonjour Sharon
Cette page me rassure
I’m not alone…OUF!!!
Bonne journée

Kari March 3, 2014 - 2:30 pm

having just discovered the excitement and joy in a Saturday spent at an auction or rambling through a flea market i question the difference between hoarding and collection myself. I collect, i am particular about what i want, and the more i collect the more specific i am about what i buy. i will spend a weekend unpacking and cleaning and changing up displaying my collected things in pretty ways and cataloging what I have. my husband is a hoarder, he will just buy things so others can’t have them and packs things away into corners and boxes to never be opened or looked at again. he like the idea of it just being there. It is never used, or moved, it just sits there making me crazy : ).

Jeanne McKay Hartmann March 3, 2014 - 3:10 pm

Oh Sharon, I think that is such a good question. I admit that I must pass the line from collecting to hoarding – especially if you look in my basement. I think collectors have a talent for editing, which I suppose I am lacking. Glad to know I’m not the only one! XOXO

Nancy March 3, 2014 - 3:34 pm

It is actually a philosophical question, isn’t it?
One that seems to have hit a chord….
I believe “hoarding” changes from collecting when it becomes a health hazard or impediment to living a life.
There was a man who lived a street over from us. We didn’t know him, but knew his house. It was recently condemned and he lost it (he was in his 80’s)and his house sold at auction (and torn down)…..He was a hoarder.
His pathways to his house and apparently in his house were obstructed, and paramedics could no longer get in his house….when he needed it. Also, his house had needed repair and care, which it didn’t get, so it started to cave in…..
That is when collecting becomes hoarding….it hurts others.
I too have this question in mind as I go out to “collect”….do I have room, is it really necessary, will it get used?
I am not always successful in paring things down…so many lovelies…fabric, lace, china…. but space in an older home is at a premium, so I try to be careful. Once a year, I try to pare things down…
Being a quilter, each tidbit of fabric seems to be a challenge. Will I really use that scrap??
Love your pictures of the lace…..yes, I love that too….question is, where will I keep it?
Hoarders never seem to question or ever thin it out….
Collectors always seem to….
Take care,

Lee March 3, 2014 - 5:51 pm

After my living in a foreign country for a few years, I moved back to the States, and collected all my belongings from “storage” – a professional storage company that cost an arm and a leg, but I felt necessary to protect my valuables. Unpacking, I began to realize I had lived so comfortably without all the “stuff”, and my beautiful French antiques, pillows, silver, Majolica, all that had made my last home in the USA feel like home – was making me feel anxious and sending a feeling of “where will I put all this?” My new home is much more light and airy – a more Gustavian feeling – and most of my collections are not working. Now I begin the process of weeding out, selling, and giving away. Moral – I’m still trying to figure it out. I wasn’t ready to part with it years ago, and now, I wish I had…..I wish all my lovely items had a home instead of being boxed and stored for all those years. No more collecting for me…….

May March 3, 2014 - 8:04 pm

In my small collections over the years, to make room I sold or donated things. Ah, the regrets. Collections have points I try to remember: 1. It will not be cheaper. 2. Pieces are better than nothing. 3. Keep things stored well 4. Keep the good things. 5. Enjoy the stuff!

Roxane March 3, 2014 - 8:50 pm

I have collections of transferware dishes, Fiestaware dishes, vintage paper-mache trays and vintage landscape paintings. But my largest collection is fabric, with ribbons coming in a close second. God forbid someone looks in our 10×30 storage unit or our garage loft because they would be overwhelmed by the 1000s of yards of fabric. It didn’t matter if it was new or vintage, if I loved it, I would usually buy it, especially if it was Toile de Jouy. I would buy needlepoint work that was never made into anything and make it into pillows. I used to sew prodigiously making dresses for our 2 eldest daughters. I then moved on to making and selling pillows, totebags, sachets, stuffed animals, slipcovers, tablecloths and more on eBay. It all came to a screeching halt when our businesses grew and I had to take back over the bookkeeping. Now my life is busy with our youngest teenage daughter driving her to skating & horseback riding lessons and helping our oldest daughter learn our business. I’m also finding out that I don’t want to keep all of this “stuff” I don’t want 5 sets of dishes, too many things on the walls, closets full of old clothes that aren’t stylish or don’t fit! It’s an ongoing clearing out in my house. Now that I think about it, my largest “collection” isn’t the fabric, but the 30 years of business records that I am slowly shredding into recycling….such a feeling of satisfaction, lol 😀

Katey March 3, 2014 - 10:09 pm

Hoarding…shmoarding… it what you like. You are very fortunate to have easy access to antique laces etc. Finding pieces like that are rare in Australia so I have to look elsewhere. Vision is one thing but to handle the precious textiles is most satisfying and the only way to decide on purchase. I love to sew and believe me , Sharon , your pages are complete eye candy…….thank you!


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