My Love for Collecting Things Never Clutters My Home, Thanks to This Find

published Nov 14, 2023
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Recluttering is a celebration of your stuff — stuff that you just want to hold on to, stuff that makes you happy, stuff that makes you feel nostalgic for a moment, a memory, or a loved one. We’re sharing stories from people about their collections, heirlooms, and more. Head here to read them all!

I blame The Little Mermaid. The movie came out in theaters when I was 4, I received the VHS for my 5th birthday, and subsequently memorized the movie. Ariel collects “whosits and whatsits galore” in her cave under the sea. Her thingamabobs range from large objects like a statue of her beloved, to smaller items like a box of corkscrews and spare glasses frames. Like Ariel, I was a child who wanted treasures untold. My dad went on international business trips and brought me home coins from all over the world. I kept a box of interesting rocks and another for magnets. 

As an adult, I am still a collector — and I also have children who love to covet gizmos and gadgets aplenty. My dad brought them international coins at Christmas time last year and they marveled over them before leaving them everywhere. They bring in rocks that are precious for a day and then clutter the kitchen table. Their school has a large tree that sheds chestnuts. These become a kind of currency for a while amongst the school children and they come home with their pockets bulging.

One day I was at a consignment shop looking for a chair and I found what was labeled as an apothecary cabinet. The whimsical name alone sold me, as did the reasonable price tag. I think, however, that what I’ve purchased might more accurately be called a library card catalog cabinet. I hadn’t been actively looking for a thin set of drawers, but I had a spot too narrow for a bookshelf where it would fit perfectly. 

Credit: Laura Wheatman Hill

I brought it home and transferred over the various containers of things we own, like rocks, magnets, coins, and buttons. It’s like 24 junk drawers in an attractive package. The children were delighted by it and loved revisiting their wonders.

As I was stashing a tape measure in a drawer weeks later, I found they’d started making their own contributions: metal candy containers no longer containing candy in one, a treasured but disused brownie sash folded into another. I have room to spare and am glad they’re putting things away. I am deciding whether or not I want to label the drawers or let them be a surprise. 

Recently, a friend had a work-related scavenger hunt and needed very specific things: a blue marble, a coin from the year they were born, etc. We went through the drawers of the cabinet and found several of the needed items. Even if I’m not actively using the materials, I feel the need to keep them. We often use buttons for crafts and I frequently either need a rubber band or need to find a spot for the one that came wrapped around some produce. 

Having doom boxes or piles of stuff everywhere can cause me stress, but with my cabinet, I’m able to have balance in my home by having things look put away and be beautifully organized. My love of collecting is far greater than my desire for decluttering. Instead of feeling guilty for my collection of feathers and lone playing cards, I can inject a little magic into my home. Now I don’t have to get rid of my bits and bobs. I can be the girl who has everything.