Collecting or Hoarding?

Over the past two weeks I posted about two of my collections (coffee mugs and coasters). A couple of your comments got me thinking... how do you collect and still have a simplified and organized life?

I'll admit, I watch Hoarders and it makes me want to clean and have a yard sale. I also find it hard to leave a thrift store without some small treasure, and I'm always looking for potential in second-hand or odd objects. What about those beautifully packed and eclectic houses you see in magazines? Where's the line? How do you keep a desire for a life surrounded by pretty things under control?

(image from Design* Sponge)

The truth is, I'm not 100% sure of where the line is, but I do know how I stay clear of it...

1. Collect useful or small things. You'll probably run into problems with your collection if it's of big things like... couches or something. Stick to tiny treasures (say... brass animals) and you'll have a long way to go before you run into trouble. Want even more leeway? Collect something that you use on a daily basis. I collect coffee mugs because they're cute and because I know I use them every day - no guilt there!

2. Do you have a place for it? I always ask myself this question before a purchase. If the answer is yes, then you're one step closer to making a guilt-free purchase (yay!). If the answer is no... walk away my friend. Chances are you'll forget about it in a day or two. If the thing keeps nagging you, spend some time thinking of how you can make space for it. Once you've got the room, bring 'er on in.

3. Make sure it's special. This is a good partner question for "Do you have a place for it." Is this really special or am I just trying to "catch them all" (to use a Pokemon reference - oh my gosh, yes I just did that... no I'm not deleting it)? For example, when I go to a thrift store I can 100% guarantee you they will have 40 different mugs I've never seen, but I don't need a random #1 Dad mug. I'll save space for the crazy boob mug instead (true story).

4. Upgrade instead of collecting. This is a really really good strategy if I do say so myself. Instead of endlessly adding more to your collection, cap it off at say... 15. "I will not collect more than 15 coffee mugs." Once you've hit your 15, you'll probably still find new mugs you like. Not to worry! Then, you'll just decide if you like the new mug better than one of your other 15. Replace your least favorite mug with the new one. The beauty of this method is your collection keeps getting cooler and cooler without taking up any more space!

5. Embrace Spring Cleaning. The truth is, we all accumulate random things. Maybe it's a trinket from an office party or clothes you don't fit in to anymore - jump on the spring cleaning bandwagon! Whenever you have one of those seasonal changes, moves, or neighborhood yard sales go for the chance to pare down on all of that stuff you've been collecting. Donate it, craigslist it, yard sale it, recycle it, just take a hard look at your stuff and carve out that organized life for yourself!

Did I miss anything? What are your tips for a simplified lifestyle?