Every morning, Charlotte Lee wakes up in a houseful of ducks.
The University of Washington engineering professor is in the Guinness World Records for her rubber duck collection. All 5,239 of them and counting.
"We seem like normal people, until you see our basement," Lee said.
This undated photo courtesy of Emily R. Cohn shows a collection of sports mini-helmets in the home of Wendy Williams in Larchmont, N.Y. The collection belongs to Wendy's husband, Ken Koch. (AP photo)
This undated photo courtesy of Charlotte Lee shows Lee's duck collection in the basement of her home in Washington, D.C. The University of Washington engineering professor is in the Guinness World Records for her rubber duck collection. All 5,239 of them and counting. (AP photo)
There's no reason that a collection can't be incorporated into a home decorating scheme, said Sandra Espinet, guest designer on HGTV's fantasy makeover series, "HGTV'd." She recommends rotating the collection seasonally, or only displaying the items nearest and dearest to you.
"Editing is super important," Espinet said. "Otherwise you run the risk of overwhelming your living space. A massive collection in a media room is fun and cool, but when it carries over into your bedroom, you cross the line into college dorm territory."
Lee's husband, Marcel Blonk wasn't thrilled with her collection initially.
"After I got to about 400 ducks, he wanted me to stop," Lee said. "But then we made friends who are also rubber duck collectors, and he took the 'If you can't beat them, join them' approach."
To keep the ducks from taking over their entire home, Lee and Blonk built floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to showcase the collection. Now she's got her ducks in rows.
What happens when shelving in a designated room isn't enough to contain the sprawl of a collection?
Richard Goodson of Chicago has collected more than 4,000 pieces of memorabilia from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," but is careful about what he displays in his home.
"There's no way my wife would want me to show this stuff all over our house," Goodson said. "So I bring things out sparingly. I've got a few key pieces on the walls, like a couple of 8-by-10's that show scenes from the movie, and a collage with cast signatures underneath, but that's about it."
His favorite item is Jimmy Stewart's hand prints and signature in concrete from the now closed Planet Hollywood in California. But he only brings that out at events for the movie.
Goodson has organized his collection into categories. He's got 30 black binders of media support (ads, call sheets, promotional 8-by-10's) stashed in his bedroom. Each binder is devoted to a separate cast member, alphabetized and stacked flat so that it takes up less space. Oversize items are stored in the garage in airtight bins.
And some of the collection is on loan to the Hollywood Boulevard, a small movie theater and restaurant in Woodridge, Ill., that will run "It's a Wonderful Life" just before Christmas this year.
Espinet would approve.
"It's OK to collect stuff," she said. "It's just how much stuff you have and how you choose to display it in your house."