Inside Story: Husband’s hoarding becomes blessing in disguise for Houston family

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HOUSTON — Is all forms of hoarding a bad thing? Some may say hoarding is in the eye of the beholder.

"My husband was a collector," Lauren Primoff said. "He was a collector of African art, guitars, cowboy hats, beer steins, records, tapes, pants, boots — anything and everything you can think of."

In edition of 'Inside Story' from the pages of Houstonia Magazine, we learn that hoarding and collecting go hand in hand, at least for some like Lauren Primoff and her husband, Stephen Primoff.

The couple said Stephen Primoff's collecting had created so much clutter that the family could hardly move around the house.

"Once it gets to be a problem, it's a hoard," Lauren said. "Now the problem that we had with that, my husband was sick, and we were dealing with a big pile of stuff that I couldn't throw away because most of it was valuable."

His African art collection alone grew to over one thousand pieces, and his guitar collection included hundreds of instruments.

Lauren Primoff decide to contact 'Antiques Roadshow' appraiser John Buxton to take a look at her husband's art collection.

"And he came down and looked at the collection, and decided that it was worthy of special attention," Lauren said.

At that point, Lauren found an auction house in Virginia where she shipped off three truck loads of art to be auctioned off.

"This was being done while my husband was deathly ill, and we were trying to avoid upsetting him," Lauren said. "So we started taking out of places he didn't normally hang out."

And then last March, three days after the couple celebrated it 33rd wedding anniversary, Stephen Primoff passed away.

To make matters worse, the Primoff's daughter was paralyzed in a car accident. It was difficult for Rachael, now wheelchair bound, to move around the house because it was filled with clutter, Lauren Primoff said.

"I have a daughter whose extremely disabled and will definitely need special care and special attention," she said.

Miraculously, some of Stephen's collections have brought in enough money to help Lauren take care of their daughter.

"My goal is to make my house some place where we can stay and be comfortable," Lauren said.

So there actually is a fine line between being a hoarder— and being a "collector." The tricky part seems to be knowing when you've crossed that line.

"He made good money; he wanted to buy stuff," Lauren said. "There are a lot of worse things a guy could be doing."

Read more when you pick up this month's issue of Houstonia Magazine.