Sunday, January 22, 2012


I’m a pack rat. There. I admitted it. Admission is halfway to solving the problem, right? So by admitting it, doesn’t it rightfully follow that my house will unclutter itself? That all the dust bunnies will move out and there will no longer be piles of “stuff” all over the place?
Apparently not. When we moved into this house nearly eighteen years ago, we had more room (and rooms) than we knew what to do with. It’s an old Queen Anne Victorian with a balcony off one bedroom (which we turned into a study), a wrap-around porch (which we use as an outdoor living room in the summer, sans television) and lots and lots of space. At least for us. There are just the four of us and (usually) one cat at a time living in 2500 square feet. We came from a house that had 1600 square feet and it’s amazing what the addition of less than a thousand square feet can do to a place. Of course, we have a full attic and basement in this house and the other didn’t.
Storage space, nonexistent before, suddenly became available. So we stored stuff. And stored more stuff. And then got more stuff to store. The attic as well as the basement managed to collect unwanted toys, books the kids outgrew, memories and of course, Christmas decorations.
Recently, my daughter graduated from college, got a job and moved away. Again, one would think the house would be less full just by default. That the little decluttering fairies would come in the night, or at least to help with the move, and take some of the stuff away.
Again, you would be wrong. Yes, her room is emptier, but the rest of the house? Not so much.
What really did it was the re-thinking of the use of space. My husband has recently taken up painting (check out his paintings...I always knew there was a latent talent there. He just needed a little push). As a result, we are drowning in canvasses, paint tubes, and all the general detritus that goes along with selling prints of one’s paintings (do you have any idea how much room mailing tubes take up?). The study, which we shared, had become me tucked into a corner increasingly losing ground to my husband’s new career.
We also discovered we didn’t work well together. The clacking of my keyboard as I wrote disturbed his mental process. The music he wanted to play while he painted disturbed mine. I need to get up and walk around every once in a while and my steps jiggled his canvas (it’s an old house). Tensions built.
Family meeting time. We presented the problem to the kids and said we needed to find a new way of using the house so my husband could have his own studio. Without hesitation, my son gave up his room and volunteered to move into the tiniest of the bedrooms upstairs. At 9’x 6’ there’s barely enough room for a twin bed and a desk. But he worked out an agreement with my husband that his clothes could stay in the new “studio” and he’d live in what he now deemed his “man cave.”
Sometimes ya just gotta love your kids.
His solution ended up saving all our sanity in several ways. That room had become a catchall for my stuff. Taking a morning to clean it out gave me the opportunity to throw away stuff I’d been holding onto for far too long. His move and subsequent clean out gave my son the same opportunity. By the time the two of us were done with our respective rooms, we had six garbage bags for the Salvation Army and two for the trashman. We also filled two blue recycling bins.
And then my husband cleaned out his side of the study.
More for the Salvation Army, more for the garbageman, more for the recycling center.
I’m making a New Year’s Resolution to be less of a pack rat this year. When I come across something I haven’t used in a year’s time –and won’t use in the upcoming year—I’m tossing it. I’m re-thinking every purchase before I make it. Do I have something already that will do the same job? If I buy that blouse, what blouse am I sending away to make room? Can I get that book as an ebook on my Cruz? My resolution: nothing more comes in unless something of equal size goes out.
So how about you? How do you handle the clutter of living? I’m open to all suggestions! Help a gal out, here, will ya?

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Lynn LaFleur said...

I have no solution to your clutter as I'm guilty of the same thing. I've decided this is the year I clean my house from top to bottom and get rid of things I don't need. As you said, Diana, if I haven't used it in a year, I don't need it.

We have a family yard sale at my sister's house every September. This time, I'll have lots to add to it!


Cait Miller said...

I tend to accumulate till I can't stand the sight of it then I have a big clearout and either donate or sell it at the car boot sale. Which I guess is like a mass yard sale :) I don't think I'm ever gonna change now.

Diana Hunter said...

LOL You two are no help at all! :)

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