Building Peaceable Habitation

When I visited my new husband’s three-bedroom home for the first time I brought a weekender and a banjo. There was not an inch of closet space, not a single drawer, not a spare corner, not even an empty armchair in the whole house in which I could safely stash the suitcase.

I did find a safe place for the banjo beneath the baby grand but there was no room to unpack and play it. So for us, there was never a question that we needed to empty out a lot of stuff.

But what should go? A lot of the stuff belonged to his deceased first wife and he’d not yet been able to face it.  As I came up with respectful suggestions about what to do with it, he could let it go.

But there was, and is, All Sorts of Other Stuff …

Often, what one family member views as unnecessary junk, another sees as treasure: infrequently used exercise equipment, historic baby furniture, an old bicycle, piles of holiday tins… If the stuff is clogging space that another wants to use, well, that’s when things get dicey.

Folks can agree to a stalemate with truce.  Sometimes there is a knock-down drag-out, sometimes there is agreement about a new shed out back, sometimes there is a failed marriage.

Here’s part of our happy solution.

We mutually arrived at a vision of what we want to do in each room of our house.  It was just plain fun to hear about where and how we wanted to work, to relax, to entertain, to…

With a clear vision in hand we could decide what stuff should be in each room. By focussing on what we wanted to keep we could usually agree about what we didn’t want and we walked most of that stuff out of the house with our blessing.

The very best part was that we began to enjoy reclaiming our spaces and living in our house together.

Do you really have too much stuff?

Is there space in your house you want to use for something that you simply can’t use because it is piled with stuff?
Do you have anywhere else to put your stuff?



Just Get Rid Of It

In one year’s time I remarried, retired, and relocated across the country to my widower husband’s home.

“What will you do now?” they all would ask.

“I’m going to write a book about the eighteen weeks we spent paring my possessions to the bone, then clearing enough stuff from my husband’s home so my stuff could fit in it,” I would answer.

One time, one of our friends replied, “But. If you need to get rid of stuff, you just get rid of it! What is there to write about?”

I thought for a moment. We’d already learned about his retirement and about their two daughters preparing to marry and to leave home.

“Don’t you and your wife want to cut back?” I asked.


“Well then. What stops you?”

After a pause, slowly,

“She says if I get rid of five pounds of my stuff, then she’ll get rid of five pounds of hers….” and his voice trailed off.

I know very well what might be in those unspoken volumes. His eyes caught mine as he began to have an idea what might be in such a book.

Nevertheless, our friend is right.  When we need to get rid of stuff we just get rid of it.

But there’s a catch. It’s that word “need.” And that other word, “just.”

For consideration:
If you are successfully decluttering your home, what motivated you to get started?

If you haven’t started yet but you would like to, think of a few reasons that hold you back. Whatever they may be, you aren’t alone.