When we moved into this house six years ago, we only lost about two hundred square feet in terms of actual square footage. But because it's arranged differently, it seemed like major downsizing. We lost a walk-in pantry, a study with two walls of built-ins, a linen closet, and two bathrooms (with cabinets). And the kitchen in this house is considerably smaller than the old one, and although we still have a laundry room, the old laundry room had a full wall of cabinets that the new one doesn't have.
In exchange, we got larger rooms with not much storage and an amazing view out the front windows, plus more room for the dog and no covenants against chicken ownership. So, overall: total win. But we have way more stuff than we have places to put it.
At the time we moved, I was still in grad school. We had planned the move for my six-week Christmas break. But you know how those things go. The house needed a bunch of work before we could move in, and it kept taking longer and longer. So we ended up moving the weekend before I had to start classes on Monday. Just in case you can't read between the lines, that was NOT A GOOD IDEA. The de-cluttering that should have happened when we moved didn't happen.
We shoved things in wherever we could find a spot. And now we've lived here six years, and I can tell you for sure that the magic de-cluttering elves have not visited. I've done some emergency clearing now and again, but we are stuffed in this house like cornbread and oysters in a turkey.
I'm not a hoarder, but if there is a personality scale for minimalist vs. hoarder, I'm definitely more on the hoarder end of the scale. I would never let it get so bad that you had to pick your way through piles of stuff to get through the living room. But on the other hand, the idea of living in a pristine house with blank walls, all clean surfaces, and everything put away out of sight is not appealing to me at all-- it sounds sterile and unwelcoming.
I like some magazines piled on the coffee table, books everywhere, treasured knick knacks on the mantle and family photos tucked into corners. But it makes me just as nuts to be faced with piles of crap I don't know what to do with as it does to think about the blank walls and empty shelves. The price to be paid for the tendency to hoard is that periodically I have to clear things out. And oh, how I hate it. (Although I know I'll be happy when I'm done.)
Now my job has ended, and it is time, as Rafiki said. It's such a huge task that it has been a bit difficult to know where to start. So yesterday I just picked a place (a shelf on my side of our closet) and plunged in. Then today I went through all my work clothes and jettisoned the stuff I know I'll never wear again. I already feel better, even though it's not much. At this rate, I'll still be decluttering in 2035.
Probably not very many of you are doing this with me, so I will try not to overdo the decluttering posts. But since it's what I'm thinking about, you're stuck with at least a few.
(This was originally the first half of a longer post, but that post got so long that I split it in two. Part 2 tomorrow.)