“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
— William Morris
It’s time for me to come clean, literally. I am a fraud. The vision I have of myself and reality are not exactly lining up.
I would swear I am not a hoarder. I like organization. I don’t even have a junk drawer. I am in a long-term relationship with my label maker. I actually enjoy cleaning my house.
If asked, I will tell you without hesitation that my favorite hobby is organizing. Have a closet that needs to be cleaned out? Don’t threaten me with a good time.
If I find myself having an entire day without plans, I can start with coffee and conversation and see where the day takes me. If it takes me cleaning, organizing and donating piles of things, I am thrilled. Homemaking is my jam.
That’s why I was as shocked as anyone when I opened an attic closet and realized I could not see even one square foot of floor.
Our attic, it should be noted, is not a dark, dusty storage space as most people understand attics in the truest sense. No. Our attic is a walk-up, fully finished third-floor space that is as large as the floors below.
All of that space towering in the treetops was seductive. It is one of the many reasons I fell in love with our home at first sight. Over the years, it has served many purposes. It has been an office, playroom, game room, family room, craft room, guest room, Boywonder’s lair and mini apartment at various times over the years.
I will always have fond memories of the vintage kindergarten table that held craft supplies for the children and the mountains of stuffed animals that Mr. Wonderful swore were the only insulation the house had for a few years. Then there were the blocks, the trains, the many toys and later the sport memorabilia, video games and musical instruments. Our son had a drum set. I never said we were WISE parents.
The current incarnation is a guest room, sitting room and memorabilia center. The built-in bookcases that flank the north window are where the scrapbooks live. Apparently, the attic is also where endless piles and pounds of stuff live.
I don’t have a reason to go up there very often. Being an “empty nester” in a fairly large “nest,” I fully admit there are rooms I don’t visit as often as I should. I would like to claim otherwise but the dust bunnies will swear they don’t recognize me.
In digging through the large attic closet, I found not one but two Christmas trees. Big ones. Fully decorated. I also unearthed a box of magazines from the 1940s — the beauty tips alone are worth a read.
So where did all of this attic stuff come from? Hand-me-downs, heirlooms and boxes and bins of photographs (precious), as well as family notes and possessions (also precious). I am the family historian. It is a blessing and an honor. Still, I need to get things under control. As it stands, I cannot see the forest of photographs and memories through the Christmas trees.
We also have piles of outdoorsy items and hunting gear, which is not precious to ME but the people who own it are precious, so it stays. We also harbor the cumulative total of four childhoods worth of ephemera. This would be mine, Mr. Wonderful’s and those of each of our children.
I swore I was a mother who saved with intent. I would have told you I was careful to only keep meaningful art and essays the children brought home over the years: the ones where they wrote about themselves or their family or the ones where they said we were “the best mom and dad ever.” It’s always good to have that in writing. All lies. I saved too much nonsense and random papers.
Honestly, with the sheer amount of time I spend clearing out and dropping off donations, we should be down to the clothes on our backs, our beds and maybe one chair remaining. I make regular trips to the thrift store to drop off donations like it’s my job. We just don’t like to surround ourselves with excess.
Of course, I do love antique shops and thrift stores. I am told I have a “good eye for quality.” I also appreciate the family pieces handed down to me to keep or save for the kids.
All of this is to say that despite my commitment to organization and decluttering, some things are here to stay. My style is definitely not minimalism. It is more “intentionalism.”
After all, it’s not hoarding if your stuff is cool.
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