It’s true. I do like stuff. Not just any old stuff… but I acquire things and am often reluctant to let them go.
I live with a man of similar habits. Our home is a modest two-bedroom semi-detached cottage, built around 1910, to house mineworkers from the local Lady Victoria Colliery. The pit closed in 1981 and subsequently became home to the Scottish National Mining Museum. The cottages continue to be popular both with people local to Newtongrange and Edinburgh commuters seeking more affordable property.
We’ve been living here for 15 years, always changing things around, striving to make the best use of the space. There’s an attic, crammed full of boxes of junk, (some unopened since we moved in), accessed by a Ramsay ladder, but cupboard space down here is woefully inadequate - there’s one shelved cupboard, which I refer to in my head as ‘the cupboard of doom’. It’s crammed full of electrical leads, light bulbs, hats, an automatic cat feeder, carrier bags full of other carrier bags…you get the picture? I dread opening it because there’s likely to be an avalanche.
I’m lucky to have a dedicated workroom at home, which we’ve made many improvements to over the last few years - soundproofing the adjoining wall, adding lots of shelving, and free-standing cupboards. Of course, they are all overflowing with materials, tools, and equipment. When the shelves are full, piles make their way onto my table. Much of my time is spent shuffling these piles around to make a clear space to work. Sometimes I think my main role as an adult has been shuffling piles of stuff…is that really what it’s all about? The sheer volume of it frequently overwhelms me. I have fantasised about hiring a skip and throwing it all in. If I don’t keep on top of it hoarding could easily become a real issue. But, it’s all too useful. I hate being wasteful and don’t want it polluting landfill instead.
However, amongst it all there are gems. Nothing expensive. Things I would never want to part with: collected postcards, holiday souvenirs, small handmade things, car boot sale finds, toy cars and reminders of childhood - all things that continue to spark joy! We have Ikea picture shelves in the hall which I regularly rearrange. It’s a small area I’m able to take control of, organise and prettify. Spending time with these objects connects me to happy times, people I love/loved and places I’ve explored in a visceral way that even looking at photos on a screen can’t.
Minimalist homes are very elegant but I always wonder where the stuff is kept? They end up looking soulless. Our home will never be like that. I want to have my favourite things around me. My ambition has always been to have a home for everything and everything in its place. I’m working on that…