The essay is the "before." The photos are the "after." I hope it all makes sense. My calves are feeling the burn of taking more than 20 trips upstairs to get clutter out of the shop.
I have too many things for my living and working space. It's not so bad that someone is going to call in the Health Dept, but it bothers me. It is exacerbated by the fact that I am both an antiques dealer and a collage artist. There's just always so much cool stuff at estate & yard sales, flea markets, and other antique shops, and it's hard to pass them up!
My shop, Rose Brier Antiques, was closed all winter and I'm afraid I let it get very overrun by things needing pricing & treasures I wanted to incorporate into collages. Anything I didn't know what to do with went onto the floor. Like a lot of people who have too much stuff, I really wasn't aware of how much I really had. I am working to open the shop on Saturday and without a huge effort to remove the clutter, customers would not be able to get in the door. My insurance would probably be sorely tested as customers tripped over all the crap on the floor.
When we lived in San Diego, I had space in an antique mall. I would shop on Cape Cod every summer and bring things back to sell. When I closed that space I continued to buy but I didn't open another antique shop until last summer, some six years later! On the one hand, I have lots of fun things to put out. On the other, there are boxes and boxes of treasures that haven't seen the light of day for a few years.
My husband had a brilliant suggestion. As he reminded me, the shop displays are in place and very nice. All I needed to do was remove the items that were un-priced, un-ironed, on the floor, or otherwise making the place look scruffy. His suggestion -- just move it -- has worked wonderfully. I moved the excess to our upstairs guest room knowing I wouldn't have guests until the end of July. It gives me a deadline to deal with it, cuz I hate having company see my slob side! And the shop can open for the season. Hooray!
For those of you dealing with stuff issues, I highly recommend this book: Stuff, Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost & Gail Steketee, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. The authors are therapists who have been working with people who hoard. It's well written, gentle and insightful. I learned a lot about what triggers hoarding and how we give meaning to things. I'm glad to say I'm not a full-out compulsive hoarder, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a whole lot of valuable information to be gained.