Worth repeating: The curse of the large house

I originally wrote this post in 2016. And it’s as true now as ever. Now’s a great time to do some decluttering!

The curse of the large house

My husband and I own a house that’s larger than we need. It was built in 1908 as a two-family house and when we bought it, we lived in the upstairs apartment and rented out the downstairs apartment. The upstairs apartment, which has two bedrooms and is 1600 square feet, was plenty big for the two of us. But we rather hated being landlords, despite the fact we had good renters. (Truth be told, we’re born renters.)

We moved to Brooklyn, New York, for four years and in that time rented out both units of the house, with the help of a property manager. Our rent in Brooklyn was twice the mortgage payment of our St. Louis house. So when we moved back to St. Louis, we decided to live in the whole house and avoid the stress of being a landlord.

So we literally have twice as much space as we need. (More than twice a much, actually.) Plus we have a full basement.

Recently I’ve been decluttering some deep storage in our home because we’ve waterproofed our basement and now have the ability to store stuff down there. I came across items that we put away in 2001 when we moved back to St. Louis. This is stuff we haven’t used in 15 years. Stuff we didn’t even miss. Or remember owning. (I’m talking about items like tablecloths, games, and a bag marked, in my handwriting, “Barry’s shirts.” What was I thinking?) Most of it has been donated.

The longer I’m a professional organizer the more fervently I believe that life is better when we have less stuff. I believe that owning fewer belongings leads to more freedom. And I see it in my clients as well.

I have two clients looking to put their houses on the market on February 15. Both clients own spacious homes. Consequently, both clients have lots of stuff. I am encouraging them to let go of as much as possible as we pack up items for storing for staging purposes. As my team members and I are handling these items, I just keep thinking about how much better off we all would be dragging around less stuff.

If you live in a small home that is bursting at the seams, you may think the answer to your clutter problem would be moving to a larger home. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t true. When we have large homes, we tend to acquire more. (Just like when we have higher incomes we tend to spend more.)

At some point before long, I suspect Barry and I will sell our house and move. Believe me, I will be advocating for a much smaller space! As challenging as the downsizing might be, I’m confident having fewer belongings will lead to happiness and peace of mind.