Way back when my husband and I got married - almost 4 years ago - we had each been living on our own. My husband had been out of his parents' house since college, just never went back, and I moved out of my parents' house around spring break of my first year of teaching. This of course meant that we each had collected the standard necessities (and then some) that one requires/acquires when living out on their own. We each had some kitchen utensils, bed sheets, bath towels, dishes, gadgets, computers, televisions, DVD collections, etc. Of course none of these were anything fabulous. They were the cheap, sometimes brightly colored, whatever-we-could-afford-after-college variety.
Well, we were getting married. So of course we were going to register for all the new things we would need/want in our new home together! It's one of the few times in your life you'll ever get a windfall of cash and gifts like that, so you have to take advantage. We did leave off some of the perfectly good things we already owned, and other things we registered for to replace ones we didn't want to keep. Other registry items simply added to the collection.
All of this combining of resources + registering for new resources left us with a pretty packed house. Our once spacious finished basement quickly turned into storage central. It went from a place we could envision ourselves watching movies by the fireplace, to a place you couldn't walk through in the dark without hurting yourself. My adorable husband to this day clings to the basement as a livable space. He spends hours "working" down there. I'm not sure what he does exactly, but I know it's in an effort to make the space usable again. Sadly, with the same amount of stuff and the same amount of space, it just hasn't happened despite his hours of hard work.
Now, my husband and I are generally opposites when it comes to one thing. He is a collector, and I am a hater of "stuff." If it does not have a function, I see no point in owning it. I really dislike things that are merely for sitting and dusting around. Yes, I love photos of my family on shelves and walls, and a cutely decorated shelf here and there. But I reserve those for the things I find most special and want to look at every single day. My husband would probably love to look at his collections every single day, but the problem is his collections have grown beyond the space we have to display them. Therefore they sit. Stored. Not visible at all. After having some chats about the fact that we may never own a home with that much disposable space, I think we are on the path to parting with some of our stuff. Don't get me wrong, I'm not innocent. I have my own sort of collections - clothes, shoes, purses (so many purses!), and various other useful-but-not-used items. I am looking forward to paring those collections down as well.
We have established a game plan, chosen areas of the house we want to work on first and set goals for when we want them to be finished. We established a permanent "donation bin" and have made it our goal to deposit one item per day in it. I don't mean this shirt today, and those shoes tomorrow. I mean clothing one day, shoes, the next, etc. I would love to keep this up for a year and see how our house looks 365 items lighter!
I think the bottom line is that we can live and function very happily with much less than what we are currently "storing" in our house. Plus the less we have, the less we have to clean and maintain and worry about. The purge is about reclaiming space and time. Where things used to be stored, we'll have living space. Time that was spent cleaning or re-arranging can be spent enjoying each other, the world and our home again. A bonus is that we'll save a few bucks not buying things we don't need in an effort to avoid refilling our space.
Hopefully this has not given anyone the false impression that we are hoarders. Yes, my husband likes to collect things, but we have a clean, healthy and safe living environment. We're just looking to pare down and free up some space :) I do intend to take before and after pictures of our project areas, but I'll wait to post them until the area is done. The date we set to be finished with our main level is mid-September, so I will gladly post some pictures around that time when things are all put together. I've never undertaken an overhaul of this proportion, but the thought of it is very exciting as cleaning and organizing are two of my favorite things to do! So wish us luck and stay tuned for updates on our progress :)