- Organizing & Decluttering
My Husband, the Collector
The Early Years
I married a collector. I didn't realize it at the time. He hadn't started in earnest. It slowly dawned on me over the next 20 years. We have been married for 30 years. During that time, we have lived in seven residences plus two apartments in Toronto while weekending up north. Most people, before they move, cull. They sort through their belongings, dividing them into three groups - throw away, give away/sell and can't live without. Not my collector. He has one group - can't live without.
Don't get me wrong. I love my husband. His collection, at least part of it, is very useful. He collects power tools and building materials along with magazines, clothes, shoes, hats – well, you get the picture. Tools and building materials come in handy at times - like when you need to build a shed or two – to store your collection.
We lived with my mother for seven years. It is a war-time bungalow. well-built but small. We turned most of the basement into living space. We used some of the carport for the collection and shipped the rest off to (gasp) paid-for off-site storage. My collector crunched the numbers and decided it would be more cost effective to use the funds to build a shed rather than pay for storage.
It's a pretty shed - set back in a corner of the yard, nestled between the cedar hedge and shade trees. We painted it dark red with white trim. It has two bump outs for benches, thereby saving valuable floor space and a large barn door beside the man door. There is room to store sports equipment in the "attic".
We were happy with our living arrangement. A few years and a couple of grandchildren later though, we realized that the little bungalow was not big enough for three adults (one of which was approaching 80) and two visiting toddlers. We bought the house next door.
Divide and Multiply
We called it 309 to avoid confusion with great-grandma's house at 311. It is a story and a half with a basement and a baby barn. We took with us to 309 the tools necessary to renovate but left the other items of the collection in the shed and basement at great-grandma's. It was very convenient to have our collection stored so close to home (and for free). We lived in and renovated 309 for two years. Part of the renovation included building a shed. (The baby barn was okay for lawn equipment and snow blower but nothing else.) Over the course of a few weeks, we became the proud owners of another shed. This one we painted white since that was the colour of the paint we had in the basement (another part of the collection). We referred to "our shed" as the white shed and the original as the red shed.
The time came, as it does for many of us, for my mother to move into a retirement residence. After two years of renovations, we sold 309 and moved back into 311 (my mother's house). We decided it was best for us to rent from her until the real estate market improved.
There is a term in the software world called “creep”. It is what happens to a deadline when you aren't looking. The collection didn't creep. It spread. It went from one shed into two sheds, a baby barn and half a basement. But how do you downsize a collection? How do you choose one item over another? You don't. You “organize” (my husband's term) and take the shed with you.
That's right. We moved the white shed. I've lost track of how much time we spent. Hubby bought some steel and welded a frame together to support the shed during the move. After cutting down some ratty trees and removing the fence, we moved the shed across the property line approximately 20 feet. It now sits nicely in front of the red shed in my mother's back yard.
The other day, hubby said that he wanted to run an idea past me. He was thinking of building an enclosure using a piece of eight-foot high chain link fence (part of the collection) to hold the snow blower, lawn mower and bicycles. You see, they take up too much room in the sheds. I thought, “Oh no. This is going to turn into ANOTHER shed!”. After much discussion about placement and size, cost of materials and time, he decided to build a big box trailer instead. I'm not completely sure but his thinking might have changed when I told him that, if we were to move again, he wouldn't be able to take the shed with him.