Let’s start with your stuff. Look at it, flowing hither and yon like some mid-Atlantic trash vortex.2 Before you succumb to its ever-strengthening pull, have a Stuff Funeral and invite all of the historical Yous who collected it over the years to pay their last respects.3 From here on out, it’s going to be you and only your best, most essential stuff.4
After the Stuff Funeral, review the pile of remaining detritus. Are its components vital to your daily functioning? Yes, keep your dad’s baseball card collection, but option Grandma’s rickety spinning wheel to one of your siblings—you can visit it on holidays.
As for the stragglers that you can’t donate, fob off, or otherwise chuck without an emotional breakdown, consider renting a small locker in a self-storage facility and popping them in there for a few years. They’ll be fine.
1. Apologies to Steve Martin—talented comedian, actor, and quite possibly a Dancer of Architecture.
2. George Carlin said it best: A house is just "a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff."
3. The eight-year-old You with the headless Ken doll. The 24-year-old You with the 138-pound Oxford English Dictionary. The 32-year-old You with the wildly underfunctioning high-end blender.
4. Don’t be afraid to make some cash: Your nonessential stuff is probably worth something to stuff hoarders and their puffy, oversize houses.
Dan Maginn is an AIA-member architect who lives and carpools to work with his wife, Keri, in Kansas City. Although he and his partners at El Dorado Inc. are extremely interested in promoting sustainable design on all scales, he does not consider himself to be an "eco-warrior." Instead he prefers the term "eco-tainment specialist"