Minimizing With My Sisters


Each shelf is designated to hold mementos from my sister’s hometown, Italy trip, our parents, her in-laws, and her own family.

Why is it easier to see what changes should be done in other people’s houses than in your own? We live with same mundane objects day after day even if we don’t use them. The problem is that if you have the space, things accumulate.

My husband and daughters will tell you how organized our house is and how quick I am to toss stuff in the trash or recycle bin. They’ve heard my mantra “less is more” many times. I can’t stand clutter. Everything must be in its proper place. Clean, clear surfaces relax me.

Yet when my sister visited last weekend, she saw room for even more minimizing. Alison has become obsessive compulsive since she downsized. She eliminated excess items from her former home and thinks our sister Lynne and I should do the same. The difference is that we still live in our big houses with lots of storage space while she’s nesting in a cute little apartment.

“What’s with all the large serving platters? Who’s coming?” Alison asks.

I chuckled. True, I’ve never hosted dozens of family members for holiday meals the way my mother and aunts did when all the relatives lived close by.

“What about this salad spinner? Do you ever use it?”


“Throw it out.”

I dutifully complied while our sister Lynne sipped wine at the kitchen table and laughed, too. She’d been through this process with Alison last month when instructed to excavate the two large bushes flanking her porch steps. Alison also convinced Lynne to relocate an antique curio cabinet from the basement to the kitchen. Together they cleaned and filled it with meaningful gifts. Lynne admittedly likes both updates.

While I sorted and stacked plastic ware (“How many leftover containers do you need?”), Alison opened the pantry closet and lined up boxes of crackers and pasta. They looked fine to me but she wanted all the labels facing the same direction.

During the course of the weekend, I noticed other changes while moving about the house without her. She had pushed the couch on the screened-in porch on a diagonal. I admit it looks better. She covered the dirt on the plant in the powder room with small shells. “Your guests don’t want to see dirt,” she said.

I miss my sisters who live out of state. We only see each other a couple of times a year. So when they come to my house, I’m eager to let them add their touches here and there. It makes me feel more connected to them.

linen closetBefore leaving for the airport, Alison put her coffee cup down, looked at Lynne and me and said, “Do we have time to tackle that linen closet?” She thinks I have more curtains, tablecloths and cotton napkins than I need. She’s probably right.

“No, but I’ll leave something else for you to organize on your next visit.”

Upon returning home, I thinned out that closet. However, I did move the antique chair in the family room back two feet to its original spot.