Old Houses, Avarice, and Overflowing Closets

Among the other “necessary” fixes to the house, something we’ve spent a good amount of time discussing is closet space, especially in the bedrooms. Overall, for such a small house, there’s a good amount of storage. Even the fact that we have closets in the bedrooms is something for which I am grateful, but they’re pretty small, pretty cramped spaces, with the ceiling diving down at a precarious angle, making extensive storage somewhat impossible.

But a few days ago, J read a paragraph to me from Glittering Vices, Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung’s recent book on the seven deadly sins. This quote is from her chapter on avarice, and it was convicting to folks like us who really want to live simply and not be stuff-hoarders. She writes,

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a small apartment. It was old and quite run-down, but to us, its most noteworthy disadvantage was the size of the closets. They were barely deep enough for a single pair of shoes and about an eighth of the size of any closet in any place we had lived previously. Our workout clothes alone filled one of them. “What did the people who built that house ever do with all their clothes?” we wondered. Then I recalled my mother telling me that when she grew up, she had two dresses to her name–one for school and one for church on Sunday. That would have fit in our closet with room to spare! While our current house doesn’t have a walk-in closet, it does have double closets in every room and a cedar closet in the hallway. They are always full. (p. 105)

This resonated with me because I know that even if (okay, when) we renovate the closet space in this house, at least in our bedroom, it will still be bursting at the seams. I know that our basement will be full of stored items, our shed will be, the laundry room shelves will be, everything will be full.

Everything. And I know that we have too much stuff.

It seems like we need what we have, at least on the surface, but considering it all in terms of avarice, well, that will get you thinking a little differently.

(Glittering Vices is a good contemporary intro to the seven deadly sin tradition, by the way, if you are interested.)

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2 comments on “Old Houses, Avarice, and Overflowing Closets

  1. Dena Dyer says:

    This is a good time for me to read this…my hubby is going to grad school and we’re moving with our two boys from a biggish house into a smallish apartment. It’s a good lesson in simplifying and being content, whatever our circumstances. I look forward to reading more of your work on HCB!

  2. elizabeth says:

    Thanks, Dena. Simplifying is always hard, isn’t it? But you’re right, it does teach us something about being content. Sometimes I wonder if the harder it is to let our stuff go, the more we are able to become aware of our misplaced priorities.

    A few years ago we did the opposite sort of move, from a one-bedroom apartment to a larger (though still small, all things considered) house. I was sure our stuff would never fill up that space, but before long it did. Every closet in that house was overflowing, even with efficient shelving units. One of those Murphy’s Law kinds of things, right?

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