We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The stuff is too much with us. You only need one of everything you need and, sometimes, less than one. Except for money, less is more.
Every two years, we do a deep Spring Cleaning. Step one is getting rid of things. Step 2 is deep cleaning with cleaning helpers and fresh painting afterwards, as needed. Some years it takes a dumpster, some years our yard guys with a truck, and some years it's just throwing trash bags full of clothing into the back of the Suburban to go to Good Will, Salvation Army or, if really good stuff, Thrift Shop.
We do have a "storage room" in the cottage. Four antique and beautiful andirons. A "brown", once thought elegant, dining room table. Spare brown dining chairs. Extra bookshelves. Spare beds and bedframes, etc. Why? Waiting for what? Death and the Final Dumpster, the Dumpster of Doom? Or the Garage Sale of Death?
One of our projects this year is to convert a college kid's room into a lovely guest room. This means the kid's books into boxes to the attic, the kid's childhood desk and furniture to charity, a new Queen bed, and painting/redecorating.
- Any book in the house never to be re-read by us or wanted by kids: Recycling or donated
- Any old surplus furniture not tagged by kids (esp old "brown" furniture): Dumpster if yard guys don't want it Can't give that stuff away.
- Carpets: We have enough antigue oriental carpets to furnish a palace. Mostly in a closet with mothballs. Some won't fit in there. Entirely out of fashion and unwanted but we love them and they once had value. We will not buy another house just to use carpets and paintings. Maybe consign them? Probably not worth the trouble.
- Closets of clothing: If not used in one year, it's gone. If ugly, gone. How many sweaters do you need? It is a liberating experience.
- Boxes of old photos and photo albums: Dumpster if nobody in the family wants them. Seems like a shame, but past is past.
- Knick-knacks, goo-gaws, and misc. decorative items and things kids made in grammar school out of clay - dumpster. It's not immortal art. Getting rid of stuff is painful, but the good, cleansing pain like having a wart removed.
- Excess kitchen and serving items: Unload on your kids, donate, or dumpster.
And if they are not photos of people without their clothes on: http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2016/01/in-which-primo-shreds-slys-sex-diary.html
If they are jumbled in boxes, with duplicates and triplicates and blurry photos of "the trees by the hospital where Nancy stayed once," please ditch them. Your children will feel guilty about throwing them away and your children's spouse will be cranky about all the extra boxes in the basement.
"- Boxes of old photos and photo albums: Dumpster if nobody in the family wants them. Seems like a shame, but past is past."
My aunt earned my undying anger by burning old family photos that she assumed nobody would want. They included the only photo I am aware of of my great grandfather. I keep hoping that someone has another but after 25 years, no sign of one.
Try to label with what you know but put them away and be sure everyone in the family, especially those interested in genealogy, know about them.
Take photos of stuff the kids made, old college souvenirs, wedding presents you can't use and anything you donate and store them digitally before you get rid of the item. It saves time when you are looking for it later and can't find it.
I made little albums for the kids, each one focused on the one kid, made copies where necessary, of family vacations and big events, birthdays, etc. I scanned my mother's old albums and titled each picture with what she told me about the people in them (and she had my grandmother's stuff!), and sent relevant copies to my brother.