Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Hoarders" - The Play At Home Game

When I was running my vintage clothing business, particularly between 2008-2010, I turned most of our apartment into a storage facility.  I stopped taking pics of the place until a year or two ago.  I had never been a hoarder, but the thrill of the hunt left me with tons of clothing and accessories.  I had too much to photograph and sell.  Every Christmas I hired an assistant.  The right hand living room window was completely blocked off by massive storage bins.  I had three racks of clothing in the gallery, every surface had stuff on it.  I had put together an expensive shelving system, planning to use it as an all-in-one.  But it got covered in more stuff.  All of our closets--except Jeff's--had my clothing in them.

Those of you who've seen my apartment know that by NYC standards, it's huge.  We had a cleaning lady come in every two weeks, so it was somewhat under control.  Mostly she helped me organize the clothing etc. and then cleaned the rest of the place.  We worked with an organizer, but everything kept going back to crap.  Here's some pictures from 2006.

2006Ebay store

My custom-built shelves.  I used the ironing board to de-lint and pack clothing.  The area on the far right later had bins stacked to the ceiling.

2006Living room

Our living room.  By 2008 huge storage tubs went all the way to Jeff's desk on the left by the window, and the right-hand window was almost completely blocked off.


Our gallery.   It also got way worse. In the back you can see my beloved plus-size mannequin, Bodicea. She was donated last year to the Shirley Chisholm Foundation to be used at a home for at-risk teens.

I sold on Ebay for nearly ten years.  After the economy bottomed out, I was selling at a loss. I closed my store, sold off all of my vintage and donated much of the contemporary stuff, or gave it to plus-sized friends.  I sold up to size 10X in contemporary, as large as I could find in vintage.  I put ads in Craig'sList for free hangers and packing material.  Every piece of bubble wrap that came out of my supply closet HURT.  I've been cleaning and purging off and on since then.

Recently I discovered I'm a paper hoarder.  A month or so ago I had a shredding company take out an industrial size container of paper, and there is still tons more. (Gaahhh...)  BUT!  Our apartment is cleaner than it has been in years.  In fact, it's so clean it makes me a little anxious.

Living Room 2
Living room

We had the built-in metal bookshelves moved into the living room, and donated the Ebay shelves to Materials for the Arts. And 85% of the bins, particularly the huge storage tubs with wheels. The Victorian fainting couch belonged to Jeff's mother.  We got it when she moved from Nyack to North Carolina in the 1990s. The armchair and ottoman are also from my mother in law, when she moved from North Carolina to the Ass-End of Nowhere.

Living Room 1

Living room facing the gallery.  Above the couch hangs a painting of Pittsburgh by my mom.

Gallery 2

The gallery.

My mother painted the ocean scene, which is what you could see from our late lamented beach house.  The gallery is 20 feet long, so you can't get a feel for how large it is. On top of the bookcase is a sculpture that my mother did in the 1940s. The red bag contains my dad's ashes, and the top hat I brought back from London for him.  It's so big that when I put it on, it drops to my nose.

Gallery 1
Other side of gallery.

Note marble "cane stand" on the right.  My sister did the painting of our first cats c. 1975.  The antique chest is from my mother.  You can't see it, but on the left is an antique German table that my other sister gave me, and an antique monastery chair (or a good copy) that I got from Sarah Lawrence college while my dad was president.

The rest of the boxes are in a corner of the dining room.  I moved them there before a dinner party for my sister Tessa.  Eleven people, including my mom and the rest of the family.  It was a whopping success. 

Yes, it is an episode of "Hoarders."  We've been in our apartment for many years. But it wasn't until I started the business that things got so out of hand. 

When my brother posts his pictures of the dinner party, I'll put some up so it REALLY is an episode of "Hoarders." 

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