Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Old Junk and Clutter

By: Jaymie Leighton, from Victoria Hamilton's Vintage Kitchen Mysteries
Pub. Date: A Deadly Grind - Berkley Prime Crime - May 2012

So, here's my problem... no one else I know (except my good friend, Valetta Nibley) likes 'old stuff' as much as I do. As many of you may know, I live in the Leighton family home, a pretty, charming, yellow brick two storey in Queensville, Michigan.

The upside of this is, well... I love it and it's rent free. How many other thirty-two-year-old women can say that?

The downside? Well, everyone else in the family (except my dad) thinks they have a right to comment on what I bring into the house. I suppose by 'everybody' I really mean just my mom and my older sister, Becca, who lives in Canada but comes down to stay regularly in the house, which we co-own. My Mom and Dad only come up to Michigan a couple of times a year, partly to visit my grandmother over the border, but also to check in with Becca and me. That's why they deeded the house to us; it made sense, financially, and in every other way. But still, when my Mom does come up, she goes over every inch of the house and complains about all the vintage touches I've added over the last couple of years. She's a minimalist, which makes me a... maximalist? Is that a word?

I say, if the house hasn't exploded yet, it isn't holding all it can.

I'm just joking. I don't want the house to look like an episode of that TV show 'The Hoarder Chronicles', but I do like it to look warm and lived in.

I love the kitchen most of all; it is original to the 1920s, the last time it was really renovated, and so I've lined the tops of the cupboards with vintage and antique tins from the time period, a unique set of scales that came out of the Queensville Emporium, and other odds and ends. Mom says it looks junky, and Becca agrees. I say, as long as I'm the one living here, and I keep it dusted (moderately) then it's my business. My dad tells me he agrees with me, but when my Mom confronted him, he said it was between us.

How do we find middle ground? I want to be fair, but I feel like they're second guessing me all the time. Now, when I look at vintage stuff in the antique stores, I not only evaluate it from my viewpoint, but from my Mom's and even Becca's, too. It makes me wish for a place that is truly my own. 

I know, I know... I don't mean to whine. I'm fortunate, and I realize that. But it is one complication that I just have to sort out. Does anyone have any advice for how to find that middle ground, or just get them off my back?

As I write this, I realize one thing. I'm not really asking for advice on how to compromise, I just want my own way, and that's not right. Okay, let me try that again... what do you think would be a fair compromise, or am I really okay doing exactly what I want? Should I make the effort, or stand my ground?

For more info on Victoria Hamilton's Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, check out the blog:

You'll also find FaceBook and Twitter links there.


  1. Maximalist! I think I'll borrow that . . .

  2. You're the one who lives there. Worry about compromise when one of them moves in. Until then, enjoy your home the way you like it!

    ~ Sophie

  3. I think it's good of you to worry about making a compromise but live there, you have to look at it and deal with it each day, it should be your decision. Can you learn to just grin & bear it when they start criticizing? Good luck!

  4. One day at a time! Live your own life. I don't think you are a candidate for Hoarders. I checked with my organizer Charlotte Adams and she agrees. I love the idea of your collections, but yes, maybe it is time to get a place where you make all the decisions.

  5. Janet... borrow away!

    Sophie... horrors! One of them moves in? Eeek... we'd come to blows.

    Erika, I'll try the grin and bear it routine. It's only a few days at a time, so I should be able to.

    Mary Jane, it's a relief to know an organizer doesn't think I'm a hoarder. Yet. But I'm not leaving. I love this old house too much.

    Thanks for the advice!