November, 2000 Contest: Are You A Pack Rat Or A Minimalist?

Three Way Tie Contest Winners: Kara Janis of Centreville, VA and Verna Othieno of Nairobi, Kenya and Kimberly McCormack of Charlotte, NC

Kara Janis, Centreville, VA

It’s not easy being a packrat family. There are so many articles to collect and so little space to store them in! We have a drawer full of little odds and ends that are too useful to throw away and yet too obsolete to know what they are for. Do you have such a drawer in your house? It’s magic–clean this drawer out and it fills again overnight. Remember that magazine article, recipe, coupon you wanted to read, clip or use? We have it at our house. You’re welcome to try and find it in our stacks of periodicals too important for the recycle bin. We’re blessed to have children in our house. Did you know that every eating establishment known to children-kind gives away small plastic toys that take over every storage receptacle in your house? Children are very attached to these mementos, therefore it is impossible to get rid of them. Do you like to try new beauty products as we do? These bottles, tubes and containers fill our bathroom cabinets to the brim. I’m sure they’d improve our appearance if we had time to use all of them. Our garage, attic, closets, drawers, and cabinets are full, but somehow there is always room for more. But, we’re a happy little packrat family because we have everything we need. It may take us a day or two to find it, but we feel secure just knowing that it’s there. Thank goodness the things that are really important in life are the things we can’t squirrel away.

Verna Othieno, Nairobi, Kenya

I am a minimalist. I tend to utilize anything that is available to create a unique item, I also change positions of things to get a different effect in the home. I love turning simple ideas into something classy. I use almond seeds, dried leaves and sometimes sawdust to fill differently shaped bottles for the bathroom, sitting room, fireplace and round the dining room shelves. I can use a certain range of colors when I want to get a jungle effect on an item, ie. a woven basket filled with jungle colors thrown across the floor of the living room partitioning.
I also use the shell of the pumpkin, dry it and varnish it to use as a calabash hanged in the kitchen shelves for savoring porridge or serving groundnuts.
I am happy as a minimalist because I do not really have to go for expensive accessories to have a certain effect in the home. I can use what is available to give a completely new life into the home

Kimberly McCormack, Charlotte, NC

A pack rat or a minimalist? What day is it? I am the Jekyll and Hyde of decorating and the two sides are constantly at war. Is there a Freud of the decorating world to help me maintain my sanity and keep my multiple personalities at peace? I love to save stuff from my past and sometimes I save out of pure laziness. Sometimes I save because I think I should and sometimes because my nesting instinct takes over. But then there are days when I clutch my hair and scream because I can’t stand the stuff. Oh I yearn for the clean, open spaces that I associate with luxury and good living.
And then the battle breaks out. I haul out the trash bags and start tossing. Some days the minimalist wins, only to be replaced by a mourning pack rat who realizes I’ve just thrown out the best years of my life or that “thing” that I suddenly need. Sometimes the pack rat emerges after half an hour and digs everything out of the trash and spends the rest of the day reminiscing. The minimalist takes its revenge by stealthily stealing things and moving them to small piles throughout the condo that eventually get closer and closer to the trash can.
I don’t think I can take much more of this! The decorating style of my craftsman bungalow may soon be replaced by padded walls and hospital beds!