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Picture of Louise's closet

Louise’s closet. Miraculously, she was able to accomplish this in eight weeks.

Back when we sold it all two years ago, we wrote about how relieved we were to be free of clutter. Why did we need all those office supplies, hair products, cookbooks, shoes, kitchen gadgets, CDs and fabric scraps? How do such collections happen? Here’s how:

We moved into our new apartment in Portland with our one suitcase each. Oh, the joy of empty shelves! Bathroom drawers eager to be organized! Closets with brand new matching empty hangers! It was bliss to be so unburdened, to lead a lightweight life.


Tom’s “appliance garage” started it all.

And then….. I hate to be a shrew, but Tom started it all by buying a humongous slow cooker and a deluxe stainless-steel rice cooker. We brought in the toaster and food chopper from storage, and I added a hand mixer and an electric can opener. Then we needed a storage unit to keep them all in. Tom bought two vacuum cleaners, and since we suddenly had a rug, we needed both spot remover and general rug wash.

For me, it was the clothes sneaking in. As soon as the summer heat began, I found that my gauzy, baggy Mexican dresses, so perfect in the tropics, now limp from 98 washes each, looked frumpy in the city. I had to get shirts and dresses with the fabric finish still on. The four pairs of go-to sandals in beige and black that I had worn for twelve months were now grungy and worn. So yes, I needed urban wedge sandals in turquoise, lime and hot pink. I’d been deprived, after all!

Beauty products snuck in. A new hair stylist recommended some products I brought home. The facialist was pushing tinted sunblock moisturizer. I bit. I hadn’t had new makeup in the year, so a trip to Nordstrom’s Chanel counter was required. (You do know that it’s downright dangerous to wear old eye makeup?) They give samples: end of uncluttered drawer. Teeth whitening strips were too frivolous for travel, but any day now, I’m going to use the ones I bought last month. Also those false eyelashes that were a total whim.

Hey! I’ve got a washer and dryer at last! Enter laundry detergent, stain remover, bleach, fabric softener and spray starch. I made throw pillows and reupholstered cushions: now I have fabric scraps again.

We had to buy a printer, and paper and cartridges for it. My shiny new white desk from West Elm demanded a matching set of white pens and scissors, plus a white tape dispenser.

I won’t go on. You get it. Just fourteen months after the last tag sale, we’re getting ready for the next one. But I’ve got to admit it: necessary, guilt-free acquisition in the name of restocking is just about the most fun a shopping addict can have.