‘Wait til you see the rest of the house,’ I replied.
We picked our way way through the narrow hallway. The bookshelves surrounded us, lining most of the available wall space. They groaned under the weight of tomes, accumulated over the past twenty-two years. Novels were packed, two deep, into each shelf. More books were squeezed horizontally into the vacant spaces above them. Science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, murder mysteries. movie tie-ins, classics, Doctor Who; there was no prejudice here.
Knick knacks and keepsakes crammed any spare ledge too small to hold a book. Every spare corner dripped with fannish collectibles and badges of geekdom. A gallery of photographs lined any wall not clad in publications. I was in danger of becoming the crazy book lady to be featured on next week’s episode of Hoarders.
We navigated our way to the lounge room.
‘Yes, thank you.’ She scanned the room. More bookshelves. ‘Oh, I loved reading Lord of the Rings. Is that HG Wells?’
I nodded, both proud of my immense collection and yet rethinking the need for a serious declutter. I gazed through the doorway, into the hallway. Half-naked walls caught my attention – wall devoid of useful shelving.
‘I don’t suppose you know anyone who is willing to help move furniture,’ I asked. ‘We scored a free bookshelf, last month, and it is too heavy for me to lift. We are replacing the small bookshelf with a bigger one.’ I smiled and poured the tea.
‘Not a problem. When do you want us?’
‘Fantastic. How about Saturday? I’ll cook dinner.’
I spent most of Saturday relieving the undersized bookshelf of each book, each collectible, each memory, and stacked the treasures in piles on the floor. Finally we were ready. Our friend arrived, husband in tow, ready to help with the transformation of the hall.
Enter one larger wider, and altogether more impressive, bookshelf capable of redistributing the literary content of the hallway in a tidier, more spacious manner. (thanks to Freecycle). We lugged it from the trailer into the hallway. My goodness, it was heavy.
We dragged it in position only to discover it was more oversized than expected. Not only was the lone power point now inaccessible, but the dark monolith drastically reduced the natural lighting that shone into the hall from the doorway.
Dinner was served. A great conversation was had. An agreement for our friends to relieve us of the smaller bookshelf was made.
It was Sunday. I stood in the shadow of the goliath and stared at the grain in the wood of the shelf. I would not let this beat me. I whipped out the tape measure and ran it over the three untouched bookshelves.
Yes, there was a solution.
‘Dearheart, can you please help me?’
A major reorganisation ensued. Instead of replacing one bookshelf, we were now shuffling three (of the four) overstuffed bookshelves around in a small hallway. But wait. There’s more. Each bookshelf had to be stripped of their contents, their positions swapped and then restocked with the booty. This was a family challenge.
Six hours later…
We now had a tidy hallway, with books neatly stacked into impressive wood-grained bookshelves and keepsakes artistically arranged on their mantles, for viewing pleasure. To our joy, there was even some free space (which was quickly filled with overflowing bounty from other bookshelves in the house).
Our quest was ended. Order had returned to the hall. All was right with our little patch of the world. So ends the saga of the hallway bookshelves. Now onto this weekend’s adventure…
The front room!
*So begins the de-cluttering of the entire house, though some would still say we live in chaos. At least it will be organised clutter and chaos.
Last count : 14 bookshelves, three ex-CD cabinets now masquerading as bookshelves, 3 long wall shelves (and more planned)
The Saga of the Hallway Bookshelves.