And so the baskets and piles are routinely gathered together in one place and I pore over them to see what can be put away, what can be [gasp!] thrown or given away (i.e., let someone else fall over it), what can be used in a different and less intrusive way, or what should be packed in newsprint and put in the attic. ("For my descendants", I tell myself, although to be honest my progeny would have to be legion to inherit all the items I have already squirreled away for them. They would also have to be willing to spend half their lifetimes reading myriad books and the other half ironing mountains of antique table linen.)
One tipping point is the untold numbers of toys I seem to have. I began collecting "whimsy" as a teenager, making adorable vignettes of paper doll figures and small toys with moving parts such as miniature wagons or rolling hobby horses. This addiction only ramped up with the arrival of my own child, providing me with a legitimate excuse to keep ever more playful old fashioned toys around the house in charming tablescapes or tumbling aesthetically from baskets and tins.
When she reached adolescence the excuses for having these things in plain view were thin on the ground, but I kept them out just the same, and visitors to the cottage always commented on how many interesting curiosities there were tucked away here and there.
The arrival of grandchildren meant that the toy displays became larger and more pervasive. (Including a life-sized tiger!) Nearly every stair going to the second floor had a vintage toy, a stuffed animal wearing reading glasses, or a stack of miniature Beatrix Potter volumes. (I routinely knocked a handmade cloth doll on her head each morning as my dressing gown brushed past her on my way downstairs.)
As of this writing, there are still plenty of artistic 'piles' around the house, barely a surface free of tableaux, and enough overflowing baskets and containers to outfit a Covent Garden market stand.
I will never adopt anything close to a "spare" look. But I am trying to be more selective in my dotage. If only to avoid being found at the bottom of the stairs, surrounded by toys that turned on their mistress.