I can't stand clutter, so I've been reducing my worldly possessions over the last five years, aiming to hone the non-essentials to the bare minimum. I'm only about halfway there; I've got my wardrobe and library where I want them, now I have to start working on the quilt collection and other stuff.
Other stuff, or what other people have given to me over the years, is about 85% of my headache. I estimate I have at least 2,000 lbs. of things I have been hauling around for ten years or better because someone was thoughtful and remembered me on my birthday/anniversary/pick your holiday.
It's not that I hate gifts. I love the idea of gifts. I hate lugging an entire lifetime of gifts through my life. I hate packing and repacking a ton of collectibles I never wanted to collect it in carboard boxes because I don't have nineteen curio cabinets.
Out of self-defense, two years ago I started insisting family members give me only candles or food as gifts, or simply send a card. I can toss a card, burn candles and eat the food without offending anyone. This request has pissed off more people than I can count, though, too: Why don't you want the three-foot tall plaster statue of Pan Doing Aphrodite that we picked out especially for you from Discount Garden Statuary?
Eventually I'll get my living space to where I want it; probably when the kids go off to college. My ideal environment has great lighting, comfortable furniture, nothing on the surfaces, a full working library and office, a green house off the kitchen, two porches with east-west exposure, and a walk-in linen closet with climate control, and is located just outside a town with a population of 10,000 or less. I've got about 75% of that right now, too.
I like seeing other writers and artist's home enviroments. Artist/illustrator James Hale has a terrific garden, and in the April '05 print issue of Country Living there is an utterly fascinating look at the work and decor of artist Annie McClure, whose dimensional still lifes remind me of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.