Life Advice



Ask Amy: Housemate wants to attack the kitchen

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I'm a 28-year-old former city dweller who relocated for more space and a quieter location to sit out the pandemic.

I love my new leafy neighborhood and my lower rent.

I live in a house with a 70-year-old man (the brother of my landlord), who is a former art history teacher and librarian. We have our own living spaces and bathrooms; I have a space more than twice the size of my previous apartment on the second story of our home, and he lives in the basement.

I have loved his company and the care that he devotes to the garden. There's just one thing — he is a very sentimental hoarder.

Our kitchen is loaded with many dozens of wooden spoons, sets of dinnerware, and cabinets full of cookware. There are easily a dozen sponges — some old, some new. We easily have 150 spice containers, as well as random knickknacks in every corner. There are corners that are covered in spider webs and other pests.

How do I get him to let me organize the space and even go “Marie Kondo” on it?


He seems open to the notion of adjusting his life to accommodate a roommate, but I don't know where to begin and how to preserve our good relationship.

Any ideas?

— Happy Nester

Dear Nester: It is refreshing to hear that this (somewhat unconventional) living arrangement is working out so well for both of you. As a rent-paying housemate, you have the right to essentially take over half the kitchen, but because you are a considerate and respectful person, you are handling this carefully.


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