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Middle-class homes are bursting with stuff: clothes seldom worn, books once read, and crockery or appliances never used. We wonder where it all came from and now, increasingly, how to get rid of it. It should be easy but, oddly, it's not. How did we get here, drowning in stuff? It's partly due to blended families, with each partner arriving with all their baggage, marrying or co-habiting later in life, well after we have set up our own homes, but also because we are perpetually encouraged to accumulate. Six dinner plates will never be enough - what about when you entertain? Magazines tell us to decorate and then redecorate our homes, and if we can't afford to do that (who can?), to buy new scatter cushions to pep up a room with a pop of colour or add a new lamp shade or curtains. We keep the replaced items just in case we need them. The growth in the past 18 years of mass-market decor stores means you no longer have to be wealthy to keep reinventing your home - only relatively well-...

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