Constant Rearrangement of Furniture

My mother has been constantly rearranging household furniture for at least a decade. I’m twenty-two years old, so it is quite possible that she has been rearranging furniture constantly for her whole life, but I just haven’t known about it. I moved back in with my mother a couple of months ago, and will be moving back out again in three months or so. It’s not making things that difficult, but her constant concern for the arrangement of household furniture is amazing.

Here are a few facets of her activities:

  • The improvements are almost always hallucinated, although she insists they’re real.
  • No commitment actually exists to getting rid of unnecessary stuff. There is never enough room in her apartment and she has tons of stuff she never uses, but it seems that literally everything has sentimental value to her. An unremarkable cookbook she has used once and will almost never use again–that’s the sort of thing she cannot separate herself from.
  • You can’t confront her about it. She will get defensive.
  • You can’t make your own suggestions about how the apartment should be rearranged. She will not take them seriously. She has a plan, although it will be different in a week.
  • The house never actually reaches a state of immaculate arrangement, or anything even close to it. Do not think we live in a constantly shifting but pristine apartment. We live in a constantly shifting but invariably scattered and unimpressive apartment.

Like I said, it’s not really that bad for me, although she often asks me to help her move furniture that in no way needs to be moved. But she wastes hour after hour week after week of her life with the endless pursuit of a not-even-remotely-achieved feng shui. It’s amazing to observe her living a significant portion of her entire life just moving shit around.

Why would anyone have this sort of lifestyle? Is this some sort of recognized psychological condition, or part of one? She is a capable, warm mother who has worked full-time at times and can speak intelligently about a wide range of subjects. But I have a feeling that this modus operandi is never going to stop. She may go until her death devoting hours per week to meaningless rearrangements and occasional purchases. What could be behind all this?

Sounds like she has OCD or something similar to that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsessive–compulsive_disorder

If my family is anything to go by, not only has she always been doing it, but it is genetic. My grandmother did it, my aunt does it, my sisters do it. My mother does it to a lesser extent. I used to think I missed it until my mother pointed out my home improvement projects were essentially the same thing. She says I go one step further and use saws. Just wait.

Considering her resistance to getting rid of even minor old things and her defensiveness, she might be a mild hoarder who’s in denial but can still recognize that something is wrong with the situation. Rather than face that she’s got too much stuff, she seems to think that if she can just find the perfect way to arrange it all, suddenly that will fix the situation and everything will be better. Having a plan to arrange stuff and then spending time doing it makes her feel better for a while, but then that nagging sensation creeps up again and she makes more plans to fix it this time, no really.

My parents re-arrange their furniture a lot. I’m not sure why, but I am not there having to sit on their furniture and think about its arrangement.

They don’t do it every week but it’s more often than I think most people do. My SIL, who doesn’t come over that often, said that every time she comes over it’s different.

They’re not hoarders, tho. Pretty sparse when it comes to stuff. They just can’t get comfortable with their furniture arrangement.

Me, I’ve never moved anything in my house since I got here almost 5 years ago.

Yeah, it’s something my grandmother did and my mother to a lesser extent. Me I pretty much leave everything where it sits. I guess rearranging freshens your environment and also lets you clean all the dust and spiderwebs that collects around furniture.

I like a change every few months myself. I just get bored with the way things are laid out. I guess it’s cheaper than redecorating. I have one friend who changes out everything every year or so, depending on what’s in style. Or whatever’s in style at Pier 1, where it seems she buys most of her decor. I can’t afford such things so I just change the stuff I have around.

I used to be married to a woman who did this all the time - except this was in a 3,000 sq ft house, not an apartment. I actually used up all of my friends who were physically capable of helping me move armoires and eliptical trainers up and down stairs, and she eventually resorted to hiring movers to do the work (which was surprisingly inexpensive). Did it bug the shit out of me? Absolutely. However the end result was always nice (not that it wasn’t nice before), and if I stopped to contrast the situation with my grandparrents house, where NOTHING had moved in over 30 years, I decided that the moving was better than absolute stagnation.

We seem to do this every two years in our living room. We wound up moving the couch and all the other furniture. Getting a larger TV prompted us to rearrange the room since the new TV stuck out into the passage between the living and dining room. We aren’t packrats so it just takes an hour or two to move the furniture around. It gives an opportunity to clean under and around the furniture.

Do this: Take a picture of the arrangements every time it changes. After a few months worth of pictures, show these to her and ask her why something that worked on such and such date isn’t working now.

There are only so many ways you can arrange a giant couch in a living room, or a bed and dresser in a tiny bedroom. Sooner or later she’ll arrange it to something she’s already arranged before. Ask her why and show proof it was like that before

I had a roomate who did this. She rearranged her bedroom at least once a month. She spoke in contemptuous tones of her sister who hadn’t moved her furniture in the whole six years she’d been in her house.

I just basically want to know where things are if I’m walking around in the dark. I add and subtract as necessary, but I don’t see the point of shuffling things around when they fit/work just fine where they are.

I mean, isn’t familiarity the whole point of home?

I bought my furniture specifically to fit into the rooms in my home and decorated around them. If I moved anything around, it either wouldn’t fit, would be constantly in the way or would just look silly.

The whole concept baffles me.

Some people like change, and changing your living room around is cheaper than moving to a new house.

This. Plus perhaps some OCD.

There are sensible reasons for many people to rearrange or redecorate now and again. That’s not (IMO) the motivation or the scenario the OP describes.

What’s wrong with it? Who cares? I don’t do it, but what’s wrong with it?

What’s wrong with it is that it is a massive ongoing expenditure of time in an unnecessary shifting of household furniture.

I take your “who cares” as a sign that you find the subject irrelevant. It’s obvious who cares: anyone who observes or lives with this sort of behavior. It is particularly attention-grabbing when it is one of your closest relatives, and it is even more attention-grabbing when you live with that relative.

I tend to do something like that once a year at least, but it’s usually linked to either spring (turning “nesting” into “redecorating” seems to be quite common among women), family visits or both.

I think Ferret Herder hit the nail so hard it went through the wall. Your mother likes buying house stuff like my mother and sister in law like buying clothes, she turns arranging it into a neverending puzzle like they do with their own clothing ensembles. If she had a bigger house (they bigger closets) it would rapidly be about as full as the one she has now, and she’d also spend a lot of time rearranging it. Hey, I have coworkers who get nervous when they see me put my desktop icons and documents into folders, I get nervous when I see their computer desktops full of virtual stuff - think of it as your mother’s hobby.

Not the whole point, for some of us. For me the important things organization-wise about having my own place are that things are where I left them and that I can bloody well put whatever I want wherever I want and if I want to poke holes in the wall it ain’t nobody’s business! revs up the BnD

But is this time expenditure taking away from other things that need to be done? Is she so busy moving chairs that she’s not getting enough sleep or eating well or going to work? Or is this just a free time activity, like watching TV or collecting stamps or knitting?

Personally, I like to rearrange stuff occasionally. Clearly not as much as your mother, but enough that I can’t understand the appeal of built in furniture. What good are bookcases that you can’t move?

Other than when we went from a double to a queen sized bed, we haven’t rearranged furniture since we bought the house 20 years ago, other than spring and fall cleaning frenzies. [hardwood floors take periodic maintenance to keep up and you sort of have to move stuff to expose the floor]

My most attention-grabbing moment was coming home from a massive 30-hour proposal production session only to do a header over the sofa which didn’t used to be 3 feet from the front door. :rolleyes: