That was in 2008, the year that the first storage unit came into their lives. Ms. Trivette rented a small one-bedroom on the Upper West Side, leaving many of her belongings in Albany.
A series of moves later, she began to take decluttering very seriously. After the Upper West Side one-bedroom, she rented a spacious studio in Chelsea (closer to work), followed by a one-bedroom in Harlem (cheaper, though farther from work). Living there, she saved enough money for a down payment on a smaller studio in Chelsea.
“Organizing and controlling material is the essence of what I do,” she said. “Having all this personal material so cluttered and unorganized was difficult for me.”
There was, as well, the expectation that she would someday be joined by Mr. Huth and his miniature dachshund, Omar (who has since died).
But then she got a second storage unit, in North Carolina. Her mother, who was moving into a smaller home, wanted Ms. Trivette to take several pieces of heirloom furniture, including a 200-year-old footstool and a full bedroom set.
Mr. Huth had delayed a move waiting for his dream job to become available: chief records officer for the New York State Unified Court System. Given his specialized background, he felt he had a strong chance of landing it, but he had to wait for the man who held the position to retire, and then another year for the job to post.
When he finally got the job offer, he donated his furniture and moved his possessions into yet another storage unit in the Albany area — the couple’s third. They soon realized that they would need a fourth unit, in New York — a place to keep off-season clothes and other items that they needed on a regular basis — if they were going to share a studio.
“I originally put the apartment on the market right away, because I thought the living situation couldn’t be sustained,” Ms. Trivette said. Her broker and real estate attorney, however, advised her to wait, so she did, for almost two years.
That, at least, gave them time to sort through all their storage units. “It got to be so long, I didn’t recall what I had in Albany,” said Ms. Trivette, who convinced the storage vendor to ship her two boxes at a time. Mr. Huth picked through his own boxes whenever he returned to Albany for work.
They found their two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, for which they pay $4,892 a month, on StreetEasy. They had hoped to rent in the Financial District or Chelsea so that one of them could walk to work, but apart from wanting a larger space they hadn’t had any specific requirements. That the apartment is on a high floor overlooking the harbor was a pleasant surprise.
“We didn’t think about a view, but then I said, ‘Wait a second, we could have a view?’” Ms. Trivette said.
“I always wanted to live up high,” Mr. Huth said.
“I was in a fifth-floor walk-up, and that’s the highest I’d gotten,” Ms. Trivette said.
“When you look up at night and see the moon, it’s so close, it’s kind of like being in the sky,” Mr. Huth marveled.
There are other advantages as well: The heirloom furniture now sees use every day, Mr. Huth’s beloved dictionary stand is back in play, and they no longer spend $400 a month on storage.
The downsides, such as they are, have been minor. “When we first moved in, it felt gigantic — it was so huge it felt disorienting,” Mr. Huth said, adding that the feeling has gone away. Mostly.
“It’s still strange that I can’t always hear Karen,” he said. “Sometimes I can’t tell if she’s in the apartment or not.”