We let go of tools and building materials this weekend. How wonderful that the Habitat for Humanity ReStore takes such things. They took old shelving, working power tools, and unopened packages of screws. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that they do NOT take everything. For example, somehow we came up with about TWENTY unused extension cords. What?! Why??? I have no idea, none. Apparently, we just kept buying more because we did not know where we had squirreled away the others. I am truly horrified. So down to the ReStore only to find out they do not take extension cords anymore, because people bring in too many of them and they don’t sell. In other words, I am not the only one. They also would not take any used hand tools, or extension poles (yep, seven of them— I could cry). All I can say is, the next time you think you need an extension cord, try the closest ReStore. Onward!
Before Marie Kondo entered my life, there was the FlyLady, a website I found at least 10 years ago. FlyLady.net, is where I first learned to declutter and create routines to help manage the chaos. What she calls Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome. She and her team have lots of ideas and inspirational stories. Now they have products and a rather useful free App with reminders. One of the best parts of this method is that you build up the routines and decrease the clutter rather slowly. This helps keep you from bouncing from one extreme to the other— like tearing your whole house apart and then running out of steam, time and gumption. I’ve learned at least three important take always from the FlyLady: 1) If you don’t have routines, it all falls apart; 2) If you have too much stuff you won’t be able to manage it all; 3) It’s important to take care of yourself first. If you don’t know where to begin, this is a good place to start. You will be “flying” before you know it.
Stuff Comes, Stuff Goes
Next trip to the Goodwill donation center, here we come. I am so, so excited!! I’ve no idea how we fit so many things in this little house. I have not a clue how I’ve been donating and selling things for 8+ years pretty continuously and there’s still too much. We’ve been such good little American consumers I guess. As we get ready for selling our home of the last three years, the plan is to move into a 27 foot RV for a while. More stuff has got to go, cause there’s just so many places it can go. At this point giving the things away fills me with joy. I usually photograph it before it goes, and I enjoy seeing the pictures of the old stuff once in a while. I have never regretted giving any of it away. Of course this trip is especially easy, since most of it was not even mine in the first place! I used to ask, “but what if I need it again and it’s gone?” Honestly, that has happened a couple times. It’s okay. I buy it again and choose more carefully the second time around. I go for something that is smaller or easier on the eyes, whenever possible. Do not beat yourself up if you’ve given up something that you end up needing again. Stuff comes, stuff goes. If you can’t afford it again right away, get inventive… there’s always a way.
Downsize the Bed Too
Previously, I mentioned the rather stubborn decision we made to cling to our king size bed for nearly three years in our 10’x7’ “master” bedroom. We don’t really live with regret about that choice. I mean, those big kings offer some serious comfort. It seemed worth it to climb in from the end. Now that we’ve caved and downsized to a queen bed, we received when our lovely daughter downsized herself, we see some definite advantages. We have walking paths… on both sides of the bed! There’s even a bit of floor space peaking through. A great little second hand furniture store recently revealed itself and we downsized the furniture in our living room too. It seriously makes a big difference to the feel of the house. Having visual space just feels more peaceful.
The pretty bottle opener (see prior post) inspired an inviting front entry. To get the right look there was no choice but to install an interior handle, along with a keyless entry bolt. There’s always a way! Naturally, red was then the only acceptable color in this case (goodbye pale pea green!) A stained glass artist on eBay gave us California Poppies in a custom size. This front door is rather tiny, which meant custom all they way. The stained glass gave us art inside and out— who needs wall space?
The Key to Pretty
It all started with a key, of sorts. After dumping our oh-so-many things into our new tiny house, and running away to Europe for a bit. We knew we wanted our house to become pretty… but where to begin? I mean it was essentially a big storage unit with a bathroom.
Then, it happened one night… in Spain. We asked to borrow a bottle opener from a friend, and it was just beautiful. It was fate… kismet… destiny. It sparked inspiration. We agreed to begin a search in earnest upon our return.
Once home we wedged ourselves and our oh-so-many belongings into our new home, and kept our eyes open for the new opener on our travels. There was a burning desire to replace our plastic and chrome (?) grocery store model. Eureka! It revealed itself in Newport, RI. That’s how our new bottle opener became the key to transitioning our home into a tiny sanctuary.
A Terrible Tiny Mistake?
In the summer of 2016 we gave up our typical suburban house for a tiny house. We closed on July 7th, moved in that day, and took off for Europe before unpacking on the 8th. Yes, we could finally afford to travel and did not waste a minute!
To be clear, we literally spent five years giving things away in order to get ready for the move. We researched, we talked, we studied. I thought, “We’ve got this!” Meanwhile, we came home to a treadmill dominated living room. It partially blocking the bathroom door! The king size bed took up about 80% of the bedroom.
When we tried to put it all away… a little voice inside my head secretly screamed, “What in the name of heaven have you done to yourself?!” Ever the stubborn people that we are, we gave up our walking path and squeezed the treadmill next to the bed. This became the entire bedroom. I am not kidding. See for yourself:
So basically it took a while. We had to make it work with what we had and slowly convert it to more livable. Getting to pretty was a process, a long process. Looking forward to the next challenge!
In 2016, we downsized from 1600 square feet to 458. We dreamed of downsizing in 2010, but were essentially trapped in our home by the economy. While biding our time, we began giving things away. Occasionally we sold something, but that involves pushing beyond our natural laziness… so you can imagine how often that worked out.
For over five years we donated and more than once the thrift shop attendant asked sympathetically if someone had died. We are not hoarders, I swear. I have no idea how we acquired so much. I think we just kept bringing things in and forgetting to send out the detritus. Attics are both a blessing and a curse.
In the end we gave away about 80% of what we had in that house. Of course, when the movers dumped the remaining 20% into our new tiny home it was overwhelming. One of the movers said, “I don’t understand why you’re doing this, your old house is so nice.” As I climbed over the treadmill and the food processor to get to the bathroom, I even asked myself, “What have we done?”
We now find ourselves on the verge of a new adventure with a cross-country move looming. Since we do not care to spend the equivelant of a down payment for a house on moving a bunch of old stuff, hi ho hi ho we must minimize again, I know! This blog has waited in the wings. Perhaps it’s more about minimizing than it is about tiny living. I never dreamed I would be a minimalist…but here we go.