Monday, July 28, 2014

How to Downsize Your Household in 5 Easy Steps

our basement bathroom is the dumping ground for items we're getting rid of

1. Apply for an overseas job that would require shipping our household goods overseas (with a weight limit) and living in a much smaller house than we currently do.
2. Second-guess ourselves and ask "Are we crazy? Could we really do this?"
3. Make a list for each room/space inside and out and sort everything into categories: "take with", "store", "sell/donate/toss", and realize that it would actually be doable.
4. Don't get the job.
5. Decide to go through with the downsizing anyway.

When we moved into this house I went through and found a spot for everything and got rid of a lot of junk that we'd been hanging onto. Finally unpacking every single bin and box made it possible to see just what we had (like the duplicates of some books because I forgot we already had them since our books were in boxes for so many years). As the years go by, the amount of stuff we have has gradually increased, and inevitably it does not all get used. Having a large house has allowed the amount of stuff to creep up on us because there's random spots throughout the house that we can squirrel things away in. Especially in the basement.

So, after living in this house for more than 3 years, we're sorting and getting rid of a lot of stuff. Some of it survived the last purge, but some of it has only been around since we moved into this house. We're really trying to only keep things that have a purpose and will actually be used. If it hasn't been used since we moved here, there has to be a really good reason for keeping it. Since Mr M and I both come from pack rats who like to keep things "just in case", this is actually a challenge for us. Realizing that we can replace something if we really need it (even though we haven't used it in the entire 13 years we've been married, so the likelihood of that happening isn't very high) makes it a little easier to be brutal when sorting.

Just one example: this means that the majority of my fabric stash got put in the "sell/donate/toss" pile. I find myself buying fabric for specific projects and rarely use what's in my stash. So why have a stash if I don't use it? There's no reason to keep things if they never get used. I did keep the cutest fabrics that might actually get used (I'm teaching Sunshine how to sew this year, so I need to have some fabric on hand), but they're a small fraction of what I had. I also kept a few pieces of clothing to be repurposed, but got rid of the rest I'd been saving, since I still haven't done anything with them.

In addition to all the smaller stuff, we'll also be selling some pieces of furniture. I've been trying to get the furniture situated in each room, but some of the things we have just aren't working as well as we'd hoped. So I'm currently building some more pieces, mostly for better storage options. Between the decluttering and the building, I've been pretty busy, but I'll try to get pictures posted as I finish each project.

What are we planning for all that stuff in the basement bathroom? We'll be having a yard sale in a few more weeks, I'm listing some things on ebay, and whatever doesn't sell will be donated to the thrift store or tossed. That's in addition to what has already been thrown away as we've sorted through everything. We also have a mountain of old papers to shred. We're hanging onto all our old tax info, but there's no reason to horde old electric statements from 2004. Yes, we were, but not any more.

The challenge going forward will be to be more intentional with our purchases and not allow the clutter to accumulate again.

How do you keep the "stuff" from taking over your house?

1 comment:

  1. We struggle with this too. Same basic problem. I'm working on it and one thing I read is helping me a bit. It said before you buy something, decide where it will go. If I don't know where I'm going to put it, then I try not to buy it.

    Another thing we have done is rent equipment rather than buy. We don't do too much DIY so buying a big shop vac isn't worth the storage space. We have a small one that works for most things and we can rent when we need the big one. We still have a long way to go before we get there though.

    Being done having kids has been a great way to downsize (although they still need new stuff). I've got E wearing clothes that C wore - meaning I've saved them for 10 years. It is nice to pack them up and give them away finally. I'm also getting rid of large baby equipment.