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Accumulation, Rejuvenation

When we moved into our little house 15+ years ago, we didn’t have that much stuff, because after loading a small U-Haul a few times we simply gave up and the rest of our stuff was either donated or hit the bins.  We had movers carry the three large pieces of furniture we owned: our dining table, bed, and couch.

Our shared closet, once inhabited I presume by a lady willing to share just 6 feet of hanging space with a gentleman, had recently been vacated by an elderly lady who kept 14 lab coats from a job she’d abandoned 20 years earlier, along with her wedding shoes from 60 years previous.  Noting this as a cautionary tale as we viewed what would become our home, I immediately eliminated more than half of my wardrobe.  I began with what I hadn’t worn in 6 months and was down to what I hadn’t worn in about 6 weeks in very little time.

My husband’s wardrobe still landed in the closet of the second bedroom.

Almost from the time we settled in, however, we began accumulating stuff.  We bought living room furniture and bookshelves.  The garage from the former owners contained so much stuff that opening it revealed a wall of objects that ran all the way to the door, which was held aloft by an old wood ski.  Our version soon contained remnants (old letters, old typewriters, anything we couldn’t quite let go of – trophies?!) along the periphery.

You get the picture.  It was minimal, but we were still expanding a bit.

And then came the kid.

Right before her impending arrival, we rearranged the entire house to accommodate her tiny body.  Her minimalist room bearing a crib, changing table and our old armoire was set up.  Our room acquired 3 huge Ikea closets.  The garage was converted into our office.  A shed was added to the backyard to hold remnants of the garage (after a serious purge, during which we found a box of saved wicker baskets which had housed a family of possums.  At least they’d finally been used).

From there things spiraled out of control.  We were very busy with our child.  I got a master’s degree.  My husband got promoted to busier job.

Pretty soon, and abundance of stuff littered every spare space, and I rapidly became very, very unhappy.  After an astonishing 7 years, we’ve started to make the kind of headway (literally) that’s slowly improving my outlook.  An example below:

In 2010, we vacationed in a spare duplex in Portland, Oregon.  It was life changing.  Mentally, it was a relief to get away, to live sparingly, and to experience the place.  I began to sew for the first time in my life, inspired by the aesthetic there.  We hiked, we explored.  And…

…we found lighting we really couldn’t live without.  We had it shipped home, where we began sanding and painting our kitchen just for the lights.  We began to think about how we used things (or didn’t) and how we wanted things to look.  Below are the results.

late 2010: Kitchen before: white walls, 35 year old linoleum, built in full of stuff, microwave on cart with drop leaves, rendering the cart useless, heavy portable dishwasher that, alas, dug into the floor, wood levelors that were difficult to clean with all that crap!

8/2011: We painted kitchen green with white trim, I sewed curtains, we installed a nickel-plated curtain rod from Rejuvenation, sold dishwasher (*sigh*), I shellacked, then painted a formerly stored, unfinished pine table with glass top, had laminate floors installed and now can use drop leaf table. The dog’s food, dishes and our recycling bin fit underneath, off the floor.  Progress!

The kitchen has remained pretty tidy, but I’m constantly working on keeping things working. And that’s what this blog is really all about — the process of making things work for us. That, and keeping things happy.

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