Saturday, March 16, 2013

How to Minimize and Downsize Your Home: Part 1

When we first decided to scale down our belongings and move to a smaller place, I was quite a bit apprehensive about how to go about it, and also completely overwhelmed with the amount of stuff we had accumulated since we moved here two years ago.  It's funny how we have bought and sold tons of pieces of furniture, kitschy decor, and mid-century items. Wow.  The front room has changed about four times.

Anyway, my sister-in-law has been through the process of minimizing, and she shared tons of ideas that were not only smart, but very encouraging and positive.  Here's what she said:

When we moved from Jamaica I threw away 1/3 of our possessions. Then, when we unpacked here, I threw more away. So I figure we got rid of 1/2 of our crap!

Main benefit to a smaller space, MUCH less cleaning! 

Remember, most people live in a fraction of the space we do. Think New York City, Scandinavia, Europe, Japan. 

Use unconventional spaces for storage:   I keep the crock pot, roaster, extra toilet paper and paper towels in the garage. Until we remodeled the kitchen, I kept the large pots in the garage. 
We have about 6 bath towels. Those that John and I aren't using are kept in our closet.  I put my winter clothes away when it's not winter. (Doing that today.) Use your vertical space. 

I only keep clothes that I wear. If I sorta like it, if it's gonna fit some day, if I like it but it's pilling or has yellow under arms, etc., I throw it away. If it's good stuff, but for some reason I don't wear it, I donate it. The other stuff goes in the trash. 

I am not a Sam's shopper. We have a tiny family.

In the kitchen:  Use your "good stuff", that's what it's for. 

Get rid of the plastic! No more extra storage containers like those from lunch meat, etc., recycle those, buy a few durable containers and keep them. No more of those free restaurant cups. One set of durable plastic cups is all you need. If the plastic mysteriously appears, I don't ask anyone about it, I recycle it.  I have a medium size trash can under the left side of the sink and a medium size recycling container under the right. When they're full, they get emptied. 

One set of tall glasses and one set of small glasses is all you need. If you reach for a glass or plate and there's only one or none left, it's time to run the dishwasher! 

I have so few vases, platters and glass serving bowls and use them so infrequently, I keep them above the fridge. When it is time to throw out the flowers, the vases get rinsed and go in my car trunk for donations. I have two round cake pans and one rectangular and two pie plates. Rarely do I bake a cake, and if I do, I only need one of those. The only time we bake pies are Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Only keep the utensils you like and use. I have so few that they fit in a container next to the stove. 

One set of knives that you like and use are enough. I only have enough to fit in the wooden knife keeper on the counter. I have a couple of extra paring knives in a drawer.  

I only keep about four or five of those plastic grocery store bags. I take my own reusable to the store. If I find that I've got more than a few plastic bags, I take them to the recycle barrel at Kroger. 

Nick knacks and crap. Only keep it if it you can remember who gave it to you or it has significant sentimental value. It's just stuff. Don't buy anymore because you won't have space for it. My weakness is original art and decorative pieces. One of a kind items. I only buy it if I know where I'm going to put it when I get home. 

Get rid of all those throws and extra blankets! You only need one on each bed in the winter and one or two extra for guests. Throws are to little to keep you warm. My two extra blankets are ones that I like enough to keep folded for use in the living room or for guests. 

Speaking of guests. It's very infrequent that we have out of town guests. If we do, I tell them that we have a tiny house for a tiny family and they may be more comfortable in a hotel. We have two new ones within two minutes of our house.

When we have large gatherings we put the back of the couch to the fire place and situate the two big chairs and ottoman so that they're facing the bar/kitchen/dining area.

Most of all, it's just stuff and time flies. 

Whew...don't you feel better just reading her advice?  She's a smart lady.  I'll share the next set of ideas tomorrow.    And I must take pictures of this mess for you to see.  You won't believe the  STUFF.  

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