I’ve been considering putting my house on the market over the past few months. This has caused me to look around and think about what I own and what I need to do to the house prior to listing it. For now, I have decided not to list the house but I have learned some valuable things in the process and have improved my space.
For many years I have been a fan of owning less. This may go as far back as childhood when I witnessed the clearing of my grandmother’s home after she died. She had a lot of stuff packed into the old farmhouse. There were debates over who got what. Even then I wondered why people wanted some of the things they wanted. My family acquired two treasured items from that clearing: an amber cake plate and the coconut jar. The amber cake plate was the birthday cake plate and has recently been transferred to my niece who makes lovely cakes. The coconut jars was one of my favorite items but it was stolen in a move long ago. It was a sentimental piece but I still miss it.
Over the years I have been responsible for clearing out my childhood home and have helped cousins clean out their childhood homes. Last fall I moved my sister from her apartment where she had lived for almost 20 years to a studio apartment where she currently lives. I’ve dealt with a lot of other people’s stuff in my life and one reason I am conscious of what I own is that I know at some point someone will have to deal with my stuff.
The more important reason, however, is that I just don’t need a lot of things. Last spring I did a massive clean up of paper files that had accumulated in my house since I have been living here. I think I hauled out about 15-20 bags over spring break. I also tackled other parts of the house last spring, as you can see below. I thought I was done but over the course of the rest of the year, and especially this fall, I realized I was far from done. For several weeks I have taken a close look at almost everything in my house and I have downsized considerably.
Today it struck me that I have lived in this house longer than I have lived anywhere for decades. I tend to move a lot and that has kept me from accumulating to a point but I was still carrying things around that I had inherited and was supposed to keep because I am the youngest, or some other reason that doesn’t make a lot of sense. As I looked through my books and papers, I realized that were lots of things on my shelves and in my files that were no longer relevant to my life.
In December I consulted with my friend Michele Gourley who is a Feng Shui practitioner. I thought she could give me some advice and I was right. I have also had several discussions about space and stuff with my friend, Douglas. He has interesting thoughts about both topics. I read the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It is one of the most useful books I have read on the topic and I have read several.
In addition to clearing out quite a bit of stuff over break (old furniture, books, books, and more books, dishes, clothes, etc.), I had some repairs done. I realized that I had just let some things go because there was never time to get them done. I finally made time and nothing took long. There were a couple of spots on walls that needed to be patched and some painting that needed to be done. I also had unplanned appliance break downs over the fall that had to be addressed. Not getting these things done had made my house feel bad to be in. I didn’t realize how much until the repairs were complete and the stuff was cleared out.
There is a better energy and an ease in my house now. I’ve done some cleaning though I still need to do some more things. Mainly I have cleared and moved things around. I had no idea how clearing the clutter off my kitchen counters would improve the way my kitchen felt and the efficiency of my kitchen until I did it.
I started with the bedroom. I have never really been a pillow and bed skirt kind of person, but I have found this makes the room feel totally different. I also added lamps on each side of the bed, per a suggestion from Michele. The broken furniture that was in the room is gone and that makes a huge difference. The room is now calm feeling and I have been sleeping much better.
I changed the seating area around again so the sofa faces the fireplace that I never use. (Long story but it involves a certain cat.) I moved a table to the corner where the lamp is and was surprised by how well it fit in that spot. This is still not perfect, but it is much better.
My office still needs work but I have made progress there as well. Having the desk face the door instead of the wall is much better. (Yes, the carpet needs to be cleaned. Re: the cat, again.) I still have some files to deal with but I can work on them this winter.
Overall the house is much better than it was a few weeks ago. I have truly enjoyed being home and relaxing over the break. I have already realized benefits of clearing out a lot of unwanted and unnecessary clutter and stuff. There are things coming in to my life already that are new and are presenting some exciting opportunities to consider. All in all it is making me look forward to 2015 and what it brings.