Less is More

 Posted by on April 28, 2008  Add comments  Tagged with: ,
Apr 282008

Next week, we’ll be visiting my in-laws in Florida, and while we’re there, our oak floors will be sanded and refinished. In preparation, we’ve begun moving our stuff into storage, including art, curtains, and rugs. We left only the bare essentials to get us through the week.

Though it’s a back-breaking job, the nice part about moving all of your furniture is that it gives you the opportunity to really clean and organize. As I packed up our stuff, I cleaned and dusted lamp shades, picture frames, and china, and weeded out unwanted items for our annual garage sale. I washed the windows and curtains, and dusted all the window frames and baseboards. Our house is cleaner than it was when we first moved in.

When you do something like this, you realize how little you actually need. I find that I actually prefer the house this way, because it seems larger, calmer, and more serene. It’s also much easier to clean. When we return, I’ll be very selective about what I move back in.

Though minimalist decorating is not my personal style, I can certainly see its appeal. I like simple lines, clean countertops and bare wall space. My eyes need a place to rest, and too much clutter makes me feel emotionally chaotic, and I can’t concentrate. Because of this, I make a concerted effort to keep clutter under control. I keep a box in my closet, and every week, I challenge myself to find three things that I don’t need or want anymore. Sometimes I can’t find anything, but occasionally I can find five, or even ten items. When the box is full, I close it up, write “garage sale” on it, and move it out to the shed. Then, I start a new one.

When I’m cleaning in the kids’ rooms, I also encourage Bee to purge stuff she doesn’t want. She has her own little garage sale table, and she gets to keep the money for anything she sells. This is great motivation for her, and I no longer have to plead and cajole to get her to part with stuff.

We love living with less, and we’re always looking for more stuff to get rid of. Last spring, I did a major purge of cookware and dishes that I rarely use. I boxed everything up and put it in our shed, with the stipulation that if I actually needed something, I could bring it back in. I decided that anything left in the shed after a year would be sold. With the exception of one pan, I haven’t needed any of it, even during holiday cook-a-thons. I like having neat, orderly cupboards far more than having a bunch of extra stuff “just in case.” It’s all going on this summer’s garage sale.

As you purge clutter, you’ll find that there are items that you know you can part with, and some that you just aren’t sure about. I recommend putting the “not sure” box in your garage or basement, and setting a time limit, such as six months or a year. If you don’t need it during that time, you can feel confident about letting it go.