A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Downsizing - Less is not more, it's less!

I decided this weekend to clean out everything I could in the apartment we still have, even though we need to keep it a while longer. The countdown has begun and I was in the mood to get 'er dun!

We've been downsizing since the end of 2007 when we got transferred to the San Antonio area. We gave away a lot of stuff but when we arrived at the apartment we were renting then, we still had way too much! We were tired and discouraged that night; even the movers felt like crying. The house we sold was around 1800 sq feet; not small but not huge. We thought getting rid of what we did would be enough. We could hardly walk in the apartment and even gave a few things to the movers!

A year later when we moved into a house we once again gave furniture away. Some of what we had was not the style we now liked so we gave things away and replaced some of them. The house was a little over 1700 sq feet. It had a good arrangement and seemed spacious.

Less than a year after that move we got transferred again! This was a hard move. Still we were able to take most of what we had at the time. Retirement was close and after the last move, so quickly after we had bought a house, we decided to go the apartment route until we could move to the cabin full time. 

A friend of mine told me one time that three moves is as good as a fire for getting rid of possessions! I know people that have never moved and they still have things from their kids' childhood in the closet and the kids have been gone for years. We aren't those people. We purged with every move. 

The last move was to a smaller apartment. We wanted to get as lean and clean as we could for the last time spent away from the cabin. At this point it was starting to get a bit painful for me, and I'm not one to hang onto a bunch of clutter. But now we were jettisoning things I liked and things that had sentimental value to me. That's when you have to keep your eye on the prize and remember what you are gaining, not what you are losing!

I came back from this trip with 8 boxes of dishes and most of them I have some kind of attachment to. I had held onto part of two sets of dishes I had acquired over the years. My Mamaw had helped me buy some of each set. She loved dishes and I do too! She had a certain dish she used for different things. The ambrosia dish never held anything but ambrosia, the tuna fish salad was always in the tuna fish salad bowl. I have both of those bowls now and they survived the final cut. They are all the more precious because I didn't keep everything. As I told a friend of mine, you don't have to keep all 30 of the vases your mother left you, keep one or two.

I stayed up until 1:30 last night adding some dishes and taking some of the ones I had in the cabin out. One in, one out is the only way you can live in a small house. Out of the 8 boxes, I have 6 boxes of dishes that I am going to donate and I'm giving myself a pat on the back for that! If I didn't love pottery and bowls in particular, I could live with less than I kept. But we have room for what I kept so I didn't have to downsize any further.

Books, dishes, and pictures (both photos and artwork) are the three material things I love the most. The cabin has 464 sq feet and the bunkhouse has 160. With that total we were able to keep a lot of what we really love, helped out by e-books and photo albums instead of framed photos. I had to go back to the bunkhouse and lose one photo and move a mirror so my Willie Nelson concert poster would have a place. Sarah has agreed to give my signed Kinky Friedman for Governor poster a loving home. When I had an office at home it was decorated with Texas music stuff; these posters, a Stevie Ray Vaughan painting a friend did for me, and record albums, one signed by Willie at this concert. I fretted very much over my Texas music stuff! The albums are on the bookcase and I'm going to put the painting somewhere in the bunkhouse.

The Good Morning, Good Night pillow covers I made and embroidered in the German turkey red style, but with blue thread, will have a home here but I had to take out some other pillows to make them fit. I embroidered them on my breaks when I was a substitute at the school district where Sarah went from 5th to 12th grade, so they have memories woven into them.  

None of the furniture in the apartment is coming this way so this is pretty much the end of the downsizing for us! If you are considering a move to a small house and are hesitant because you don't think you can live without your stuff, don't let that stop you! The rewards of living with less outweigh the negatives. Try to find homes for the things you love but can't take; it helps to know someone else can use them and enjoy them. Make some money on them if you can, if not, donate! We gave away most things but we sold the furniture we had bought for the last house. That money paid for the move to the smaller apartment. And it helps to downsize in stages. We never would have gotten down as clean as we are without doing it over time. 

And it helps to occasionally watch George Carlin do his "stuff" routine! 

"The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less." Socrates


  1. I understand completely... We went from 3000 sq ft into a 30ft 5th wheel. It took 6mo to sort and purge. Luckily we sold most of the furniture to friends and I was able to buy some of it back when we again had a permanent location. I promise...you won't miss the stuff.

  2. That was quite a move! Downsizing that much all at once is a lot of hard work and I admire y'all for it. Trying to find places for it all to go is a lot harder than just packing things up and moving to a different house. I like that y'all were able to reclaim some of it!

  3. Great advice! We just went from 1800 square feet with a 2-car garage to 1200 square feet with a 1-car garage. 3 months later I am still unpacking boxes. One of the boxes had stuff I had never unpacked from the last move 12 years ago! I donated and sold a bunch before we moved and that helped. Thank goodness for garage sales and craigslist!
    Eventually, after kiddo moves out, I hope to find some land for a tiny house. Now that will be some downsizing!

    1. Love garage sales! The last couple of places we lived in didn't allow them, which I found annoying! Everybody has stuff to get rid of and you don't have to haul it anywhere and someone else can use it. That's Homeowner Associations for you! :P Also nice when the kids can take some of the stuff you want to stay in the family but don't have a place for. I've found they don't always want the furniture, different tastes, but they will take some of the sentimental things!

  4. Spring cleaning must be in the air, you are the second blog post I've read this week on purging your spaces. I think moving is one of the best ways to purge, and the sentimental stuff is the hardest to let go. We used to get transferred a lot so I was able to get rid of stuff on a yearly basis. Now after 18 years in the same place.... it's taking over. It doesn't help when you have your parent's estate sale in that 18 year period and you are faced with keeping or letting go of items that you'd seen your mom use your entire life. I have several pieces that were listed on her bridal shower gift list. But I'm using them, even though they are over 50 years old. If I use it, I keep it! I'm looking at a china cabinet that holds some of my Grandma and Grandmother's china..... we don't use those. Uhhhgggg it's so hard!

    1. It is hard! Especially if there is no one else that can take some of it and keep it in the family. I love love dishes and used to wish I had a gigantic room size pantry with shelves to put all kinds of dishes on. Then when I got tired of one set, I could use another one! I settled on keeping my Fiestaware for the cabin. I have all different colors so at least I can get a different colored plate every time! I believe in using the inherited items like you do and I tried not to keep much that I couldn't use.
      I used to have a beautiful china cabinet and I moved it many times before I finally let it go and what was in it. It's hard with grandmother dishes. Hope you can keep some of them. My grandmother used to collect cups and saucers. Before she died she gave my cousin and I each half. I kept them for years. Then gave each child part of them and I kept a part. Then downsized further and kept only two of them for myself. I don't use them; I have them on the bookcases with my books and a few items.
      This beautiful warm sunny weather we have been having really puts you in the Spring cleaning mood!