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Posts Tagged ‘storage’

When we moved out of the house in Huntsville, I left my “china cabinet” behind. An IKEA shelf-turned-cabinet via the addition of a few doors, it was still in great shape (although mysteriously unphotographed), but entirely too heavy to move. Taking apart IKEA products seems inadvisable, especially products with hinges because, man, those things are hard to get right the FIRST time.

Thus, my favorite sunflower-patterned plates and bowls have been trapped in storage for the past year because buying furniture is THE WORST. Last month’s storage room flood destroyed one of my boxes, however, so the need to unload everything became a little more urgent.

Another trip to IKEA, another shelf-turned cabinet. This time we went for wide instead of tall, and chose a design that required six tiny doors instead of two or four larger ones. The hinge installation actually went pretty smoothly after we got a rhythm going – we almost went for eight doors, but figured out the liquor bottles were pretty attractive on their own.

Is it going to be too heavy to move? Oh yeah. But at a price of around $150, I can afford to pass it on in a couple of years if necessary. Our building has a healthy IKEA-reselling network, and not feeling obligated to move heavy furniture all over the place makes me extremely portable.

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Have you ever found a book passage that seemed custom-written for you?

While perusing Slave to Happiness: Why Having an Interesting Life is the New American Dream by Penelope Trunk, I stumbled over this paragraph in the chapter titled “Testing the Meaning of Money and the Value of Stuff”:

So much of what we human beings hold on to is what we wish we were using — aspirational clutter. Objects that commemorate a life we aspire to but do not have.

I’ve had a version of this thought running around in my head for the past two weeks. I’ve expressed my exasperation to the husband that sometimes it feels like our house is simply a museum for stuff, a storage bin for the trappings of suburban life.

There’s a reason they’re called trappings: Get yourself a houseful of stuff and see how much it stresses you out to even CONSIDER packing it all up to move.

We all seem to find ourselves using the “what if” mentality when it comes to belongings. What if I ever have 12 people over for a sit-down dinner? (Note: If I invite 12 people over for a sit-down dinner, call your local psychiatrist because, seriously, 12 people?) What if I decide to take up embroidery again, despite the fact that the activity bored me to no end the first time? What if I decide to make homemade Twinkies with that specialty pan, despite the fact that the only homemade Twinkies I ever made were nearly as atrocious as the real thing?

What if I never saw this stuff again?

People attach artificial value to a lot of things they never use and really wouldn’t miss if they were gone.

We’ve essentially made ourselves immobile. Scale up in home size, scale up in things to fill it. And I don’t mean Hoarders amounts of stuff, I mean bookshelves filled from end to end, cabinets filled with things that rarely see use and plastic boxes — neatly stacked in closets, mind you — filled with decorations and accessories that we’ve either tired of (for now, we tell ourselves) or just don’t work in our current situation (for example, we haven’t had a Christmas tree in 15 years because of the cats, but we do have a box filled with lights and a few ornaments because, you know, one day …).

The funny thing? That rare moment when you DO find that you need the stitch-puller that you remember packing away with the rest of the sewing supplies even though you never sew? You WILL NOT be able to find it because of all the other stuff you’ve got neatly stored, just in case you ever need it.

It’s lunacy, really, the way we stockpile our homes and clutter our lives and minds with physical objects that have little use or meaning. We trap ourselves in suburbia with 2,000 square feet of china cabinets, storage ottomans and under-the-bed sweater boxes, never considering the opportunities we might freely pursue if we didn’t have to worry about the stuff spread all over the house, the tiny apartment in the big city we might move to if we only didn’t have hundreds of books and an inexplicable assortment of old, unused electronics.

Maybe it’s time to refocus our aspirations so that our “aspirational clutter” isn’t clutter at all, but only the things we use, love and enjoy.

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Oh, Lion’s Head Garbage Can. You are as useful as you are treasured.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 51: Still recovering, but I did manage to help the husband a little as he hooked up the drain pipe in the downstairs bathroom.

Day 52: The problem with hidden, built-in storage is that you store stuff in it and then forget all about it. Sometime before Christmas, I had stashed some paperwork in the piano bench while doing a quick pre-guest pickup in the living room. I remembered the paperwork only last week, when I went crazy trying to find a form that, oddly, I hadn’t seen since before Christmas. Today, I got most of the stash out of the bench and filed it away upstairs.

Day 53: I have a unique wall hanging that I’ll write more about later, but today I did an epic amount of research on the best way to hang it, since right now it’s just a folded piece of fabric in the closet. I’ve come to a final decision, and it doesn’t involve going back to the seamstress that made me feel bad for not knowing what kind of seam allowance I wanted.

Day 54: Admittedly, I spent what little organizational time I had today coloring paper balloon cutouts for a failed cat photo shoot.

Day 55: I finally redeemed a Groupon I purchased in December for a 16-by-20-inch gallery wrap from Canvas on Demand. I had narrowed my choices down to two photographs when I discovered that the site offered personalized customer service interaction that helped me choose the winner. Now I’ve got two weeks to decide where to hang it.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 24: I realize that some people have an entire room dedicated to their crafting supplies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I yearn to be craftier. But I also associate crafts with stuff, and I don’t need more stuff.

So, my craft supplies consist of magnets, Mod Podge, a few rolls of post-Christmas-sale ribbon, colored pencils, a hole-punch, an X-acto knife and embroidery supplies.

Wait. Embroidery supplies? I know. Because I was TRASH at embroidery when I attempted to take it up a couple of years ago. Trust me: The embroidery supplies are just biding their time until their turn comes on the circle of thrift store donations.

Anyway, today’s Do One Thing activity was to organize all my craft supplies into two stacked storage units that I got on super clearance last year at Michael’s. Yeah, yeah — a couple of corners are kind of weathered, and one of the smaller drawers is a slightly different color, but I got them both for less than $20.

The storage units are currently serving as a nightstand in the guest bedroom; at the rate I buy new furniture, they’re likely to be serving in that capacity for a while.

Really, the embroidery supplies were the only thing that needed moving. They were hanging in a bag in my office closet, and I’m trying to take down everything that’s hanging in that closet to make it neater.

All crafting supplies in one place, and a closet that I could walk into, assuming I could actually get both bifold doors open (grrr). I’m nearing neatnik nirvana.

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The browser tab title of “Organize This!” — a New York Times story — is “Barbara Reich Organizes the Homes of New York’s Elite.” Clearly, this does not apply to me, but some of Reich’s philosophies apply to us all.

Her mantra is, “Stress is clutter, and clutter is stress.” We live in a time of stuff, and it’s simply stifling.

I know I have less stuff than a lot of people, but every time I clear another storage box out of the closet, I feel even lighter.

Clear space equals a clear mind.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 13: Reorganized a particularly troublesome kitchen cabinet area. My house in Mobile, Alabama, had laughably little cabinet space, so I’m still getting used to maximizing the larger space I have now. I have this obsessive desire to keep all the baking items (mixer, cake pans, muffin tins, etc.) close together, but that just doesn’t work. I accept this limitation, and now I can reach the small loaf pans without interference.

Day 14: Cleaned out a box of hair accessories that was mysteriously stored in the nightstand in the guest room. Discovered that elasticized hair bands deteriorate and lose their stretch when stored in stupid places for long periods of time.

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