Not Quite the Deckchairs

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‘Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’ is a phrase which is often used to describe a futile action in the face of impending catastrophe. 

Far from being a futile exercise, I have been rearranging furniture recently.  As we continue to gradually reduce our possessions we have less need for storage.  Bookshelves/display units are a perfect example.

A few years ago we had 2 of these shelves filled with books.  One was sold a couple of years ago and the other is going to a new home today.

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When we seriously downsized the number of books we had a couple of years ago, this shelving unit became useful storage for sewing fabrics and projects.

The sewing is now housed in this large IKEA cube unit which was previously a display unit/bookshelf in the lounge room.

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Here is a closer look at the sewing table which is ‘new’ to me.

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This white laminate desk came from my daughter as it does not fit in her new accommodation.  I was very happy to have it to replace the folding trestle table which I have used as a sewing table for many years.  This one is more compact and suits the decor of the room but, most importantly, it is solid and does not shudder when I am using the sewing machine at fast speeds.

Additionally, there were 2 smaller IKEA cube units in the lounge room originally which have since been moved around.  One of them spent some time in the sewing room and the other as a stand for the television before we gave one to our daughter and the other became the bookshelf in the library.

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The other smaller cube unit has recently come back from our daughter as she no longer needs it.  So, back to the lounge room it went.

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The other significant piece of furniture in the lounge room is the television stand.  This was made by my father about 60 years ago from then-salvaged silky oak.  I had it restored and modified slightly a couple of years ago and it now has pride in the lounge room.

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I am pleased that nothing has been wasted and many pieces have been able to be repurposed by thinking laterally whilst reducing our overall possessions.

 

Decluttering, Again and Again

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Have you ever met anyone, either in real life or online, who has told you that they decluttered their entire home in a weekend?  I have read these kind of stories a few times but I have a really difficult time getting my head around the concept.  Unfortunately, they usually involve a huge garbage skip and wholesale dumping of perfectly useable items.  I find this strategy a disgusting waste and totally unnecessary.

My approach is the complete antithesis – a little bit at time and I often go back to the same area multiple times.  Also, I never dump anything.  I try to find new homes for them using a variety of strategies.

The bookshelves in the study/office is the perfect example of my method.

Once upon a time this is how it looked.

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As the culling continued over several years we whittled it down to one bookcase and sold the other.

The small freezer was moved down to the workshop.

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We upgraded from our folding table.

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To this desk.

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We added a blind to the bare window.  I wanted to create a comfortable reading area/library so we sourced 2 armchairs.

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Fast forward a bit more and we have culled the books even further.  There were some non-fiction ones which have been relocated to the shelving in the living room.

This shelving unit was originally horizontal in the living room but was moved to the spare bedroom/sewing room to store some of my sewing materials and equipment.  We decided to swap it with the light-coloured bookcase which will work better for the sewing stuff and is aesthetically better in the other room.

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Here are 2 views of what I think is the final state of the office/reading room.

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It has been thoughtfully curated over a period of time as our needs and ideals changed.  I certainly could not have achieved this in a single weekend for one room, let alone a whole house.

There has been no waste as all of the items have been reused in our own home or found new homes.

Home Office/Library

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Today I have been revamping the home office/library area in our home.  This is really a follow up post to one I wrote in January which you can read here.

I finally moved the Australian Geographic magazines to the bottom shelf of the shelving unit in the lounge room and finally the bookcase was empty.

003I advertised it on a couple of local Facebook Buy, Swap, Sell sites and it looks as though it will be going to a new home tomorrow.

2011-12-21 01This is what one side of the office looked like a couple of years ago.  The freezer has been moved downstairs and with one bookcase ready to go we now have this blank corner.

009I am planning to get a comfy chair to put in the corner and create a reading nook.

Meanwhile, on the opposite wall we have a folding trestle table which we use as a computer desk.

001This was always only a temporary measure but it has been like this for nearly 10 years!  After much searching I have found this piece at IKEA.  I have only seen it online but hopefully it will measure up to my expectations.

indexThe look of the room has been changed by re-arranging some of the artwork we have.

007These are above the computer desk at the moment but if I end up getting the IKEA desk I will relocate them to the other side so they will be above the reading chair.

Here are a couple of others which have also been changed around.

008The office/library is a rather strange room due to the fact that the house was extended many years ago before we bought it.  This room was originally the main bedroom at the end of the house, however, it is now a walk-through room to the additional bedrooms.  The cupboards in the above photo would have been the original wardrobe.  The right-hand side is my linen cupboard and the left-hand side holds the filing cabinet.

004As you can see from the link in the first paragraph, we downsized from a 4 drawer filing cabinet to a 2 drawer one.  This left plenty of space but it was not particularly functional.  Today, we have cut down an offcut of melamine coated shelving and created a new shelf.

006There is still more to do but I feel as though I a winning the battle to make the office/library into both a functional and pleasant space.

Some Random Stuff

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There is no real theme to this post – hence the title.

A couple of years ago I wrote this post about the highs and lows of social media.  One of the wonders of it is the ability to easily connect with family and friends.  Today I have spent some time setting up a group for my cousins and other extended family.  This will allow us to keep in touch across vast distances and generations.  The catalyst was a seed of an idea to organise a get-together on the centenary of our grandfather’s arrival at Gallipoli.  He was not with the first landing on April 25th 1915 but it was significant for our family as a sequence of events that followed this led to him spending time in England where he met his future wife (our grandmother).  I already have feedback from far and wide which simply would not have been possible without Facebook.

As I was taught at school – “new thought, new paragraph”………

The decluttering continues – I have a small bag of a few more things that will be leaving the sewing room.  I generally keep a plastic supermarket bag on the bag of the door in the sewing room and add anything that I find and then drop it off to the op shop when the bag is full.  I also have 2 small cartons of books which we sorted from the bookshelves last month.  They have been sitting on the floor next to the bookcases waiting for me to get organised and find a new home for them.  I have listed them on a couple of local buy/swap/sell sites as well as Freecycle but if I don’t get a taker by the end of the weekend I think they will be going to the op shop as well.  It is a difficult task to balance the desire to have things gone and not hanging around, against finding the perfect home for them.  How do you manage this conundrum when decluttering?

I have also set up a ‘Decluttering’ tab at the top of my blog.  Check it out if you are interested.

Finally, I just wanted to share these couple of photos with you today.  In my next life, I think I will be a dog………….

004or maybe, a cat!

003These photos were taken at about 4.30pm and the cat has been on that chair ALL DAY!

The weather is not looking fabulous here – in fact it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale so I am not sure what the weekend will bring.  I hope you have a fabulous weekend wherever you are.

One Thing Leads to Another

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This morning I decided to clean the bookshelves in the office area.  I knew that they were quite dusty and that there was some stuff lying around that really didn’t belong there.

As I started to remove and clean the books I decided to sort them out and see if I could cull any more.  Getting rid of books seems to be fairly difficult for us but in the end there were nearly 60 books that have not made it back onto the shelves.

We have 2 identical tall shelving units from Ikea and it now looks as though one of them may be able to go to a new home.  I am confident that we will never need more shelf space as we both have Kindles and buying a physical book is a rare occurrence.

Here is one shelving unit cleaned and all of the shelves filled with books.

2015-01-17 01These are the 2 boxes of books which will be finding new homes.

002The other unit is a work in progress.

003As you can see, there is quite a bit of spare space on the other shelf which is the reason I think that it can go.  The random books are ones that I am unsure as to whether they should stay or go.  I intend to re-read them and in fact read some for the first time.  Why didn’t I read them when I first got them?  Maybe I did not really like them.  Anyway, I will be working on this pile over the coming weeks and deciding which ones I want to keep long-term and which can go.

The collection of Australian Geographic magazines will need to go elsewhere – probably the bottom shelf of the shelving unit in the lounge room.  There is 23 years worth of them – we stopped subscribing at the end of 2011.  I have never read them all so maybe it is time I did.  I used to joke that I would read them when I retired!!

There is also a shoebox of stationery items which can probably go in the cupboard.  Then there is the pile of photos that need to be sorted any scanned…………one day!!

004This is the cupboard which holds the 4 drawer filing cabinet.  I am in the process of trying to source a 2 drawer one to replace it as we have condensed the contents into 2 drawers.  When this eventuates we will use the top of the cabinet as a shelf and add another shelf a bit higher up.  There will then be plenty of space for the stationery box and photos.

If I had to nominate one room that is difficult to declutter, then the office would be it.  Mind you, we have managed to get rid of quite a bit over the past year but there always seems to be more.

Do you have a particular room or area that is your nemesis when it comes to decluttering?  Please share your stories.

STREAMLINE – Limits

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In years gone by our stuff was limited to a large degree by the availability and cost of most items.  Goods were generally produced locally and in a relatively labour-intensive manner.  Disposable incomes were less and stuff cost more when compared to incomes.  Global manufacturing and transport, cheap labour and distribution have meant that there is a seemingly endless supply of stuff for you to purchase at your local shopping mall.

Since the natural limits of accessibility and affordability have been removed, it is up to us to take control or we will end up drowning in our stuff.  The ultimate limit is the size of your home; you can fit a lot more in a 2 storey, 4 bedroom family home than a studio apartment.  However, even this does not deter some people as evidenced by the burgeoning industry of off-site storage facilities.

You can easily apply limits to things like your books by simply choosing not to have the shelves overflowing.  As you buy or acquire new books, make space for them by moving others along.  We all have books that we are not sure why we are keeping them.  Will you read them again?  No?  Time to go.  This way you will eventually end up with a selection of books that you really love and are proud to have on your shelves.

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Perhaps you can choose an arbitrary number such as 20 DVDs, 10 t-shirts or 6 champagne flutes.  Make sure that you don’t simply choose a number that allows you to maintain the status quo.  It needs to be challenging yet achievable as well as pertinent to your unique situation.

No matter what the item, you need to ask yourself the question, “Do I really need x of this item?”  Nothing needs to be immune from this process – lipsticks, plates, socks, CDs, towels, candles and cookbooks are all fair game.

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Once you set limits on your stuff and force yourself to choose, you will naturally choose ‘the best’.  How you make that choice is a personal decision but making the choice means that you consider the merit of each piece carefully and you will appreciate its worth to you and your life.  The stuff that makes the cut will have an opportunity to shine in the decluttered environment.

It is not only physical stuff that you can set limits on.  You can set limits on your participation in events.  For example, you may decide that you will only spend one night a week playing sport, therefore you will choose the one you enjoy most.  This may give you a chance to excel rather than putting in a mediocre performance in 3 different sports on 3 different nights of the week.  You may choose to limit your association with people who do not enhance your life.

Limits can be seen as restrictive but the limits you set on your stuff will actually be liberating as you are the one making the choices.  Don’t let your stuff rule you and your life.

Doubled-Up No More

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We have been given a large number of titles for our Kindles so on the weekend I decided to check if some were double-ups of hard copies that we already owned.  Sure enough, there were over 80 books that we already had on our bookshelves.

2013-01-15 01Here are some of the books which we will be letting go.  It will mean less to store, dust etc.  We will even have some empty shelf space.

2013-01-15 02I have listed some of the books to give away on a couple of sites including Freecycle but have not had any luck.

If any of my Australian readers have suggestions as to where I can give them away where they will be appreciated that would be great.  In fact, if you are interested in any and live in south-east Queensland or are prepared to pay postage please let me know and I can send you a list of the available titles.