Living small

Every year since I was 4, my mom and I have headed "Up North" for vacation during the summer (and more recently, sometimes in the fall and winter as well).  For those of you not from Michigan, "Up North" is how we refer to the northern portion of the lower penninsula (not to be confused with the upper penninsula, which is the U.P.).  For us, Up North is the Leelanau Penninsula, the "little finger" of Michigan.  It's a beautiful area, surrounded by Lake Michigan and sand dunes, pockmarked with crystal-clear spring-fed lakes, and decorated with woods and orchards of cherry trees.  It's my favorite place in the world.

This year it's really made me examine how we live our life.

We stayed in a very cute little cabin.  It was probably built in the 1920s, and it had lots of charm and character, including a 1950s stove.  It was small, maybe 600 square feet, but it didn't feel cramped.  It was cozy, but in a good way.  It had everything we needed (except space to hang clothes, but it was a vacation cabin, so whatever), and nothing we didn't.  I wanted to stay forever.

About a week after getting home, I went to a house to take a burglary report.  This house was maybe 1200 square feet, with a very open floor plan, so it wasn't even large by today's standards.  But what struck me about this house was how calm and peaceful it felt inside.  There were comfortable furnishing, but nothing extraneous.  A few tasteful pieces of art were displayed on the walls and on a bookcase, but there was NO CLUTTER.  None. 

These two homes have really inspired me to try and cut out the clutter from our home.  I spontaneously deconstructed the kitchen one night last week and completely rearranged the cupboards and got rid of a bit of junk.  It's one of the hardest rooms to declutter, since you really have to keep some things that you only use once in a while (turkey platter, certain servingware, my big canning kettle).  But do I really need the golden retriever mug that I got when I was 12?  Not so much.  Three sets of mixing bowls?  Probably not.  I also got rid of any storage containers that were missing lids, and any lids I didn't have a container for.  And by moving some things from one cabinet to another, the cupboards look much nicer and are much better organized.  All of the food prep items are together, the servingware has a cabinet to itself, and all of the drinkware (cups, mugs, and such) are in one place. 

Of course, the floor still looks like shit after the flood.  The cheapo laminate will never recover.  There are pieces that don't fit back together because they swelled, and the edges on every plank are raised.  It looks bad.  Combined with the hole in the ceiling, we're really rocking the white trash kitchen look.  But at least my cabinets are organized! 

We're still not sure what we're going to do in the kitchen.  We're not prepared for a full remodel, but now that Ethan is crawling...  Ugh.  We're going to have to do something.  I just don't know what.

Next on my decluttering list is the basement.  I have a few boxes of stuff that I never seem to look in.  I think I'm just not going to look and trash it all.  I hate being like that, since I like to donate items that could be used.  But if I look, I know I'll never get rid of it.  And it obviously means nothing to me, since it's been boxed away since we moved into the Prairie Box.  Seriously, if I haven't looked at it in 6 years, do I really want it?  Or...  Maybe I'll limit myself to one rubbermaid container of "memorabilia".  Then I don't have to get rid of everything, but I can keep a few items that are important but not really displayable.  I think I'll try that tonight and see how it works out. 


Teresa said...

The vacation house looks wonderful. That's a favorite area of ours as well.

Best of Luck with the Kitchen.

Old House Lover said...

I think you should look in the containers. If it's something that has a memory attached to it, but you don't really need it, take a picture of it, that way you can remember the memory but not have the clutter.