A few months before I had my idea for how to return to a simpler life, I had decided that I would move back to the east coast, where I grew up and where my family still lives, in 2.5 years.
Thanks to the challenge in an article by The Minimalists on reducing household stuff every day for a month, I’d already been donating a lot of smaller items like books, CDs, DVDs, and clothes, but the decision to move across the country again gave me the motivation to look at reducing furniture.
I created a spreadsheet where I listed every piece of furniture in my condo. In a “Donate when moving” column, I typed yes for every item except two! That was eye-opening and so I considered which items I could donate now rather than waiting until I move. I figured this would 1) give me a head start on the move and 2) allow me to live with less furniture now and see how I liked it.
Moving is generally a forced time to purge, but why wait until you are under that pressure – you can end up throwing everything in boxes that remain unpacked for years or throwing things in the garbage/donation bin without time to plan. I have been guilty of both.
First up for me were two chests of drawers and two bedside tables in my bedroom, all IKEA particle board. I had already been reducing the clothes and the other stuff the furniture contained, so I replaced these pieces with only one small wooden table to put beside the bed and three fair-trade baskets for holding t-shirts, PJs, socks, and underwear. With the other clothes from the drawers (mostly fitness clothing), I hung them in the closet or donated them.
The furniture I donated was in good shape so will get used by someone, rather than going straight to the landfill. The exercise reminded me of the benefits of consignment furniture stores – that’s where I found the small wooden table, handcrafted in the 1950’s, to use beside my bed. I actually went into the store because I was planning to replace the two IKEA chests with one good quality wooden one. It wasn’t until a friend questioned why I needed a chest of drawers at all and mentioned other storage solutions that I realized that, although downsizing from two to one was good, I was still assuming I would have a chest of drawers just because I’d always had one. Once I saw that, I decided to further simplify by just trying a few baskets.
In reducing the bedroom furniture, I discovered how much I like the space that it has opened up. I may have a challenge in my simpler living plan because, for at least half the year, I will be living in a much smaller home than the 1200 square feet I enjoy now! I will keep that in mind and, as I continue to donate larger items, appreciate the space more than the furniture that was there before.
If you are thinking of reducing your stuff, furniture may be a big place to start. Check out these two articles that I found helpful for dealing with smaller things:
- 101 physical things that can be reduced in your home by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist
- Let’s play a minimalism game together by The Minimalists