Space. The final frontier.

Space really is the final frontier for me in some ways. Not outer space but the space in which we live. These tiny house people make me feel strangely envious, as I imagine how simple their lives must be with so little stuff, such easy cleaning, such um, extreme coziness. Of course that “small footprint living” only works when you have no children, and when it is early enough in your partnership that you still crave being really closely together every minute.

Anyhow, it has been certainly a small-er house scenario for us. We went from having 2400 square feet with 12 rooms to 1000 square feet and six rooms. What I have learned from that exercise is we all have a whole lot of stuff we really don’t need, and getting rid of it is a constant battle, to the point where “decluttering” is an industry. Pretty sure decluttering was not an issue for our grandparents. We just love stuff, buying new stuff to replace the old and finding places to put it all.

This is not an option for us anymore. We got rid of an absolutely astonishing amount of goods before we moved across the country, and frankly there is none of it that I miss. It is kind of freeing to have less space, because sometimes we literally have no place to put something, so we just don’t buy it. It does make decisions easier.

Living in a big century house made me into a voracious reader of house porn like Canadian House & Home or Country Living magazines. I have dumped that habit, replaced by a love of online pages like Apartment Therapy . Great articles on stylish and mindful small-space living, organisation, DIY and useful stuff like toy rotation systems. (!!) The other plus of course is that I read it online and it takes up no shelf space.

IMG_9116Speaking of shelf space, books are one thing we can hardly cut back on, but we do try. Book space is a priority for us, but we have become choosier about what we buy and what we actually keep. A charity book sale I organise twice a year keeps us under control as I make sure we shift out a couple of boxes to donate each time around.

I am just as much of a thrifter as ever, but what I buy has changed. Last year I scooped a grandfather clock for $10, only to get it home and realise I bought it for our old house. It did not fit in at all with our all-white condo. Plus it had a truly hideous jerry-rigged red clock face. To make the best of it, I ripped out the clock and now the whole thing is a tower bookshelf. Score! Now I just need to paint it white.

As much as we buy, we must get rid of, so it means we have stuff constantly moving in and out. If things don’t “fit” with our lifestyle now, out they go. Oddly enough a painting of antique wooden potato mashers fits much better in a big country kitchen than in a modern condo-sized one. Here it just looks weird.

Sometimes when we visit friends, I look around and observe their stuff compared to ours. I can’t help it, everybody does it so don’t pretend you wouldn’t. It is kind of fascinating. Some friends have a big house but are quite minimalist, with actual empty space in their home. I’ll call it “room to breathe.” Others have so much stuff, every gadget, game, toy, movie, appliance and recreational aid I can possibly imagine. I look at it and I feel a little envious, sure, but I also feel better about what we own. I feel like if I had all that extra baggage, it would stress me out. Sure, maybe our kids would love all that stuff. But they also really love what they have. We have ENOUGH.

Such a big word, enough.

Sure, I would take an RV. A second bathroom is definitely in our future but I will never go back to having three to clean. I won’t say no to a dishwasher. (two years and counting without that) An unlimited book budget would be lovely, but we kind of have that already with the library. A wee bit more room and we could squeeze in another cat and maybe even a dog. (Husband screams “Noooooooooo!”) But honestly, we have enough.

It is enough for us.

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Do you feel buried in stuff? How do you know when you have enough?

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3 thoughts on “Space. The final frontier.

  1. Rita says:

    Well, I love this topic, and it’s one I’ve been pondering for at least 5 years now, when a move forced me to consider my relationship to stuff. I have similar tiny house fantasies, but I’m pretty sure the reality of it would be something I’d struggle with. My dream is to have a small space with minimal things, but only things I love that are just-right things. As my daughter would say, #lifegoals 🙂

  2. Marian says:

    Hi Stephenie,
    Found you through Rita’s blog, and like Rita, I too, love this topic. When we moved to Ontario from Minnesota 5 years ago I felt completely buried in stuff — a very horrible feeling for me, as clutter sends my anxiety through the roof. In all of our other moves I’ve been able to get things sorted fairly quickly, but because this move was into a fixer-upper it’s been a long and difficult process. (De-cluttering as an industry? Oh, yes, that’s definitely how it’s felt at times). I’m finally starting to feel like we might now be at the stage of “enough” (“enough” being a concept I give a lot of thought to).

    We lived in Minnesota for 11 years (originally we’re from Edmonton), but prior to that we were in Regina (for three years). We lived in a neighbourhood right on the eastern edge of the city and I could see the prairie from our bedroom window. I could never understand those people who said the prairies were boring; I’ve always thought the prairie landscape (and the sky!) was breathtaking 🙂 .

    • Stephenie says:

      HI Marian! And thank you for visiting my blog. It always makes me feel so much better to know other people face some of the same (admittedly First-World) problems and conundrums! Also fun to hear from others who do a similar amount of moving around to totally disparate places! I have come to love the prairies, and have definitely come to realise that the only boring part is what you see from the transcanada highway, which of course is what everyone sees. Will be popping by your blog soon…

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