Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Size Matters

Lately I've been feeling cramped in our house. We've lived here for over eight years and I don't remember ever feeling so penned in.

We bought our house when we had been married less than a year. It felt unwieldy then. The two of us rattled around wondering what we were doing with so much space. We hoped to fill it up with a few children, so we enjoyed the space while we could.

Thomas came along and our house grew a little smaller. We still had plenty of space, but our house was starting to feel like a better fit. One of the rooms upstairs went from being an office to a nursery and everything was great.

Then Thomas grew and little Anna came along. The last office disappeared and Thomas was moved from the nursery into the bedroom next door. Our den/guest room on the main floor turned into a playroom and the house started fitting a little more snugly.

I know that this house is going to feel smaller before it starts to feel bigger again. The kids will start taking up even more room as they grow and develop new interests. And in truth, by modern standards, this 1959 home is on the small side. But we don't want to leave. Financially, this house is a good fit for us, we like our neighborhood, and we have friends nearby.

We aren't a family that is prone to clutter, though the kids create storage difficulties of their own. Our basement is full of out-grown clothes that will once again be useful. Small children seem to require some amount of variety in the toys that are available to them, particularly when they spend very little time absorbed in videos.

I keep wandering around our house trying to figure out what I can get rid of to create some more space in which to live. I eye our little upright piano speculatively ("Perhaps they could learn to play the violin instead?") and I make routine passes through the toy room to weed out underused playthings. I try to discard any kitchen accessories that don't get used regularly.

What else can I do? What are some of your space-making tricks?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We're in the middle of a massive decluttering in my house. First, we're sorting through the few thousand books in boxes in the basement. Unless it has sentimental value, is difficult to find, is valuable (e.g., autographed stuff), or is likely to be used again, it's going to the library. (That means you, Tao of Pooh!)

We've also instituted a "toy library" in the basement. The obviously outgrown stuff (e.g., newborn toys) has been put into storage. The toy library consists of plastic bins, each filled with sort-of current toys and stacked in a shelf (thank you, IKEA!).

When Sylvia wants to retrieve a toy from the toy library, she has to choose an "in use" toy from her toy room (the den) to take its place in the toy library. She loves having the power to make this choice for herself, and often approaches us with toys already in hand with a request to visit the toy library. This has worked really well to control the toy clutter in our living spaces.

You might also be interested in the Unclutterer blog. They have lots of tips on that subject. Two of the contributors recently moved to a smaller home (intentional downsizing!), and some of their techniques might be helpful to you.

Good luck!