Saturday, November 28, 2015

Minimalism: the Second Purge

In September, I wrote about how my family has been embracing minimalism. Between all of us, we removed about a third of our belongings from our apartment. It was a wonderful feeling, and we've continued the process, removing furniture, smaller items, and things we had even considered necessities at one time or another. I think I can safely say we own less than half of what we did when we moved in. Here are some of the things we've continued to narrow down:

Clothing: I had finalized my wardrobe already, with less than 30 items, including coats and shoes. My husband is more attached to having a variety of items, as he enjoys having many options, but he also gleaned down significantly. We can fit all our clothing in one closet, now. We also got rid of a lot of my daughters clothes, though I'm still planning to pare down so she has about 10 outfit options, allowing for weather changes and pajamas.

Books: I once had seven full bookshelves. I now have two. My initial questions, as I picked up every book, were: “Have I read this? If yes, would I read it again or would I let someone else borrow it without hesitation? If no, can I commit to reading it?” These questions got me down to five bookshelves. During my next purge, I added these questions: “Have I read it? If yes, have I reread it multiple times and plan to do so again or desire to own it for reference? If no, am I excited to read it?” This got me down to two bookshelves. Some books, of course, belong to my husband. Others are for reference, as I study music and literature.

Kitchen dishes and appliances: We entertain a lot (at least twice per week, every week), so we have to have extra dishes on hand – particularly because we don't like to entertain using anything disposable. I did, however, get rid of many serving dishes; I have a lot of carnival glass dishes, and I like to use them, so I removed the majority of what I had that wasn't carnival glass. I also gave away some of the carnival glass I don't use regularly. I got rid of appliances I rarely use, like my mandolin slicer (I'm scared of it... always choose my chef's knife first), the standing blender (prefer my immersion blender), and my turkey roaster (we don't ever buy turkey).

Furniture: We have more furniture than many minimalists would, but this is also a result of the fact we entertain often. We have a guest bedroom and essentially two living rooms. These need to be able to either seat or host without much complication. We minimize even there if we can. The guest bed has empty drawers underneath, a closet to hang clothes in, a small table with a lamp, a comfortable chair, and a desk we keep completely clear unless we're using it. Our main floor living room has two couches, one of which is a hide-a-bed, and a love seat. There are two, small shelves which double as tables when people need a place to put drinks or dishes. There is also a piano, as my husband is a performer and teacher. Our lower floor living room has one couch and a love seat, which also contains a hide-a-bed. We keep it fairly empty because we use it to set up a table that can seat ten people. We can also blow up an air mattress if we need to. It seems like excess, sometimes, but we've sold or given away many shelves, small tables, benches, and redundant seating.

We've become used to having less, and it makes life so much more simple. I feel as though we are more content with less, and we enjoy the things we have even more than we had before. Do you have regular times of purging? Do you do it gradually, all at once, or in stages? Let me know your method! 

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