emma_in_dream: (Back to the Future)
A friend came by the other day and got really excited about how much space I have now. I do think I have maximised it, and I feel quite pleased.

I can see that maintaining it will involve a Mad Eye Moody-like state of constant vigilance. The kids scored two toys yesterday alone from my parents, both from an op shop and both set to return there within the week.

Swancon

Apr. 10th, 2012 07:26 pm
emma_in_dream: (shelves)
I was feeling very uninspired about Swancon this year. Indeed, I had to motivate myself to go by saying it would be my 19th con. Next year I get my Arnold Rimmer-esque Twenty Years Service badge.

But when I got there I really enjoyed it. Kudos to the committee on a pretty smoothly running, really comfortable con.

Also, I say modestly, kudos to me for auctioning the items I took out when I decluttered. I made about $60 for me, $52 for NAFF and $99 for DUFF.
emma_in_dream: (shelves)
At last the decluttering project is drawing to an end. I began in December, not realising that everything I owned would be handled at least twice and that I would have to live in a process for three months. But now I am nearly there!

Here are my notes – lessons learned on decluttering.

Small items

I removed six car boot loads of stuff from the house to the charity bin. I mean, seriously, full loads, like the boot was just loaded with big black plastic bags of stuff. The house does now look less cluttered, though I am not sure it looks like that much stuff is gone.

I also Ebayed quite a bit of stuff. I made about $300 selling stuff I no longer wanted or could no longer use. This was quite a satisfying process. Clutter out – money in.

Even better than Ebay was Gumtree, which was a Perth-only network which allowed me to get rid of items that needed to be picked up. Also, it was way easier to sell things on it. You basically type in a one sentence description and loaded a photo and you are good to go.

I culled about 400 books, mostly going to second hand shops, the University second hand store or charity bins.

I have been through, literally, every drawer I own and examined every item. Do I use this? I asked. Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Does it mean something to me?

Large items

I managed to give one desk away to charity. The large charities are fiendishly fussy about what they will take – they also, in my experience, tend to reschedule at the drop of a hat and work on the assumption that the person making the donation has unlimited time to wait at home for them to stop by.**

I got rid of one desk to a neighbour, one ancient and hideously ugly cupboard has gone to the verge chuck out, a cheap and nasty bedside table went into the bin, and I managed to Freecycle my TV cabinet (but this was a saga involving constant rescheduling).

I did take in another bookcase and two chests of drawers, but one of these has gone straight into the new shed.

** A friend suggested that a smaller charity might be more able to use furniture, like one for people setting up new homes after leaving domestic violence. I tried a domestic violence charity and they did want the furniture but could not take it because they did not have a ute and they also had nowhere useable to store it. So, really, openings for someone with more to donate than I have – their first need is an airconditioned storage area so that they can access items in the storage. I called in the middle of one of the hottest summers ever and the director said their shed was full and could not be emptied until the weather changed because it was unendurable to be in there.

Things that worked for me

Containerising things. It is a lot less visually cluttered if I have one box of hair accessories than if they are all spread out on the counter top.

Lofting things. It was a revelation to me that you can loft little things as well as big ones. Lofting my microwave allows me to store the frequently used foods underneath and leaves valuable counter space for cooking.

Getting a shed! Did you know that even if you have virtually no shed they have itty bitty little ones that nestle under your eaves? Brilliant!

Things that did not work for me

Virtually all the decluttering books in the local library were co-written by interior designers whose interests did not mesh with mine. I really was not looking for advice on where to place a throw rug. I was looking for advice for how to cram the belongings of three people (slightly more than the national average for one house) into sixty square metres (about a quarter of the national average for a house).

For example, one chapter on laundries mentioned setting up a TV in the laundry to give you something to look at while you did the ironing. I would begin by saying that there would not be room to set up an ironing board in my laundry. Also, I have never owned one as it is a single-use, large size item requiring storage. Also, I decided that even the iron, which I had occasionally used, was not valuable enough to make up for the amount of space it uses, so I sold it in the recent purges. Finally, I would add that I also sold the TV in the lounge because that also took up too much space. Either the TV or the couch had to go and I really wanted to keep a place for my friends to sit.

In short, my reality, not really matching the one envisioned in the decluttering books I read.

Where I did find useful information

Usually I would go for books as my first source of information but these were a disappointment to me. Full of tips on how to arrange your towels in a visually appealing manner, they lacked information on how to squeeze them in when you don’t own a linen cupboard. My answer: dangle a hanging shoe storage thing from the rail in the wardrobe in the girls’ room and shove them in that.

I did find a few inspirational websites:

* http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/
* http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com.au/
* http://100things100days.com/

I also found that walking around the local storage solution shop was really helpful. For instance, it was there that I discovered the lofting devices and the hanging devices. I now have extra space for bathroom towels in use by hanging an extra rail over the door to my bedroom (not quite in the bathroom but certainly within two steps of it). I also have three new hooks behind the door for bags – they just hang there, no nails, perfect for me.
emma_in_dream: (Default)
Lofting - it's not just for beds anymore.

P3100038

You can loft anything!

P3100036
emma_in_dream: (shelves)
See my new shed!

P3170060

More space in the house!
emma_in_dream: (chekov)
I should add that the most frustrating thing about all this house revamping is that I have much more important things I should be concentrating on.

Pearl’s diet has once again contracted to about 12 things so I will try again to get her to enjoy a wider range of foods. Ruby’s physio. Ruby’s sleep. And Pearl watches too many DVDs.

But I have no energy for any of this other, actually important stuff.
emma_in_dream: (Default)
Obviously life is a bit out of control at the moment. I'm posting January's book list in mid-February and it's got a lot of reading about home organisation on it.

Read more... )
emma_in_dream: (Default)
Pros:

1, I have thrown out, overall, I’d estimate 6 car boot loads to the charity bins plus half that much again at least to the actual bins plus three large items of furniture removed. All this has decluttered the house to some extent and there is an element of satisfaction in being in a cleaner, neater environment (though it is still quite cluttered because there is a radical disjunction between what I want to keep/own and the amount of space I have to keep it in).
2, I have found room to cram my double bed into the little room. I love having a double bed which I can stretch out in. My bed is flush against a row of bookcases which means the bottom part of them is inaccessible but it has actually worked out quite well in terms of fitting in. I have double shelved all the upper shelves.
3, I now have the room to myself and can engage in luxurious behaviour such as rolling over at night without thinking first about whether it will wake Ruby, ditto rearranging my blankets, and, best of all, I can now turn the light off when I sleep. When I write this it seems kind of pathetic and I realise that I have actually made a few sacrifices? Changes? Stuff I’ve given up? For the sake of having kids.
4, On the first day her clothes were moved onto shelves Pearl started choosing her own clothes and getting partly dressed herself. Apparently she was totally ready for this but had been unable to get the heavy drawers in the dresser open on her own.
5, There is much more available floor space in the kids room and they can play there.
6, There is much more available floor space downstairs and the kids can play there.
7, Buying the massive number of containers I have bought has been cost neutral because I have gotten rid of some stuff via Ebay. (‘Containerizing’ – to use the American noun as a verb of the decluttering books – was by far and away the most useful tip of this frustrating genre of books which all assume that every house has a breakfast nook and a basement which the moronic readers have just not noticed they could use for storage.
8, I find selling things on Ebay quite satisfying, though time consuming and, once again, the thrift books offer quite useless advice, the most common of which is to start bidding low so as to allow competition. I have to say that there is just not that much competition for most things so you are better off thinking of the minimum price at which you will not be resentful and think you would rather have donated an item to charity. For me this price is quite low, like $2-$5.


Cons


1, I am still not sure if having Ruby and Pearl share will work out as they have completely different habits for going to sleep and for comfort when they are distressed. Pearl likes me to be in the room while this revs Ruby up, which is a dilemma.
2, It was a ridiculously huge amount of effort, still ongoing. I am not finished yet.
3, Moving and decluttering everything I own is both emotionally draining (shall I keep this? Would a photo preserve the memories equally well?) and physically draining (why is it 40 degrees again?).
4, I will have to buy another chest of drawers as I have a pile of boxes still sitting in my room irritating me.
5, While I have been engaged in this heavy, emotionally arduous work I have let lots of other things slide so Pearl is watching a lot of DVDs and Ruby is not doing much physio.
6, Also, when I say watching DVDs this is because we now have no TV. I am kind of resentful that I have had to get rid of it because there was literally no space but glad that when the choice came down to sofa (for having guests) and TV I chose to lose the TV. Also, my plan to just watch DVDs myself has been thwarted by the fact that when I tried to watch the BBC Pride and Prejudice my computer would not play it even though it was regionally compatible. It will play other DVDs but not that one. A life without the 1995 Pride and Prejudice is not to be borne and I will have to think of some other way of accessing it.
7, There is still a massive TV cabinet in my front yard because Anglicare said they would take it, cancelled, said they would take it, cancelled, said they would take it, came and refused to take it. I then offered it on Freecycle and the woman who wants it has said she would come, cancelled, said she would come, cancelled, said she would come, and come with a tiny car actually smaller than the item (I had given her the dimensions). Based on my experiences, neither donations to charity nor Freecycle work very well – I am sure this is not usually the way it goes.
8, Selling things on Ebay is incredibly time consuming. I think it is because I am selling lots of individual things, most of which are not in categories so I can’t set up a default entry which is just edited. If I sell an iron, a rubber stamp and a book in a row, each one needs to be hand entered.
9, Ruby is lodging a one child protest against having had her cot moved and having to share a room. She is very cross about it and wants the world to know.
10, Pearl now has to have her naps in my room and has already had one accident in my bed. I have ordered a waterproof mattress protector online and I hope it doesn’t make the bed too nasty and sweaty. (Possibly this comes under the category of maternal sacrifice.)
11, I do feel resentful that I can’t afford a bigger place. I’d rather be with the kids than work more hours but I’m not even thinking a quarter acre block and the Australian dream. I’d just like something that’s not a two up, two down.

Plans

Jan. 14th, 2012 01:02 pm
emma_in_dream: (vintage)
I am feeling very tired at the moment, perhaps because between them Pearl and Ruby had me up from nine til one and then four til four thirty last night.

Perhaps because I am in the middle of a major change to my life. I have decided that this home reorganisation is as important to me as moving house - it is the equivalent in my mind.

As soon as I get the TV cabinet out of the lounge, I will be able to begin the fun, actually cleaning up part of things. So far I have made more and more mess and cannot begin to clear it away.

After that, I need to organise getting a water-proof shed (and arranging a concrete base for it to sit on).

Then the upstairs part needs to be done too - I just really want to have it completed. I find this waiting for step by step so frustrating.

I have decided that I have to focus on the positive of staying here. I get to work fewer hours and spend more time with my kids, which is what I want. I am lucky that I am not locked into a large mortgage on some McMansion. (Though, you know, my house is about a quarter of the size that the ABS says is average, so it could be doubled and still not be a McMansion.)

So, advantages of decluttering:

1, It will make my house seem larger.
2, It will hand on things I don't want to charity.
3, I have made nearly $80 selling things I don't want on Ebay. Hooray! (Though I have also spent $113 on baskets to store things in, so not cost neutral yet.)
4, The kids will have more room for playing.
5, I get to spend more time with the kids.
6, We get to keep living close to my parents.

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