Saturday, December 16, 2006

A place for everything, and everything in its place

One thing about living in a small house (under 1000 square feet) means that you really have to be organized with your stuff and have a place for everything, or risk having an always-messy house. Since we moved in we've picked the "messy house" option but it's been really bothering me lately.

Our basement, for more than a year now (but who's keeping track) has been the junk room. We each had easily enough furniture and stuff to furnish this house on our own, without the other person when we moved in together, and neither of us had a chance to de-junkify our belongings and get rid of duplicates before we moved in.

It truly was the perfect storm for a messy house. I started my job at the 7th circle of hell, leaving a furnished apartment in Ottawa, and my parents kind enough to load up a uhaul of my stuff and drive it here. Dave had all of his things from when he lived in Toronto in boxes at his mom's house and just loaded up the truck. When he and the crew arrived in the 'shwa it was pouring rain, so everything went in the closest entrance to the basement "to be sorted out later".

Later has never really come.

We're full of excuses as to why:

  • Last fall and winter we set what I think was some kind of record- every weekend we were either visiting friends or had people over. I can't recall one weekend where we had time just to unpack and relax. When we did get a chance, it was far from our list of fun things to do.
  • We've had eight weddings this year, including our own. In the three months after our own wedding we've been to four weddings and a funeral.
  • We spend so much freaking time cleaning up the masses of dog hair (and cat hair, but to a lesser extent) on the main floor and upstairs that cleaning the basement just wasn't a priority.
So, the basement quickly became the repository of crap. Don't know where to put it? Throw it in the basement! People are coming over and there's a heat gun and drop cloths everywhere? Basement! Important paperwork that should be neatly filed? Pile it in the basement! Box of who-knows what that isn't labeled? Basement, basement, basement!

Thus today became the "long overdue make basement somewhat decent" day. Despite the chaos upstairs (we're having the living/dining room and front and upstairs hallways and ceilings repaired, primed and painted, will show pics later) we made a significant dent in the work that needed to be done. We now have garbage bags for "donate" stuff, plain old garbage, and recycling boxes overflowing, but the improvement is noticeable. A few more hours down there and it may even be a place we can take people on "the tour" when they come to visit. (we've lived here for a year and almost 4 months and I think my sister has yet to see the basement)

It's starting to look like we may eventually have a place for everything and everything (well, almost everything) in its place.

Now if only I had started my Christmas shopping.


Rhea said...

I just saw you live in a small house. Did you know there is actually a Small House movement? I wrote about it on my blog! As for clutter, I started reading about feng shui and clutter, and now I don't hang on to stuff like I used to. It got me to throw stuff out. It's liberating!

Nancy said...

We moved stuff from several different households without ever having a chance to go through it -- I'm talking literally a lifetime worth of stuff (things my mom brought from my childhood, papers from college, etc.) -- that's made a couple of moves with us. Across state lines, even. We're just starting to get a handle on it, but it's slow going. Kudos to you for making a dent in your stuff -- that's a major accomplishment!

roro said...

I'm so impressed that you've taken on the basement this early. It took Katr and I three years to finally clean our storage locker out - and then we only cleaned it because we were moving. You guys are rock stars!!

Heather said...

rhea: I had no idea, but to be honest I can't claim we're in a small house because it was planned and we're hip and funky. We didn't want to share a wall with neighbours which ruled out a townhouse, and wanted a decent back yard, and voila, we bought this house. De-cluttering is definitely liberating!

nancy: You sound EXACTLY like me - I moved from crappy apartment to crappy apartment for years, and still have all the kid junk at my parents' house. It's slow going here but what a difference a few hours can make!

Roro: I'm thrilled with our rock star status but it's premature - there's still plenty-o-junk to be tossed/given away/recycled. Also? I was terrified of the storage locker space in my apartment in Ottawa. It was definitely an evil feeling going in there and I ran out like a wuss every time.

Malnurtured Snay said...

I used to live in a 350sq. ft studio apartment, and I had enough furniture to fully furnish my twice-as large 2-bedroom apartment when I moved out. Man, that was cramped living.

Heather said...

malnurtured snay: yikes! I think we'd go nuts living in 350 square feet.