Friday, April 1, 2011

Small House Q & A


I have enjoyed everyone's comments about living in smaller houses or at least massively simplifying their lives. There seems to be a growing trend toward this. Very interesting. Crazy For Boys/Heather raised some good questions. What are those things that we think are essential that others have learned are not? For so long there were certain things that I thought were essential in a well ordered house and now I have learned I can live without them! Who knew? I have learned that just because I would call myself a queen at organization it doesn't mean I'm a queen in simplicity. There is a difference. Simplicity is a much grander, fuller life than I ever dreamed and I still see many, many ways that I can improve on.

For this blog post I want everyone's ideas on minimizing/simplicity/order to speak out. Let's all learn together. So here are some questions to get those creative juices going. Please give your answers to one or all of the questions. You may also add a new question too!  (I will do a Q & A on Headgates and books with this same style in a couple of days).
  1. What things in your kitchen have you realized you really don't need and you now realize you can live without?
  2. What are things in your bathroom that you have realized you don't need and you can live without?
  3. Where do you put your food storage?
  4. What do you still have left in storage that you can't bear to part with yet?
  5. What, if any, Christmas decorations (or other holidays) do you still have?
  6. How many wall hangings/decorations/pictures to you have in your house now? How did you choose what to put up?
  7. How much clothing/shoes does each family member have?
  8. How have you organized your computer/desk area?
  9. What do you do with the little junks and paper your children get from primary?
  10. How many baby clothes and blankets do you really need?

19 comments:

Christy said...

Excellent idea!

I am far from where I want to be in this area, but I'll answer the questions on my own blog.

I can't wait to hear everyone's ideas. :)

ℛℯℬℯḉḉα said...

I'm in a different stage where some of my kids are older, on missions, married. I'm always wondering how much space I need to help them feel welcome to come and visit and to have a space to be able to put babies down, have extra blankets, towels, plates . . for guests. My home was full but is slowly emptying. We have shared with company, family, foreign exchange students. I like to have plenty of food to feed anyone that may need it. I like to share my yard and garden produce, I need the space for that. Having a large yard or home has allowed me to save on wedding reception expenses. That brings on a whole other question. How many decorations that are good basics is it important to have and to share with others. I have greatly appreciated other people sharing with me on special occasions.
I have been blessed with a big house. I don't feel I need it and would be very content to down size, it is just not possible in today's economy so I must be content, grateful, share all that I have and trust that things will work out.
Having said all that I continue to sort, purge and feel lighter as I clear out more and more stuff. It has been so good to consider and weigh each belonging and decide if it is worth its weight in keeping or if I get to lighten my load. So many things feel like they weigh me down that I use to think I needed. It has been a very freeing process as I seek to understand what my purpose and needs are.
I'm looking forward to more comments and discussion.

Another question for me would be how do you balance emergency preparedness and simplifying.

Heather said...

I blogged about how to be an organized person on my blog: http://homemakers-journal.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-to-set-organizational-goals.html
If anyone's interested.
Here are some of my answers to your questions.
1. I use only kitchen tools that are multi-purpose. I gave away the "extra." None of my furniture is decorative. I don't have enough cabinet space so I use a china cabinet to hold the dishes we use each day. I only have one set of dishes (that serves 8). For years I used Corell because it was indestructible. I'm creative about what I serve food in--like my beloved Pyrex collection rather than fancy stuff.
3. I've explained to my 21 yr. old daughter that the day she moves out, her small, closed-in porch bedroom, off the kitchen, will become my new, luxurious walk-in pantry. Until then, I only keep a 3-month supply of food, (and I use it!)
2. I decorated my bathroom with a "Spa" feel because it lends itself to being minimalist. Family members use the bathroom in shifts in the morning according to priority. Also, think 1988 BYU Deseret Towers--1 bathroom for half-a-floor of girls. Personal items leave the bathroom with you to be stored in your bedroom. Every bedroom has a large mirror.
4. It literally took five years to whittle away the excess. Every year, study and find ways to do without is my advice. Bookshelves are essential to us because we read our collection of books over and over, and I have quite a few albums. Digital albums can be a time and space saver--just be sure to make a "hard copy" (meaning you publish the book) because technology is always changing.
5. Christmas begins about a week before Christmas (not the whole month). Focus on Christ--not space defying decorations. I just divided up our mostly homemade tree decorations for my nearly grown children since two girls will be leaving this fall. Decorations take one box now.
6. Don't like that Rooms-to-Go feel that many houses have. Most of my furniture is hand-me-downs that are repurposed. I think I will blog about that and show pics. The narrow hall is the "family history" gallery. Instead of overwhelming "church" stuff--I opt for the "family" feel. For example, I created a 12 x 12 scrap book page of photos from my husband's mission, including the Oakland Temple, and framed it. It's displayed in a prominent area. All my cross-stitch has been framed and displayed on various walls.
We got rid of a huge big screen t.v. and replaced it with a modest-sized (used) flat screen which is above our fireplace.
7. One week's worth of classic clothing is all we need. No dry cleaning (except for men's suits). I pay for good clothes and good shoes. Two church dresses. No fluctuating in size allowed. When my husband lost 30 lbs., I gave away all his clothes. When he gained it back--he decided to lose it for good because his clothes were TIGHT, and he has. (I look like Aunt Bee--but I don't fluctuate).
8. My office is a tiny desk with a used laptop and a multi-purpose scanner. A cardboard file box fits underneath and is thinned out each January.
9. Put children's artwork on the fridge. Place child in front holding how many fingers he is. Snap a photo. Throw out less-creative work.
10. I used the extra baby blankets as twin bed mattress covers and as wall-hangings (we were given A LOT). Eventually I got rid of the less sentimental.

Ranee said...

We got a food processor for our wedding, and I got rid of it about four years later, having used it once. I think the next thing I need to thin out, is my cupboard of decorative plates for parties. I don't really have parties, and it takes up valued space.
Just yesterday, I got rid of a flat iron I got from my sister that I've never used and a box of old letter from a friend from high school, cuz why have them?? :0) Those were technically taking up space in my closet. I think the next thing to go, will be a set of plastic drawers that's holding a bunch of stuff I never get into.
We have a 5th bedroom that is downstairs, that doubles as a place for our food storage and "school stuff". But I am in the middle of trying to understand what Headgates I can close, in regards to "school stuff" and so that room is about to get purged of the school stuff. I use my food storage daily and keep it rotated.
We just went through all of the movies we had, and are taking half of them to Bookman's to trade in for store credit for some classic books we should have. We have 4 book shelves full of books and my next project for that, is to read them all and decide which are the best of the best and which I can let go of.
I had Rubbermaid containers in my garage, where I used to keep my decorative "garb" for holidays, until I realized I hated getting the decorations out and never really used them. I got rid of everything except our Christmas stuff, which comes out the day after Thanksgiving and then goes back in storage by New Years Day.
I have about 7 pictures on walls downstairs, and about 16 upstairs. I go back and forth about this one, because I really don't like to dust all the picture frames, but I enjoy the pictures. We have kept this to things regarding our family, or the gospel. I do have a "Reminder Wall" in our kitchen, to help us with things like our Family Mission Statement, Family Laws, etc. I have decreased what is there, though. I did get rid of all "fake plants" a year ago, when we moved. That was very freeing! I notice we don't sneeze as often. :0)
As far as clothing is concerned, I think I fall into a trap here. We have lots of "hand me downs" going on at our house, and our kiddo's are hard on clothes (especially when they weren't new to begin with.) We stick to about 8 outfits per person, but Mr. Man and I need to hold ourselves to this rule better. Both our weights have fluxuated and once we get healthier and into better exercise habits, that will change (although nothing would make that change quicker than if we just downsized our wardrobes and had to get in shape to fit into everything.) :0)
It seems our computer area is a "catch-all" for EVERYTHING! It drives me batty, and I plan to conquer this with our purge this coming week.
I love Kerri Tibbets idea of letting each child have a bound notebook for coloring in, so that there are no stray papers anymore. I usually throw most of their "church art" away, unless it revolves around a special milestone or is particularly special. Our kiddo's know that when they draw in their "books", they need to put their names and dates on the page to document it.
As far as baby clothes and blankets, having 2 tube fed kiddo's makes for some frequent clothing and bedding changes. ( I call this "Fed Bed Syndrome.") Sometimes tubes open and formula goes everywhere, or diapers leak or cookies get tossed. If it weren't for those factors, I know that our "baby supplies" would be more manageable.

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

Rebecca,

You bring up some excellant points. How much stuff do we keep for guests? Many of us will still have bigger houses, but I think we are learning that we can live with less stuff. I am realizing that I simply do not need has much house as I had thought. But like Misty said on a comment on another post having a lot of land helps not needing a big house. Finding that right balance is key though.

I have no idea about the wedding decorations and such. Everyone has their receptions/open houses at the church here.

When I have stayed at other's houses I have been asked to bring sleeping bags, towels and pillows on occasion. I think this is great!

As far as dishes go I think if you have more guests than dishes paper products are great. You spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your guests.

I would love to hear other ideas on this. Good questions Rebecca.

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

Let's see I haven't shared my thoughts yet...

Kitchen. In the kitchen I have...1 big cooking pot, 1 medium, one small. 1 frying pan and 1 skillet. I don't really need the frying pan. 1- 9X13 pan, 1- 11X15 pan or whatever size that is. 2 wooden spoons, 1 spoonula, 2 plastic pan cake flipper thingies, 1 metal one, ... 10 dinner plates, 8 bowls, ...you get the idea.

I have learned I do not need a hand mixer. I didn't bring it in the house 6 months ago and have not gotten it out to use one time. I haven't even thought of it. I use my Kitchen Aide for everything.

I found I had toooooo many plastic food storage containgers. I have four or so in the house now. Before I had a whole cupboard full of them with stray lids and bowls everywhere. Definately a problem before. I realize I don't need near that many now.

Decorations. I do not have plastic plants or knick knacks to dust any more. I have family pictures and beautiful/inspiring artwork only.

Bathroom. 6 towels. The laundry basket is in the bathroom now instead of everyones seperate rooms like before. In the cupboard there is one or two extra soaps, toothpastes, shampoos, etc. The rest are stored in a storage box outside in the garage. This is a good family work job to refill toliet paper and hygiene things.

Food storage. It's all in the garage right now. In the next house since we will have four bedrooms instead of two we will dedicate one room to the food storage and make it a guest room most likely. I have found that I prefer having my children sleep in the same room. Liberty will get her own room now though of course. I prefer the food storage to be inside my house. Almost all of ours is in #10 cans and it's over a years worth so there is a lot of it.

Primary. We through the papers away. I give you permission if you want it to throw things away. : )

Time to get ready for conference. Can I just say that general conference is my favorite holiday? May you all recieve spiritual outpourings...

Shanny said...

I think I am a minimalist by nature and have actually had to work to add some character to my home - and still need too actually. lol

I probably have two kitchen products that I don't use - a stick blender (I would use it if it actually did what I thought it was supposed to do) and a rice cooker that we got free when we bought our microwave. I know a lot of people don't use their food processors but we have had several over the years because ours gets a regular workout. We eat a lot of grated carrot (salads, bulk out mince dishes etc) and it is quick and easy to grate it in there. I also do most of my baking in there. I buy whole oats and blend them just before I make porridge, so they will cook faster. Just a few ideas...

I have always loved multi-purpose furniture. I always want my furniture to be more than one thing. For instance, we have a day bed with drawers underneath for storage. I have bookshelves with cupboards on the bottom half for more storage. I love trundle beds that store underneath beds. I am looking to buy a hallway table to put in my entrance way but it can't just be a table and that is all, it has to be clever!

My family accuse me of having no sentimentality because I throw away birthday cards (and the kids primary things). I figure, what's the use of having a lifetime of cards that one day we *might* open again and think 'oh how nice' and then stow it away again. If they really mean something special to you, then perhaps scrapbook some of it to contain it and make accessible or even lay them out on the table, photograph them and then save on the computer to look at in digital form.

Recently, my in-laws came to stay and my well meaning mother in law bought us a full sized ironing board, despite our insistence that it would just take up space. She told us she wants to use it when she comes back and she wants it clean (which means we can't store it in the shed lol) so now I have to find somewhere non-annoying to keep something I have no need for. We use a benchtop ironing board in the laundry normally.

We don't have too many Christmas decorations. I would like more but I guess they are not high up the priority list and the ones we do have, little hands have got to a few too many times. My grandmother bought me a few baubles for our tree a couple of Christmas's ago because it was so bare. Last year my kids made simple decorations for the tree. I don't think people in these parts of the world decorate nearly as much as American's do either, so maybe there is less pressure there?

I am trying to collect some nice kitchenware and glasses etc for when we have lots of guests over for a meal, and we have extra pillows for when guests come to stay but other than that, we don't store anything special for them. I guess I would like to be family friendly with beds and highchairs and things once my children begin having babies of their own. But that's not for a long time yet.

My two biggest clutter-gatherers would be mail - but I usually just pass on the bills to my husband and throw the rest out. Lately I have started ONE pocket in my 'Mum folder' for things I might want to keep a little longer. And the second is homeschool stuff - past work the children have produced and things. They are keeping the bottom cupboards on our bookshelves full at the moment, so I have been meaning to address that yet again,the last couple of weeks. I tend to want to keep their work etc. That is probably the area I need to focus on and find solutions for the most.

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

I forgot the computer space one. We no longer have a big family computer/area. We have a couple of lap tops that are only used at the kitchen table. The printer is put up in the closet. It is a pain to get and use. I have realized I don't need it hardly at all now. I have become creative with getting around not getting it out. We have certainly saved on paper! It was so easy to just push the print button before. I think long and hard about that now!

shanny said...

Oh yes - knick knacks! We have one small'knick knack' that we bought during our trip back home to New Zealand at Christmas time and a vase in the corner of my kitchen. I have always hated knick knacks - to me they look like clutter and make me feel stressed and they need dusting. We also don't have anywhere to really put any. As I said in my previous novel - I am trying to add some character to my home over time....so one day I would like to have a handful of well chosen, dearly loved, and carefully placed items to add some pizzaz to our home....but I'm still waiting for that day. lol

Ginger said...

What things in your kitchen have you realized you really don't need and you now realize you can live without? bread mixer and wheat grinder (allergic to wheat)
What are things in your bathroom that you have realized you don't need and you can live without? (I have nothing on my counter except a paper towel dispenser-PT have kept us illness free for some time.)
Where do you put your food storage? (Basement-but will be getting rid of 1000 lbs. of wheat and getting sprouting seeds and beans)
What do you still have left in storage that you can't bear to part with yet? (Only my husband has stuff like that.)
What, if any, Christmas decorations (or other holidays) do you still have? (Minimal-but don't even get them out)
How many wall hangings/decorations/pictures to you have in your house now? (Only pics of grandchildren and savior) How did you choose what to put up? (See above)
How much clothing/shoes does each family member have? (one to wear, one to wash, and one extra plus church clothes)
How have you organized your computer/desk area?
What do you do with the little junks and paper your children get from primary? (never kept stuff like that-they put one on the fridge and threw the old one out)
How many baby clothes and blankets do you really need? (only two blankets left from a lot of children)


I seriously want to move into a yurt.

Ginger said...

What things in your kitchen have you realized you really don't need and you now realize you can live without? bread mixer and wheat grinder (allergic to wheat)
What are things in your bathroom that you have realized you don't need and you can live without? (I have nothing on my counter except a paper towel dispenser-PT have kept us illness free for some time.)
Where do you put your food storage? (Basement-but will be getting rid of 1000 lbs. of wheat and getting sprouting seeds and beans)
What do you still have left in storage that you can't bear to part with yet? (Only my husband has stuff like that.)
What, if any, Christmas decorations (or other holidays) do you still have? (Minimal-but don't even get them out)
How many wall hangings/decorations/pictures to you have in your house now? (Only pics of grandchildren and savior) How did you choose what to put up? (See above)
How much clothing/shoes does each family member have? (one to wear, one to wash, and one extra plus church clothes)
How have you organized your computer/desk area?
What do you do with the little junks and paper your children get from primary? (never kept stuff like that-they put one on the fridge and threw the old one out)
How many baby clothes and blankets do you really need? (only two blankets left from a lot of children)


I seriously want to move into a yurt.

Emily said...

Wow, good ideas. I dream about the college days when I could stash everything in a car. Where did we get so much STUFF???? Thanks for the inspiration.

One thing I do is hang the kids' artwork on the door of their bedroom. When we run out of space on the door, we take old stuff down and make room for new stuff -- but we take a picture first before it goes in the trash/recycle.

Celeste B. said...

You have so many great comments already, so I'll keep mine brief...

1- Kitchen Extras - I have gotten rid of plastic everything...not healthy anyway. I have a few glass Pyrex containers. I hate having too many appliances and pots and pans and threw out all extras (only one of each size). I kept a Crockpot, rice cooker, and a small counter-top grill (which I use more than my stove-top). My hands and arms can cut up and mix everything else.

3 - Food storage goes where ever it can fit (closets, under beds, cabinets, etc.). I think of the movie "The RM" where they got creative and made furniture out of food storage. I'm to that point.

4 - No storage...period. A couple boxes of Christmas stuff in the garage with our camping/fishing gear.

7 - Shoes - Everyone has 1 pair of each - running shoes, church shoes (black), and flip flops or sandals. Most of us also have two pairs of boots - one for church and one for everyday. I am the only exception since I have shoes from years ago that still fit that I bought when I worked. They go when they wear out and are not replaced.

Clothes are purged every 6 months of what doesn't fit or we don't want. We have found that the tall chest of drawers each young adult has are only half full of clothes, the other two drawers are used for books and the most important keepsakes. Mike and I don't have a dresser at all. We hang almost everything since we have a huge closet that we don't need.

Flora said...

I need to hear ideas like these. They keep me motivated to purge and close unneeded headgates.

When I look for minimizing ideas online I generally find blogs from people without children and perhaps even living alone. But how do I minimize with children, food storage, other preparedness items and home school items? What does this look like?

I would love to have some type of forum or a facebook page so that we can share our ideas and keep each other motivated. I need this since I have no one near me on this same path.

Celeste B. said...

I wasn't sure if this was the place to mention this, but I am starting a website called Thrifty Like That where we are focusing on thrifty living, downsizing, no-waste, etc. It is a brand new website, so it is not fully functional yet, but it is getting going. I am getting a forum together that will allow people to share and post ideas.

Mrs. Small House said...

I LOVE reading these comments!! Ginger, I dream of a yurt too!
My husband says we live in a small house so we wont get guests and yet until last month we stored an air bed!!
Kitchen: I've gotten rid of so many kitchen gadgets we got from our reception: bread maker, rice cooker, electric can opener, knife block....
Bathroom: I only have a few cleaners in the bathroom and 1 towel per person + 3 extras.
Food storage: my biggest problem since we don't have a garage. I made benches that fit 5 gallon buckets inside and go around the table, also under the beds and in a closet.
What do you still have left in storage that you can't bear to part with yet? I can't bear to part with some expensive antiques we inherited. They're in a box in the hall closet.
I went from 3 Christmas totes to 1 last year. It goes in the crawl space.
Shoes: I have less shoes (8 pairs including work and snow boots) than any other woman I personally know.
Computer/Office: we use a book shelf with one shelf devoted to filing and papers. We use laptops.
I recycle primary papers.
How many baby clothes and blankets do you really need? This one is hard because babies are born in different seasons so some clothes work for one and not the other. 3 blankets for babies: one to use, one in the wash, one for travel.

The Lazy Organizer said...

Too many fun questions!

What things in your kitchen have you realized you really don't need and you now realize you can live without? {I use everything in my kitchen that is mine. My husband has some things that he can't part with. I would like to pare it down to something like a set of dishes for each person. Two pots, to baking pans, a crockpot a big mixing/serving bowl, a cutting board and two knives. I like to dream! I could live without my bosch mixer but I don't know how we would live without our blender. We use it for every meal.}

What are things in your bathroom that you have realized you don't need and you can live without? {I'm still using my blow dryer and straightener till I figure out how to manage my hair without them. I don't use hair products anymore but I'm saving my makeup for special occasions.}

Where do you put your food storage? {In our big unfinished basement.}

What do you still have left in storage that you can't bear to part with yet? {Nothing. I am finally ready to get rid of all the plastic storage containers that are left over from my big purge last year.}

What, if any, Christmas decorations (or other holidays) do you still have? {None, except for a fake Christmas tree that I need to give away.}

How many wall hangings/decorations/pictures do you have in your house now? {I have a few things I love that are on some bookshelves and cabinets. We don't have to dust them too often since they are up high. I don't have anything hanging on my walls except a few handmade quilts.}

How much clothing/shoes does each family member have? {I think everyone should have about four outfits plus one or two church outfits. We have more than that right now but as things wear out or we grow out of them we will only replace them with the basics. I like the "no fluctuation in size" rule! It could only apply to my husband though since I need three different sizes of clothing for my stage of life, maternity, pre and post sizes. This last time though I only bought elastic waste skirts that I could wear after the baby came so that has saved money and space.}

How have you organized your computer/desk area? {We have three laptops and one printer. I keep telling my husband that we don't really need the printer because we can print anything we want for free at the library if we ever do want to print which rarely happens because if we print stuff then we are stuck with more stuff. Maybe when the ink runs out he'll be willing to get rid of it.)

What do you do with the little junks and paper your children get from primary? {They play with them for a couple days and when they end up on the floor they go in the garbage. I don't think the stuff they make in primary is even worth taking a picture of. They have art books full of better pictures.}

How many baby clothes and blankets do you really need? {You would think I would know this since I just had a baby. Maybe four blankets when they are newborn but now at five months we only need two. One to use and one in the wash. Maybe six jammies when they are newborn. Now he has four outfits. I do a load of laundry every day so that is plenty.}

I'm not in a stage of life where I feel like I need to have extra room and stuff to entertain. If we all did that then we would all have twice the house and stuff we need which most people do. Actually it's more like ten times what we need. Maybe when I have older children and grandchildren I will want that but I doubt it. In Little House they had next to nothing but they always happily made do for visitors.

Mary said...

I am loving reading this as I have a large house full of stuff--from a twenty year marriage and four kids. And now, in two months time, we are moving to Brazil for two years for work and I am thinking very hard about every single item that I want to bring with me halfway around the world. Thank you.

Cheap Men Suits said...

I love my mother because she taught me how to sew and make designs. And I'm making designs right now about suits, particularly on men's church suit.