One of my office’s amazing former intern-turned-staff members graduated from her Master’s this spring. We knew we HAD to do something special to make the occasion for her, but we also had to balance a particularly busy and high-stress work period. We regularly go out for lunch as an office but my co-workers and I wanted to try something more fun than the usual.
You know I’m always down with something vintage-inspired and our current intern is also keen to embrace the quirky and historical so we were in quick agreement to plan a vintage tea-party right here in the office.
When I first moved into my flat a couple of years ago, I was thrilled to have made a deal with the previous owner to buy the large German schrank that resided in the dining room.
“Fabulous!” I thought. “Now I’ll have some great storage for all my stuff!”
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my 800 sq ft flat accommodates two adults, one dog, and two cats. It’s big enough, but we definitely have to make wise decisions about the space and make use of vertical storage and other space-saving tricks.
So, for the first year, I took advantage of the big ugly schrank. I filled it up. It held wine glasses, serving dishes, kitchen appliances, tablecloths, books, boxes of old photos, papers, office supplies, old flyers, coupons, receipts, some cords, odds and ends, and on and on and on.
By year two, I thought that maybe I could hide the fact that it didn’t suit my style whatsoever by covering it in something that does: books. So, the shelves were adorned with beautiful old hardcover copies of The Swiss Family Robinson and Anne of Green Gables.
Still, the hulking monstrosity didn’t fit. Next I tried removing the front leaded glass door. I painted the centre compartment white. Better, but not great.
“But it’s so much storage! I have to make it work.” I wrestled with my gut. I mean, yeah, it was taking up a a third of the small dining room. And, yeah, it blocked an entire wall-long heater. But the STORAGE. I needed it for all my STUFF.
Finally, it struck me. My lightbulb moment. The schrank wasn’t providing me with storage potential; what it was doing was giving me permission to consume.
As long as I had the hideous unit, I had space to store stuff: important stuff, unimportant stuff, ALL the stuff. I could buy whatever my heart desired, whether I needed it or not, because I would always have a place to put it.
A couple of weeks ago, in one of my bi-annual purges, I finally cut the cord. I listed the schrank on kijiji and found a buyer willing to pack ‘er up and haul ‘er away.
I bought a reasonably-sized hutch that covers a third of the wall space. I donated all the unwanted dishes and books and cords. What was left actually fits nicely into the new hutch.
I cut my dining room stuff by a third and, truthfully, there’s still room for more stuff if I need it.
By limiting myself, I’m forced to be intentional with my consumerism. I’m not going to buy cute seasonal dishes just because they’re on sale. I’m not going to get another teapot for “just in case.” These items aren’t necessary for my comfort. I already have much more than I need.
At the same time, it’s not going to be about denying pleasures. I still love antiquing and thrifting and finding good deals. Who doesn’t? The difference now is about being intentional. I have to ask myself, “Do I need it?” and “Do I love it?”
My other strategy is “one-out/one-in.” If I find the most perfect pink depression glass serving bowl that I’ve ever seen and it’s a bargain that I just can’t resist, well, then I say farewell to one of the three bowls that I already own that fit that description.
I have to say, it’s working so far.
What ways are you mindful with your consumerism and consumption?
Interested in other environmental issues? View this post and many others at www.greenphonebooth.com where I post as Mindful Echo.
Halitrax is, in part, a way for us posters to challenge ourselves and try new things. But for this week I say, “I’ve had it up to here with your rules [and I would like to talk about something I already sort of understand]!” Sewing.
To be honest, I have yet to learn most things about proper sewing. My past ventures have revolved around interesting bed sheets and upholstery fabric. I assumed the floral/animal motifs I sported would distract from uneven hems and misplaced darts. I was sadly mistaken.
But a new day is dawning. I have begun to dedicate more time to my projects. I have learned to edit and stop drinking while “on the job.” Most importantly, I’ve learned the value of mending.
Most of my pants have holes in them. I rarely buy new clothes and my thighs rub together when I walk. It’s a terrible combination, as you can see.
Mending your own clothes is rewarding, in mind and pocket. If you want to go for a bit of creativity, try repurposing thrift store items. The fabric below once formed the dress of a distant family member. I’m trying to make something of it, but we’ll see.
There are people who are better at sewing and avoid looking foolish in their home-sewn creations. Regardless, I have a lot of fun with these projects.
It’s inexpensive (relatively speaking), a good spatial exercise, and you can learn to tailor your own clothes. You also learn that new clothes are bananas under priced and that you should probably care about that.