I recently posted on Facebook a photo of our much larger previous home in Atlanta. Selling it was an exercise in decluttering without a doubt. It was kind of funny how many times we went through our home trying to see it from the eyes of a buyer but unwilling to not show off our good taste and all of our stuff. Ha! Knowing that we were planning to downsize should have helped us cull, but you can probably imagine how that went.
Having bought our land in the Hammock in 2004 on a 5 year plan to move and build our home, we had plenty of time to clear out the unnecessary–or not. We started with the attic. Our sons were not yet married but we figured that they probably wouldn’t be thrilled giving future newborns 30 year old stuffed animals. A few went on the nostalgia pile and the rest made their way to Salvation Army or the dump. A Moses basket with bumpers, heaven forbid, actually ended up on the final pile of garbage just as we were moving, sweet memories that we no longer had room for. 50 year old plastic horses went to the neighbors’ 2 year old. I had already sold my Barbies and their paraphernalia for $100 back in my 20s when my Mom and Dad were clearing out their own and their children’s accumulated, dare we say, junk.
I had never thought that we were a family for nick knacks or uncountable family photos. That was until one of our sons, years ago, told me that we had quite a few dust collecting souvenirs scattered around our home. If you read some of my other posts you will notice that I have a fondness for wildlife. It would seem that not all the animals in and about our house were even of the live variety. Crystal, porcelain, ceramic, wooden carved and painted, drawings and of course those stuffed ones numbered in the dozens. Salvation Army scored again. Did I mention all of the Wedgewood blue gift plates? Two even featured Princess Diana and Prince Charles and they were already divorced and sadly, she had died. Oops, there were three of those. I hope a collector visited Sally Army that week and went away thrilled. I can blame the collections on our jobs that took us to different parts of the world, or maybe our British/American union, but it was still a lot of stuff and it really had no part of our simplified outdoor life planned for Florida.
Deciding to stay with our current jobs for a bit longer after finally selling our home in June of 2009, we rented a very cool loft in the old Brumby Rocker Factory, walking distance to Marietta Square in the suburbs of Atlanta. Anything that wouldn’t fit in the second bedroom that we used as storage had to go. Imagine, 4 bedrooms of furniture, 2 living rooms, a sunroom, bonus room, basement and 2 car garage all reduced to a 2 bedroom loft. But, hey, we did it.
A few months into our lease, I moved to Florida to begin having our house in the Hammock built. I rented another loft at the beach. Out came some of the furniture in bedroom number 2. I was also given use of the garage at the beach. We thought we were quite clever as we relocated stored clothing and furniture with a U-haul load each time my husband drove down for a visit. In all of my different certifications with their required training I was always told to never use the word “advise”. To save you possible heartache I am going to break with my training and “advise” you to never store anything that you may want to use inside of your home in a Florida garage. For that matter, don’t put metal chairs on a deck within spitting distance of the ocean.
As leather coats and winter clothing, extra sheets, towels, blankets and quilts found new homes at the dump due to their rather nasty mildewed appearance and smell, my downsizing along with our house building continued.
My secret desire to live on a boat one day is always in the back of my mind. I have read quite a few sailing books although my last real experience, if we don’t count a won day trip sailing in Key West, was at summer camp in Wisconsin in my teens. My all time favorite is Ann Vanderhoof’s An Embarrassment of Mangoes.
There was nothing quite like the idea of living in such a small space, at least until the advent of the Tiny House Movement to give you the idea of what it truly means to downsize. Fortunately, my husband and I are both of the same mindset when it comes to decluttering. We delight in bags of clothing and books ready to donate, our furniture and kitchen odds and ends placed at the end of the drive, a treasure for someone else. We are not of the garage sale type. We give or throw it all away.
If you wonder how you can live without a ton of storage, just remember why you came to Florida. You don’t require more storage–you require less junk. If the kids don’t want it that’s all it is anymore. Remember, you had a lifetime of using (or storing) it. It’s time to let it go and be delighted in the new or lack of old. When you don’t see it you honestly won’t miss it.
Our 1600 square foot home with 800 additional feet of porches and 600 feet of deck is hardly austere. The advantage to getting rid of old things is that it removes the guilt about buying or in our case often building new. After all, one does have to furnish those porches and decks, right? Oh, and don’t forget that you will also have extra room for Hammock toys (bikes, kayaks and motorcycles)!