Paring Down

Now that we’ve been in the new place for over a year, I’ve been making a lot of progress on downsizing; the idea is to have more items leave the condo than come in. Since this place is more permanent (I certainly don’t plan to retire here, but I am not obsessing about my “next” place either), I have been parting with things that I “might” have needed to schlep to the next apartment, “just in case,” and focusing on organizational systems, furniture, and the like that serves a specific purpose. Things that were great for old haunts don’t make the cut for the new place.

One example is the plethora of curtains we bought for our bungalow in Kansas. When that place was built in the 30’s, numerous small windows were the way to go, and as such we had to buy a lot of curtains to dress them all. Between the guest room, bedroom, living room, and dining room we amassed twelve pairs of curtains. And that wasn’t even all the windows (some went bare). Our current place has four windows. Four. So, that’s one concrete example of super practical downsizing now that I know what I really need. I sold some online and donated the others to Salvation Army, and now I have a dresser drawer’s worth of space free! Just from finally purging curtains! I think that window dressings can be a semi-expensive furnishing that’s worth dragging from rental to rental until finally reaching a point which seems more stable.


Kitchen Essentials

Another example is kitchen stuff. Before I quit my gig at SLT I invested in a few pieces as far as pots and pans go. Three great items in, five good items out (to friends or goodwill). I followed the same rationale that I did when I upgraded my kitchen knives (which I’m still totally satisfied with, btw). If I invest in long-term and higher-quality pieces, I won’t have to shop for those items again for ten, twenty years, or in the case of stainless steel pots… maybe ever again! It’s a nice feeling. The employee discount helped, for sure, but I still recommend buying the best that is available and practical at the time, even if saving up for a little while is necessary.

My recommendations? Shun Sora 8″ chef’s knife // Scanpan CTX frying pan //
Mauviel 5-ply stainless steel pots // Global knives // affiliate links

Furniture is next. After a year we know what works and what doesn’t in this place. It’s an area where the pinch is really evident though– swapping out a sofa is not the same as purging a closet or investing in a stainless steel saucepan. I am in the market for a sofa and a bed frame, and probably new bedside tables, too. But I am going to play the long game and make sure we get the right item at the right price, instead of looking for the instant (cheap) fix.

Overall, I honestly hope this isn’t coming off as braggy or materialistic, I have just been reflecting on quality over quantity. Long-term investments slowly replacing short-term solutions. In addition to that– getting things repaired instead of replaced. I took some of my sandals to the shoe repair and two weeks and $12 later, they are better than new. I feel this is how generations before us filled our homes, and many people now see items as so cheap and disposable that the idea of “made for life” is largely forgotten.

Next on my list to pare down is media. Do you have any tips or personal rules when it comes to getting rid of books, cds, dvds? I hate to admit it, because I really love books, but having a Kindle has helped a lot. Please leave any advice in the comments! 


Some Thoughts on DVD Storage

Months and months ago, Libby asked me for some tips on inexpensive and attractive ways to store DVDs and I came up with exactly zero ideas.

At first thought, it would seem that with Netflix and Redbox the age of buying DVDs is over. Shout it from the rooftops! Movies on your computer! …That is, until you get the very strong hankering to watch a particular movie that can’t be found anywhere (I’m looking at you, “The Parent Trap”). Yes, there is still benefit to owning DVDs. I appreciate that unlike books, the cases are all a uniform size, but on the other hand,the spines are not particularly attractive as decor items. They’re rigid, shiny, and often garish.

Right after we got married, Doug and I took our duplicates (of which there were many–hurrah for similar taste in entertainment) to Hastings and sold them for store credit. Then, last year before moving we took a critical look at our collection and weeded out even more DVDs. We sold them, and got enough store credit to buy four brand new vinyl albums!  I say this to emphasize the fact that while our collection isn’t particularly small, it has been weeded through–twice! So, here we are. With a DVD collection that spans almost nine feet.

Completed Pine Shelving

The DVDs take up 2/3 of the second shelf and a good 1/3 of the bottom shelf. 

The nice thing about our newly installed shelves is that the DVDs line up in an orderly fashion and don’t look particularly heinous. When we get a media unit with closed doors, I know I will move a large chunk of them into concealed storage, though. Books just look so much nicer on display, don’t you think?

Protip: One good way to distract from the DVD overload is to prop small picture frames up in front of them every so often. It helps add a layered look.

Other DVD storage options are using totes, using under-bed storage boxes (if your couch is high enough off the floor), making a custom drawer movie storage system: Check out this Making it Lovely post for an A+ example… or, if you feel comfortable ditching the plastic cases, using binders, which is a good way to consolidate a very large collection.

If you have any tips, I would love to hear them!! I feel that this is a problem that plagues lots of people who, like me, appreciate a good looking space but also love their movies. Let’s get a conversation going… ’cause I could use all the ideas you have. 

Under the Sink

I like to think that I run a tight ship as far as cleaning products are concerned. I’ve found that a few products are enough to handle most jobs. Case in point: underneath my kitchen sink:

Under the Sink


  • Method hand soap refill packet,
  • paper towels (we swear by Bounty),
  • Arm & Hammer pet stain and odor remover,
  • Glad trash bags,
  • bleach pen,
  • germ-x,
  • IKEA mineral oil for cutting boards,
  • Febreeze (hiding behind the divider),
  • dog food,
  • Oxy-Clean, Windex,
  • Method grapefruit all-purpose cleaner,
  • dishwasher tablets (Finish brand),
  • Swiffer furniture polish spray
  • (Laundry detergent and dryer sheets are kept in the bedroom closet next to the hamper)

I know that for the majority of my life, that is, taking into account my parents’ house and my prior two living spaces, “under the sink” was something I avoided thinking about at all costs. Terrifying visions of avalanches, suspicious chemicals, and the possibility of bugs (which I always associate with dark enclosed spaces) made me avoid thinking about it–and subsequently avoid cleaning and organizing said space.

News flash: the only way to improve the quality of a space is to clean it! Get rid of all the products you hate or never use. When we moved last fall, I didn’t relish the idea of transporting cleaners and chemicals across the country. I had the notion that heat and elevation changes would result in a moving truck full of exploded cleaning agents. This probably wouldn’t have happened. We used up all we could and gave the rest of our cleaners to the new residents anyway.

When restocking the cleaning supplies, we relied on past experience and only got what we knew worked. I’ve been happy with all these products (with the exception of the pet stain remover, which is fine but not my favorite) and haven’t had to spend needless amounts of money on “the next amazing cleaning product.” I think it helps that I surf the internet with AdBlock engaged and we don’t watch TV (just Netflix and Hulu) so our exposure to commercials is pretty limited.

If I were to add two items to my arsenal, it would be white vinegar and a Mr. Clean magic eraser. They’re going on the grocery list right now.

Got any favorite products I need to know about? And hey, thanks for weighing in on my last two moving-related posts. Lots of great food for thought there.