A 6-step exercise in minimalism

So our new cabin is half the size of our former home in the suburbs.

HALF the size. And NO basement.

For this family (genetically predisposed to collecting), living in a small house will be a challenge.

To be honest, we still have a bunch of stuff in our storage unit. After all, we ARE planning on building a bigger cabin. So I do expect to have space again someday. But in the meantime, here we are, a family of four, living in a small house, with a TINY kitchen. How do I do it?

1. Identify The Essentials

What items are absolutely necessary? Most of my cooking and baking is from scratch, so I really need my KitchenAid mixer and Cuisinart food processor, but I figured I could get by with a small selection of saucepans and baking dishes. And it’s working! So far.

2. Cut The Fluff

Once the essentials are defined, the rest needs to go. If you’re a holder-on-er, hear me out, because there’s something freeing about letting go of stuff.Before we moved to the foothills, we got rid of PILES of stuff.

Most of the usable things went to the Salvation Army or were sold for some quick cash on our local social media garage sale group. The rest, well, we’re just glad that our garbage service didn’t have a household limit.

3. Face Your Fears

My biggest fear when facing the Give It or Keep It dilemma was the simple question, “What if I need this again someday?” I’ve heard some use the rule that whatever you don’t use in a given amount of time (a month, 6 months, a year, etc.) should go away since you don’t use it enough. That’s a valid concept, but I’m too good at rationalizing things, so that didn’t work very well in my world.

Instead, I asked myself, “Do I really want to find a place for this in my tiny kitchen?” That question prioritized my keeps and made it easier to part with the extras.

4. Use What You Have

Our current kitchen setup has three and a half upper cabinets, three base cabinets, and one drawer. Ouch! Even my scaled-back kitchen items won’t fit in that, let alone all my pantry stuff! Time to think outside the cabinet box.

Our best solution came from a few shelving units we already had–a pair of short bookshelves, and a stack of heavy-duty plastic garage shelves. I more than tripled my cabinet space.

It’s not ideal; I’ll have to dust those shelf items since there’s no cabinet doors to protect them. But it works and I didn’t have to go out and buy something new.

5. Embrace Your Creativity

The shelves worked great for many things, but my darn skillets were too big and the stack of saucepans was unwieldy. I considered getting a rack to hang from the ceiling with those spiffy little hooks, then it occurred to me:I can already hang stuff, just from the wall not from the ceiling!

Repurposing some hook racks we found elsewhere in the house, we solved our pan problem without increasing our stuff or decreasing our savings.Another opportunity for creativity came with the organization of my rather extensive spice collection. I have long outgrown the cute little 12-spice rack spinner we received for our wedding. And with limited cabinet and drawer space, I couldn’t figure out what do do with all these little glass bottles!

Enter Picture Shelves–designed to hang on the wall, a couple inches deep, with a handy lip on the outside edge so the bottles don’t fall off!

6. Enjoy The Journey

My initial motivation to de-stuff my life came from facing the fact that I would soon be moving to a house half the size of the one we had called home for 14 years. The new place would offer so many more opportunities for farming and exploring and just living, that I was finally ready to start to let go of things.

And what I found was:
Freedom–from the mental weight of having so much stuff,
Clarity–from the uncluttered new life,
Happiness–because now I’m not ruled by things, rather I control them.

But it IS a journey. If you walked into my little house today, you’d see plenty of clutter. And that’s OK. We’ve made huge steps forward with this move, but we still have a long way to go.

Won’t you journey with me?

Resources and Support:

NourishingMinimalism.com–Articles, resources, and a yearly challenge to keep you on track
TheMinimalists.com–Podcast, blog, and a 30-Day Minimalism Game
BecomingMinimalist.com–Articles and a 12-week Uncluttered Course

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