The house that I will begin building in the spring is 8 ft wide and 24 ft long, a whopping 192 square feet that with loft space will settle just shy of 300 square feet. It has 14 windows, (which by the way is more than the house I currently live in) a full kitchen and bath. I am finding lots of clever ways to create storage and still maintain a sense of space but the reality is EVERYTHING; clothing, shoes, books, dishes, paperwork, plants, artwork, etc… all must be whittled down to the very basics, there just won’t be room for much else.
My new routine is every time I do laundry or clean the house I create a pile of items I’d like to discard. My methodology is to put the items in question in a pile on the floor where I can see them and let them sit for a week or so. Every time I walk by I see these items and can think about their importance in my life and whether they stay or go. Very few things get fished out of the stack and by the time they go in the discard bag I’ve made peace with my decision. The largest items will wait until the end and my kids who are setting up households can take whatever they want which should help make their space feel just like home!
My house is cleared out enough that now I am getting down to the really hard decisions, like photos. There are FIVE medium sized boxes of loose photos in one of my closets, not to mention the dozen or so large photo albums. I definitely do not have a place for all of these in my tiny house. It’s been suggested that I get a storage unit, which goes against this entire process of creating a minimalist lifestyle. A storage unit would be a magnet for the accumulation of things! So I am looking for solutions and leaning on the courage of my convictions.
My father has been a prolific photographer over his lifetime and many of his photos were in the form of slides. His slide shows were always great fun as we’d gather around the big screen and relive family history. My dad has embarked on a project in his retirement of consolidating a lifetime of photos into digital format, stored on flash drives that he has shared with my sister and I. They are a precious gift and are the answer to my photo dilemma. Technology has some awesome moments and the ability to store thousands of songs, books and photos in the cloud or on a thumb drive is a minimalists dream come true.
Going through every box and every photo, fishing out the ones worthy of digitizing will be a big job, fun and I expect emotional. My kids will all receive digital copies of everything and I will consolidate the photo albums so that we each receive one or two hefty tactile archives of our history. When this project has wrapped, what do I do with the 5 boxes of photos? Taking them to the dump feels very, very wrong. I think maybe a ceremonial burning of the hard copies feels more appropriate. I feel a tightness in my chest with the thought, but by the time I get to the bonfire I will have walked the emotional highway and I hope the flames are cleansing.
These are the type of items that attics fill up with, the relics of family history. History is important and I am searching for ways to preserve the beauty of our family and life without taking up so much physical space. If you have any great inspirational thoughts on how to handle a radical downsizing I am open to suggestions!
Tread lightly and go in peace.