Chris and I are currently losing a battle with many-legged giants in our house. No, I don’t mean mutant wolf spiders or centipedes. We’re talking furniture, folks. I am constantly frustrated by the lack of flexibility we have with our furniture arrangement in our current living situation (rental condo), and we are both dreading the forthcoming day when we become a two-person moving crew and have to haul all of our giant pieces of furniture down narrow halls and stairs, around insanely tight corners with low overheads, and into a moving truck. But wait, how did the giants get here in the first place?
Picture courtesy of Pottery Barn:
Two and a half years after we were married (and extremely tired of using my old twin beds pushed together and covered with a king-sized foam mattress thing), we finally bit the bullet and bought the king-size version on sale. Enter Giant #1. Our bed is a gentle giant, though. We absolutely love our bed and wouldn’t trade, sell, or give it away to anyone EVER. Of course, our love affair is made more complete by the mattress set we bought for it. Seriously, every time we lie down it is like going to a luxury spa retreat. It is, by far, the best investment we have made furniture-wise, so we are perfectly content with our gentle giant.
Not so with the large (pun intended) majority of the rest of our furniture, which includes the following:
Gifts/Freebies from Amy’s parents:
- 5′ baby grand piano
- chair-and-a-half known as “the comfy chair”
- oversized loveseat
- dining table with two leaves
- china cabinet
- antique buffet
- chest of drawers
- two nightstands
- double bed with full sized dresser, mirror, chest, and nightstand
- computer desk
- glass table
- microwave cart
- (2) different cube bookshelves (2 x 4)
- 3-panel room divider
- cat condo
- Kenmore Washer and Dryer (on sale from Sears)
- TV stand from Bombay (on clearance)
- Extra long Pottery Barn Seabury suede sofa (floor sample purchased for 70% off)
- Pottery Barn project table (on sale)
- Pottery Barn Farmhouse Tallboy dresser (on sale)
- elliptical workout machine (on sale)
- Pottery Barn teen media stand (on sale)
- Pier 1 wicker chaise (on sale)
- (2) Pier 1 bar stools (on sale)
- (3) Pier 1 counter stools (Craigslist)
- Pier 1 mail center (on sale)
- (2) different cube bookshelves (1 x 3; 3 x 3) (Target or Linens ‘N’ Things)
- 2 bookshelves (Target on sale)
- 1 media armoire (Target on sale)
- 2 side tables (Target on clearance)
- metal pantry storage rack (don’t remember, but it was cheap)
- 4 Gorilla racks for garage (Sam’s Club)
- storage bench (Target on sale)
- craft storage organizer (craft store on sale)
- cat condo (Pet Smart on sale)
- grill (Wal-Mart on sale)
- bistro sized patio set (Target on sale)
Notice some trends? We do.
Trend #1: Our home = Goodwill Donation Center.
I’m an only child, so when my parents downsized after I flew the coop, they gave us a lot of their (bigger) furniture. This list doesn’t even include the Pier 1 wicker loveseat and chair and a jungle green leather sofa they gave us that we’ve already passed to others! Chris and I love a clean, spacious home, but our sentimental hearts beat wildly at times, resulting in conversations like the following:
Mom: I’m giving the comfy chair away to Goodwill.
Mom: It just doesn’t go with my new style, and I don’t really have room for it anyway.
Me: But it is such a great chair with so many memories!
Mom: I know, but I’m giving it away unless you want it.
(Chris in the background): Tell her we’ll take it.
Me: We’ll take it.
This is also how we amass random home decor from Chris’s grandmother and my parents. In fact, every time we visit Chris’s grandmother, we bring home a carload full, and I frequently receive boxes of my mom’s old teaching stuff, family photos, home decorating accessories, knickknacks, linens, etc. that I tend to sort through before sending to Goodwill or selling. I also inherited 14 place settings of china from a relative, in addition to 2 we received as a gift from Chris’s grandmother and the 10 we received as part of our wedding registry. I’m the only child of a mother whose only sibling has already passed, so I will also inherit her china…and her mother’s china…(you can see where this is going, can’t you?). With that much china, I should be able to open a restaurant soon, which is good since I’ll need the restaurant space to store it all!
Lorie Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet (check it out here: http://www.clutterdiet.com/) recommends stopping clutter before it enters your home. Great advice! When you are trying to be frugal and not spend money on things, though, it is hard to pass on “perfectly good” items, especially items you don’t have as a young-ish couple..and if some of these items tend to be made better than they are now. For example, we have gone through two butter dishes since being married 7 years ago, including a Le Creuset one! Our Corningware dishes have hairline fissures…not so with my grandmother and mother’s dishes (the ones with the blue emblem on them) that will probably outlast us all. Maybe they will make cool homes for the cockroaches at the end of the world.
Trend #2: Modern farmhouse style = no room in the inn, or at least, in the condo.
Chris and I have very eclectic taste but trend towards a cross between European farmhouse and mid-century modern. When we were homeowners, this was not a problem. Our first home had a spacious, open concept that was perfect for our tendency to prefer big furniture designed for large spaces. Unfortunately, I decided to go back to school in an urban area where housing is $$$. In fact, our city is one of the few places where the housing market has continued to swell despite the general economic/housing market situation. Our rent even went up this year (le sigh). Suffice it to say, we live in a “spacious” 3 BR/2BA condo that feels like the size of a mouse hole with our furniture in it. We even had to buy in the “suburbs” and spend more on our rent than our original home mortgage to have room enough for all our stuff. Problem? Definitely. But what could we have parted with?
Trend #3: Furniture sales = furniture clutter.
After making some disappointing investments in some cheaper engineered wood products, we decided to go solid wood with the rest of our purchases in hopes of lasting quality. In trying to buy quality for lower prices, we tend to shop sales. The only problem here is that shopping leads to purchases, which leads to space problems…which leads to the need to reclaim some of it by parting with some pieces (and probably replacing some with smaller pieces, eventually). The creeping giant of Guilt seems pleased to hang out in our space…guilt over things purchased that are functioning yet take up too much space…guilt over things purchased that were not good investments (all in the name of saving money)…guilt over giving away free, “perfectly good” furniture and having to replace these items with smaller ones (read: purchase things to replace free things). The handmadehome has a great article on guilt, by the way. It’s an older blog post, but copy/paste the link and it should work: http://www.thehandmadehome.net/2013/01/lazy-gals-survival-guide-guilt-vs-conviction/
Trend #4: Parting is such sweet sorrow.
We have been clearing out clutter for about a year and a half, and we have done some serious purging…of everything except the furniture. My clothes used to take up two closets, a dresser, and a chest (that’s what happens when you don’t grow and can still wear your clothes from high school). Now I use a chest and share the master closet with my husband. Craft supplies have been used or donated to teachers. I’ve even parted with some books, which is incredibly difficult since I’m a bibliophile. The final frontier is the furniture, but the giants have to go. Trouble is, we are struggling with what to give away, sell, and repurpose, especially since almost all of these pieces see frequent use or will, once we have kids and need additional bedroom furniture, seating, and such (read: near future).
Anyone else have some giants that need to find a new
cave home? Any ideas on how to conquer our giants?