In our quest to minimize our household (as detailed here in a previous post), we decided to take a room-by-room approach, starting with our bedroom. This is logical for two main reasons; first, it’s the furthest room back, bordering our backyard, so initiating our house purge here and working forward is a great plan of attack. Second, with both of us susceptible to allergies – Alicia especially – doing a major cleaning and paring of dust collecting items in the room we spend almost one third of our lives in is good from a health perspective. As an aside, our bedroom had become a collection point for dozens, if not hundreds, of small memorabilia items ranging from buttons of our son in his Little League Baseball days, Burning Man schwag, no longer worn jewelry, piles of paper, old clothing, and unused fixtures.
The first step was to collect all of the aforementioned clutter and remove it for sorting later. We designated Mom’s room (which she only uses when she sleeps) as a staging area for everything not immediately discarded in our initial sweep. With trash bags and boxes at the ready, we slowly began combing through the bedroom and sorting in a general, methodical way. Surprisingly, we were able to put emotions aside for the most part and whittle down to only one box of keep-for-later-sorting things, while discarding the rest to either the trash or donation boxes. Hence, we weren’t left with all that much to deal with in the future and were able to move on to…
This. Yes, this is what we found when we removed our mattresses and revealed what lay beneath. Pure, unadulterated, filth. In the five or so years since last having the carpets cleaned, we’d somehow managed to avoid so much as looking under the bed to see the horrifying mess of CRAP that had found its way there. Both of us stood in awe of this monstrous mountain of detritus, embarrassed at what we’d allowed to accumulate, determined to make certain we’d do better from this day forward. Our trusty Dyson vacuum was fired up, a fresh trash bag prepared, and every bit of this albatross was slain. After going over the area numerous times, we managed to completely fill a Dyson canister with dust, pet hair, and who-knows-what, while filling half a trash bag and recouping about two bucks in loose change. Call it a housekeeping tip if you will. One discovery this task turned up was some termite damage in one of the bed frame’s legs, so we were able to treat the area with some non-chemical termite spray to hopefully eliminate any who remained. Our last step in the bed area scouring was to move the bed itself to a more centered position in the room to help with feng-shui energy.
The rest of the job went fairly quickly as we foraged through our drawers and small closet. Luckily, we didn’t have much stored or shoved away sight (and mind), enabling a quick gathering of decent threads to give away to our local Goodwill. Still, even with the relatively sparse reduction in t-shirts, shoes, and other unused clothing we managed to remove an entire standing dresser from our bedroom for use in Mom’s room. I got up on a ladder and cleaned our ceiling fan, which was in its own way as disgusting as what we found under our bed, as well as thoroughly dusting every edge of trim and door and window frames, finishing that phase with the tops of all our picture frames. Our final act was to toss our old pillows and replace them with brand new, hypo-allergenic pillows that would help with breathing at night. Oh, and we have banned our pets from the bedroom. Sometime in the next couple of weeks we plan to repaint the entire bedroom and bring in a professional carpet cleaner to spot and deep clean our white Berber carpet and complete the project.
Living Room Minimalism
Our living room was no less challenging than our bedroom, even if it did have less things to remove and received more regular cleanings. Our primary challenge here was to incorporate an area in which Alicia could work without drawing attention to it or taking up too much space. She prefers setting up her computer in the living room, which is also where her mom spends most of the day and therefore enables Alicia to keep an eye on her without running back and forth from our bedroom or spare room. A solution came as the result of a visit to our local Container Store, where we found a desk/shelf unit that almost exactly matched our existing leaning book cases. At $140.00 it was a tad above our preferred budget, so Alicia hit Craigslist and with a little patience located one in perfect condition for $60.00 just up the street near Westwood. One hour later, a friend accompanied me to the residence, the 60 bucks was happily handed over, and we had the desk in the living room ready to go. We are now scouring Craigslist once more to find a cute chair to match.
As for minimalizing, it’s sad to say but most of our books were victims of our downsizing. Cookbooks have been replaced by online recipe websites and large coffee table books just aren’t as stylish as they once were. We carted up over 100 books of various genres and dropped them at the Goodwill book store on Sepulveda and Washington Blvd’s and will probably double that total by the time we make our way through the rest of our home. Of everything we’ve parted with, books are probably the most emotionally wrenching for me, personally; I hold a Bachelor’s degree in English and love books. However, with the availability of books online and the fact I rarely go back to re-read the books I’ve kept over the years meant they were expendable. Sigh.
Our last bits of living room cleanup were to dust all surfaces, wash our hard wood flooring, remove redundant wiring, and put our second (leather) couch into storage for use when our back apartment unit becomes vacant sometime in late spring/early summer. We’re now well into this minimalizing process and plan to move on to the kitchen and bathrooms in February, the last two bedrooms in March, finishing up with our back laundry/storage room just before summer. Stay tuned!