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Too much stuff – wading through the clutter

I have moved. This is the third week in the new house I share with my husband and our gamer son. And we are wading through clutter.

New house

Week one we had no internet or TV. Week two we had managed to unpack the tv and find somewhere to place it and watch DVD’s and then Netflix once we got internet. Week three and we now have Sky and internet. It is winter, it is cold, wet and dark so these things are important. More so when the small rooms in the small house can’t take all the furniture you brought with you from the big house with big rooms and you are therefore living in chaos.

And sometimes I wonder if it was a big mistake and I just want to cry.

Before the move I emptied three bedrooms, donating most of the furniture to charity.

I had been decluttering for many months. I gave all my fancy china to Mad as a Hatter, a local tea shop and the rest of the excess cutlery and plates went to local charities. A friend came to help with the packing and it took four hours to pack the kitchen. We only had two days notice that we were going to move and I thought we had it in hand. We didn’t.

The person buying our big house came round and measured up, she was making a plan for where all her furniture would go. I hoped she would want to keep our breakfast bar table. She didn’t, so now it is a temporary place for the gamer to game.

I wish I’d had the time and the inclination to have measured up and make a floor plan. Instead it has been a game of box Tetris, to create a living area that we don’t have to climb over chairs to get to the kitchen.

We have stored the boxes in the outhouses and under the stairs. Some we used as tables for the first few days as we struggled to negotiate our way through the small rooms surrounded by chairs, oversized furniture and stuff.

One of the three beds we brought with us to the two bedroom house would not go up the stairs. Yes three beds came with us to the small house. I didn’t know which one would fit best in the smaller bedroom. Turns out that as it was not possible to get big bed into the big bedroom, bringing three beds was not such a daft idea. Except that the headboard and mattress bases of the big bed would not go up the stairs so were left in one living room. The mattress that did go up the stairs we had to prop up on the narrow landing, and for a week we had to slide against the other wall to reach the bathroom. It took us six days to find the box of shoes. I still haven’t found my computer mouse.

On the day of the move I realised at 4 pm that we couldn’t sleep in the new house that night.  I booked us into a local hotel. There was no way we were ever going to get two beds built that evening. Best decision ever.

Refreshed after a good night sleep and a proper breakfast, we returned to the house with a plan to make it livable. First thing was to build the beds. We decided where to place the furniture and we wondered why we had brought broken chairs with us. The old, large microwave that was never going to fit into the tiny kitchen in the small house went outside with all the other stuff that we could not keep. The back yard resembled the set of Steptoe and Son.

The tiny kitchen is really tiny. Add to that the cat litter tray and the cat basket taking up floor space in the kitchen  because we had to keep the cats in for the first few days so that they would not run away.  Standing room only for one person and that is a nightmare of a kitchen scenario.

Friends with small kitchens had no sympathy when I told them. Yes I used to have to a huge kitchen that hid all the crap, but this is really small I said. I made them visit.

Oh they said, you cannot cook in this kitchen. Where did they keep food? The drawers are tiny. You need some shelves. Yes, the kitchen is tiny.

Of course I knew the kitchen was small when we bought the house and it was always the plan to extend the kitchen into the falling down outhouses outside. In the meantime we have installed a surplus book-case in the kitchen for storage.

All I need now is to find a builder. And who has kitchens extended in the winter? We are managing with one pot meals and I can use the oven if I move the cat basket and adopt a yoga pose. We are going out to lunch on Christmas Day, thank goodness.

A summer-house is coming on January 7th 2016. It will eventually be a she shed utilising some of the furniture that does not fit in the house. However, we will store and sort the stuff that is in boxes there. Boxes that we have to move out of the outhouse as we need to knock it down to extend the kitchen.

Slowly we are clearing the excess furniture. The big bed found a new home, with a friend whose bed had broken. The broken chairs, the big microwave and about a hundred spare coat hangers (remnants of when I cleared my closet) have gone to the tip. This was our first visit to the Sandwell Tip, as the 10 previous trips to the tip were to a Birmingham one.

I am certain that I will give more stuff to charities. We have to decide what furniture we can keep – pieces that are both beautiful and useful – but don’t fit the house. The chest of drawers destined for the bedroom to store clothes won’t go up the stairs. The bureau fits into the alcove, but that is where the TV will go as we want to fit both sofas in one room so that three of us can spend time together and we can invite guests to the house.

I think we should sell the chest of drawer and the bureau,  but they are not mine, they came to us to us from my husbands grandfather and mother. Husband wants to keep them for sentimental reasons. Neither of our children will want them when we are no longer here. And the plan was to have this house as a base, an investment and a home for our son while we go off travelling in a camper van and house sit around the world. Both of us need to stop holding on to stuff for sentimental reasons.

And if we want to travel we don’t need bureaus and huge chests of drawers. Perhaps they can go in the she shed? I just don’t know.

The move to a small house was to help us streamline our possessions and make a home that was cheap to run and easy to keep clean. I do not want my children to go through what I had to when my mother passed away. I am decluttering for my kids.

The improvements we make will add value and make the house more saleable in three to five years time. The road we have bought in is a sought after road where houses sell overnight. Some are let out to young professional couples but mostly it is families that live here. The children call for each other in the morning to walk to school together. There is a park at the end of the road that is having millions of Heritage Lottery money spent on it. I can park outside my house. You do not know what joy this gives me. I love the street that I now live on.

The move was the right thing to do. But I need to get rid of the stuff I do not need, do not have room for.

I have to find a space for a Christmas tree.

Then I need to go travelling.


4 comments on Too much stuff – wading through the clutter

  1. Oh dear. Sounds like you are a bit overwhelmed right now. Let me assure you that everything is possible, and much can be achieved, but you may end up with things in places you don’t expect them to end up. I for instance, have the cat litter tray in the bath (when bath is not in use, obv.) . The cats think it’s hilarious, but they’re game. My kitchen is 7ft square so draw on my experience in planning, pleeeease. How wide is the gap between the cupboards on the furthest wall? If its wider than your cooker thats good, if its as much as 1.2 metres you’re laughing and I’ll send you the plan. The website link shows my kitchen, go via home to find the floorplans.

    1. Tricia, thanks for the advice. I’m living with the kitchen I’ve got until it is extended. The cooker oven opens the wrong way, hence the yoga. I’m now litter free, cat flap installed, problem solved. My problem is that I want everything done now. Wrong time of year for that. It is a good exercise for someone who aims to be clutter free. I’ll get there.

  2. It does look like a really nice cooker – but I’d sell it in a flash and get one that’s more convenient. Maybe in the January sales. I couldn’t be using just the top oven for the next 6 months.

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