Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Art of Radical Downsizing: A Real Life Example

Six weeks ago, we moved from our very large house to this very sweet, very small house one neighborhood over from where we had been living. The decision was both financial - I have been working freelance for the past two years and making significantly less money than when I was working full time - and emotional. Jon and I both felt that it was time to move from the house that had so many intense emotional memories to a fresh space that requires significantly less upkeep and repair and work than the large 110 year old house we've been in for the last decade. We are also renting this house rather than owning it, meaning much of the repair work as it arises will belong to our (exceptionally cool and nice) landlord.

When we began looking for a house, we actually chose this one very quickly. For starters, it's on a street where I owned a house between 2004 and 2006. I absolutely loved that house amd have stellar memories there so the street felt right to us. The house also had a most excellent vibe for us as soon as we walked in. It felt tidy and warm and welcoming. There were overgrown gardens calling out for me to dig in and get to work on them. The kitchen was sweet beyond words. I loved the kitchen just immediately.

  
The house also had a large fenced yard that the little girls got excited about the first time we brought them over here. It's also fenced completely, which is great for both kidlets and our Great Pyrenees, Leo. The fence, including in the front,  is chain link which, let's face it, is a bit tacky. But it's aslo very very practical. At our old house we had wooden fence all around and it constantly needed painting and patching and propping back up. We're in a new mood - a mood for practical over beautiful, so the chain link fence was a go for us.

There's a aweet little deck on the side that provides a great spot for my adirondack chairs. I paint them a new color each spring and this year I went with red and purple.


We've been in the house almost two months now, so we are getting used to the size. At first I was frankly kind of scared of what 950 square feet would feel like. How would we fit all our people and all of our stuff into a space this small. Friends of mine who have been living in as small or smaller NYC apartments cheered me on, assuring me it could be done. We are only four of us living here all the time. J, age 20 has her own house on campus, and E, age 18 is spending his senior year living at his Dad's house so he can be closer to school. We see them very often bur they are not living here. So it's just Jon, me and the two little girls: C age 8 and G age 5. Could we manage in such a small space? Would we be climbing all over each other?

I am happy to report that the answer is no. We've adjusted okay. I do kind of wish we had a playroom for the girls because using the single living room/den for their toys and art projects is turning out to be pretty messy. But that's really my only complaint so far. Everything else (mostly) fits.. Now we did get rid of a lot of stuff. In fact we still have stuff in the old house that we're working on getting rid of. At first I had to fight some strong emotional attachments to some of the things we're selling or passing on to others. For example the giant baby grand piano that belonged to my great grandmother. I really had to take deep breaths and think about what that piano was doing for me in order to let it go. No one in our family plays piano and it required basically it's own room to have in our home. That piano was keeping us from doing the paring down and lightening up that every other instinct I had was telling me was the right thing to do at this point in our life. I finally had a breakthrough and decided that the piano needed to go to a home where it will be played and appreciated. And that's where it's going. And I no longer feel sad.

For the first few years after Henry died I felt like I could never move on from the emotional and physical space that he had occupied with me and our family. I didn't want to touch his things or his room. I felt like doing so would be admitting he was gone forever. But as I have slowly evolved in my grief, which don't get me wrong, is still intense and life-altering, I realized that Henry is with me always, even if I let go of his bedroom and the rooms he walked and inhabited. I realized that our family needed a fresh start in a space that allowed us to remember and honor Henry in a new may - a way that allows us to look forward and not always back.

So here we are living in a Very Small House. So much has already changed since we moved. My life feels much more manageable in a new space (I went through some very, very dark and difficult times in the last few years in the old house).

Oh, and welcome to my new blog. I missed writing so much. But I was very shut down and simply couldn't for several years. I will take baby steps toward writing again in this space. We'll see how it goes. I appreciate you reading and commenting. Thanks for coming by.

-Katie

16 comments:

  1. Lovely! Hugs and love to you and your new space!

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  2. much love and support headed your way. So glad to see you writing again and your new little home is perfect!

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  3. Thanks Y'all! It feels good just to write SOMETHING. xoxo

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  4. Katie. I will be following your journey. You are doing what I believe so many of us would like to do by letting go of the unneeded, unused stuff. Sending best wishes for many happy days in your new house! Xo Moira

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  5. It's a new beginning and is good for all of you. You are shedding much more than stuff and a big house permeated with grief and tears. ❤️

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  6. Welcome back, Katie. I'm eager to read what you write here.

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  7. Welcome back Katie. Sounds like it was a good move for your family. Hope you don't mind some questions. Did you bring the chickens? Did you leave all of your plants or have you transplanted them to the new place? Are you still working in the insurance business? Glad to know you are doing well.

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  8. The hardest part about losing someone is seeing that life does, indeed, go on. But it must, right? No matter how much we want to capture time and stuff it in a bottle and keep it locked away forever.

    Henry isn't in that house. He's in your heart. And no one can take that away from you.

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  9. Sorry to hear you had to downsize, however, look on the bright side, your house looks amazing. You have made up for the lack of space and it is still very cozy and I am sure it feels that way. Lots of great memories will be made in that house. Thank you for sharing pictures, your outside area is great.

    Mattie @ Buyer's Corner Realty

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  10. So happy to find this new blog. I'm happy you have allowed adjustments to come in their time and that you are writing again. :-)

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  11. So happy to find this new blog. I'm happy you have allowed adjustments to come in their time and that you are writing again. :-)

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  12. Great! Recently we bought a quite big house and it’s really perfect for us. It’s not too big or not too small. Now I’m living happily and peacefully with my loving family!
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  13. I was in a small rent house with my wife. But now I’m planning to buy our own home because I’m financially ready to deal with the challenges of home-ownership. So I’m so excited!
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