Everyone talks about getting rid of stuff and de-cluttering as a way to pare down our lives.
But have we ever considered getting rid of furniture as a way to force ourselves to de-clutter?
Let me explain.
Before I became a minimalist, I had a huge 2000 square feet apartment, and I paid dearly for it.
This huge apartment, housed two huge couches, 2 TV cabinets (yes I watched TV in 2005), lots of rugs, lots of tables, a huge bed, 2 desks, and lots of assorted pieces of furniture.
I probably had 25 pieces of furniture in total. Including large pieces of decoration.
When I became a modern nomad (with no fixed address), I sold all of my furniture.
Every single stick of it.
Now I am currently in a smaller apartment (600 square feet).
All I have is a table, 2 chairs, a futon on the floor, and 2 racks.
That is a total of 6 pieces of furniture.
As a result, I am mentally forced to keep within the confines of my space by making sure every piece of furniture has a working purpose, and isn’t there for decoration or to store more junk.
For example, I may occasionally want a comfortable club chair to relax and blog on.
But when I think about it, I’d use it maybe once a week or less.
When I am on the computer, I prefer a wide table (like our kitchen table and a chair).
It would be a shame to add another heavy piece of furniture to my home only to use it occasionally, if that.
So I don’t.
And I may wish I had another cabinet in the home to organize more things, but in the end, I just make do with what I have, and pare down on my stuff instead.
I don’t want to add extra visual clutter to an already calming open, airy space.
Sometimes we keep furniture solely to house our junk
In my apartment, there is nowhere that junk can hide.
There is simply no space, and if something starts spilling over onto the floor or piling up, it gets taken care of.
I have visited other homes, where they have lots of sleek looking cabinets and cupboards to hold their things, and it looks great on the surface.
But when they go to grab something, everything tumbles out and they spend 10 minutes stuffing it all back in.
So maybe you have something similar in your home.
A cabinet, an armoire, or a table.
It may be filled with things and half-finished projects you vowed to get around to, but haven’t in the past 5 years.
You THINK you will get around to it, but if you haven’t in 5 years, you are 99% not likely to.
So why are you keeping a piece of furniture just to house junk?
Get rid of a piece of furniture
We seem to think that more furniture means more options to hold and organize our stuff but that isn’t the case.
But I find that this rule seems to hold true:
The more options we have to store junk, the more junk we shall keep.
An extra piece of furniture also contributes to visual clutter!
Getting rid of a piece of furniture (or moving to a smaller space in my case) may seem drastic, but it was ultimately quite a revelation for me.
I feel like I really understand what I like to use daily in my life, and what I don’t need.
3 things I love to do & their associated pieces of furniture:
- A large, wide desk with no drawers to work on with a hard-backed chair
- A futon on the floor to sleep on (so I don’t roll off or find monsters under my bed)
- A large kitchen because I love to cook and I need space to prep!
Think about the 3 major activities you do on a daily basis
Listen to music?
Play the piano?
And mentally associate pieces of furniture or storage areas with your favourite activities.
Then get rid of what you don’t need or use on a daily basis for your favourite activities.
How to get rid of a piece of furniture
- Pick your target — VERY IMPORTANT — Don’t pick an heirloom piece & regret it!
- Empty out all the drawers into a huge box
- Wipe down the piece of furniture
- Donate it immediately (you may feel a pang of regret here, but that’s why #1 is important)
- Sort them into Donate and Toss piles (No keeping unless it’s worth money)
- Toss the items in the toss pile.
- Keep the Donate items in a box, taped up tight with the date on top.
- In a year, if you haven’t tried to open that box — you clearly do not need anything in there.
- Just donate it, without opening it.
How to get rid of junk, but not the piece of furniture
Alternatively, you can decide NOT to donate the piece of furniture, and re-purpose it for something else in the home.
If it helps you to avoid spending more money and buying ANOTHER piece of furniture, by all means, use it.
It’s empty and totally clear now, isn’t it?
What furniture do you actually need and use daily?
Ask yourself that question occasionally and you may be surprised.
You may not even really enjoy sitting on that second couch.
It may be too decorative, and not comfortable to lounge on because of the small hard back.
So sell it.
Sometimes, we just need to think about other ways to force ourselves to kick the clutter-gathering habit.
(I love the TV series Sex and the City, and this is Carrie’s new apartment from the movie, but I would totally get rid of those end tables with their heavy lamps for example)