Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Upside of Downsizing



The Upside of Downsizing is Sara B. Hart’s story of her own downsizing effort as she moved from a 1,610-square-foot house with a two-car garage to an 827-square-foot apartment with a small storage cage in the basement. Sara apparently didn’t really want to move and downsize; she did it for financial reasons as her mortgage payments were about to go way up and some expensive repairs were looming.

This motivation shapes the book; as Sara says, the book is particularly intended for those needing to downsize “not so much from choice as from necessity.” The downsizing process was very painful for her, and not everyone will feel the same emotions that Sara did. But for a downsizer who is feeling the same unhappy emotions, it might help to read about someone else who worked through them.

(As a side note, I would have appreciated if Sara’s explanation of why she was downsizing had come at the beginning of the book, rather than many pages into it. I kept wondering why she was downsizing when it was obviously causing her so much distress.)

Still, there were a number of insights that could be useful to anyone who is downsizing or simply decluttering.

When Sara was going through her things with a friend, that friend would sometimes encourage her to keep something she had already decided to part with. What Sara learned to tell her friend was this: “I had to make the decision to get rid of this once. Please don’t make me have to make it again.” She also mentions that one of the best things friends can do to help is to take away the items destined for donation and do the drop-off.

Sara didn't just work with friends; she also hired a “downsizer.” She interviewed three people and found the one she felt was right for her — someone who listened to her and understood her feelings about downsizing, but would still push her to be realistic about how much she could keep. I was glad to read this, given how emotional an organizing/decluttering project can be; you want to choose someone you’ll feel comfortable with.

As part of her process, Sara held a garage sale, and her instructions to the folks helping her were wise. “If someone wants to buy it, sell it! Otherwise I will have to pay someone to come and take it away!”

And then there’s this bit of wisdom:
Many people have found that their kids don’t want any of the things their parents had been lovingly saving for them, sometimes for years. They don't want the beautiful bone china or priceless silver or elegant crystal. They don’t want the gorgeous table linen. In fact, they don’t want the table! And so far as stuff that belonged to them — the trophies, prom outfits, graduation tassels — they don’t want that stuff, either.
What Sara stresses over and over again is this: “If you need to go through a major downsizing and move, it’s better to begin earlier than later.” This is good advice, but the repetitiveness became a bit annoying. This book was derived from Sara’s journals, which I expect explains the repetition.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

In Honor of My Mom: Organizing in Blue for 2018

white tray with elaborately drawn birds in gray and blue

Eleven years ago today, my mom died of pancreatic cancer. Her favorite color was blue, so this is my annual tribute to her. 

When I wrote about trays yesterday, I omitted a few that I wanted to include today — like this tray from Jamida, with art by Emma J. Shipley. (If you want to know more about using trays as organizing tools, see the comment I left on yesterday’s post.)


white tray with two big blue fish

Another cool item from Jamida is this Shoal of Fish tray, with art by Asta Barrington.


small blue tray with a sardine picture

Continuing on the fish theme, this sardine tray from Agenda Home, with art by Danielle Kroll, caught my eye.


off-white cotton canvas bin with blue butterfly; blue pattern on the interior, too

Over on Etsy, I found this lovely cotton canvas bin by Dagmar’s Designs. (I’ve written about Dagmar’s Designs before, but without a focus on the blue images.)


two royal blue fabric baskets with large flowers; black interior

Another Etsy find: These storage baskets made with Marimekko fabric, from Mummi Designs.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

9 Trays to Help You Get Organized

tray with light wood sides and dark blue bottom; teapot, which and other things on the tray

When you think of trays, you may picture something like the Frame Tray from Munk Collective — on clearance sale now at Design Within Reach, but also available outside the U.S. at stores like Illums Bolighus in Denmark. These have wood sides and a waterproof MDF bottom. (via Better Living Through Design)


tray with stylized owls

Or you may picture something more like this Orla Kiely tray, made of melamine-coated birch. Rectangular trays with a rim, no matter the style, are flexible tools with many possible uses.


tray with fish, birds and ducks - dark background with white and light blue images

A lot of interesting trays come from Scandinavia and are made with birch or birch veneer. This one is from Made by Lyng, in Norway.


tray with sky blue background and pictures of three cats, plus some plants

Avenida Home has a cat tray and a dog tray, both with illustrations by Anne Bentley. They're made in Sweden.


white tray with picture of fish

Anna Wright's melamine and birch veneer trays are also made in Sweden.


round white tray with red handle sticking up in the middle

And this one from LUprints is also made in Scandinavia.


two-tiered round white tray; top tier is smaller than bottom one

There are also trays with extra features, which may sometimes be useful. The General Tray from Good Thing has a handle with four color options.


round white tray with red handle sticking up in the middle

The Rotary Tray from Vitra is a two-tier thing; the top tier can rotate outward.


round yellow tray with yellow cup in the middle

And the Vitra O-Tidy combines a cup and a tray. One of the places you can get it, besides directly from Vitra, is the Finnish Design Shop.

Related post:
Organizing with Trays

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Anne Helen Petersen re: Organized Travel



Inside my bag is the title of Anne Helen Petersen's latest newsletter, and some of what she does to prepare for travel sounds like good advice for more than just a reporter:
If something works well, I make it routine. I fly the same airline (partly for the miles) but also because I know exactly what snacks there will be, exactly how many minutes I need to be at the gate after I get a notification that they're boarding, exactly how big my carry-on can be, exactly how to use the app and buy the wi-fi ahead of time and the routes/airports I'll transfer in. I found a pick-up shuttle company that's always on-time and that I can schedule simply by texting. ...

All of these decisions create less friction, less decision-making. ...

I have a reporting travel uniform — jeans, boots, a nice-ish flannel shirt — that makes me seem put-together enough but not too put together, and I wear variations on it throughout the 3/4 of the year. If I'm reporting for 2 days, and won't be hanging out with the same people on both days, I don't even bring a change of clothes (okay yes I bring another set of underwear). I have a perfect dob kit that I keep packed with travel versions of all the products I need.
Go read the entire thing for more ideas and links to her preferred overnight bag, suitcase, etc.