Thursday, September 12, 2013

Letting go



After returning from Mexico, I fully expected to be insanely inspired and ready to get to work in my studio. What happened was not that.  I was inspired but not in the way I expected.  My greatest inspiration came not from Frida's wardrobe but within her childhood home,  Casa Azul. I was taken with the beautifully curated rooms...how each accessory was thoughtfully chosen and placed.  I was enamored with the indigo blue and sunflower yellow kitchen.  My eyes were drawn to the details of the home and garden.

When I returned home I began eyeing our home differently. I have always loved "things," and the more, the better. While I considered myself to have good taste, I realized what I lacked was restraint.  I began going through the house, room by room, and really looking at its contents.  I had read a quote by William Morris "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." That became the criteria I used as I began the process of downsizing.

I started on the main floor, the part of the house where we spend most of our time and is most visible. Well, I shouldn't say "visible" because many of my favorite things were sequestered behind cabinets, out of my view.  Forcing myself to ask Mr. Morris' question, I found that many of the things I've accumulated didn't pass muster.  Having been a thrift store aficionado for many years, I realized that a lot of what I brought home was simply because I couldn't leave it behind. It was vintage, it was collectible...there were many terms I used to rationalize the purchases. But did I love it? Was it useful? Many times the answer was no. So they went into the box to be put through a second analysis later.  The first week I finished the laundry room, living room, dining room, office and kitchen.

Rather quickly into the process I knew that a good deal of it could be re-donated. So several boxes made the return trip to the Goodwill and Redlands Thrift. What remained was placed in bins in the upstairs guest room.

I tackled the laundry room first...I didn't take a picture of the before. Laundry duties are much more pleasant now.

Again, no before photo. This is after removing a lot, including my long held and rarely used Bakelite collection.
      
The office- before and after.  From two desks and two filing cabinets to one of each.

The living room- before and after. Perhaps not a noticeable difference but, there was a lot behind cabinet doors.

With the main part of the house complete, I moved upstairs. For the last few years I've maintained two studio spaces. Upstairs is where I did jewelry design and assemblage work. Downstairs was where I sewed. I decided to combine the two spaces into the basement and turn the upstairs studio into additional closet space. Old houses have really small closets. 

When the going gets tough...this is where I got going. I've dabbled in many art forms over the years and had collections of ephemera, vintage games and game pieces, original collages and their copies, and much, much more. As I handled each and every piece, I allowed myself a moment to enjoy and reflect, then made some hard choices. The result is a lovely, bright room overlooking our backyard.

So many "things".... reduced to a sweet closet space.
The final space was the basement studio. I took a couple days off before tackling it. The room is quite large- about 10' by 20'. A lot of room for accumulation to occur.  The result was twice as much furniture and half as much "stuff."

Room to breathe and allow the creativity to flow.

So those are the highlights of my latest "cleanse."  It's hard to describe how much better I feel here in my most favorite place in the world. It's always felt good being home but now it's feels even better.

There are a few bins in the guestroom filled with things I can't part with. Perhaps I'll let them percolate there for a while and revisit them in a few months. A friend of mine told me about a native American tradition called "Potlatch" where one invites friends and gives things away. That may be an option. For the time being, I am pleased with things just the way they are.

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Lori! All of it... not an easy process, I'm sure - but SO worth it! You've inspired me to do a similar undertaking... and I LOVe the idea of a Potlatch :)

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    1. Thanks, Jo! Yes...so worth it. I kept telling myself that I was also doing this so my children won't have to. Now the goal is to keep things from coming in. I will be strong! :)

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  2. I'm inspired too! "Do I love it?" "Is it useful?" Great questions to ask to separate the keepers from the giveaways. So smart of you to create a section for things you weren't sure about. I've found myself stalling out mid-cleaning holding something and staring at it and not being able to decide what to do. Putting it aside and letting it percolate is a good idea.

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  3. Thanks, Lesa! It was such a wonderful process...I'm still on a bit of a high. Just last week I went through the remaining bins and made the final decisions. Done!

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