Chapter 5 – The Last Room
During this whole journey there was one room I avoided. We call it the front room. It is basically a second living room. It was originally set up to be my personal get-away space. I had visions of curling up in the chase lounge reading a book, but I never did. Over the years it became a place to store things, a junk room.
When I first began purging the house, I put my give away bags there in-between trips to the thrift store. I also stored items I wanted to sell there as well as things I wanted to keep but had no idea where to put. Basically, I sacrificed this room to redeem the rest of the house.
Eventually, I know I would have to face this room. It would take all the skills I had developed, all the tricks I had learned and all my determination to successfully transform this area.
One skill I utilized was visualization. I began to dream about what I wanted the room to look like and what purposes I wanted it to serve. I had contemplated having a dining room for a few years. This seemed like the right time to pursue that goal. I sold the chase lounge and end tables that were not being used and began to look for a decent dining set.
This room also houses my daughter’s piano, my library, and my computer desk. I sketched out how these items could be rearranged to form a multi-purpose room. Then it was time to eliminate everything that did not fit the new vision.
I revisited the ‘packing party’ concept. Starting in one corner of the room, one shelf/drawer at a time, I sorted every item. Anything I wanted to keep went into a labeled box. Items to sell went into a corner and bags to give away went by the door.
I unloaded my file cabinets into boxes of paper to be sorted. Eventually I eliminated three partially-filled file cabinets and condensed into one with four drawers. As I looked through these papers I was mortified to find ten year old electric bills as well as my high school calculus notes. It was embarrassing to admit that not only had I kept these useless items, but I had paid to move them a few years before. In the end I had one box of papers to save and file, three boxes to shred, and numerous bags of paper to recycle.
Next I turned to my bookshelves. Before I touched the first book I sat down and made a list of all the books and types of books I knew I owned. If a book was on the list it was a keeper. This helped me pre-set my mind so that when I picked up a book I didn’t even remember owning, it was easier to let it go. As I boxed up my books I asked myself various questions: Have I read this book? Do I even want to read it? How long have I kept it without reading it? Am I keeping it because I ‘should’ read it? If I did read it already, did it bring me joy? Do I really plan to read it again? Can I find the information contained in this book online? Did I even know I had this book?
I put all of my baby-raising books in a giveaway box since I am not planning for any more children. I got rid of most of my diet books and all of my college texts. Then I turned to the religious reference section. I decided to pair this down by looking at categories and only keeping one or two in each sub-category. Overall, I eliminated boxes of books I did not even remember having. Lastly, I put many, many books on probation. I decided to keep them for now, but plan to donate them if they are not read in the next year.
As I continued to work my way around the room, I discovered things that could now be re-homed in other rooms. Because a large portion of the house was now organized, I knew where things belonged.
Eventually, I got everything I wanted packed up. Then I was able to rearrange the remaining furniture and begin to unpack. I used the container concept and only kept the desk supplies that fit in my drawers, the movies that fit on the shelves, and the decorations that made a pleasant display.
At the time of this writing I still have four boxes of pictures to sort through. I can’t quite make the leap to scanning and discarding them, but I am paring down. I’m only keeping the best ones to put in albums. The rest can be given away to family or discarded.
I love the fact that this room is no longer an embarrassment. It is now functional and attractive.