I wrote about what happens when you can’t buy things on Monday, which marked the halfway point through my June shopping ban. Funnily enough, not even 48 hours after that post went live, I learned that I had two more things I could’ve added to the points I wrote about.
A Mindful Apartment Reorganization
This past weekend, a curious friend asked me about my apartment layout and whether or not I’d ever changed it since moving in. The answer? No. There’s not much one can do with an apartment with limited space. Also, furniture is heavy and, um, I’m not strong. But the question got me thinking about the ways I showcase and store my stuff in my apartment.
Most days, I feel like I have more stuff than I can fit in my apartment. That feeling is what sparked my spring cleaning session and sent six trash bags and a box of stuff to the donation pile. But even after getting rid of all that, I didn’t feel more decluttered in my living space. My friend’s question niggled at me: would rearranging my furniture help me feel like my stuff and I fit into my apartment just fine? Unfortunately, there weren’t any alternative apartment layouts that appealed to me, so I shot down the idea of totally changing things up. But when brainstorming, I realized that I’ll never be able to shake the feeling of having too much stuff if I just throw around all of my belongings haphazardly in my small apartment.
Somewhere along the way, my desk had morphed into my vanity, and my alternative of working on my laptop from my coffee table was almost always thwarted by the stacks of mail and books and other junk on the table, which meant I often worked from my lap on the couch or bed. My three-shelf bookshelf only needed two shelves for books, leaving the third shelf abandoned with random odds and ends sitting there. My dresser used to have figurines and picture frames on it, but at some point I moved the picture frames with the intention of swapping out the pictures and never put them back, so the majority of that surface wasn’t being used. My dining table was nearly always covered in mail (why do I have so much mail when no one mails stuff anymore??) or containers of sugar and flour from my last baking spree. And my bedside table? Well, it was perpetually covered in bobby pins, half-used containers of body butter and hand lotion, and too many lip balms to count.
This would not do.
I spent Monday and Tuesday evenings dumping everything from those surfaces on the floor in the center of my apartment and becoming more strategic with how and where I stored my belongings. Surprisingly, I didn’t wind up throwing anything away, besides the stupidly high amount of junk mail I had accumulated. Turned out the issue wasn’t with how much stuff I had, but how I stored the stuff I did have. With some creative rearranging, I turned the neglected top of my dresser into a vanity, regifted myself the ability to use my desk as a desk, repurposed the empty bookshelf for picture frames and figurines, and reclaimed my coffee table, dining table, and bedside table from all the stuff that was sitting on the surfaces.
I went to sleep Tuesday night feeling totally accomplished, and woke up Wednesday morning feeling completely at ease as I looked around my newly tidy and organized apartment.
If I hadn’t been on a shopping ban this month, I would’ve gone to Bed Bath & Beyond or Target to buy storage items and then tackled the problem of how I stored things. Because if I felt like my furniture couldn’t hold all of my things, that meant I needed new furniture, right? Wrong! Cait once tweeted something along the lines of, “If you need new storage items to store your stuff, that means you have too much stuff.” With those words in mind, I was able to work with what I had in order to determine appropriate homes for all of my stuff — without having to spend a single penny. (Also, I figured that if I decided that I actually needed to buy some new storage, the rest of June would give me ample time to decide if that really was the route I wanted to go instead of impulsively buying storage immediately.)
Bartering for New Goods
I mentioned offhand to a colleague that I had an brand new extra purse (long story) that I didn’t want or need, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Her ears perked up and she offered to exchange a brand new fancy clothing steamer for my purse.
I don’t wear a lot of clothes that need to be steamed mainly because my wardrobe is pretty solidly casual/smart casual. But now that we’re firmly in sundress season, I do have a few dresses and skirts that need some help in the anti-wrinkle department. I have an iron and ironing board, but some of the fabrics are too delicate for an iron (and I’m not much good at ironing as I tend to burn myself). I’ve been intrigued by a steamer for some time, but always considered it an item that was very much a want, not a need.
However, those dresses and skirts aren’t disappearing from my wardrobe anytime soon, as I happen to like them and wore them often before the wrinkles and creases took over. Could I have sucked it up and gotten over this thing I have with ironing, considering I already have an iron and ironing board? Yes. But did I pass up on the opportunity to offload this extra purse and get a new steamer out of it? No. Because, like I said, an iron isn’t kind to delicate fabrics, and my primary concern with clothes is to get wrinkles out of them, not add creases for things like dress shirts and pants.
So that’s how I traded something I had for something I didn’t have. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I bartered with anything besides money. (Most of my stuff I don’t want/need gets donated or given to friends, rarely exchanged for anything.) It was refreshing, actually, and a reminder that money isn’t the only thing we can give in order to gain something new. Although, of course, that doesn’t just apply to material goods… but that’s a post for another day 😉