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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Lessening Our Footprint

Becoming minimalists has become somewhat of our mantra lately. I've been thinking heavily as of late about the footprint that I have on this earth. What sort of space do I occupy? What do I do with that space? How do I leave it, live in it, use it. As you know, our house is up for sale. We've been here five years. It's total of 1450 square feet living space plus an big basement and large beautiful yard. Bottom line? We're lazy. We don't do our yard work -- we have it done. And that is getting to us -- the fact that we're lazy and paying to have things done for us. So, we're looking around. Don't want a yard, simpler space to live in, and all of that. We've come up with a list of about 5-8 new places that would work for us. But on the top of the list right now is a fairly small one-level condominium that would have us living in only 850 square feet or so (unit 306 or 307 if you happen to explore the link). The other places are actually larger than what we have now and come with lots of stairs. We love them all. But we're especially partial to this idea of serious downsizing and leaning a bit more toward minimalism. We're actually kind of getting excited about throwing things away, gifting them upward and onward, and (quite frankly) existing on this earth with less than we have today. It's kind of a fetish, right now. We're looking at every single thing we have and wondering how we can get rid of it. It's really sort of energizing, in a twisted weird sort of way. And, I must painfully admit, I opened my jeans closet and spotted 12 pair. I felt a little guilty considering that I only have one arse and two skinny white legs with a little dark fuzz on them. It's odd how we are like goldfish and grow to whatever space constraints we have. If there's empty space, we fill it up. Seriously, I've laid awake nights wondering how we can stuff our hanging clothes into one, single 6-foot closet in the small 10x10 bedroom. And our good friend Alan spoke with us recently about a workshop he attended where they were emphasizing the use of fewer and less "things" on this earth. He was explaining how we actually live in about 20% of the space we have in our homes. The rest of it sits there nice and pretty -- waiting, wondering, gathering dust. It has to be heated, cooled, cleaned. And all without too much of a good return on the investment. And in many countries around the globe, there are many entire families living in small spaces such as the one we're considering. So, that's where we're at right now. Thinking, wondering, planning. And not just for a new home. Really more for the longer-term and in big picture sorts of ways. And, I must be honest, that as soon as this house deal is all settled and we're moved, the amount of gasoline we consume is next on the chopping block. Hybrids anyone?


Stacey said...

It would be really difficult for me to give up my home office. I love my little cave! But I agree with the "less stuff" idea. We also have too much space, and too much stuff. In the last 6 months, we've gotten rid of about a small moving van worth of things, and don't miss any of it.

We could probably haul off another truckload without blinking. Clothing... we have the standard 8' closet, and we share a large dresser. We just do laundry a touch more often, and buy clothes that wear really well.

Our house is still technically too big for us, as is the yard, but we are working to make it more "green" and less work. I'm a little envious of your potential downsizing.

I still have a few things I "can't live without," but it's so nice to just have the things you really care about, and pass on/recycle the rest. Fewer worries, less time spent on housekeeping, and more time to enjoy life (and the items that we have chosen to enhance it.)

Good luck to you in the home-hunting!

Lemuel said...

For so many reasons we need to get rid of "stuff". My problem is that I do not want the stuff just to end up in a landfill. I am trying to find "good homes" for it all.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lewis, those new condos look pretty cool!
A lot of what you said resonates with me regarding minimizing.
I traded down on my car last year for a TDI Jetta that gets 45mpg.
We have really tried to do as much downsizing as we can. When our 3 kids are grown I think we will minimize the living space also.
But until then, every summer we do a big "getting rid of stuff" weekend. :) I think the closet space would be hard to move down on space-wise.
I wish you both luck!! Look forward to hearing how it goes after the house sells!

Dave2 said...

When my best friend died, I help go through the massive amount of crap he had accumulated over his lifetime... at that moment I decided to eliminate as much clutter as possible.

And most of it is clutter.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Amen Amen Amen. We all need to reduce out imprint a bit. reduce- Reuse-Recycle I always say.

Birdie said...

We live in a house that has overwhelmed me from the start, over 20 years ago! I can't wait to move (in about three years) to one much smaller, without a basement, and with a small yard. Life's too short to spend it on maintenance of stuff.

LSL said...

Lewis, I know right where these are (I used to frequent the Alameda Brew Pub for it's awesome hummus platter) and I adore them. God, they're great! I love that you guys are looking to do more with less, and was just talking with my sister about doing the same thing earlier this evening. Anyway, keep us posted on the hunt. I'd love to hear where you kids end up! (My vote is for this place.)

Ur-spo said...

I too am getting 'zen'; channeling my grandmother who did not save anything. I think the Monks have it right; little or no pocessions.
But I will keep the IPOD.

savante said...

Damn. Does that mean I need to toss my stuff out? :O

CJ said...

More about the white legs with dark fuzz please.

Java said...

I love the look of that loft place. It looks like it would be much easier than the big lot of stuff you have now.
I had to laugh at that comment that most people only use about 20% of the space in their homes. I suspect most people don't have 8 people living in a modest 3 bedroom house! We use more than 20% of our space.

martin said...

This has always worked for me: As Kahlil Gibran said:
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?

And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?

And what is fear of need but need itself?

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like you guys are trying to be a little less materialistic. And a lot more wholistic. I feel like I would be walking around in circles if my house was any smaller.

Regarding Beaumont, make sure to find out who will be renting the commercial space on the ground floor. And see if there are any restrictions on the types of retail tenants through the HOA.

Greg said...

Good for the two of you and good for the environment. CM and I are continually going through our stuff, donating things to the AIDS Assistance league, giving our cans and bottles to one of the women in the neighborhood who usually digs through the large garbage cans (we put them in a sack on top so she won't have to root through the muck), and various other small things to go start lessening our imprint. Every little bit helps.

dit said...

I great new way of thinking. As Americans we are taught to buy, buy, buy. Good luck in finding a new space. I love lofts.

We are strongly considering putting in an order for a Prius soon. In Los Angeles, I noticed a station selling premium for $5.13 a gallon. It will only go up.

Laurie said...

Well, I have my yard done for me
too :D yeah, it's the hubby who
does it. I'm to scared to have
someone else touch it. I don't want
to see it scalped.

12 pairs of jeans for your cute
little white arse? I have 3 pairs
of jeans 4 pairs of shorts and
5 pairs of work pants. I know!
I should have more clothes! I think
I'll go shopping. Can I have the
credit card please?

I like the condos.


travelling, but not in love said...

Lewis, can I just say - thank the lord you moved that picture of bog roll off the top spot. I as sooo sick of checking out your page and seeing that sorry sight.

And let's be honest, don't go moving 'til you sort out that issue.

Anyway, the lofts look very cool and I'd buy one in a heartbeat - I like the idea of living in a small space. Which is lucky - my new place in Paris is just 600 sq feet....

RAD said...

its all about downsizing..I hear ya...well except for the size that matters-- hes a keeper....

Brent said...

I'm a pack rat, I still have my college notes from almost 20 years ago, and I haven't looked at them since.
By the way just discovered your blog... it's great.

"Just David!" said...

Everything I currently own fits in 2 suitcases and one 5 by 5 storage unit. 1 large box, 1 medium box, and 8 small boxes! It's incredibly freeing! Except my car, that doesn't fit in any of those!

Doug said...

Wow, cool places. Very compact. Be realistic, though, about what kind of transition you're looking at. Perhaps one-step-at-a-time might be prudent.

Keith said...

I've been trying to leave a minimal footprint on planet earth for many years by never having owned a car. I'm not ready yet to take the next step and clean out my closets!--even though I'm well aware that I have way too much stuff. The big clean-out will happen in two or three years, when I move back to northern California.

TJ said...

I had a quick look and like 307 better than 306 but I did notice one potentiql problem in both units. Your bedroom backs up to the neighbors living room and if they have a party or they have a state of the art (translates=Loud) home theatre system it might be an issue. I'm just sayin'. Other than that I love the corner windows and all.

-carywd said...

wow- i like that building and the hood
i like unit 305 but that's as much as a house
you are so smart to do this- we want to do the same

TJ said...

ps. About downsizing, every spring we go through all of our clothes and if there is something there we haven't worn in over a year we take it all to the second hand shops like the St. Vincent De Paul Society (They are like Goodwill here in Australia). We also give a good look around the house and if there are things that are just taking up space out they go. Of course we usually end up buying stuff to replace it all but we do try. And books are never taken anywhere

Anonymous said...

When I moved back in February I went through a major purge and I never felt so...so...liberated! In order to get the most out of it, however, you need to get a detached third party involved. In my case it was my sister, and as we were going through my things, she kept asking, "Do you really NEED this?" That caused me to look at it unemotionally and in most cases, easily throw it into the "Goodwill" bin. Good luck!

Wayne said...

Okay, you really need to look at 305! balcony off the living and bedroom! If you want smaller, go for 302! nice big balcony( with no yard your gonna want one!)And your bedroom isn't next to someone's living room. (which will be noisy unless the walls are real thick!)
Just sayin!
and the promo pics look great!

Mark in DE said...

Downsizing and creating a simpler way of living is an attractive idea to me, too. This would only be shocking if you knew that Spouse & I live in a 3,770 sq foot 5 bedroom house. Since we live at the beach we do have a lot of company, so those bedrooms all get used, at some point. But I can definitely see a downsizing in our future. Maybe when we're 50.

This post is good food for thought.

Mark :-)