Friday, 17 August 2012

My ARTHaven–Downsizing

My hubby will be retiring in about two years’ time, and in advance of that, I have decided to start downsizing everything, as we will have to live in a smaller place. If I leave it all till the move happens, I know it will be quite impossible, and doing it in advance takes off a lot of the pressure. I’ve been having a great big clear out in my ARTHaven, which used to be my office and which still doubles as an office in a smaller capacity. I have a 3-drawer MFI filing cabinet that you can just see under the red anglepoise lamp in the first photo, and also a smaller unit, just peeping out beyond the big pile of books in the foreground that has two ordinary drawers at the top, and a single filing drawer beneath.

This filing drawer, and the top drawer of the main filing cabinet, were full of files, and I have managed to reduce this down to 1 1/2 drawers. This will be reduced further as time goes on, and of course, when we leave, a lot of the work stuff will disappear. The middle drawer of the main filing cabinet was full of old cassette tapes which I am in the process of converting to mp3 – no storage problems, and no risk of deterioration, and also much easier to listen to on my iPod. At present, this drawer contains the tapes that I have copied, which are waiting to be wiped off and sent to the recycling centre.

The bottom drawer contained spare stationery and about 30 years’ worth of old appointment diaries, which have now gone to the great shredder in the sky (my office shredder, actually!) and hopefully eventually to be used by a friend for horse bedding. I have also shredded masses of old papers. Quite a few of the files contain things I want to keep, but these can be scanned and stored digitally, saving a lot of space. You can see a heap of stuff on the left side of the brown wooden table to the left of the laptop – these are awaiting scanning.

The filing drawer of the small unit was broken – the ball bearings had come out of the runners and the drawer was very difficult to use. I originally thought I would ultimately get rid of the main filing cabinet, so I removed the runners from its bottom drawer and transferred them to the small unit, which now works perfectly, leaving the bottom drawer of the main unit redundant. Then I discovered that you can get replacement runners (better ones!) from Amazon, so I have just got a pair, but have yet to fit them – I have decided on balance to keep that filing cabinet because I like it, and it will be useful for storage of other things apart from files and office stuff.

The brown trolley affair is something I bought a while back from Ebay – it houses most of my office stuff – account books and office equipment. A lot of this used to reside in the drawers in the small MFI unit but these are now used to contain my rubber stamps etc. Eventually, after we move, this unit will revert to being the office cabinet with files at the bottom, and office equipment in the drawers. The trolley has ended up as a general dumping ground (see the empty pizza boxes, for example!) and it was always in the way, right in the middle of the room.

In front of it you can see a heap of stuff bursting out of a cardboard box. This is all going to the next village fete, or the charity shop.

In the left foreground of the picture you can see all the books I’ve weeded out – these will also be going to the village fete at the end of this month. Some are simply redundant, and others I now have on Kindle so they can go. I will probably shed a few more books as time goes on.

The next picture shows the fruits of a massive clear-out of my 3-section shelving unit. This large unit came from a shop that was changing hands where we used to live, and it has served me extremely well over the years, being very strong and very capacious! However, it will have to go because there won’t be room for it when we move. I am planning a purpose-built ARTHaven to my own specifications, with storage incorporated, and a much more efficient use of space than I have at present, so this large unit will not be needed.

My clearings have reduced the stuff to a level that will fill only 2 of the 3 sections – admittedly the stuff is really, really crammed in! However, there is still some weeding out to be done, which will be easier to do once the room is less cluttered. The shelves in the left-hand section in this picture are now empty – the boxes are either empty, or contain tapes being worked on – some copied, some to be wiped off.

I knew I would have to get rid of this section fairly quickly, or knowing me, I’d soon have it filled up again! So yesterday afternoon I tackled this job. It wasn’t easy as it was all pretty securely attached together. Here is a picture with most of the shelves removed.

The next picture shows that whole section removed, with the back of the bookcase on the left, and a nice space left!

The next job was to take all the books off the bookcase (I put them on the landing) and move the bookcase back against the newly-foreshortened shelving unit. The next picture was taken from the door, showing the bookcase in its new position, and a nice big space as you come into the room. Notice the marks on the carpet where it was before, and the shelves stacked up on the left. I’m getting rid of the big left-hand upright, but the smaller shelves will probably come in useful.

Here is the space seen from the other side of the room, with the old shelves stacked up (large upright piece behind), the side of the bookcase against the shelving unit, my stepladder, and a small box of dead technology for recycling.

Here is the new setup complete, with the brown wooden trolley moved into the corner. Most of the books in the bottom of the bookcase are art books, and if I want to get at them, it will be a simple matter to pull the trolley out. In front of it, on the floor, you can see the black bag I use to carry things up and down stairs, my new glue gun (rubbish!) waiting to be sent back, and a bag of wiped-off tapes ready to go for recycling.

Here is the rest of the room without the trolley. I can’t believe how much more space I’ve got! It’s brilliant.

Finally, a view of the room as it now is, as you come in the door. I really like it now. On the floor beside the small MFI filing unit (with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine on top) is a pile of old accounts stuff awaiting recycling – the final batch of office stuff to go, I think. (At least, till I find a whole lot more!!)

I’ve still got a great deal to do. The stuff on the big shelves needs further weeding out, and I’ve still got tons of tapes to copy, and a lot of scanning to do, but each thing I do now will create more space and less clutter. Once we know where we will be moving, I will be able to make further plans to streamline my ARTHaven, and start buying in the units that will find their way to the new house. I have also got a huge amount of downsizing to do in the rest of the house, but don’t let’s go there just yet…

We are looking for a suitable house that my very elderly parents will move into initially, nearer to us than they are at present, less cut off, and more practical for them. When we retire, we plan to move in with them so that we can care for them in their final years. When the time comes, we will then occupy the whole house.

We did find a house that seemed perfect, but yesterday we heard that the owners have accepted an offer from someone else. Our problem is that we cannot yet find a buyer for my parents’ house, which has been on the market all year. Last night I found another place that would be eminently suitable as it is already divided into two distinct units and has a kitchen upstairs as well as down, and we are arranging a viewing soon; however, the problem remains, that we cannot get going until we get a buyer for my parents’ house. It really is the worst time to be trying to sell houses!!

Those who pray – we would value your prayers!!


  1. Wow. You've certainly made a big difference in there Shoshi. It is looking really good now.
    Thank you for all the information regarding recording.
    I do hope your parents sell their house very soon. When the time is right, they will. Our prayers were answered when we sold our house in UK. It was the only one that sold in the street. There were six other large, four-bedroomed houses for sale right alongside ours, with little to choose between them, and all the others are still on the market four years later!
    Kate x

  2. You should get the Secret Agent onto your parents' house! And I feel tired just reading about all your downsizing! Hope it all goes well

  3. Goodness me Shoshi, you have been busy! If the Olympics were still on I would give you a gold medal for effort, what a job that must have been for you but well done for getting it started and creating so much extra room - just don't fill it up with new goodies in the meantime - lol. Hope your parent's home sells soon so that you can make your plans. Crafty hugs, Anne x

  4. Hey Shoshi, sounds like a lot of work but your space looks great! What a great idea to recycle paper as horse bedding! I never would have thought of that. I'm not looking forward to organizing my stuff to be put into storage. I'm going to be busy with that the next couple of weeks :P

  5. My goodness you have done well. My DH retires in 2 years also. It is difficult selling a house. We sold the in-laws last year to the next door neighbour fairly quickly.
    Can you give me any hints on transferring tapes to computer then Ipod?
    I have a tape player with a USB lead. It might be the programme I used but I was not successful.
    Have a great weekend.


  6. All the best Shoshi.Thinking of you amid the turmoil.

  7. You sure have been hard at work, and so organized to be working on this already! Good luck with selling your parents' home.

  8. I cannot believe you have so much stuff! Oh WOW! Just be careful and do not do too much at once, you need to reserve some energy. Fab transformation taking place.
    Now in my prayers.
    Hugs, Neet xx

  9. Wowee Shoshi you hAVe been busy. It looks much less claustrophobic with that extra space in the centre (safer for you too) I hope you're not 'paying for it' too badly today.
    I also hope the sun is shining for you, but not too hotly in your ARTHaven - have you thought about using a thermal/reflective curtain to keep the heat out?
    Prayers winging their way for an imminent sale :0) x

  10. Really enjoyed reading this Shoshi! You have been so busy and it's wonderful of you to share everything in your photos! I keep meaning to drop by but I've had a lot on this last week or so and you know how it is then - you never get anything done. Well, you probably do if this post is anything to go by!! Off to read your post about those wonderful stamps again - have you received yours yet? Did they charge extra through customs? I got caught terribly once when I ordered something from US - the customs levy was ridiculous and I wished that I hadn't bothered!
    Have a wonderful weekend - if you can!

  11. Hi shoshi thanks for your message no problem on the swop whenever you have more time we'll do something. Couldn't agree more about the core'dinations take care and don't work to hard xx

  12. You must be shattered after all that work.
    sorry about the house I know how much it meant to you but the other sounds good with two kitchens already in, this might be a blessing in disguise .
    Your mums house will sell, it took us months to sell my mums ,but it has all gone through and a new family has moved in, we did drop the price a bit, as you said it is a buyers market these days with so many to chose from, buyers can afford to haggle a bit.
    Good luck hun

  13. Wow Shoshi, your room looks fabulous! Doesn't it feel great with all that extra space? We're about to do the same thing with our house this week. Poor husband can't hardly even walk through the garage any more, so we're cleaning everything out and having a garage sale next weekend. There's SO much to go through!

    Thank you for your sweet comments about my coloring on glitter project. I'm so glad you came back to see it! I wish you could see the technique in really does leave people wondering!!

    Amy E. #4

  14. Just what I need to do,I will ask a friend who loves sorting to help me.Your photos have made me realise how much better it would be for me to do it,so thanks.

  15. Hello!

    You have been busy, busy! It takes forever but isn't it a grand feeling when one piece of the project is finished! The house that is gone was not the right one - soon your parent's house will sell and the house you find will be even better! Keep on with your sorting - from one who has moved a lot in her lifetime - it could take 2 years to get it all done, but then everyone will think you genius! :<) Wishing you happiness today!


    Barbara Diane

  16. Could you please come to my house and teach David how to de-clutter? It would be really much appreciated!!!


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