Everything I Own, Part 4: Seeing Some Progress

A few of my favourite wooden toys

A few of my favourite wooden toys

On April 7, after posting an update on my home inventory, I joked I would “see you in a month” because it was taking so long. Here it is, two months later, and I am still only halfway along!

Here’s what’s going on.

I started with the biggest items – furniture, large appliances and electronics. I went through my receipts and warranties folder, and added the original cost of those items. I had already counted my clothes and books as separate projects. Next I did kitchen wares, emptying out and cleaning the cupboards as I worked. From that point on, everything else I own is packed away on shelves, in closets, in boxes and bins. It has been taking me forever to unpack each box, to list and photograph the contents, decide what to keep, and repack the rest. It begs the question – if I have so much stuff packed away in boxes and bins, why do I even need it?

How I inventoried my picture frames

How I inventoried my picture frames

I realized one reason I keep some things is because my idea of their value is inflated. I don’t think I’ll be able to sell a crate of old Beanie babies and make a fortune! But I have two boxes of picture frames that I’m not using. “Back in the day,” they may have cost me $10-20 each. They have declined in value, because now, I could buy similar frames at the dollar store. I parted with all of the frames that were not reparable. Now I am down to 65 – I kid you not!

I have a modest jewellery box, and have only about 5 items worth more than $20. It’s not that I want to collect cheap junk. It’s just that whenever I think of buying quality jewellery, I would rather spend my money on something else. If I “need” a pair of earring with orange stones in them, a $5 pair will do the job. As a result, I have 163 pieces of costume jewellery with no real value, and I am fine with that.

Another issue I’ve come across is changing tastes. I have a box of what I call “ornaments.” They are mostly decorative ceramic objects that sit on a shelf. I say that laughingly because ornaments are so out of fashion. I do see Willow Tree ornaments for sale in the stores, or maybe commemorative ornaments you would give to a new baby. I tried to remember why ornaments used to be so popular. I think it’s because women never spent money on themselves. If they had a little collection of crystal bells, and received one for their birthday every year, those might be the only personal items they owned. Or they would buy a souvenir spoon each year on vacation, and not binge-shop like people do now. It was also believed that these would be heirlooms. I can see why ornaments are obsolete now, because everyone buys replaceable decorations whenever they like, and they are very cheap, unlike a Pretty Lady from Royal Doulton!

Photo: patternsofthepast.com

Photo: patternsofthepast.com

A dear friend of mine bought me an ornament from a series called Mary’s Moo Moos every year for 12 years. I take them out and display them for about a month each year. While they are not exactly in keeping with my home decor, I couldn’t care less!

I have a shed that’s used to store the lawn mower, ladders, and some gardening gear. Back when I started the inventory, it was too dark and too cold in the evenings to inventory it, but now my excuse is gone!

Another reason I slowed down is because this project is such a big undertaking that it was seriously interfering with my personal life. On several occasions I came home from work on Friday at 6 and spent every waking hour on it until Saturday at midnight. Since I have no actual deadline, I decided I would like to have a life while this is in progress, too!

Here are the areas I have completed so far:

  • Appliances – large and small
  • Books and magazines
  • Cleaning and Laundry
  • Clothes
  • DVDs
  • Electronics – includes AV, computer-related, musician gear and photography (I think this category took 2 full weekends because I recorded brand names and serial numbers)
  • Bake ware, cook ware and serving ware
  • Furniture
  • Jewellery
  • Music on CD and vinyl
Hours of fun with the marble run

Hours of fun with the marble run

The castle blocks were a backdrop for many an elaborate drama

The castle blocks were a backdrop for many an elaborate drama

Collection of candle holders, many in use

Collection of candle holders, many in use

Collections completed:

  • LEGO
  • Playmobil
  • Wood toys
  • Robot toys
  • Ornaments
  • Candle holders and candles
  • Candy tins

Collections yet to do:

  • Trinket boxes
  • Crystals and stones (Rom’s)
  • Holiday decor
  • Games and puzzles

Areas not started yet:

  • Camping, outdoor, fitness, sports (small category)
  • Hardware – tools, equipment, gardening
  • Craft and art supplies
  • Bedding, linens, curtains, rugs
  • Luggage (not much)
  • Pet supplies (not much)
  • Dishes and kitchen gadgets
  • Documents and household records (list of folder names)

Finally, I have been paring down a reasonable amount and delivered all of this to a yard sale, plus more later:

Yard sale items

Yard sale items

I am enjoying this process but I often feel overwhelmed and I wonder if I really want to keep all this stuff forever. One thing that may help me make up my mind is that when I’m done, I’ll be able to see how large my pile of boxes and bins is, and how much space they’ll take to store. How much room to I want to devote to things I am not using? What could I be doing with that space instead?

Meanwhile, I am counting and counting and counting!

Postscript: The home inventory was eventually completed and the results are here.

15 comments

  1. OH it’s great to have a progress report – especially seeing you’ve inspired me! The bulk of the inventorying is done (counts and costs) but it’s far simpler at 28 with only 1.5 years of living with my own ‘stuff’ for a household (rather than a bedroom/study). And next week, starting (public holiday) Monday, I’m posting inside all my drawers and cupboards. Hopefully at the end of my inventory, I’ll have one big post linking to all the steps along the way!

    The thing that’s taking me the longest is taking photos, which I think is helpful for insurance (but also eye candy for readers too!)

    • I look forward to your posts, Sarah! I am doing a combination of photos, counts and spreadsheets, depending on the level of detail I want.

      • I thought I was doing awesomely, til I needed a warranty claim and realised my online spreadsheet really lacks $$ and dates bought… So there’s room for improving my inventory so far!

  2. I was so shocked when you said you were going to inventory your home, I couldn’t imagine the time it would take. I think.i would have given up long before now. So if you end up with an empty room or two do you have something you would like to use those spaces for?

    • There is currently an unused rec room. I have hauled all of my boxes and bins from various closets and corners into that room. I am thinking of making it permanently into a storage room so I won’t have to stow those boxes again all over the house. Otherwise it is just a workout space, which is fine.

  3. Fiona

    I think this challenge has captured people’s imaginations…I’m another one who would love to inventory everything we own! You’re doing well for such a huge undertaking!

    PS. *Love* the castle block set!!! Would go well with my wooden pirate ship 🙂

  4. Wow, you are working very hard at this and have made a lot of progress. I have to say that this is definately a first world problem. If we all lived in much smaller spaces then the stuff we keep but don’t use would fill up the space.

  5. EcoCatLady

    Lordy! You have WAY more patience than I do! I got rid of most of my trinket-type stuff when the adorable, yet challenging Smoky Bear Kitty arrived in my life. In his opinion all things were put on this planet for him to play with, and since he can jump from the floor to the top of a 6 foot cabinet in a single bound, there’s really no place to put anything where it’s safe from his antics.

    At first I just packed it all up, moved the houseplants into the spare bedroom & shut the door. But… having a room with a permanently shut door is a BAD idea! It soon became the dumping ground for everything that I didn’t want to deal with. Finally, a mouse took up residence in there and that got me to go deal with it all.

    By that point most of the stuff had been packed up for a year or so, and I really didn’t miss it. I kept a few treasured items for sentimental reasons, but the house plants all found new homes and I hauled a carload of trinkets, jewelry boxes, collectables and assorted other pieces of junk to the thrift store.

    I still have a few items on display… but I have to keep it to a minimum. Even so, he knocked a stained glass box that my best friend made for me on the floor the other day and broke it. Sigh. Guess he’s just trying to help me along in my ever-so-slow transition to minimalism!

    • I used to display my collections, but can’t anymore because of my cats! Like yours, they play with everything, or at least knock it to the floor and check it out. I have hung onto the decorative stuff, but it has diminishing returns, really!

  6. I’m really enjoying this series – I think I’m a bit of a voyeur and like seeing what’s in people’s houses 🙂 Like Sarah, I don’t own a lot of stuff, having rented rooms rather than a whole house (apart from last year) for the past eight years. Moving around a lot helps, because the less stuff, the better.

    • I have moved 10 times since leaving home, and iI kept accumulated stuff and bringing it with me. I think it made me feel more secure to know that wherever I went, my belongings were all around me. I actually feel less attached to my stuff now than I ever did. But it was always somewhat more cost-effective to keep useful items than to buy them again.

  7. I am exhausted just reading this! I do have the goal though of going through my whole wardrobe and my boys as well next school holidays and trying everything on and getting rid of any unflattering, poorly fitting or past their use by date clothes.

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