Thursday, March 2, 2017

One Step Forward, Ten Thousand Steps Back

Remember when, less than a month ago, I embarked on a minimalist journey? Spurred by the Minimalism documentary I was fully on board - destination no shopping, more time and intrinsic fulfillment? 

Well it was great, I embraced it. Built a capsule wardrobe, returned $1,000 worth of purchases, fixed the items I owned, found long lost items, spent time with family and friends and was generally feeling a high from being unburdened. I was only a few weeks in, and I still had a long journey left, but I was feeling like minimalism was actually going to take hold... And then... 

I bought a house. A house. A whole house. WTF?!?
Hello suburbia. Well it was suburbia when it was built, now it's almost inner city.
A paraphrased quote by Frank Mascia in the documentary says "The biggest impact on the environment is to live in the smallest space possible"... Ahhh? Apparently that went in one ear and out the other!

But in all seriousness - have been at a cross-roads between two competing sets of values for some time... Owning my own house, and reducing consumption and living with less stuff.

For years I have been dreaming about owning a house. Having a place I can put my stamp on and create a home. I dream (quite literally) of moving walls, changing floors, lifting rooflines, re-plumbing bathrooms (well...), painting walls, putting up art, moving furniture around. I see a house as a canvas on which to express my creativity, to pursue my passion for design and in all honesty to test out my design ideas. I love everything about creating a functional, beautiful, intriguing and practical home. And I always have. At 4 years old, after my parents would put me to bed, I would move my bed, dresser and desk around in my bedroom - trying to figure out and create a perfect configuration of furniture. Over the years I have decorated rooms for friends/family, spent hours doing DIYs and designing pieces of furniture. (As noted in many past posts - here and here and here for early examples)

On the other hand, over the past 10 years, I have been feeling a longer sense that consumption is not the answer. I have slowly been moving away from acquiring stuff. I couldn't articulate the name of the trend, or even realize that it was minimalism, but I could feel the pressure of my stuff in my life. My first post ever was discussing a fiscal fast, and I used to regularly post eco Mondays. Quite often I find myself giving gift certificates for my time (even if I should just be giving items!), spending money on experiences rather than items, making every effort to get out of town on a weekend in order to avoid malls or boxed stores, opt for hand me downs rather than new items and build or borrow rather than buy. I compost, wash and reuse my zip lock bags and spend an inordinate amount of time researching where to donate my clothes so that they don't end up in the garbage. 

So somewhere along the way I decided to buy a house. It was not out of the blue. I have been looking for several years with strict criteria (small, beautiful lot, lots of 'potential'). I had made a few offers, but none of them won. I was on the brink of calling it quits - especially because of my no shopping goals and my new pursuit of minimalism. But then I found a mid-century bungalow with a lovely yard. It's ~1,000 sq feet, and with very few updates since the 1960s. I put in a bid, and then won! 

My initial feeling (I am embarrassed to admit) was regret. That is the last feeling I expected. But the transaction is completed. My money is down, there is no turning back! 

So, here I am with a house. And trying to live a minimalistic lifestyle. And feeling really hypocritical.  

I'm not entirely sure where I go from here. Since my initial feeling of regret, I am starting to feel excited. Excited to discover a new neighbourhood, to try my hand at some DIYs, and see how far I can stretch my budget. I would like to do some renovations immediately upon possession, but that will require shopping before the end of April. And in all honesty, I don't need to do the renovations. But I really want to. So the debate lives on... 

Welcome to my journey through renovating with minimalism. Wish me luck.

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