Scrutinize Inventory: Living Room

We are a family of two adults, two children and one dog. We live in in a 1930s art deco duplex. Our apartment is gorgeous but rent is cheaper (not super-cheap) because we've had the lease for ten years, we're not demanding of the landlord and the apartment is not in the 'best' part of town. We really live our lives in the living/family room. It's huge with 12 ft ceilings. This is an inventory of the living room.

Clockwise from door, the larger pieces
(By the way, if I don't know where something was made, I assume it was made in China. Many of those items were purchased at "Ikea," something I am re-evaluating.)
  1. 1 storage bench, used daily (holds coats, shopping bags, kids backpacks) (extra seating during parties), made in china
  2. 1 media stand holding 1 tv and 1 dvd player, used daily, made in china
  3. 1 dog bed, made in china
  4. 1 computer desk w/ 1 chair, used daily (dh's work space), made in usa
  5. 1 bookcase next to desk, used daily (dh's stuff, 40% full), made in china
  6. 1 kids wooden castle, used daily, made in indonesia
  7. on wall above castle: tree made of used mylar (back of food packaging) made by dh
  8. 1 kids play kitchen, used daily, made in china
  9. 1 Large sofa, used daily with 1 throw pillow, made in usa (doubles as guest bed)
  10. 1 floor lamp, used daily, made in china
  11. 1 kids sofa, used daily, made in usa
  12. 1 kids' table with two chairs, used daily, made in china
  13. 2 armchairs, used weekly, made in usa
  14. 1 side table-stool, used weekly (extra seating during parties), made in philippines
  15. on floor: 1 wool rug, made in china
  16. on floor: 1 kids cushion playmat, made in korea
Clockwise from door, the smaller pieces
  1. 1 wall mirror, made in usa
  2. 1 key holder, used daily, made by me
  3. on mantel: 1 vase with a branch and crepe paper flowers made by me
  4. on mantel: three felt dolls representing family made by me
  5. on mantel: 1 wifi base and mac airport base, made in china
  6. on mantel: 2 remote controls, made in china
  7. above mante on wall: 1 mirror, made in usa
  8. above mantel on wall: paper mache animal head made by dh for my bday
  9. on mantel: swag of branches and crepe paper made by me
  10. hanging on ceiling: metallic paper lantern made in china
  11. 1 box on media stand holding 2 dumbbells, 1 book, 1 dvd wallet, 1 binder, made in china
  12. basket next to castle holding dolls and accessories (including felt beds made by me)
  13. on play kitchen, toy foods and serving ware (including felt sushi, donuts, cupcakes, veg and fruit made by me)
  14. above play kitchen: 2 string of butterflies made in china
  15. near play kitchen: puzzles, instruments, duplo made  in china, usa and germany
  16. under sofa: violin and kids violin, fold-up table, kids pop-up tent, made in germany, korea and china
  17. on wall behind sofa: 6 picture frames, made in china
  18. near kids table, 1 box with paper, crayons and coloring books, made in china
  19. above armchairs, 1 chandelier, made in vietnam
The living room also held the following, which I got rid of months ago. It was mostly my crap! 

1 XL craft/sewing table (ikea, china)
3 tall storage units with craft supplies (ikea, china)
1 shoe storage unit (kmart, china but was over twenty years old so maybe not)
1 coat tree (vintage, usa)
1 tall bookcase with books, magazines, picture albums, dvds (ikea bookcase)
2 small bookcases with kids books (unknown brand bookcases from china)

Francine Jay's Joy of Less helped me release my craft-hobby furniture. The kids' books are in the bedroom. My craft supplies are in closets (another post to come). Without a coffee table, the kids have room to roam. I no longer keep my books, mags or dvds in the living room-that's really cut clean up.

Since making this inventory, I have almost cleared the 60" mantel (only the wifi remains), removing the felt dolls, the paper lantern, and the flowers in the tall vase. I removed the six frames with family pictures above the sofa, and replaced it with my branch with flowers. My picture shows the damage I did for my 'pictorial essay hoard' before (a Martha Stewart crapitalist conspired project). 

Minimalism must reflect and advocate 'lived life,' not illusory perfectionism. As a mother with children, I see the living room as our playroom--it is as much the children's domain as it is the adult's. The dogma and perfectionism of minimalism (especially from browsing pictures of high-end homes with two pieces of furniture in white rooms) is a mystification to sell "status" and other 'high brow' crap (usually real estate or five-digit priced furniture). I could get rid of the tv, media stand, armchairs, stool/table and kids sofa to create a 'minimal' space. Then I could eliminate the sofa, the kids toys and dh's desk. However, as these are vigorously used and beloved objects, eliminating them for the sake of minimalism is absurd and wasteful. (However, for a college graduate starting with zero furniture, pictures of spare homes can keep-in-check artificial desire to hoard crap instead of developing relationships or dealing with uncomfortable and immaterial feelings.)

I've obsessed over white floors as seen in Scandinavian blogs, but that would require time, money and permission to fix my rental. I've lusted after white-white walls, but who will clear out the walls and rooms, buy the supplies, research the eco paint, paint the damn walls and safely dispose of the paint and supplies? We live in a servant-less society. That's modern living. I don't want to make myself into a servant for the sake of my consumer desires.

Although we got rid of cable, we watch movies on our tv and surf the internet on our computers (but I am open to experiments of going without tv, dryer, internet, etc.). Our life is modern, not Amish (with some regret). We are detraditionalized. Modernity is... to be in the matrix of crapitalism (car system, mcdonaldization of food outlets, home ownership system, the international advertising-making-selling-buying crap system, etc), for better and worse. So we partake in modernity, but we are  buckling down and constantly re-evaluating our false mystified desires versus our actual needs. I'm a hard-ass, but I'm gonna forgive myself for partaking in crapitalist activities and support my transition to a less wasteful, more simple life, with simple defined not by archaic tradition, but my own creative intelligence. (I've basically written all this to keep in check my perfectionism.)

If it doesn't pass the test of true life--lived day-to-day reality--it's a ruse: an illusion, a distraction, and a disappointment.

Have you tried making an inventory of your living room? Tip: do it while watching Hoarders to get your decluttering on!

1 comment:

  1. Like your style! Doing the same thing.. trying to get rid of cheap products from China... I'm soon starting a shop and stupidly ordered some items from a large company and guess what some of it is being sent back.. Chinese stuff that's too expensive and cost the producer lets face it nothing... so I will be concentrating on finding lovely old French stuff instead..
    good idea making an inventory.. have newer tried it.
    Thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog. Have a nice day!