GINGER: Do-it-yourself projects make me shelf-conscious

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When the time comes to pare down, most of my junk is repurposed as dumpster filler

I stopped by my girlfriend’s house the other day and saw that, once again, she was moving furniture.  Lots of ladies enjoy rearranging their furnishings from time to time, but she takes it to a whole new level.
Not only does she move the furniture, but she generally changes it somehow. She is the queen of re-purposing.
For example, on this particular day she had sawed the legs off her computer hutch, inserted a small stand, and turned it into a TV armoire. Brilliant!  
 I’ve seen her build doors for open bookshelves and turn them into cabinets.
 She took the mirror from an old dresser and now has a lovely frame displaying her hand pieced quilt.
I watched while the project that started out with mounting a TV on the bedroom wall became a closet demolition and renovation.  I cheered with her when she turned a nook into a laundry area, and was impressed when, a few months later, the doors came down and the laundry area became a nook again.
 The day she pulled back a neatly stitched, red, gingham curtain to reveal new storage space that had been a built-in wall oven, I thought I’d seen it all. But then I walked into the bathroom and thought, “That low-lying, antique shelf looks vaguely familiar.”
 She laughed, “That used to be the top of a computer desk, but I took it apart, painted, and distressed it.”    
 For a while I was distressed.
The cleverest thing I do with our old furnishings is have the kids carry them to the burn pile.
“Re-purpose” is not in my home decorating vocabulary.
Currently, we have one bookshelf, a corner computer desk, a couple of chairs, and my entire pantry sitting in the burn pile, waiting for a non-windy day. If my friend gets over here before hubby lights the first match, she could refurnish her house.
When I get a hankering to change things it means something has to go. I get irritated with all the “stuff” so I throw it out. On more than one occasion I’ve been flailing items out the upstairs windows while the kids wait to drag them to the burn pile.
More than once I’ve been asked if hubby and I have split up because passersby assume it is his stuff I’m pitching.
I donate as much as I can fit into my van, or if folks will come and take it quickly, they can have it. But once I decide it has to go, it has to go now!  
My weakness has always been books. I have owned thousands.  A few years ago hubby started complaining about the stacks, so I decided I would not keep more books than I had shelf space. It was a painful process, but over the years I have culled my collection down to a few hundred.
The final step was letting go of the rickety old, floor to ceiling bookshelf in the dining room.
He hated that thing because it would get cluttered up with more than neatly shelved books. Over time I pared down, giving books away by the score, until only the top three shelves were still occupied.
Last week my daughters and I emptied the remaining books onto the floor. Son carried the shelves out to the burn pile, and just for fun, spent a fair amount of time busting them apart.  
 Because my upstairs bath has no storage space, I have been using a cheap bookcase to store towels and various items. I cleared everything onto the floor and had son carry the bookcase to our home office. Then we loaded it up with the books out of the dining room.
 Then I had son take the small bookcase from the office and haul it up to the bathroom.
I lived with it for a few days and realized it was not big enough. I remembered that in the rarely used closet with the broken door, I had another cheap bookcase holding games and puzzles that my older kids had outgrown and my younger children aren’t quite ready for.
We cleared everything onto the closet floor, and son moved the bookcase into the bathroom.  It is identical to the one he originally moved from the bathroom to the office.
The next morning hubby walked into the bathroom and asked, “When did you haul this thing back up here?”  
“I didn’t. That’s the one out of the closet, and the one from up here is in the office, and the one from the dining room is busted up in the burn pile. And now I have this little extra one that I don’t know what to do with.”  
Maybe I’ll give it to my girlfriend. She could probably turn it into a spare room.

Ginger is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Her award-winning column appears weekly across Indiana and Kentucky. Contact her at ginger@gingertruitt.com or visit www.gingertruitt.com.