Gleaned from my year-long decluttering experiment, my new mantra demands that I dig my most beloved possessions out of their hiding places and put them to daily use, even if that means getting rid of slightly less beloved alternatives currently in use.
This process is rough. I get emotionally bonded to my possessions and it's hard to play favorites. But one look around my overcrowded furniture warehouse of a garage - not to mention our jam-packed storage unit a few miles down the road - has convinced me that the time to make some truly desperate choices is nigh.
I wrote all about my busy dining room during the 2018 Christmas holidays, and I'm glad I captured the old pine cupboard in all his former glory.
Our story begins with this lovely old pine cupboard that dates back to the 1800s and entered my life in 1984 when my husband and I bought it at an antique sale in Chelsea, Michigan. A great beast of a thing, we lugged it up a steep set of stairs to our second-floor apartment around midnight on a Sunday evening, cursing ever so quietly so as not to disturb the neighbors, thereby earning this lovely piece of furniture the nickname, "the Marriage Tester."
For many, many years, it lived here in our dining room, serving as a lovely backdrop to family meals with four little girls who eventually grew up and became full size humans.
At which point I realized that the Marriage Tester was also a bit of a space hog, and put a serious cramp on the elbow room for diners on that side of the table.
The fatal blow for the loyal beast came in early 2019, when we prepared for some work on our floors, and moved him temporarily to the garage. Or so we thought.
But what happened is that we enjoyed having the extra space in our dining room so much that we decided not to put the cupboard back.
And so, thus ostracized, the Marriage Tester began its lonely life in the garage.
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A year passed. And then almost six months more.
Which takes us up to last weekend, as I dug and shoveled around my garage, muttering "use it or lose it" under my breath and throwing 90% of what I found into the discard pile.
But not this cupboard.
I wouldn't dream of getting rid of it.
Then began an earnest conversation, first with my family and then in my own head, about where to put the little darling.
In the house, all the good spots for a hulking piece of furniture were already spoken for. So, I sadly determined, someone was going to have to give up his space.
Here's a proper homage to the newly bisected Techline bookcase from just a year ago.
^ This white laminate bookcase in the family room quickly emerged as the most likely candidate. It has its own sweet history. From a furniture line called Techline, we bought it in 1989 at a local family-owned Scandinavian design store, and that's a legacy worth preserving. And I love the way the white brightens up this shadowy corner of our family room.
But even so, a basic bookcase cannot measure up to the Marriage Tester's mojo.
And so the swap was made.
^ As my husband and I once again gritted our teeth and set to relocating the cupboard - we've since learned to take the doors off for transit which makes the job considerably easier - I had some serious doubts about how this big dark beast would look in the corner.
First, I tried it with the doors closed.
^ Hey, not too bad.
^ Feeling bolder, I threw open the doors and styled him up real quick-like.
^ There's no denying that he is bigger, bulkier, darker, and decidedly different from my streamlined little Techline.
But he is also my dearly beloved. and I could never part with him.
Welcome back, my darling cupboard. I'm happy that you're here.
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Postscript: There's also happy news for the Techline bookcase: my eldest daughter, who's already taken custody of the matching unit, has agreed to take in this piece as well. So glad that there's a place for all my beloved furniture within the family.
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More stories about my Use It Or Lose It adventures: