Tuesday, June 17, 2014

the apartment project

Two years ago, we gave away the last of the furniture and moved aboard our sailboat to explore the US East Coast and Bahamas. Now, we find change in the air once more and we will be taking jobs and fitting out an apartment. Suffice to say that we love sailing, we love moving around and we love the people we met along the way, but we missed the mental engagement of our high-tech jobs. There are certainly challenges to the sailing life: analyzing weather patterns, navigation and the inevitable tricky repairs, but it's not the same as the day-to-day mental exercise that is solving computer problems. Exercise is a good thing.

Moving from boat to shore will be a new experience. When we got our first apartment, in 1978, our parents gave us well-loved furniture and we filled in the gaps by frequenting garage sales.  Our parents don't have any cast-offs this time. We'll be starting from scratch.

Scratch is a good place to start. Living on the boat has made me realize how few things we really need. I haven't missed any of the possessions that once filled our three-bedroom house, acquired over years of consumerism. It makes me squirm, how much importance I once attached to things like a miniature Christmas tree with hand-blown glass ornaments. Really?! This time around, I don't want to bring in anything beyond the barest essentials. We will head back out on the water in a few years again. 

The main reason I don't want unnecessary stuff is I want to focus my life outside my living space. I've gotten spoiled by being outdoors so much. I love going out to eat with friends. I love going for a walk. I want a regular yoga class again. I don't want to surround myself with objects that need attention and dusting. If I want to see art (and I do!), I'll go to the art museum (and I will!). 

Here's my plan, keeping the principles of minimalism and reusing in mind:

Kitchen
We have most of the things we need for cooking and eating already on the boat. If we need any more dishes or mugs, I know where the thrift store is. We'll need bar stools, but hope to buy those used, via Craigslist or a consignment store. If we can't find any decent ones, it may be a trip to Ikea.

Living room
Bike storage? I'm not sure yet what we will put in the living room. We'll use the breakfast bar as a place to sit and write. Maybe we'll find a comfy chair or two and a TV. The bass and ukelele can lean against the wall.

Bedroom
We'll get a futon, preferably new in this case. Not a bed, just a futon on the floor. We slept on the floor for years before the kids were born and when they were little. It keeps one agile, hopping up from the floor. It kept the kids from falling out. There is no need for under bed storage, because I don't plan on having anything to store. Bedside tables are unnecessary, the phone (alarm clock, book and flashlight, all in one) can sit on the floor next to the bed. We keep what few clothes we have in plastic bins now, so there is no need to buy dressers. The plastic bins will go in the closet with the hanging clothes. There will be plenty of room.

Stuff
I suppose we'll need a wastebasket, shower curtain and a broom. There are a few odds and ends we'll probably end up having to buy, but I don't think there are many things needed in this category. A toaster is pretty high on my list of "wants", but it can wait. I've managed quite well without one for the past two years. Maybe there will be one at the thrift store.

Initially, the thought of fitting out a shore-side living space sounded daunting and was making me depressed, but it helps me to think about it in terms of the absolute minimum that we need. I think I can do this. Now, to go exploring in our new neighborhood!

519 square feet!