Of course I love a good pretty picture as much as the next guy. In fact, the last few weeks have been kind of all about pretty pictures and twinkly lights, haven’t they? The next few weeks are shaping up to be that way too with quite a few room makeovers and a big bathroom reno in the works. I think it’s important to inject things with a healthy dose of reality every now and again though, don’t you?
Well, the reality is that we’ve been in this house for about 3.5 years now, doing DIY projects, raising kids and just generally being a pretty normal family. All that normal family stuff can sure cause you to accumulate a whooole lots of junk. Can I get an “Amen”?
While the main parts of our house are usually pretty tidy and presentable, we had a dark, dark secret. Well, a couple of them actually. Whenever we had a piece of furniture that we didn’t need, or a toy that wasn’t being played with anymore, we would just put it in the basement. Or the garage. Or the garage attic. Seriously, it was bad.
And I knew it was bad, but I didn’t really realize how bad it was. I was so confused at why I would “declutter” every week by filling an extra garbage bag or two with stuff from the basement or random closets and yet I never really seemed to make a big dent in it at all.
You know all of those amazing built-in projects that Chris puts together? Yeah. This is what happens afterwards in the garage if you don’t have any kind of system for storing all of that extra stuff.
I was so tired of all of this. I just wanted it out. I got it in my head that I wanted to rent a little dumpster and just take care of it all at once. So after harping on that for a good 5 months, we finally got around to it this Fall. Boy did we ever get around to it.
Chris called the dumpster rental company and I laughed so hard when this thing was dropped off in our driveway the next morning. It’s the size of our whole garage! Chris decided he would just get the biggest one just because “Why not?” and that way if we decided to demo the bathroom too that week, we’d have more than enough room.
There’s no way a family of 3.5 could fill that thing in a week even if they demo’d 7 bathrooms right?
My friends, we filled it. To the gills.
I’m hugely embarrassed, don’t you worry.
But also, so so relieved.
The cost of the dumpster rental was $350 plus another $50 for each ton of weight we put into it. So I guess we threw out 2 tons of stuff. I thought it was going to be so much more weight. When I saw how amazing it was to finally have room to breathe though, I didn’t care about the cost. I would have happily paid $10 000 to be free of all of that. So $454.44? A bargain!
Here’s another picture of the garage before:
Basically, it was trashed. Unusable. We had no garage.
And here’s that same wall of the garage after:
This is obviously just an “in-progress” sneak peek, but basically Chris has now been able to start building an actually real workable workshop in there. I just went in there and snapped this picture while he was in the middle of organizing all of his tools. So for $454.44 we got a whole garage! And a workshop! What a deal!
Here’s the basement before again:
This picture doesn’t even really capture the disaster that was our basement. How did we let this happen? We’re smart people!
Anyway, here it is now!
Bam! Old shameful mess out, new organized shelving in!
We can put stuff we use down there now! And find it again!
So for $454.44 we got a basement. From what I’ve seen on DIY shows, the cost of adding a basement below a house is something like $100K, so I’d say we paid a fair price. 🙂
Mostly, I’m pretty excited about the fact that I feel like I can actually use my house now. I feel like I can think more clearly and I just feel more prepared for anything that life can throw at me. It’s amazing what a little extra space can do!
If you’re thinking that it might be dumpster rental time for you soon too, here are some tips that we learned:
-Call a few different companies and get their prices. Go with someone who can give you a price as soon as you call and arrange to have it at your place within a few days. This is the company that does this all the time and you can bet their pricing and weighing will be a little more honest. We had some companies that told us they’d “have to get back to us” with their pricing. That kind of situation should definitely raise some red flags.
-Plan to do this when the weather is cool. Throwing stuff out is hard work!
-Talk about your plan of attack beforehand. Even though this is a decluttering quick-fix, it still takes a lot of time. One area of the house per day seems to be a pretty reasonable expectation for what you’ll be able to get done.
-If you have any major renovation materials to get rid of, this would be the time to do it! Have a plan to get as much of that stuff taken care of as well.
-Have back up ready. We ran into a messy situation with a turkey in a freezer that had been unplugged for 2 months and had to call on the help of 4 different family members to help us deal with getting the freezer out as well as taking care of the kids while we de-stunk the house. That happened. I’m not kidding.
-Have a small area where you set things off to the side that you want to donate instead of throw in the dumpster, but don’t get too caught up in it. This is the time for big, widespread changes in your home! So go ahead and donate a few of the best items to help keep your conscience happy, but don’t make another huge, unmanageable pile or you’ll be right back where you started. You’ve got to help yourself before and get yourself organized before you can help others! A lot of these dumpster companies will sort through your stuff once they pick it up anyway.
-Finally, go ahead and get the biggest size like we did. You’ll be surprised at how much you want to get rid of once you start seeing how great your home looks without all the junk you never use anymore in it.
Hope you found this helpful or at the very least, somewhat entertaining!
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.