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12 Chairs Lighter

Problem solving to reduce the crazy amount of furniture we found ourselves owning

Pastoe wire chair
Photography by Pastoe

We have noticed on a number of occasions that when problem solving more lightly in our downsized home that the solution often comes with us choosing to reduce the amount of furniture we have. This may sound a little strange until you realize just how much furniture we started with when we took the step to downsize our living space.

When we moved into our house in early 2016 we had a total of 31 items in our house that we could use for sitting on—if you don’t count the eight additional camping related seats we own. The thing is, there are generally only four people in our house that need somewhere to sit. Sure, we have guests at times and they need a place to sit but 31 seats? Crazy, and more than a little embarrassing in hindsight.

The number of seats we owned in 2016 comes from once owning a large house with two lounges and a large dining room. When we moved to our new downsized home, we brought all the things from our big house with us, knowing we would need to let some things go as part of our transition to a simpler life with less debt.

Obviously, there was no way that all of this was going to fit into our new house, which is about half the size of our old one. We shoved most things into our teeny tiny 1950s garage and everything else into the spare rooms and wherever else it would fit. It was cramped.

Since then, we have spent a lot of time working on making our living spaces as simple and light as possible. It’s been a time-consuming process and we’ve had to work through lots of problems—moving pieces of furniture from room to room in our efforts to find the perfect combination. What’s interesting is that on a regular basis we have found that the solution to achieving better flow and simplicity in our house has often been a piece of furniture leaving our possession.


Stage One: 31 Seats

We dispossessed ourselves of anything we knew was never going to fit in our downsized house.

We said goodbye to our beautiful solid wood, giant eight seater square dining table which was never going to fit anywhere in our downsized house, and along with it the seven remaining seats as well. Ironically, we’ve gone back to our original super retro and on trend 1950’s formica dining table. So now we owned 23 seats.

We also found ourselves with a one seater recliner that we just couldn’t put anywhere without it looking crowded or making it impossible to move around. So it had to go too. Down to 22 seats.

During this stage we also sold a queen-sized bed that had fit beautifully in the large guest bedroom of our old house and would fit nowhere in our new one. We also sold our daughters’ cot to an expectant mother. It was a nice feeling to know a new family would get some use out of something that had been a big part of our lives.


Stage Two: 22 Seats

We had enough room for our remaining furniture but it was pretty cramped. This is where the problem solving furniture removal really started to happen.

The interesting thing about having too much stuff is that it accumulates other stuff. We had way too many surfaces around the place and they were always covered in toys, books, drawings, mail, magazines, and my personal nemesis—dust.

We moved our furniture around a bit to see if we could come up with arrangements that would create more space but kept coming back to the fact that something would have to go. At this time we used a technique that I really love and will change your perspective on what you really need. If we were unsure about whether we really needed a piece of furniture we moved it out of the living space, into the garage or the spare room and tried living without it. In all cases, we never wanted to move it back in once we had experienced the freedom of living with less.

Working things out this way led to the removal of the three seater couch from one of our remaining lounge suites, a large square coffee table, and the spare TV cabinet. 19 seats left.


Stage Three: 19 Seats

This is the stage we are in now. In this stage we have begun to question the function and value of the things that appear to ‘belong’ in our house.

What is interesting is that in this stage, we are starting to tackle things we have taken for granted as “needing to be there”. The first to go in this stage was a gorgeous solid wood bookcase to house my rather large book collection. This was in the days before Kindle. I now have a lot less books and have only kept the ones that have a strong value for me or will be read by my oldest daughter in the next few years. Despite the fact that I loved this bookcase, it was taking up a heap of space in our spare room, space we needed for other things. Again, at the end of our problem solving process we decided that our life would be better with less, which meant less bookcase.

Recently, we have finished carpeting a section of our hallway and needed to move a hall table out of the way to do it. When the carpet was done my husband suggested that we leave the table out of the hallway permanently. He had a new use for it in another part of the house where he felt it could add more value. So that we could fit it into its new location, you guessed it, we had to dispossess ourselves of some more items which ended up getting donated.


I love the way our house flows now. It’s easy to get around and there’s not a lot of places to leave things so the house is much tidier these days.

We are down to 19 seats from thirty one. We have four dining chairs, four seats in our living room, and five in our lounge. We also have two bean bags, two stools, and two desk chairs.

Our three seater couch in our lounge has seen better days and we could use the extra space for working out or even just playing with the kids.

Even once we get the number of seats in our house down to 16, I think we’ll still have more than enough for four people, a cat, and the odd guest to sit.

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