The outbox is a concept that Maxwell came up with and that we use in The Cure. It's basically a holding ground for items that we haven't decided about yet. It's a place for them to stay while we continue making our space beautiful. Then, when we're ready, we can revisit the box and make some decisions. This is especially useful when dealing with items that have sentimental or emotional attachments. When you put something in the outbox, it doesn't mean you're getting rid of it, you're just taking it out of the equation while you work on other things. Then you can see your space without the piano/rug/chair/art/pillow before making a decision.
For us, it's easy to purge old clothes or bric a brac that's just gathering dust, it's harder to commit to pieces of furniture that we planned to paint/upholster/fix. Sometimes it's the stuff that was a deal that's hard for us to let go of (what if we need it again and then it's expensive? what if we can't find it again because it was just luck that we found it the first time?).
The Outbox is also a great idea because it saves us from throwing the baby out with the bathwater when we get into a tossing frenzy and want nothing left at home. We've all to often lamented that we threw something away in the heat of the moment. The outbox gives us a chance to reflect and make solid, thoughtful decisions about what we keep in the house and what we let go. It's helpful to ask of each item:
Do I love it? Do I use it? Does my home need it?
Here's what's been in our outbox and we're ready to part with:
• An old Herman Miller Chair that's missing a foot and is faded. We have others and have never spruced this one up--to craigslist it will go.
• We love kitschy old paintings, but this one of a bouquet of flowers has never really fit anywhere in the house so we're saying goodbye.
• Old clothes (something has to be easy)
• A steelcase chair that we bought on a lark (it was a pretty good deal) and have decided it doesn't actually fit (size wise) in the house and we don't love the color.
• An antique Mirror that has never made it onto a wall. We got it at the flea market and thought it would be perfect above the sink, but it's just too narrow.
If you have a pile of stuff in your outbox that you're ready to get rid of, make some cash selling it on Craigslist (one man's trash...) or check out these ideas for recycling and donating it.
(Image: Laure Joliet)