Organization: creating an heirloom train set for the next generation
Did your kids grow up all of a sudden, leaving behind a large collection of tracks, trains, trees, buildings, mountains and more?
That is what happened here. Long gone are the days of building train tracks spanning from one room to the next. So what to do with all the trains and tracks that have accumulated over many Christmases and birthdays?
Here is B at about 4 years old - 10 years ago. Eventually his train collection took up both of the big drawers in the day bed you see behind him.
I am a very big fan of Karen Kingston and her book Clear your clutter with Feng Shui. I got the book in 1999, read it and could hardly wait to put it down to start throwing things out and clean up ALL THE THINGS.
First thing to go for me was dried flower bouquets. I think I had 28 around the house. Most of them picked and dried waiting for projects. Out, out, out and it felt so good. Next, over the course of a couple of months, I went through all our stuff. All cabinets, all drawers, all nooks and crannies. Bags upon bags of crap was sorted, loved-used-and-kept or thrown out. Or sold. Or donated. Or re-gifted. Or returned. It felt liberating. Freeing. Still does.
About every year, I still go through our house, one room at a time and give everything a critical once over and possibly the stink eye. Some things are easy to get rid of. You look at it and you get a sinking feeling and that right there just tells you that this item, whatever it is, is not propelling your life forward, so out it goes. Some things are semi difficult to get rid of, like an unloved vase - you know the one from Aunt Augusta. Don't be like Aunt Augusta (Aunt Augusta, friendly tip: give wine or chocolate next time), and some are downright difficult to get rid of: The mountains of artwork your prodigy brought home from preschool.
This train set has definitely been in the latter category for me. And that is why it has taken me so long to do anything about it. But then I forged a plan.
One day in November, I decided to empty those day bed drawers, look at what we had and then I tasked B with coming up with a small, curated set-up. An heirloom collection if you will. Enough to build a couple variety of track set-ups. But not more than could fit into two small bags.
Here is the set-up he built. I then decorated the tracks with some favorite trains, cars, signs, people, trees and houses and a ferry.
Next, I sewed two linen bags with french seams. I followed my own tutorial from when I sewed some tie dye bags. You can read about that here. I made a small one for all the trains and things and a larger one for all the tracks.
Then I took a look at what was left over, which was quite a lot. I separated it into four different groups and posted it for sale, first on my own network, then what didn't sell there, I posted on a local mom's group. I did that right after Thanksgiving so that I could scoop the Christmas sales, and it worked. I quickly sold everything. B got the money and put it into his savings account.
Now we are left with this nice manageable set that you see here. And the two bags fit neatly into our game closet.
It is great to pull out when we have young guests and it won't take forever to clean up after they leave, unlike before.
And it will be a nice set to pass on to the next generation.
I am a Danish American decorating life in Seattle. I love all things design and DIY.
I can’t think of anything more fun than coming up with project, making it, photographing it and sharing it with you on my websites.
I am a Graphic Artist and home maker by day.
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