The Life Changing Magic of a House Fire

One frigid day early last January I came home to this:

And this:

My house caught fire while I was away for the night visiting my boyfriend.  The house was an 80% rebuild due to water and smoke damage. My housemates and dogs were all safe, thank the Universe.

Unfortunately though, I didn’t lose a ton of my stuff.

During the 9-month saga of renovations, I lived in a rental house with just the basics and a little bit of comforts: most of my clothes, a bed, rental sofa and dresser, and some sentimental photos and artwork. It felt odd and a bit sparse at times but it worked and I was getting used to it.

When it was time to move back into my house, it only took 2 friends and half a truckload to get it done. But then!…Servepro Cleaners shows up with an entire moving truck full of my previous life, all boxed up. Dozens and dozens of them piled up to the ceiling in my living room. These were the things they salvaged, cleaned, and restored from the fire.

My anxiety soared. I didn’t want to open a single box because I knew I didn’t need any of it. Dumb kitchen gadgets, three full sets of hand weights (why!?), way too many bed linens, artwork I didn’t like. And on top of this stuff, I had more boxes of things I inherited from my mom just a few months earlier, which I also didn’t know how to get rid of…

It was beyond stressful, and really freaking eye opening.

Most of it is still boxed and ready for a big yard sale this summer. So what have I learned? That I need to stop and think clearly about my purchases. So here are the questions I find myself asking these days:

Will I remember it?

Would I remember or miss this thing if it disappeared into storage for a full year? My scenario above proves that no, most of the stuff I owned I totally forgot about.  In a very depressing way.

Is there room for it?

Moving back into my renovated house, I’ve found myself appreciating a minimal lifestyle and aesthetic- a big change compared to my pre-fire lifestyle. (Probably because it was impossible to even be minimal with so much sh*t.) So now I ask myself, is this “thing” worthy of my highly-competitive counter or closet space?

What’s this things story?

Knowing the story behind something makes me feel good. Do I appreciate how it was made, the materials used, the company or artist behind it? All these things make me feel like I’m investing in more than a product- a community that I’m proud to support.


Do I ask myself these questions with every single purchase I make? Not yet. I buy chips from 7-11 almost every day and don’t think twice (but wince when I throw the bag away). I’m only human. But if even 50 percent of the time I’m making intentional purposes, that’s 50 percent less crap I get to de-clutter from my house and ultimately my brain- freeing up valuable space to be creative and share it with the world.







2 thoughts on “The Life Changing Magic of a House Fire

  1. Hi Erin. I purchased a bi-fold wallet from you at a market about two years ago. I had actually run across your website prior to seeing your booth and was just very impressed with what you are doing with your products. I will most definitely be back for gifts and such (my wife would love one of your weekend bags so I may see you for an anniversary present soon). I saw this story about your house fire and so appreciate your perspective regarding “things” and being intentional about purchases. I often wonder if the stuff we have owns us more than we own it? Anyhow, keep up the great work. I have a few wish list ideas for products that if you ever produce I would most definitely buy, some thoughts/suggestions:
    – Basic iPad folio or cover – I don’t like the mass produced plastic covers and not interested in attached keyboards.
    – Leather Laptop sleeve or man bag for a laptop – similar criticism of the synthetic fabric and Kevlar bags that are so common. Definitey want something masculine though not to be confused with a “murse”…

    I would like to bring a little more natural feel to my tech devices as you can tell. Also, one last one, a serious leather belt. The lamented leather at any local big box store is annoyingly cheap quality. I had a really thick real leather belt that lasted me 20 years. I cannot find a quality replacement anywhere…

    Best wishes and keep up the great work


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mike, You are so very right – all the stuff we consume definitely owns us. Consumerism is just so many things: a crutch, a reward, sense of security, therapy… oh man, the list goes on! But I really do think there is a LOT of reward and good feelings that come from paying a little bit of attention to what we purchase. Getting involved is never a bad thing in this situation!

      And these are such great suggestions for products. I’m definitely working on more mens products- I get asked about them often! I will absolutely keep these in mind for my future designs- I’d actually love to chat with you more about this laptop bag you’re looking for. I’ll shoot you an email to chat more…

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here.



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