...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Along with the ominous task of downsizing from a 2,700 sq ft builder home to a less than 1,700 sq ft fixer-upper comes the even more challenging task of editing down our belongings {clothing, toys, furniture, decor, tools, etc.}.  That’s right.  By choosing to downsize we’re losing ~1,000 sq ft of living space – not mention a third garage stall, an outdoor shed, and more than 1,200 sq ft of unfinished basement space.

In preparation for the big move, I went through ALL of our stuff and donated/sold whatever I knew we could live without or whatever wasn’t going to fit in our future house. {That included ALL our infant/toddler necessities…before I knew we would be unexpectedly expecting a third kiddo. Whoops.  But that’s a whole ‘nother story.}  For selling power, some of our decor and furniture stayed with the sale of our home as agreed upon in the sales contract.

I thought you might be interested in seeing which larger decor items we no longer possess as a result of our decision to downsize. Here goes.  I’ve labeled ‘sold’ stuff with a magenta X and ‘stayed’ stuff with a teal X.

As you can see, that’s a lot of stuff g-o-n-e.  Most of the area rugs stayed with the sale of the home along with all secured lighting fixtures, the dining table and the desk in the guest room.  The other items we sold via Craigslist and word of mouth.  We still have two of the white slipcovered chairs from the sunroom that we’re using in the apartment for now, but we’ll be selling those as well when we move into the Underdog.  We sold our big family room sectional sofa and matching ottoman since they would have been too large for our future family room.  Right now we’re using the petite sofa from our former living room {see the first image} in the apartment.  I’d like to keep the petite sofa and use it as a type of informal banquette seating in our future mudroom/dining room.  The guest bed {see the last image} is sitting in storage waiting for Handy Hubby’s parents to come rescue it and use it in their own home.

And that’s just the big stuff.  I donated a bunch of other items to Goodwill or gave them away to friends and family.  We should get a pretty nice kickback come tax time since I saved all the Goodwill receipts!  I have a feeling that once we move into the Underdog and I start unpacking boxes from storage, I’ll find even more things to be sold or given away.

So other than thinking you may be curious to see what we left behind and sold, I also wanted you to know what we have on hand because I’ll soon be sharing our quest to find new furnishings for the Underdog.  The money we made by selling off numerous pieces of furniture will be used to purchase a few main pieces for the Underdog.  Namely, we’re on the hunt for a new family room sofa, accent chairs, a dining table {which we’ve already acquired!} and area rugs.

We’ve had many family members and friends have pity on us when we answer their question, “So what all did you have to get rid of in order to downsize?”  But we really don’t want or need their pity. We don’t feel sad or resentful about giving up any of that stuff.  After all, it’s just stuff.  While some of it was nice and we enjoyed it, it didn’t define who we are or make us truly happy.

Plus, now that I’m discovering and learning more and more about design everyday, my style is evolving and I’m looking forward to choosing items that reflect that.  Of course, the pieces we incorporate into our home must stand up to our kids too.  They can’t be simply stunning aesthetically.  They’ve gotta be comfortable, easy-to-clean and durable.  That makes the hunt a little more difficult but not impossible.  And that’s something else I’m looking forward to sharing. There’s no reason why a house with kids living in it can’t be stylish yet practical.  Gone are the days of impeccable, special occasion only, kid-free rooms.  It’s just wasted space if you ask me.  If I’m paying for it, I want to use it…frequently.

Don’t cry for me Argentina.  I’m very much looking forward to the challenges and sacrifices that come with downsizing.  Yes, we’re losing square footage.  But we’re gaining so much more.  An affordable home that is nothing more than we need.  A non-superfluous environment in which to raise our children.  The opportunity to turn a neglected, run-down, underdog house into a living and breathing fun family home.  And maybe even the financial freedom to chase life dreams.

So, don’t feel bad for us.  We feel extremely lucky and grateful for this new experience.

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

50 Comments

03.November.2011

what happened to the amazing yellow barn door? did it stay in your old house or is it making the move to the underdog?

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replied on November 3rd, 2011

Kayla – The barn door stayed as the buyers liked it. We were willing to take it down if the buyers didn’t find it to their liking.

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03.November.2011

I have a feeling that moving into the apartment first will make moving into the Underdog feel more spacious than it would have if you had gone straight to the Underdog from the old house.
We have downsized before and I loved the feeling that I got from getting rid of stuff. My family and friends thought that I was crazy (but they loved getting the stuff from me!) Congratulations on your move and on your unexpected blessing!

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replied on November 3rd, 2011

Sherron – You’re right! Living in a 900 sq ft apartment before moving to the 1,700 sq ft Underdog is almost like training for a marathon…we’re pushing ourselves to the limit here. The Underdog will feel huge compared to this!

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03.November.2011

I think what you’re doing is awesome! A lot of us live in houses that really have more space than we need. Bigger isn’t always better. It’s going to be fun choosing new pieces that reflect your style (funny how it evolves over time!). The coolest thing about what you’re doing is that every single thing in your house will be a reflection of you and your tastes down to every tile, light, faucet, etc.

Thanks for sharing every step in the process with us. I enjoy reading each of your posts and look forward to seeing how it all comes together.

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03.November.2011

Not exactly on topic comment here…but where was the rug in your bedroom from? It looks soft and big… : )

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replied on November 3rd, 2011

Jill – The master bedroom rug was a chunky braided jute rug from Overstock.com. I just checked and couldn’t find an exact match but Overstock has a great selection of rugs at even greater prices. Check them out!

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03.November.2011

I love all of your stuff!! I understand though and I think you are so much better off. I think its exciting to start new and aquire nice things that suit your style now. You are so right its just stuff. I think your new house will be one of kind and great.

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03.November.2011

You have a great attitude! I bet it is going to be fun to start (mostly) from scratch.

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03.November.2011

I am so inspired by your quest to live simply. We just moved from a two-story home built in 2006 to a one-story ranch built in 1966 (in Ohio, no less!). All of the rooms are smaller than our previous house, and I’ve become especially mindful of “stuff” we just don’t need, both in my own home and at stores. I’m learning that life is so much better when it is lived simply.

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03.November.2011

Your old house was beautiful, thanks to the personal touches you added. But, this house is going to blow it away!!! :) I don’t pity you one bit- I wish I had the guts to take on my own underdog! I also agree that it is freeing to get rid of things you don’t use or need anymore- I hate clutter. So, it all sounds like a wonderful dream to me! :)

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03.November.2011

Woohoo! I’m excited to follow along for the ride and I know I’ll be inspired. I am a newlyish-wed and we do have our own house, but after the bachelor pad cleanse we did not have too much furniture to start with. We are also debt-free except for the mortgage and hope to pay it off in 10 years! As our budget allows and as my sense of design develops, I’m slowly adding lovely, durable, comfortable, future-kids-safe pieces, while thinking ahead to reconfiguration usage for when we knock out two walls and make our own great room. Add in the differing styles my husband and I have, and it’s taking time to find/tweak these pieces… luckily, we happen to have more time than money :)

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03.November.2011

I love reading about your transition into the Underdog and everything you are doing to revive it and make it a home. I can’t wait to see more. Congrats on your journey and everything you have ahead to look forward to!

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03.November.2011

Hi there!

First time commenting, and I love your blog! I am inspired by all that you are doing. Houses are SO out of proportion these days. We just don’t *need* all of the space that we think we do. I live in a lovely 2200 sf home with my husband and three kiddos. We have hung in with this house, which we love, through all of the impulsive “up-sizes” that our friends have gone through. We have watched people lose big homes they couldn’t afford to begin with. It’s just not worth it. Yes, we’ll probably live in a larger home within the next couple of years, but I can honestly say that I am totally content. :)

I applaud your attitude. Its refreshing! Also, I would like to recommend a book called “The Not So Big House”. It changed the way I look at houses and space. Check it out on Amazon. Have a great day!

Amy

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replied on November 3rd, 2011

Amy – Thanks for the book recommendation. Definitely going to check it out.

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It is so fun to start from (basically) scratch! When the hubs and I bought and moved into our new home, we only had old, mismatched, hand-me-down furniture from college. We sold basically everything we had (and are still selling) and are loving filling our house with things that really reflect us. Not all of our pieces are new (like the new bar we just DIYed), but we’re having a blast making them ours.

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replied on November 3rd, 2011

Jess – The changing table turned buffet/bar looks great!

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03.November.2011

Well said! I can’t wait to see the house unfold!

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03.November.2011

Everything you’re doing sounds so refreshing and freeing. It’s great that you’re able to let go of those things that you don’t really need b/c like you said, things don’t define who you are. It’s the people you share you’re home with and the memories you’re making with them. Really enjoying watching the progress of your new home!

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03.November.2011

I think there are a lot of people doing what you guys are doing, or wanting to. We moved from a 2000 sqft new construction to a 1000 sqft bungalow built in 1922 (and not updated since the 50’s) this summer. I loved downsizing. It’s refreshing and thrilling to realize how very little you need to live comfortably. Now that we’re in a house we see ourselves staying in long-term it’s also been nice to have sold most of the furniture that worked with the scale of the old house so we can more carefully select new furniture and pieces that fit this home better.
It’s been fun watching your progress! We’re in a similar stage (the husband is putting up drywall in the basement as I type this!) and it’s been fun to document it on our blog for friends and family to keep up.
Can’t wait to see the Underdog once you can start decorating! :)

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03.November.2011

Dana, I am with you 100%….I think our friends & family felt bad about us downsizing and buying a house that needs work, but I have to say it’s been so liberating….getting rid of things, really tweaking our style, and having the freedom to do whatever we want with our new house (since everything needs to be redone anyway!) Your old house was gorgeous…can’t wait to see what you do with your new one!

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03.November.2011

I love your old house! But the thing is that YOU have to feel comfortbable in it and if that wasn’t the case anymore, or you felt that you needed that change, then it is just what you had to do. I love to follow you in that journey and see you doing all that great work in the new house. We just moved into our new house last year which we had built after our own ideas, and right now I could not imagine moving or downsizing EVER again ;) … but people in Europe think differently about their homes than the people in the USA who are much more mobile and sell their places and move on every few years it seems …
Jule

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03.November.2011

It is very refreshing to hear a story like yours! I totally agree with you, bigger isn’t always better! My husband and I along with our two young boys live in a house very similar to your new one. It was built in the 70’s and when we bought it 8 years ago, it had little to no updates since it was built. We’ve remodeled it (all DIY) completely over time (still have a few smaller projects) but it has been worth it. We use every space to it’s fullest and it suits us just fine. When I hear people buying 2000-2500 sq ft house, I think they must have a lot of stuff! I think you hit the nail on the head, it ultimately is just wasted space.

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03.November.2011

Yeah, how wonderful to be able to start afresh …just loving what you guys are doing …

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03.November.2011

Great perspective! And so responsible and kind of you to not simply place unwanted/unneeded items on the curb.

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03.November.2011

No pity here. I live in an older brick ranch neighborhood surrounded by new home developments that are selling 2500 to 5000 square foot homes. Just the thought of a future of having to replace the numerous windows and fancy roofs on those new homes as well as keep them clean and throw money into a homeowners association puts a pit in my stomach. My sister lives in a 5000 sq ft home but has help to clean and landscape/ maintain the yard. And I have thought at times she pitied me…but I have learned that sometimes as far as good family goes, pity can sometimes be confused with love. However, i understand what you mean, no matter what others feel or may think, I actually am quite content living a “downsized” life. Love your blog.

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03.November.2011

There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday describing the “new” home. It was a comparison of homes built 10 years ago and homes built today. One of the key points was that those who are building or remodeling today do not want “wasted spaces” that go unused. Gone are the days of fancy foyers and breakfast nooks, in are the drop zones (where you walk in and drop everything) and functional, open kitchens. I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts… who needs all this excess junk that just gets in the way? Who needs extra space that never gets used? Who needs a huge house to clean? NOT ME!

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03.November.2011

I love reading your blog and I am completely inspired by your choice to downsize. Our family up-sized a few years ago and, while we enjoy the space, I completely regret the way we’ve committed our finances to this lifestyle. I cannot wait to share your finished underdog with my own handy -but lacking in the ablity to see hidden potential- hubby. I hope to have him inspired to consider a similar choice. Can I just say that although your previous home was GORGEOUS because of your stunning decor, the (not so)underdog has awesome character. You may have downsized the square footage, but you totally upgraded when it comes to charm. There aren’t enough good things I can say about this “project.” Thank you for sharing!

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03.November.2011

I don’t feel bad for you I applaud you! You are an example and there are many of us who believe and do the same! People need to wake up.

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03.November.2011

I started following along with your blogging adventures shortly before you got the Underdog and I have to admit, I’m kind of in love with it. I can’t wait to see what your renovations do to take it from a shell to a home for your family.

When we left PA we sold or gave away almost everything we had except for a few key pieces that would have been expensive to replace. We found ourselves going from a fairly large 1200 square foot condo (exceptional layout and space usage) to a teeny, tiny 495 square foot “junior” one bedroom in SF that had serious flow and space issues. Being able to start with a blank slate was much less harrowing than the situation could have been. Since then we’ve moved on to a 1600 square foot loft and now a 1500 square foot bungalow, which you would think would have kept us in check. Alas, we have an additional 1500 square foot basement so we’re slowly acquiring not only our stuff, but that of all of our families. It’s like the dumping ground for unwanted things. I can’t wait to clear it all out with a yard sale and donations this spring.

By the way, if you’re looking at furniture that doesn’t look frumpy but can really hold up to kids and family I strongly recommend you check out the Sunbrella upholstered couches made by Lee Industries. They’re kind of pricey, but we’ve had ours for seven years now and love it. In addition to it being built great, the Sunbrella fabric has saved us from cat vomit, human vomit, mud, wine, and blood. It washes like a dream and only gets softer over time. If we’d gone any other route, I’m sure we’d have had to buy a new couch already.

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replied on November 6th, 2011

Casacaudill – Thanks for the heads up on the Sunbrella fabric sofa by Lee. We’re definitely leaning towards buying a couch that will last the test of time with {soon to be} 3 kiddos! Even if it costs more $$ up front, we like the idea of buying a piece that we’ll have nearly forever that will look as good in 10 years as it does now. The search is on…

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03.November.2011

Love your blog. Your old house was nice, but I much prefer the Underdog. It has more character; plus with the metal roof, it looks awesome.
My family (mom, dad plus 4 kids) live comfortably in an 1800 sq ft home. Planning to build a new home soon and will be the same size, maybe a smidge larger as I need a real laundry room as opposed to a laundry closet. Cannot wait to see the progress on the Underdog once walls are in.

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03.November.2011

I think it’s awesome what you are doing. It IS just stuff!! I needed this reminder :) I live in a 1300 sq ft home with my husband (no kids yet) and it’s easy to feel like we ‘fill’ it up already. But it has 3 bedrooms and we could have several children comfortablely in our home! In fact, when it was build 80 years ago I’m sure that was a VERY normal 4-5 person sized home. Thanks for the much needed reminder. And congratulations on your baby!

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03.November.2011

I’m so glad you’re keeping your West Elm capiz chandelier! (It’s been on my Wish List for a while now!) I’m currently living with a family of five in 1300 square feet, and this is the biggest home we’ve ever had. You guys have much to look forward to! : )

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replied on November 6th, 2011

Christina – Actually ALL of the items with an X on them are no longer in our possession…including the West Elm chandy. It stayed with the sale of our home. Again, the magenta X’s are on items we sold and the teal X’s are on the items we left in our previous home. Everything with an X is not ours anymore. Hope that helps to clarify!

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03.November.2011

it’s interesting. we are in a different, but still life altering transition as well. having decided that family is more important and that we needed to just take the financial risk, we’ve decided to stay in “our underdog”. we’ve been here for nearly ten years and it’s the only house we’ve ever been in as a couple and both our kids have only known this house – and it is next door to my in-laws. but the economy is in our favor in our area concerning what we can get for our money and we spent the better part of last year looking at houses to buy – knowing that to stay here would take a fortune to fix all the problems and we wouldn’t be guaranteed any additional equity…blah, blah, blah. but we love our little broken house and we love our big lot and the grandparents next door and while “the dream house” is alluring – it isn’t reality. reality is being happy and secure and having our children feel like they have roots. so, short story made long, we stuck around and our figuring out how to make our little house work bigger. and weirdly enough, we’re about to add a second story – so we’re getting bigger rather than smaller. but our second story will be made out of shipping containers, so more economical. we’ll see. i just wanted to let you know that i’ve been enjoying the adventure of it all and the hard won choices and sacrifices…i get what you guys are doing and am so excited to see what you do for your underdog.

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03.November.2011

I don’t feel bad for you- I’m psyched to go on a vicarious furniture and decor hunt with you! I think that your attitude towards material possessions is an extremely healthy one. Plus, searching for new pieces for your home will not only be fun, but it will help increase your design experience, AND it will be one more step towards making the Underdog a unique and fresh start.

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03.November.2011

It was nice seeing what you got rid of. I am going through the same thing right now. We live in Germany and are heading back to the US and our house is pretty big and I know once in the US it won’t be as big. So I am going through all of our stuff and listing it to sell. I am one of those crazy people that enjoy this so I am having fun. There is also things that we won’t need in the US that we need here. I totally agree with how you said you are not attached to your items and you don’t need them to be happy I feel the same. I also look forward to decorating a new place and having a closet again!

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03.November.2011

Exciting! I can’t wait to downsize and start a similar venture, living simple with less (yet more). Eagerly watching your example.

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03.November.2011

I think it is fantastic that you are making a home that will allow you to follow your dreams. It’s funny, isn’t it, what our culture has come to believe is necessary? My neighbor’s home is 5,000+ sf, 7 bedrooms, and 4 baths. She has 3 children and one will be leaving the nest in a couple of years. From her comments, I think she feels sorry for me in my smaller home across the street, but I wouldn’t trade for anything. The money we save on electric bills, maintenance, etc… has allowed us to do the things we value: travel, give to charity, save for our boys’ college, etc… our home will hopefully be paid off when it’s time for our boys to head off to college, & that makes me truly happy! I can totally understand your excitement!

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03.November.2011

Hi Dana — do you have a list of go-to stores and online shops that you’re using to furnish the Underdog? The simplicity, grace and conscientiousness you bring to decor and to your life is something we could all use. That, and the secret to your crazy amazing pregnancy figure!

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04.November.2011

I love that you are downsizing. I agree with your philosophy on a smaller home. Another website that shares this same idea is thejewelboxhome.blogspot.com. You might already know about it but I thought I would share it with you. The jewel box and house tweaking remind me to love my small home especially on the days when I am wishing for bigger and better. I also have a handy hubby, we are raising our five children (ages 13-5) in a 1800sq ft. one story rambler, 4bdrm 2bath. My biggest challenges are 1. all five kids share one bathroom which is also the main bathroom for anyone who comes to visit and 2. we have one big open room that is used for hanging out, tv, office, and piano and is open to the dining room and kitchen, it gets noisy.
I have vaulted ceilings like you and I love them! everyone who comes over comments how big and open it feels even though our home is small… and I get to have a really tall christmas tree!

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04.November.2011

i can’t WAIT to see your new home! i think this is an incredible journey that you are about to embark on :) i’ll be watching! stay in touch!

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05.November.2011

Oh wow, you guys are starting all over from scratch. I’m excited to see how the new house is going to turn out for you guys!

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06.November.2011

As the owner of a 1700 sq.ft fixer upper myself, I totally get what you’re doing. Raising our family in a smallish space is working out just fine!! Use every inch! It’s actually quite satisfying!!

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09.November.2011

I think what yur doing ROCKS…

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11.November.2011

I love your blog! Very inspirational & I can’t wait to read more. I will surely share it with others!

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14.November.2011

Oh my word! My husband and I just built our first home together and we have so many similar components in our house to yours (well your old home!) It’s so beautiful! I can hardly wait to see your new digs. I am sure it’ll be stunning! xoxo

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28.November.2011

I am a new reader and am so in love with your house, absolutely drooling…can’t wait to see what you do with the new place. Where is the console/buffet trable in the kitchen from (the one that went)? I am looking for one exactly like that. I’ve found one with the same cross beams and shelf, but not with the drawers. Thanks!

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replied on December 1st, 2011

Tanisha – I bought the console from Target.com a few years back. It wasn’t the sturdiest thing but it served us well.

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