Based on feedback from my previous post, as well as the wheels turning in my own head, I’ve decided I need a part two on how to actually get to that clear space in your own home where your soul truly can breathe.
Clutter accumulates fast – and as I’m sitting her at my mother’s home, I see how quickly sentimental sweetness can erupt into full-blown clutter. My mother recently wrote a guest blog on my father’s site about her “Strong Urge to Purge.” As I look around her home, I see years and years of memories and sweet little knick-knacks, most of which tell a story in some way. It can be overwhelming to figure out how to dive in, organize, and minimalize. So, here are a few tips to get you rolling:
- Focus on one area at a time. Don’t feel like you have to take on a whole room. Looking at my mother’s kitchen, there is a LOT to go through! The pantry, the drawers, the cupboards, the countertop, three china cabinets, shelves…too much! So I encourage you to simply pick ONE of these to start with.
- Completely clear the area. To get started, take EVERYTHING off. Empty the drawers. Clear the countertops. Make it completely bare. Then just sit with it for a moment. Soak in the emptiness before you fill it up again.
- Be very intentional on what you put back. Maybe find a new spot for what you want to put back that’s more practical, or a new look. Ask yourself if you really need to hold on to it. Do you need 15 teacups? If you entertain sometimes, but not weekly, could you possibly store some in a closet vs. having them all on display? Would these make a perfect gift for your tea-loving friend?
- Use all your resources. If you are holding on to it, then you need to use it. Really. Use it. If it is furniture, utilize it. If it is a knick-knack, truly appreciate it and admire the simplicity of just a few so it doesn’t get lost in the background. And if it is an expendable item like condiments in the fridge or toiletries in the bathroom, use it or chuck it. This is super important – we tend to hold on to that one little drop of mustard or the last inch of shampoo….or worst of all, sample packets and restaurant condiment leftovers. Really? I understand not being wasteful, but don’t hoard a little thing, either. If it’s been in your shower for three months or in your fridge for a month and it hasn’t been used, get rid of it. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT simply hold on to it because it has something in it. Give the shampoo samples to a homeless shelter. Throw the stinkin condiments away.
- Go on a spending freeze. Don’t buy more unless you are completely out at home.
- Don’t buy another knick knack when you are maxed for space in your home.
- Don’t buy a piece of furniture unless you are clearing out something the same size.
- Don’t get any more shampoo/makeup/condiments/any other expendable unless you are out of the last. Contrary to most showers in the US, you do not have to have 5 bottles of shampoo, 4 conditioner packets and bottles, 3 body washes and 4 washcloths. If you don’t use 5 shampoos at once, then you know you only need ONE.
- Go gift shopping in your own home FIRST. I’m all about having a “store” somewhere in your home – a closet or cupboard that you devote to your gifts. I love giving things to other people, and many times “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Although you may have 15 teacups, your friend who loves tea may have just gone through a rough divorce and is looking for some comfort things to create her new home. Looking at teacups that were wedding gifts is not near as wonderful as a sweet set from a friend. Not only do you have a gift, she is able to hold the memory of having tea in the very same cup at your home. Recycled gifts can be the sweetest treasures, so look around your home and see what you have that someone else may cherish just as much (or even more so).
- Sleep on it. If you are hesitant about purging anything, don’t be fearful of regret. For my mom, the simple tea cabinet has a lot of sweet memories for her. Whatever I did not put back on the cabinet, I sorted into three boxes – trash, thrift, and gift. I wrapped all the glass items and these boxes are going to sit for at least a week or so. Then I’ll ask her to go through one box at a time – first, the trash. If there is something she hesitates on, she chooses either thrift, gift, or she really has a reason to need it. The gift box we hold on to until we have a “gift store” set up in her upstairs closet and she has a spot to put them where she knows where stuff is – at that point we decide what things she knows she wants to gift, and whatever else goes in another thrift box. Then on to thrift, which she then immediately takes to the thrift store. By the time something is given or thrown away, it has been confirmed that she does not need it and oftentimes didn’t even miss it!I cleaned only two pieces of furniture and now have one box of trash and five large boxes for thrift and gift! It’s amazing how much STUFF can accumulate!
I love before/after pictures of cleaned up spaces – post yours in the comments if you’ve recently done this (or were inspired to do it) somewhere in your home!