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Love Your Home, Not The Stuff! Taming the Clutter

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Pretty Handy Girl: Love Your Home, Not The Stuff! Taming the Clutter

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love Your Home, Not The Stuff! Taming the Clutter

Okay, we've all seen an episode of Hoarders by now. The guy that hasn't seen the carpet in his home in 5 years or the woman who saves everything! We see those extreme examples of clutter and can't imagine how they can live like that.

But, the question is, do you see clutter in your own home? I can tell you that I have clutter. Not, OMG call Hoarders type clutter, but small piles of it. A few extra knick knacks, some papers that need to be filed or those horrid happy meal toys! They start out in corners, bookshelves, flat surfaces. Sometimes they stay like that, they are there but not "bite you on the nose" noticeable most of the time. And sometimes they multiply and become little families of clutter. Even the smallest bits of clutter are noticed by your eyes, and your brain processes it. This is what I call visual clutter.

In college, I used to have to clean my entire room before I could start on my illustration assignments. I do the same thing in our garage (which is cluttered now) before I can start on a new project.

I NEED the visual calmness of a clean room so I could be more creative and more productive.

This week, I want you to pick one room. Preferably the room you spend the most time in. Is it your kitchen or your home office? Whatever it is, this is the room that will make you happy when you are done. It is the room that will allow you to "Fall in Love with Your Home."

Four Boxes (or laundry bins)
Large Trash Bag
Different Colored Sheets of Paper
Thick Marker
Cleaning rags
Windex or general cleaners

Begin by gathering your four boxes.Label each one with these labels: KEEP, DONATE or SELL, RECYCLE, TRASH. I like to use a different color for each label so I don't accidentally toss something in the wrong bin.

  • KEEP = Things that don't belong in that rom or to be stored away somewhere else
  • DONATE or SELL = Goodwill, Thrift store or donation. Or sell via yardsale, Craig's List, eBay or other sales venue.
  • RECYCLE = paper, glass, cans, and other curbside recycling. Also, dry-cleaner hangers, plastic bags, or other items that can be re-used. I.e. Old cloths or linens that can be cut up for cleaning rags.
  • TRASH = Anything worthless in value. I like to line the trash bin with a big plastic bag to make it easier to empty.
Start in one area of the room (I like to start furthest from the door or work clockwise from the door.) This will be the first zone you are going to work in. Begin by taking any and all the items from that zone (unless the item has a place to be stored in that room. In that case, put it away.)

Once the zone is clear, clean off all the surfaces.

Now either put the items away that are staying (preferably out of sight) or place it in one of the four bins.

If you find yourself stuck ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have I used or worn it in the last 6 mos? 1 year?
  2. "Will this item help me create the home I want" - Peter Walsh
  3. Is this item irreplaceable? 
If the answer to any of those questions is "No", then say adieu to it now!

If you find yourself stuck. Try the 1 year box idea. Create another box and put anything you are undecided about inside. Seal it up and write a date 1 year from today on it. Next year when you find that box in storage, get rid of it. Don't even open it. If you didn't miss the items inside then you don't need them. Just donate it.

Continue until you have cleared your zone.

Assess the "KEEP" items and decide which ones can go back in that zone. Be sure to store them out of sight. Don't allow them to become visual clutter in your room.

I'm going to stop here, because I have some important pieces of furniture for storing items at my reach, but not in my visual line of sight.

First is my Craig's List pie safe:

This $65 special is not very big.
Approximately 36" wide by 60" tall.
But, it stores everything but the kitchen sink!

Top Shelf:
  • school papers
  • school work
  • kids artwork
  • Workbooks
  • Coloring Books
  • Favorite Magazines
  • Coupon Binder Sleeves
Next shelf:
  • charging station (tutorial to come)
  • Cell phones
  • Cameras
  • Battery chargers
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Recipe Box
  • Left: Pretty Handsome Guy's mail
  • Rigth: Pretty Handy Girl's mail
Bottom shelf:
  • Cookbooks

Renee's credenza (another Craig's List find):

Top drawers:
  • Left drawer: Mail for him
  • Right drawer: Mail for her
  • Lined baskets store all of their daughter's art supplies! Brilliant and beautiful.
Okay, back to de-cluttering. When you have finished going through the whole room go ahead and start removing the bins from the room. Empty the trash, dump the recycling in the curbside recycling and sort out any other items that aren't curbside. Put them in your car so you can get rid of them while you are running errands (drycleaner, grocery store, etc.)

Now, sort through the Donate/Sell box. Grab a notepad to jot down anything you will be donating. Then put that pile in a bag and put it in your car as well. Be sure to run by Goodwill or the thrift store one day this week. Put the items you intend to sell in a dedicated spot in storage. Make a commitment to yourself to sell them within 3-6 mos. and donate them if you haven't after that time frame. (Pretty Handsome Guy might be calling me out on this one.)

Finally, sort through the KEEP box, bring the box with you around the house, and stop in each room. Put away all the items that belong in that room. If you have to, go ahead and leave the items for that room somewhere to be put away later. Remember today you are only tackling the one room!

My closet, de-cluttered in less than 30 minutes.
Color coordinated clothes help you pick outfits faster.
And makes you aware of what colors you have enough of in your wardrobe.
Go back to the room you just de-cluttered. Sit there and breathe in. Allow yourself to enjoy the calmness of a clean and clutter-free space. Let yourself fall in love with this space. Anytime you find yourself disgusted with your home, go back to this space and rekindle that flame.

Now get crackin' and eliminate that visual clutter. Need some help controlling clutter? (Commission Links)

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At February 9, 2011 at 7:57 AM , Blogger Aimee said...

Okay, you've inspired me-- I'm going to do this this week-end. The laundry room is my nemisis right now...

At February 9, 2011 at 8:51 AM , Blogger Jenny S said...

You are coming over to help me right?? LOL!

At February 9, 2011 at 9:15 AM , Blogger Chris said...

I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award. Check it out @

At February 9, 2011 at 10:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, this post spoke to my heart! I went to school for scientific illustration and to this day, i can't even think about getting into my studio and starting a projector, no matter if it's a painting, repurposing furniture, paper crafts, sewing, anything creative, until my entire upstairs where my studio is, is picked up and organized! I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one that needs that visual calmness! Thank you for all the creative and organizational inspiration you provide on your blog, love it! --Megan

At February 9, 2011 at 11:12 AM , Blogger Courtney {a thoughtful place} said...

Amen, sister! Must clear the clutter. I can't stand it. My son's closet needs some major work! He is so little and hasn't needed the closet yet, so we have taken it over! Oh, boy! Glad I am not alone. I am not a normal girl, though! I would rather have a clean closet then a new piece of jewelery! It's fantastic.

At February 9, 2011 at 11:41 AM , Anonymous Becky@Organizing Made Fun said...

Oh so glad to see that you are motivating everyone to clear that clutter! If we all did a little bit everyday, it would totally make a difference!

Becky B.
Organizing Made Fun

At February 9, 2011 at 5:55 PM , Blogger Craftewoman said...

Fantastic article. Crafters tend to hang on to everything because we know we can use it some how. But it's not realistic to hold on to EVERYTHING. Now if only you could explain to my DH that our bedroom is my sanctuary, and that I need some control over whether or not the kids are allowed in here, then I'll really have my own space to unwind and regroup!

At February 9, 2011 at 8:29 PM , Blogger laxsupermom said...

Wow! What an inspiring post! Must Clear Clutter.

At February 9, 2011 at 8:33 PM , Blogger Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish said...

Love it!! My other tip for your "keep" items- especially clothes - is when you put them back into closet turn all the hangers the wrong way. Then as you wear things you will flip those items back around the correct way. On your next clean out - it will be really easy to see what you haven't worn over the last couple months because those hangers will still be backwards! :)

At February 10, 2011 at 7:34 AM , Blogger Jen said...

Love this!!!! Thank you for the inspiration. I feel like I am getting a head start on spring cleaning.

At February 10, 2011 at 10:16 AM , Blogger Amy said...

Thank you for the motivation! Now just to figure out where to start!

At February 10, 2011 at 10:38 AM , Anonymous Caitlin said...

Great post! Unfortunately, my husband things I have a declutter/organizing obsession as I tend to go on these purging and reorganizing binges which leaves him never finding something in the same place because I have found a better place for it :) But I love organizing...what can I say?

At February 10, 2011 at 1:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just did a major declutter/organize of my messy messy closet - and sorting and getting rid of things helped so much. Its not exactly how I want it, but it feels so good to declutter and let go of some things that my hoarding side didnt want to. Great post!
~Heather @

At February 10, 2011 at 3:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brittany, this is the second thing I've read about decluttering. A few days ago I began reading a book about tossing, donating or giving away 50 things a month. I know I have way more than 50 items and your nudge to declutter is a confirmation to get moving. Thanks for the post!


At February 10, 2011 at 10:36 PM , Blogger Megan {Honey We're Home} said...

I love this post!!! It feels so good to declutter and organize:) And congratulations on the 1000 followers- VERY well deserved!


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