Sometimes, you actually do need to buy something new

marylizJuly 11, 2008

I know that we're all having a great time telling each other how much better it feels to be rid of the junk, and I know that there is virtue in living with less, but I also think that carefully planned purchases are OK.

Now that I have learned to recognize clutter, and differentiate it from the stuff I do need, I no longer feel the urge to shop in order to stifle that uncomfortable, frustrated feeling. I used to buy more fabric, instead of using what I already had to make quilts. I was frustrated because I couldn't get any work done in my disorganized, crowded sewing studio.

I had a nice formica table, but it was too small, and too low. I had to play musical chairs when working on a quilt. My back hurt from bending over while standing, and while sitting in front of the machine. I wanted and needed and deserved a bigger, taller work surface.

I finally set aside time & money to outfit my sewing room properly. I measured the room and measured the tables I was considering. I carefully planned my purchase. I ended up buying three tables and a bookcase. And you know what? Having a place to work is worth more to me than a warehouse crammed full of beautiful fabric and sewing supplies.

Despite the peace that befalls one after all the decluttering, once you look at what you have left, sometimes you decide that you actually do need to go out and buy something very specific. Instead of a mad dash to the store with the credit card, you take your time to figure out exactly what you need, and see how close you can come to finding an object that will do that particular job.

At least that is what I noticed. I don't feel the urge to spend, but I still think it is OK to set up my home for efficiency and comfort, even if it means buying something new.

Have any of you had a similar experience with a carefully planned purchase? Or have you completely sworn off bringing home anything new?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

maryliz...I am finding the difference in me now as opposed to pre-decluttering is that now I am stopping and thinking. I want to organize my linen closet and first got many ideas from others in a post. I do want to get some organizers for washclothes and small towels. I have measure the entire closet and I am looking at ads and on-line and in the stores. I am finding now I don't want just anything, just to be buying, I want to find and buy exactly what will fit and serve my need.
I also want to replace some of my frying pans, but what I do get new, I will toss out the old that I am replacing.
For me, although I have just began down this road, it has become a matter of thinking and knowing what I want before I purchase it, rather than impulse buying mostly.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 10:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When it comes to tossing clutter, give yourself "amnesty". It doesn't have to be saved, stored, donated, or recycled if you really have no use for it. If it's that "good", you already have a storage place fror it. If it's junk, like a dirty dented frying pan, toss it in the trash and don't look back.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 10:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I often forget to look at what I have and even at things that I consider clutter and see if they will serve a need that I have. The organization supplies that I am looking for may be right around me. I have loads of baskets and boxes and tins and fabric...Maybe I can just be creative and make my own containers!
I like that idea...for me it seems like an answer this time. I am being forced to be more creative and I like that!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 10:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know what ya mean about finding a new use for something you already have. It just takes a bit of creative vision.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 11:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is something I have realized, and it sounds a little tough, but it might be worth some thought.

What if the biggest mistakes we make are, one, to gather more information, believing that the right information will make it all somehow easier; or two, to go out and buy organizing stuff, convincing ourselves that the right stuff will fix our stuff problem?

Before we buy one more organizing book, or print out one more page of inspiration, or spend one more morning on line, we must ask ourselves, are we just finding a more acceptable way to procrastinate, and using up the time we could be using actually doing the work?

Before we buy one bin, box, shelf riser, or basket, we must examine our motives carefully...are we really just indulging our acquisition habit in a new way, and disguising it as a step forward???

I am coming to think that if we can answer those questions honestly, we can then make good decisions about what to do, and what to buy, just like Maryliz has done in her sewing room.

What do you think?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 1:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have never really been an impulse shopper except for once in a while. I now tell myself in the store before I purchase where it will go and what it will replace. Before if I purchased something I didn't know where I was going to use it and then got overwhelmed with deciding and put it in the corner or pantry (somewhere) and months later it is still sitting there waiting.

As far as procrastinating yes that is me. I will tend to overthink everything and research and research some more. For me it is procrastinating instead of just getting the job done and moving on.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 1:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

b mom...Glad I read your post after I got home from buying organization boxes for my linen room and not before!

I personally think you could be so right on...why work on de-cluttering, when I can sit and read a book or spend time on the internet with you guys and learn more about it!

Really...I read your post when I got home from shopping and started to feel soooo guilty! And that was right after my new book came from amazon and another is coming on Monday!

Really though...I did buy the boxes after measuring my closet and knowing exactly what would fit and what I want to put in them & I am planning on emptying out my closet and re-organizing it tomorrow when my DH is out for the day fishing. I will post a photo when I am done!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 9:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

maryliz - I am reminded of my favorite definition of a weed, which is simply "a plant growing where you don't want it"!

If you are pleased with your new arrangement, and if the tables and other furniture are functioning well for you, then your garden is not in need of weeding! Weed clutter, add a new "bloom" to enrich (not clutter) your space, and don't feel guilty about making a purchase that makes life run more smoothly! That's my 2-cents worth.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 7:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yay, MaryLiz!


Yes, you do need new stuff sometimes. The RIGHT new stuff.

Brugloverz9 is right, sometimes we procrastinate by going out and buying new gadgets or containers. Or even plan in great detail, complete w/ measurements and web searchers, so we don't actually have to throw anything away.

But you did it the right way--first, identify the need. Plan how to meet that need. Declutter what you need to in order to make that plan possible.

I bet you find that you are using up fabric faster than ever, bcs you will find it easier--and more enjoyable (read: less painful)--to work!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 6:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

maryliz - Big Congrats on setting up your sewing/quilting room the way it needs to be! That is huge and a very exciting move. Can you tell I used to be a quilter?

I agree that with all the focus on decluttering and being frugal - sometimes what you actually need is to properly set up your work area. You recognized that. And holding onto small and unworkable tables wasn't working for you. In fact they probably added to the clutter because they didn't have the surface area you needed. And if you were forever having to move and rearrange all your fabrics to work with them, that would really clutter up a quilting project.

From what others are saying about the trend to buy more storage containers - that also adds to the shopping/acquiring trend we all succumb to. I was thinking about buying a hardware cabinet for my screened porch so I could organize my fix-up projects and tools. Luckily I stopped myself and realized that if I would de-clutter the tall storage cabinet in the laundry room I would find the space I need for my tools. When I originally bought the cabinet in the laundry room, I intended it be for hardware stuff. Then there were other issues in my life - so it is probably filled with junk. I'm really glad I stopped myself from buying that ugly utility cabinet for the porch.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 9:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Once I was in a checkout lane. I think it was one of those chain bed & bath stores. Some lady was euphoric because she was about to buy an organizer thingie. She was glowing. She was saying something to her a friend about how "wonderful their organizers are."

More than once, I have witnessed this upwelling hope, all over some kind of organizer device. It is like they are thinking, "If only I had the perfect ______, I'd finally get myself organized."

A person with too much stuff will often look the wrong direction. They search elsewhere for the "perfect" storage container. They don't search internally. They don't examine the reason their life is full of clutter.

We on this forum have begun to see how clutter sucks the very life out of us. At first, we will need a lot of time for introspection, to sort out our new priorities. Maybe it is procrastination. We want to make sure we're doing this decluttering thing properly. Well, it's hard to say what the right and wrong ways are. Just do it, as well as you know how.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 10:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

maryliz, you are so on target. When I am struggling with cleaning or organizing, I sometimes have to tie myself down or I will go running out to "buy" something to be more organized. I learned to recognize these as fight-or-flight moments that needed resisting or distracting; usually I had hit the hard part of the project, where I had to make tougher decisions, or just stop for awhile (but not go buy anything).

Just WAITING a bit is the most help, as with most impulses.

The awful thing is, if I buy an organizer thingie it is VERY hard for me to get rid of it, even when I see it won't work after all; I tend to make a strong attachment to things that seem clever, or hold things--my container fetish, or whatever; so after I finally figured this out, I knew that I had to avoid buying these things on impulse as much as possible, 'cause they would become the most entrenched clutter if they did not work out.

Plus, as maryliz says, then you miss out on the great feelings you get when you finally do purchase something that's just right, and you know it, and you waited instead of filling up space with not-quite-right things.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 11:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Melissa Houser

I did this with my pantry earlier this year. I kept looking at ways to organize and stuff to put in my 24 inch deep pantry to organize it. I finally figured out that I didn't need to buy one single thing, I just needed to rearrange it so that the pantry wasn't a two-headed monster.

I've been using this system for six months now and it works quite well, without spending a penny. It's a shame that I spent six months before that trying to figure out how to redo the pantry when it was finished in under a day.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 12:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think that the figuring out what to do is the hard, time consuming part. Once you've figured that out, the rearranging is easy. I really don't like to spend a lot of money on stuff, so I tend to go out and look around if I think I need something. I usually will look in all the stores that sell that kind of thing (whatever it might be) and then go home and sleep on it for a while. This is much easier now with the internet! Usually I start out with one idea, get new ideas, then either go back for the thing I keep remembering, or usually find my own way of doing the same thing. I guess slowing down and thinking about a problem for a while will lead to a better solution that actually works - kind of like your pantry, lissa. It may not have taken a long time to organize, but it was the thought processes that led to it that needed time. Being impulsive doesn't work unless you know what you need because you've been looking for a while. But whatever it is will still be in the store tomorrow.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 6:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Getting a start on my linen closet with the organizers I recently purchased. I am very happy with them, they are doing exactly what I wanted them to do. Contain washclothes and kitchen towels.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 7:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Melissa Houser

Rj, I think you're probably right. I looked at other people's ideas for so long that the plan probably 'perked' in my head until it was ready for execution.

Brug, I was actually thinking about posting a pic of my basket that I use for washcloths, but it's not in my linen closet. Mine sits on the top shelf of my over the toilet storage shelf and my towels are on the shelves themselves. The rest of my linens are stored in containers on the shelves in my laundry room, except kitchen towels, for which I use a drawer in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 9:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Nice job, Margie!
I love the green containers...such a nice, fresh color, and simple design.

About ten years ago, I quit buying anything but white sheets and towels, and white flour sack towels and white terry bar mops for the kitchen, and just the all-white-ness of the whole enterprise makes everything look so much more under control!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 11:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you bronwynsmom...Yesterday I did some more clearing out and rearranging and like the area even better.
Good idea to go with all white. It does give a nice clean look and especially good with the green!
Just wondering, do you find you have to use bleach or a detergent with whitening to keep the whites bright?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 10:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No, I seldom use bleach at all. It is too hard on the cotton fibers, I find. I tolerate some minor stains on the older kitchen things...not grease, or dirt, but the inevitable coffee or fruit stain. When they get worn, I tear them into quarters and use them as furniture polishing or silver-polishing rags, or anything else that is too icky for microfiber cloths (which, in my view, are right up there with post-it notes and safety pins as fabulous inventions...but I digress...)
I have perfume sensitivities, so I use the (Free and Clear( versions of detergents, and lately I have been using Meyer's Clean Day detergent, which I like very much, but I haven't been using it long enough to know whether or not things will gradually get a bit dingy. So far, not.
Occasionally, I'll do a day-long soak in Snowy, or another of the non-chlorine bleaches, particularly if I've had a dinner involving red meat and red wine, or beets, or some such thing, and my good damask napkins...that takes out most everything.
I occasionally use good old-fashioned bluing in the rinse water.
And there is a great product for tough stains and yellowing, particularly on old and/or fine linens called (Restoration,( from Engleside Products in Pennsylvania. It's a granular powder, it's a soak, and I get it on line from, I think, Home Trends, but i have learned that you can get it direct. The link is below.
I only wish I had a sunny drying yard and a clothes line!

Here is a link that might be useful: Fabric soak

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for your tips! I am also perfume sensitive and also highly dislike the smell of chlorine bleach, so your answer is great for me.
I think I will order the Restoration, too.
I do have a sunny drying yard, but no clothes line. Also a lot of birds! So drying in the sun wouldn't work too well!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can relate this post to clothing (kind of like 6 degrees to Kevin Bacon, or whatever ....)

Now this may be the voice of the debbil speaking, but I have planned a shopping day to buy some new clothes in order to pitch some that I have.

While I don't travel a lot, I find that when I do, for either business or casual, I still, despite having certainly enough volume of clothes, don't have enough coordinated items. Partly it's a problem of color discipline (lack thereof), like the books that tell you to pick just 2 colors and an accent or whatever. Womens' styles are also to blame, because really, it turns out that cut, length, fabric, etc conspire to make items less interchangeable, and it's quite hard to have everything go with 10 other things, or whatever. Partly it's clothing attrition--some of the things that went together ended their lifespans, and and so now I may have "parts" of coordinated outfits but still love the items that are left. Partly it's style and me-changes so that this year I've finally gotten focused on which styles and colors I'd like to duplicate or expand.

And while I'm on a rant, what IS it with "khaki" stuff in about 10 different shades? I mean, it doesn't matter for t-shirts, but I recently bought some new khaki pants only to find that a slight difference in color make them no longer "work" with a favorite jacket. That's my point about the tyranny of womens' clothing styles and colors.

So I end up having to pack more things than I'd like in order to have enough "outfits".

For business wear, I've also finally developed some more discipline about going off onto outfit-tangents.

So, I'm planning to take a day at the mall to specifically search for items that work together and are in my "new" styles. Truly, honestly (!), I have identifed a dozen pieces (or more) of clothing I currently own that, if I had the right replacements, I would toss because they are just not right and because they don't all work together, but without replacements, they currently are part of what I grab when I travel. I've got them in a group at one end of the closet and I think before I shop I will make myself at least move them out of the closet.

It's really not much more than making an intentional clothing shopping list, but with permission to buy a "group" of items if they all work together great AND will replace several disparate items I've got now.

I did do some substantial clothing purging a month ago, which gave me both room and freedom, and that's what helped me notice that of what I've got left, I still am not getting the kind of use out of them that I need, but I can't quite let go because they are the closest thing to what I REALLY need for a given occasion.

Pretty good rationalization so far, huh? The trick will be to be able to go home empty-handed if in the entire store/mall nothing right then fits the definition of what I think I'm trying to do.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Frankie, I know what you mean about clothes. Your post gave me an idea-buy tops only in white. White tops look nice, go with everything. Maybe you can get away with an off-white blouse, but that's it. And I buy only leather purses, they last so long. I'll spend $200 on a leather bag, but if it lasts 20 years, that's only $10 a year, under a dollar a month! My current bag is a brown Coach bag, with a shoulder strap. I've had it about 3 years so far, it's rugged, wears ;ike iron.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 2:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I know.
So much of what is out there is just, how do I say it, junk.
So it's the right color, but it is poorly made...or was right until you washed it...or it's perfect except that it isn't cut for your body...or they don't have it in your size...or you spend the whole day and you hate everything, because it's all just awful. You're right...the hard part is the discipline it takes to go home empty handed.
I absolutely hate to shop...and in my middle age I have stopped buying whole categories of what I do is, I plan at the end of the day to go either to the cosmetic counter or to the Godiva shop or the gourmet coffee shop or the bookstore, and treat myself to something there, which I can then enjoy immediately when I get home.
My friends tease me about my strict adherence to the narrow color range rule...I wear almost entirely solid colors, almost all of my trousers are khaki, charcoal, white, or black, I don't wear prints, sometimes I wear striped shirts, and practically everything else, except for a few really pretty scarves and a couple of girly skirts, is some shade of green, blue, pale peach, brick, or cream. (I'm very fair, so strong color washes me out.)
I showed up for lunch with a group of my friends wearing charcoal gray pants, a dusty gray-blue jacket, and a robin's egg blue t-shirt, and one of them said, "My god, she's wearing two whole colors!"
But it only takes me half an hour to pack for a week!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 2:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Now that I've gotten a good start on my closet, I've made a list of exactly what I need to finish both the closet organization and my wardrobe off...but I couldn't have effectively done that without first doing a big "purge" so I knew what I was keeping.

That is the key for me to be able to buy something new - paring down stuff so that I know what's left, and *then* I can see what it will take (if anything) to effectively organize it and if additions are necessary. It's hard to keep a wardrobe simple (due to pressure all around to have a large least *I* feel pressure from other women around me), but it's so much easier than having a zillion pieces to chose from and try to match up!

And I do allow myself to buy some things "just for fun" - with the caveat that I have to have a "home" for them before they come in to the house. I'm just coming out of a 3 year "consumeristic" phase where things came in unchecked...needless to say, my previous organization fled out the window as fast as those "things" came in. I'd rather not go through that again, but I do want to give myself some wiggle room for "fun" items too. :-)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 3:56PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Loved This Book!
I just (quickly!) read "The Life-Changing Magic...
Are there lateral file cabinet organizers?
I have a new lovely two drawer lateral file cabinet...
Please recommend a good paper shredder
I have a little one that can shred two sheets (max)...
Best life lesson I ever learned
Best life lesson I ever learned was at 25 years old...
How do you let go of stuff that's worth money?
On the "share your success" thread, taft...
Sponsored Products
Darlee Vienna Wicker Sofa - 501218-9/109
Bramble - Charleston Standing Mirror in Natural - 25438
Great Furniture Deal
Black Motion-Activated Solar LED Security Light
Lamps Plus
Retro Citrus Medley 13 1/2" Wide Pendant Chandelier
Lamps Plus
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug: Artistic Weavers Rugs John Brown 6 ft. x
Home Depot
Ivory Lines Nomad Wool Rug
$29.99 | zulily
River City Clocks Red & White Striped Nautical Wave Glass Clock - 4 in. Wide - G
$76.30 | Hayneedle
Safavieh Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug: Safavieh Rugs Soho Taupe/Light Blue 3.5 ft. x
Home Depot
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™