things. anyone else want to rid their life of things?

justgotabmeSeptember 4, 2008

After reading mommabird's Zen story and it reminding me of a realization I had in the past, that obviously didn't stick with me, I decided I want to get rid of much of my "things" that really have no meaning. I'll be starting with the Ladies Parlor and work around the rest of the first floor doing this to each room. I'll be back with before and after pictures. If anyone else want's to declutter their decor feel free to post your before and after's here too.


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Becky, I have a love/hate relationship with clutter... I love collecting things, but I hate clutter! So every once in awhile I get the "urge to purge" - here are some pictures of what happened to my kitchen the day I decided to spend a weekend painting/organizing/purging. The little shelf above the microwave turned out to be one of my favorite corners in the whole house - it solved a nagging problem (where to store my cookbooks and ceramic pig!) and made use of some unused space, and boy I sure thought it looked pretty when done!

I think maybe I will go home tonight and declutter the camper. Seriously, after three months of full-time living, it needs it!


PS - the object on the countertop next to the black mixer is a home office copy machine, under the "cozy" I made for it. It was ugly, but necessary to our life, so I thought if teapots could hide under cozies then so could a copier!

Here is a link that might be useful: My decluttered kitchen - ca. 2006

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 4:31PM
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Janet, you have a pretty kitchen. I love the blue! Our kitchen is blue too, though more of a cobalt. Not much shows in the actually kitchen since part of our cabinets set on the counter. I love blue. I see you like to decorate with plates too. I've just recently packed many of mine away keeping only the newest ones which are toile to match the fabric and other ceramics I have for the sunroom and kitchen.
I have to load the pictures I took yesterday so I can post them. I didn't have time yesterday before I watched our grandson and was too tired by the time I got home. I'm still tired and I took a over a two hour nap right after breakfast! It's gloomy today, so that doesn't help.
I'll be back them soon though.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 2:25PM
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I'm sure I didn't have to tell you that these are two separate pieces I "married". This winter I'll be refinishing both in a deep walnut and add trim to hide the "legs" of the upper piece. I'd like to replace the framed glass doors with sliding glass doors in the style of the bottom and removed the blind spot.

AFTER: As you can see I also changed out the handles to glass knobs.
    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 3:05PM
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I should have taken pictures further back. Don't know what I was thinking of. The larger angels were removed and taken to the screened in porch where their style fits much better. I then added three of my Home Interior angels. I'm not sure I wouldn't like it better with one of my picnic baskets there instead. More storage for trim since this is also my sewing room for now.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 3:20PM
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I love this piece, but it really doesn't look right in this room. I wanted more of the midcentury looking piece. I desparately needed storage in here for more fabric that when I found it at one of our local thrift stores for only $16.00 I couldn't resist it. If I've not found a better place for it by the time it's replacement I'll sell it on Craigslist.
The only thing I changed was replacing the vase and angel with a candle holder. I'm thinking I need to removed the lamps. I really don't need them. Not to mention their style doesn't go at all with the buffet.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 3:35PM
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I also love collections but hate clutter. Someone told me if you have three or more of anything, it's a "collection". I even buy plants in sets of three. I figure if I buy three plants, at least ONE of them will survive!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 5:27PM
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Jannie, I used to have a rain forrest of plants in our home until we moved to Lubbuck and the water there killed most of them. I've never been able to care for plants since. And we've long since moved from there. Great place to live with wonderful folks, but not so good water.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 7:53PM
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I am so over-run with THINGS that I've grown to hate almost everyTHING in my house! I daydream about living in a one room studio with just a table, chair and futon. I have gotten rid of so much clothing that my 4' wide closet now fits all 4 seasons of my clothes, except for coats.

I have grown to appreciate experiences so much more than things in the past 3 years, after loosing 4 dear friends, all about my age. I've seen first hand that all you really "take with you" is the love you gave out and got back during your life. All the THINGS just get in the way of the experience for me.

I realize that there will always be some THINGS we absolutely must have. Two of my sons are boy scouts & the other is a cub scout. We can't get rid of the camping equipment because the older 2 use it every month. Those THINGS contribute to wonderful experiences so they've earned their keep - the boys went white water rafting/camping in West Virginia this weekend with their troop and had a wonderful experience. They're going caving in KY next month - so the camping gear stays.

Sports equipment - it will be a necessary evil in my house for the next 10 years, until my youngest is out of the house. With 3 boys who play every sport imagined, we have to keep the gear from year to year - so that's earned its keep, too.

But the toys, paper, kitchen gadgets, basement debris, Xmas decorations, etc etc is really getting me down. And all the SHOES for a family of 5 - and we are shoe minimalists compared to most people! But X5 of anything adds up!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 8:50PM
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I am so over-run with THINGS that I've grown to hate almost everyTHING in my house! I daydream about living in a one room studio with just a table, chair and futon.

Me, too.

But I really am discouraged by all the stuff in my house. It is just SO much. And I don't know how to deal w/ it.

I can be pretty tough, but I feel like I'm incapable of just throwing out my kids' stuff now. I got rid of the deadwood, and I feel that I'm at the point where they should have more input.

And I just don't feel like I have the time or the energy or the cooperation. It's going to be a huge battle.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 3:13PM
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I've changed things in here more than once since I've posted the above pictures. It's nice to see I'm not the only one that tired of things. I'm doing much better with looking at all the decor items I have. If I ever get to the point where I feel like it's really finished I'll post pictures and see if any one here thinks I still have further to go.
Mommabird, we only had two children. A son and daugther. Between them and my hubby also playing many sports and now umpiring, it's never ending with the sports gear. The sport I played consisted of only one bag so I at first found it hard to understand how they needed so much! Often of what seemed like the same thing.
I know we still have loads of their things in containers, but much of it is in the basement and soon will be in the attic once we get the floor installed up there.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 3:58PM
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I have found that since I have been getting rid of things so have my children. I didn't even tell them to go through their things but they have and my 16 yr old got rid of games and stuffed animals that she no longer needs. When my children were young I would go through their stuff and get rid of the things that they never played with and they never noticed. I have been making them keep their rooms clean and that may have something to do with it.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 6:45AM
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I'm not usually here at organizing, but I'd really like to get my house under control and I'm looking for help!
Janet, I decluttered my kitchen a couple of years ago too, its still pretty good.
I feel the same about wishing I could just move away from it sometime. One of my problems is feeling like I should be selling some stuff not just giving it to the thrift store. But then I don't so I'd be so much better off just giving it away. I am also a crafter, so things get carried away there, but if I got rid of the stuff I don't use or wear, I'd have room for the craft clutter, I think. Since our 29yo moved back in with us (temporarily to save $) with her 2 cats and a bunch of stuff its really bad. Then my dmil died and we have a bunch of boxes of her stuff. I think I need to give my self very small tasks every day (and I'm trying to do the same at my mom's - she's kept everything since my Dad died almost 30 yr ago). Like one box, or one drawer per day or even every other day. HOw does one overcome the inertia?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 3:37PM
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Kathy, try doing it for 15 or 20 minutes. Most of the time when you get in the swing of it you will do more. Don't look at everything needs to be done. Pick one box, closet, whatever and start with 15 minutes. To me the hardest part is getting started.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 10:48PM
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Kathy, I'm having a little bit of a problem w/ the intertia myself.

You start small, as dd50 says, I think. (I know that's worked for me in the past.)

And you don't look at the parts you can't cope with right now, I think--I know that's my problem. I raise my eyes up from the current task, and everything else just overwhelms me. In your case, I would say, stop even thinking about your mom's. It sounds as though she's still alive, so it's not really your problem; don't borrow stress!

And, articulate those smaller goals, so you can feel you accomplished something. Define your task as: "get rid of this particular box by dispersing its contents (save, toss, donate)." Then, when you did one box, you get a gold star! If you define the task as "clear out this whole room" or "get my life in order," you're going to feel that you're not getting anywhere.

Also, time yourself. You may find yourself greatly encouraged when you realize that you can take one end table, one box from DMIL, one 2-foot section of a closet, one shelf, and weed it out in 15 minutes. Or maybe less. "Wow, that wasn't so long after all!" you'll think. (BTDT, I have)

I think you have an asset, though, that the rest of us don't have--that 29-year-old.

Having company when you tackle this stuff can be really useful. (Unless she's a packrat, of course, but even then I bet she could help w/ YOUR stuff. Most people can certainly see the speck in their brother's eye, so you could capitalize on that.)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 7:56AM
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That's a great point. I didn't think of having Bonnie help me with that other stuff (beyond her own belongings and cats and a few household chores). I'll ask her later today. The timer I use with washing dishes, lol. Turns out I can do them all in 10 min usually even though I always think otherwise. But I realized this morning that its lost (think dh ran off with it.) I'll get another or use the stove.
Thanx, kathy

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 10:28AM
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I am finding that things I think will take so loooong that I never want to start, but when I finally do it takes a much shorter time. I finally came to the conclusion that when I want to wash the windows I don't have to do the whole house I can just do the 2 or 3 in the room I am cleaning. Wow I am starting to have clean windows again.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 12:06PM
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I have a lot too. But how do you rid yourself of all the junk and still have that homey look?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 8:47PM
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You don't. You get rid of some/most of the junk.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 5:04PM
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For annellis, I think there might be another way to look at your question. The homey look is not achieved by, or certainly not only by, stuff and clutter. The "collectible" look may be, but not homey.

You might be able to identify certain elements that really give you the feeling you are looking for in homey-ness but without the clutter. For me that often turns out to be really nice woods, really comfy furntiture, colors and styles that are warmer or more relaxed-looking, interesting textures, the right lighting, focusing one great item and not lots, sometimes a bigger item in the right scale vs. a bunch of little ones, getting a few great pictures up on the walls and stuff off tables,and so forth. So a great pine table with just a simple bowl or pitcher on it looks "homey" to me.

I have fun looking through books and magazines to try to identify those rooms that look both warm AND simple and uncluttered and then seeing where I'm off the mark or how I could move toward it.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 6:30PM
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Frankie, that is IT in a nutshell!

I like the cottage look, but not the cluttered part of it. So I'd prefer something outdoorsy and nature-ful but also more sparse, with a few essential elements that say "cottage" (or whatever decorating style you yourself want--substitute your favorite here) and is functional and comfortable rather than decorated like a movie set.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 10:02AM
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Talley Sue, my oldest just turned 25, and the youngest will be 18 in November. This summer I started in on the boxes of things they had made (including macaroni glued on construction paper!). I chose ONE item to keep for each kid (I consulted them first), and then took pictures of everything else, identified in the picture with the name of each kid. Then the "stuff" went into the garbage. No guilt, and a big sense of freedom!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 5:29PM
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I agree with those that said using a timer and doing small tasks at a time. You'll be amazed how much you can get done in 15 minutes when you're waiting for a timer to go off. I have one I can hang around my head so I can go from room to room putting things away if needed and not worry about missing that ding!

I also agree with Frankie on a make a home feel homey has as much to do with color, comfort and texture as it does with the things in it. To me having a few family items or photos makes a room homier than anything else can.

I've not had as much time decluttering my decor lately because of watching our grandson again. His Mom has a new job so I'll only have him for another month or so after her training time is completed. After that I'll have more time to do those little things around the house that desparately need doing. In the mean time I'm enjoying my darling Owen. He's teething right now so has been a bit cranky, but sure to give a big smile when he sees Grammy with the Oral Gel.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 6:26PM
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Hi it's MommaBird! You know how I want to rid my life of THINGS!!!! Well, I've been setting small goals for myself every day. I'll say "I will get rid of 7 things from my closet" and then I keep going through until I have 7 to box up and give to Goodwill.

The problem is, Thing-giving Holiday, I mean Christmas, is coming up. I have already started buying THINGS for my "loved ones." That is, the ones who don't think the way I do. I must say my older 2 sons are totally on board with "experiences not things." They are getting Ski Club memberships to their school ski club for Thing-giving Holiday. They know they will not get any other things and they are A-OK with that. They get to go skiing 6 weekends and they'd rather have the experiences.

So any way, a little at a time does it for me...

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 5:37PM
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I second bmrbabe's technique of taking a picture of the project, then tossing the project itself. I did this when I was in art school. The space-eating school project was gone, but in case I ever needed to prove I did it, I had photo evidence.

TS, one of the things that helped me the most when digging out of my clutter was to establish a regular Goodwill run. I stopped in at my local thrift store as part of my errands every Saturday. It didn't really take that long. From what you've said in other threads, it doesn't sound like there are many thrift stores where you live--but have you considered taking a bag with you to work? There are quite a few thrift stores in midtown Manhattan--just check your phone book. It's easier to itemize, too, if your donation isn't large. Those grocery-bag donations every Saturday added up to quite a lot of clutter gone from my apartment and a big break at tax time.

Concretenprimroses, with overcoming the inertia, I've found it helps to have a goal. Like, "Work is having a dress clothes drive for Dress For Success (or the Cinderella Project or Materials for the Arts--find a charity that inspires you!). What can I find in my closet--and what can I inspire my family members to donate--for this worthy cause?" It also helps to relate the cause to moments in your life when you needed help, or someone you know needed help. I also try to keep an ear out for those around me. One of my friends still thanks me and my former roommate for giving her our stash of ugly-to-us blankets when she was broke and cold after moving to NYC from Kentucky.

Anybody have a stash of Beanie Babies? Halloween is coming and those things make great Halloween giveaways!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 10:13AM
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Paige, we too have been talking about having a different Christmas this year. I've been begging to do so for years now, and I think I just might be getting through to my dear hubby. If so then I'd like to give our son and his family a gift of time together at a near by fun filled hotel. I can't remember it's name, but it's like an indoor amusement in a hotel. Our daughter is single so I'll have to think a bit longer for her. Got any ideas? She just turned 24 and is in the Air Force with a little over a year left.
Jane, you have some awesome ideas there for encouraging ourselves to purge! Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 12:32PM
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This has been one of the most interesting threads in a while!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 9:03PM
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Two other things: praise and gratitude!

I think Pam and Peggy had a section in SHE where they talked about having a special section in the cardfile for writing down compliments about being organized to refer back to later when they needed a boost.

I cherish the compliments that I've gotten--for example, one Goodwill store manager pulled me aside and said, "We sell EVERYTHING you bring in!" Not to mention the thank-you from the friend I mentioned above.

Praise also helps with others, too. My extremely messy former roommate told me that she just loved it when I praised her for cleaning or decluttering. The specific compliment I used was "I am so PROUD of you for...." followed by a sentence about how her action or donation was effecting positive change around her.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 10:39AM
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Years ago, I gave a bunch of stuff to Goodwill. I went back a week later to see it on display in the store and priced. THEN I went back two weeks after that and found almost everything I donated was gone. Woo-hoo! It was good enough, somebody else wanted it!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 6:59PM
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I'm sort of new to this side of GW, because I'm usually hanging out on the Kitchen forum. I've been on a crusade to get rid of "stuff" for several years. Sandra Felton, The Flylady, Don Aslett, I've read them all. I'm always taking stuff out of the house but I've yet to achieve the kind of order and simplicity that I desire.

Over the last few months, my entire house has been upside down because of a remodel. I'm so tired of moving things, looking for things or trying to clean remodel-dust off of things. When I move back in, you can bet I'm going to have even more motivation than ever to toss, sell or haul. Maybe this time!!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 5:45PM
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