Dan has been embracing this concept for the past year by clearing out his closet, drawers, bathroom cabinets, car trunk/glove box/console, and even our kid's bedroom and toy boxes. I am envious of his results. My closet is packed like a thrift store while his closet looks like a New York city boutique. It takes me 20 minutes to decide what I want to wear because I have too many choices, a majority of which I don't even like and haven't worn in years. Dan on the other hand is ready in 2 minutes because he has just a few options, all of which he likes. He has learned to separate feelings and emotions from items and simply ask himself "Do I wear this? Do I use this? Do I need this?" If the answer is no, it's immediately placed in our Goodwill donation pile. I on the other hand attach memories and emotions to items making it really hard to part with them.
No we can't get rid of that 25 cent wind-up crab that has been buried at the bottom of the toy box for two years. We bought that for C in Cape Cod and he loved it!
No we can't get rid of ALL those boxes of my old graphic design projects from school and work. What if I want to look at those in ten years and reminisce?
No I can't get rid of this t-shirt. I know I rarely wear it because I have 5 other ones that I like better, but this is a good cozy vintage one that maybe I'll wear if my other ones are dirty. Or maybe I'll sell it at the flea market. Or maybe I'll wear it when I am painting...
So even though I was envious of Dan's clutter-free spaces, I wasn't doing much to better my situation....
...Until I read Living Simple, Free & Happy: How to Simplify, Declutter Your Home, and Reduce Stress, Debt and Waste, by Cristin Frank.
I met Cristin online a few months ago when she submitted a chair to my Chair Upcycle Thrift Challenge. I hopped over to her blog, Eve of Reduction, to learn a little bit more about her and was intrigued by her profile: Eve of Reduction is a sustainable lifestyle movement to reduce debt, waste, clutter and stress by being frugal, crafty and eco-friendly.
I exchanged a few emails with her and found out that she had written a book! She kindly shared a copy with me which I read immediately upon receiving. In addition to tips on decluttering your home, her book covers other areas of living simply like financial discipline, reducing the clutter in your schedule, buying used instead of new, repairing instead of replacing, teaching yourself to be handy, and DIY projects galore!
Let me share a few of my favorite excerpts:
More is more and less is less. In other words, the more you bring into your life, the more you have to maintain. If you are accumulating things, the initial purchase is just the beginning. In addition to any debt you took on to make the purchase, this new item you now own may need to be stored, dusted, watered, cleaned, oiled, tightened, filled, emptied, refilled, tuned, insured, renewed or any number of other time-consuming (and possibly expensive) maintenance chores...Dan and I are pretty terrible at maintenance. In fact, for the most part, we'd say we hate it. Knowing this (and accepting this) about ourselves is one of the main reasons we continue living in a small 1200 sq. ft. bungalow with two adults and two (soon to be three) kids. The less space we have, the more strict we are about what things we purchase for ourselves, our home and our kids, and the less clutter and maintenance we take on.
This can get a little tricky for me though because my favorite hobby is buying secondhand, upcycling and reselling at the flea market. This means I bring a lot of things in to our home that need to be stored, fixed, painted, dusted, cleaned and maintained until they are ready to be transported and sold at the flea. When I started out a few years ago, I filled our entire garage plus the unfinished half of our basement with SO. MUCH. STUFF. I thrifted and trash picked anything that had potential for resale, even things that were broken, in need of re-upholstering, or in desperate need of cleaning. For someone who hates maintenance, this was a terrible idea. Every time I looked in our garage or basement (for over a year!) I felt anxiety and stress about all that needed to be done to fix up this stuff I had accumulated.
|This was just one half of our unfinished basement. The other half was filled with stuff and our entire garage was filled with big pieces of furniture!|
Now when I am out thrifting or trash picking, I am very particular about what I buy. It has to be in good shape (very little to no maintenance required), it has to be small and take up little space, and it has to be my style -- something I'd put in our own house if it didn't re-sell. Sticking to these principles has brought sanity to my passion for buying secondhand, and eliminated clutter-causing-stress in our home.
The less you have the easier it is to care for and use. You also get more return on your investment because you get more use out of the item.YES! This is so true. Cristin uses tupperware as an example saying that "if you have a limited number of pieces it will be easy to put them away and easy to find matching lids and containers when you need them." After reading this, I IMMEDIATELY cleaned out our stupid, stupid tupperware cabinet that explodes every time I open the cabinet door. Check out these before and after results!!
I was on a decluttering high after that so I moved on to my jewelry. I put this milk glass jewelry display together a few years ago, and since then I've just kept adding more jewelry and thus more milk glass. More more more...
I removed all emotion and memories from these pieces of jewelry and just PURGED! If I hadn't worn it in the last 6 months, it was gone-zo! Look at this!!! Less, less, less!!
Now I don't need to waste time digging through a bowl of 60 earrings to find my favorite pairs. And I can see all my necklaces at a quick glance for faster decision making. I can feel the stress melting away!
Some people believe that education is the single greatest way to get ahead in this world; others would argue experience is more important. I say it's both. We must always be reaching to learn new principles and skills, but it isn't until we put them into practice that the lesson is complete... When something breaks or becomes outdated, we find ourselves saying "Really, a new one only costs...". It's become so easy to replace our things... [But instead we should] salvage our stuff by cleaning and repairing it [ourselves]!... The more we learn to do things for ourselves, the more money we save, the better our homes look, and the more independent we become.I mentioned that we're terrible at maintenance so it's probably no surprise that we're also terrible at using tools. We don't really venture outside scissors, hot glue, hammers and screwdrivers.
We were recently redecorating our living room and had a blank wall that would be perfect for a large map of the world. We hopped on the internet to buy a fancy one from Ikea for $129, but then remembered we had a not-so-fancy one rolled up in our closet that Dan had gotten free from work. We decided to save the money, use the map we already had, and try ourselves to upgrade it's look. This meant trying a few things we had never done before... like sawing wood at Home Depot!
If there was anyone watching us on a security camera, they probably gathered their co-workers around to watch us two brainiacs try to saw this soft, thin piece of wood! It took us about 10 minutes, and multiple saws to make two small cuts. Like we literally switched out the saws four times, cursing at each one saying how dull and terrible it was.
But, we did it! We sawed the wood, stained it a dark brown (my first time using wood stain!), hot glued it to our big free map and now it looks so fancy (...you already know...I'm in the fast lane...)! We are pretty darn proud of our accomplishment. And you better believe we will OWN that saw next time we need to cut some wood!
Thank you to Cristin Frank for sharing some new insights and tips on minimizing our clutter, learning new skills, and living simple! Check out her blog and book if you are interested in learning more.
I am on a roll! Next on my list is
1. Decluttering bathroom cabinets
2. CLEARING OUT my closet and drawers
3. Learning to use my sewing machine! (this one has appeared on several to-do lists over the past few years. Could this possibly be it's final appearance!???)