Decluttering Overhaul: Where to Start?

Decluttering Overhaul: Where to Start?

     First steps are usually the most difficult to take. The most daunting sometimes, but the most valuable. Starting decluttering is no exception.

     One day I got so tired of the mess in the house that realized decluttering is the only solution. I simply was not able to care of the house, and ti did make me feel uncomfortable.

     Sudden visitors? What can be more terrifying!
     Planned visitors? I will spend hours before they arrive in non-stop cleaning.

     Over years I realized that just arranging my stuff will not help.
     It’s too time consuming to organize clutter.
     The only what might help is discarding.

     And then I gazed around our place and was wondering where exactly I should start. Literally every single corner required full attention. Not exaggeration - every single corner.

     Drawers are full with stuff, storage containers on the floor – it’s hard even just to move! Shelves are fully packed. Wardrobe is cracking overfilled.

     I hardly could imagine how I could ever make our house in order. Where to start, what to plan? One thought about it made me overwhelmed.

     And you know what I did? I simply started doing - genius, right?:-)
     Without much thinking or planning. Just pointed to the very first area nearby and started from there.

     I still remember it was surplus beauty products. I knew I was not going to use them and just discarded. Some space on the bathroom shelf released. It made me feel so much lighter!
     
     I didn’t realize before that unnecessary stuff weighs on my mind.
Unmade decision what I was going with it, how to care of it, when I’m going to consume that stuff. And once my first decluttering session was done it, I felt so lightened and inspired!

     The next time I did the same – just randomly chose what I want to tidy up right that moment, and I did so.

     Over time, when I discard more stuff and released more space, I already could plan what exactly to do next. Clutter did not terrify me anymore. I knew that after extensive work – well, what else I expected, I was growing that clutter for years! – I will have an incredible reward. Additional space in the house and indescribable feeling of becoming lighter are that reward.

     So if you long to do decluttering in the house, but do not know where to start... just start somewhere. Where you are looking right now. Or what creates most inconvenience for you and your family.

     I know, it sounds obvious but this is what worked for me.

     I did my first step by starting decluttering at that day.
And it did look overwhelming to start, but now I do it every week. It doesn't seem to be hard, and I rather enjoy it. Condition of our house obviously improved, it became neater and more spacious. It was really just about taking the first step!

Real-Life Decluttering Coffee Table

Real-Life Decluttering Coffee Table

Decluttering Coffee Table:

It's such a pleasure to live in a tidy home. I love tidiness, I see it as a kind of chic...unachievable chic with my level of home running skills.
I admit: I don't really love cleaning, or brooming, or doing laundry, I just sometimes do it.
But I love decluttering.

This little coffee table stands in the middle of the living room cum kitchen. And it’s one of the hottest clutter spots in the unit!

Real-Life Decluttering Coffee Table

It’s so convenient to put all the things to the table and forget leave there for a while...sometimes for a long while. But today I will stop it! Ok, at least I take an effort. Yup, decluttering is my continuous solution!

Oh, no no, clutter on the table is just a small issue. Big issue? Clutter under table. See that storage containers?Real-Life Decluttering Coffee Table

Me too. I used to see them every day and never use anything from there. Neither my husband.

And they make floor brooming impossible. To broom below the table, I have to move everything around. Sure I don’ t like doing that - so I never do.
Finally there is a lot of dust and trash accumulated between them, on top of them and even under! Oh, this view make me suffer quietly but keep procrastinating with cleaning day by day.

Until a shining idea came – will decluttering coffee table area help?

I took out all the stuff. As usual with our forgotten storage boxes, I see most the items we do not need. Lots of stationery kept for years – wonder why do we keep so huge stock at home? Hubby agreed we don’t need and he would bring it to the office.

Old gadgets and devices, long time outdated. We will donate them for recycling.

And husband’s tools – well, this we can keep. I put them into dedicated box and placed on the shelf.

And that’s it! All containers became empty and space below the table released!

Real-Life Decluttering Coffee Table

It happened to me for the first time - I felt enjoy brooming the floor! I dreamed to do it do long but kept delaying. Now it’s finally happening!

Another baby step in house decluttering overhaul is done. Good! Now I have to care of a bit less stuff than I had to before. It will stress me less because will take less time and efforts to care about.

This is why I love decluttering!

 

Decluttering Session: Discarding Shoes

Decluttering: Tidying-up Shoe Rack and Discarding Shoes

Why do I need suddenly to start discarding shoes?

     That's probably common to own more than 1 pair of shoes.
     I own more than 1.
     To be exact, it's ...12 pairs. Only for summer season.

     ...I'm looking to the pile of shoes gathered on the floor. I wear regularly just several pairs of shoes, where is this pile from?

     I admit I used to believe and follow fashion urges like:
- Woman should have choices in her wardrobe;
- Not possible to have too many shoes/bags/dresses/accessories;
- Shopping is the best mood lifter.
      I know...I look like a victim of fashion marketing. To be honest, so was I.
      I thought everything is alright…until my wardrobe closet became a cluttered chaotic mess. Frankly, the entire house, not wardrobe only.

     Every weekend I used to buy something new. Shopping was the main entertainment I saw for weekends.
     And the next day opening my wardrobe I wonder why I don't like anything.
I didn’t realize I felt upset with the messy wardrobe closet.

     But now I understand. It's mistaken approach to quantity instead of quality.
      Suffering from clutter, spending money on unnecessary things, feeling unsatisfied with results...Finally a bulb is going off around now - more and more I become interested in rather minimalistic approach to the wardrobe.
      I’m decluttering clothing, accessories, bags. And now discarding shoes!

     Among all I actually can make use only of 6 pairs. Some on weekends, some on weekdays or special events. And that’s it! The rest is going to be discarded.

     I took out all the shoes and found pieces about which I didn’t remember! All this time they were sitting on the rack in wardrobe taking the space. Better late than never, so now I’m going to part with them.

Decluttering Session: Discarding Shoes

     Many are quite new and worn just several times.

Then why am I discarding shoes which are new?

     I admit, many were bought on a whim. Result of impulsive buy. Though, aside just being surplus each pair has its drawback making it easy to part with.

     After decluttering rack became more spacious, all remaining shoes fitted properly. It's no longer 12 relaxed pairs, but 6 hard working ones.
Amount of shoes reduced twice, but I didn’t lose a single necessary pair. The only what has gone from the rack is clutter.

 

Decluttering: Switching to Minimalistic Wardrobe

Decluttering: Switching to Minimalistic Wardrobe     That word - minimalistic - may sound scary. Women like shopping...maybe not absolutely all, but many. Do you? Me – for sure.

     I have to admit: here it is, a former shopaholic. Particularly keen about clothing shopping. Feeling down or stressed? Get away meditation, vitamins, relaxing or sports - stores are the best mood lifter!

     Over time this budget-friendly approach has gone, but a habit of having fully packed wardrobe remained.

    Frankly, opening my closet every day I didn’t realize it was fully packed and almost cracking. A view of plenty of clothes was not a sign I should stop bringing new friends to my fashion pieces.

     But I did realize I didn’t wear most of my collection. And it gave me quite uncomfortable feeling. Every morning I was standing in front my numerous fashion choices wondering why am I so unsatisfied with my wardrobe? Maybe need to buy something new what I would like?

     Cluttered wardrobe was so unpractical and unsightly that I decided to reduce it to just a few pieces - but only those which look great on me.

Trying to go minimalistic:

     Due to specifics of local climate and my profession, I need different wardrobes for office, for weekends and for special occasions. So I started with my office wardrobe.

     After weeding out, I have remained only 3 dresses, 5 tops, 2 bottoms and 2 blazers. For actual minimalists wardrobe it probably does not sound minimalistic at all neither look so.

     But it’s times less than I had earlier.

     I see free space in the closet!

     I never had it before. My wardrobe has always been full and cracking, 3 bags of clothing for donation is a proof.

Decluttering: Switching to Minimalistic Wardrobe

     And you know what? Since then I didn’t regret about a single things discarded. Happened I need much less than I owned.

     And what about my love for shopping? After having a limited set of favorite clothing, I’m fully satisfied. I’m not craving to buy something new anymore. And yeah, it helped me to increase my monthly savings around twice. Not bad benefit, isn’t it?

 

Decluttering: Stand-Alone Kitchen Rack

Decluttering: Kitchen Rack

     Today I feel trembling. I’m going to deal with procrastination lasting for months.
     I’m approaching this kitchen rack for decluttering!

Decluttering: Kitchen Rack

     Oh, how long it took me to get courage for that!
     I was walking around the rack.
     I was planning.
     I was viewing.
     I was ready to do everything except for starting working on it. I’m going to spend ages decluttering it!

    ... I’m shaking out my hands in an hour’s time. Done.

     Seriously, done.

     Ok, it took me 2 attempts of decluttering, around an hour each time.
     Yup, sometimes I break lengthy jobs into smaller pieces...hmmm... let's say it's to be less tired.

     I used this rack to keep dry food products, dishes with cutlery, cooking appliances and essential oils I used in skincare routine.

     Frankly, I purposely procrastinated tiding up kitchen rack. I realized how much work I will have to do here, it’s was messy! Surprisingly, it took me less time and even less efforts than I expected.

     After I discarded lots of cooking vessels recently, I was able to relocate dishes, cutlery and other non-food kitchen items into the cupboards and drawers.

     And I changed my approach to storing dishes.
    Earlier I kept it permanently in the dish drying rack. After each use and washing I returned dishes to the rack to dry and store them. But finally I decided to stop using the rack and relocated dishes into the drawer:

Decluttering: Kitchen Rack

     Rack was taking too much space. And because dishes put there were always wet, tray accumulated a lot of moisture. Not attractive, not hygienic. So I changed the way I store dishes now.

     Relocation of dishes and cutlery was the only major change for the kitchen rack. The rest what I have done is just checked all food products, thrown those which expired, and arranged everything what possible into storage trays according to categories.

     My main intention for kitchen rack arrangement is to be able to see a glance what it contains. I need to be see things to remember I have them and to keep using.

     To make it less difficult to get used to new arrangement, I tried to save former location of storages as much as possible. For example, kitchen appliances that we use seldom we kept on the top shelf so I remained them there but arranged neater.

     Food related items we kept on the second and third shelves, so I remained that. But regrouped foods into storage trays according to my convenience.

     Second bottom shelf is for keeping most used kitchen appliances: multicooker and rice cooker. I put there rice storage too, it’s still about rice, right?

     Bottom shelf content has almost no changes, so beauty essential oils and herbs remained in place. I also added a tissue paper storage to bottom shelf. Well, can we consider it under beauty category?

Here it is, kitchen rack after decluttering!

Decluttering: Kitchen Rack

     Yes, you can say that - still not perfectly organized.
     Still cluttered? No!
     Ok, I also see it's not the top of perfection... I didn't dare to discard all the stuff, but plenty I did. At least first decluttering attempt is done -  my dream for this rack. Oh, and I can see all the stuff from a glance!

 

Decluttering & Organizing: Kitchen Utensils

Decluttering & Organizing: Kitchen Utensils

      Slowly but surely I’m reaching the kitchen for decluttering!
      Kitchen is one of the places in the house where I could only dream to tidy up, but never dare to do so. There is a lot of cooking vessels, cooking appliances, dishes and food gathered in one area.
      To add on, we don’t have a dedicated kitchen room in the house. Our kitchen is actually joint with living room. So there is only one corner with stoves, fridge and cupboards denoting that this is kitchen.
      And it's literally screaming for decluttering. Well, ok, as well as almost every corner in our house (but except for bathroom which I recently tidied up and got happy!:-).

     When we just shifted to the place we are staying now, available built-it cupboards and a drawer was not sufficient for me to house all the cooking stuff I had (they all got fully packed and I still had lots of things not fitted there), so I immediately purchased additional kitchen rack to fit all my kitchen belongings.
      It did help and was able to fit them all.
      But things arrangement has never been my strength, so everything was literally shoved to the shelves without any order.

     Over a year it was like this, until I gradually got fed up with messy space and messy kitchen. Since I launched my overall house decluttering overhaul, kitchen is going to be one of the most targeted areas.

I have 3 goals with kitchen decluttering:

- convenience for use

- easy cleaning

- attractive look (of course, otherwise how to enjoy being there!)

     The only way to achieve that intentions I see is to keep all the things away from kitchen counter top: inside cupboards, drawers, on shelves in storage containers. And to achieve that, I may need to reduce the amount of stuff I have. Surely I’m going to remain all I need and use.
But it looks I have more stuff than I need, so I will discard those items.

     First I’m starting with cooking vessels. In fact I use regularly only several of them.
      The rest I NEVER use!
      I packed cupboard shelves with casseroles, skillets and bowls which I didn't use a single time at least for months, and some for years! Each has specific reason for that, but mainly it’s because I either do not need (because have other more convenient substitute) or they have some drawback in use (like difficulty in cleaning or being heavy for lifting).

Decluttering & Organizing: Kitchen Utensils

Decluttering & Organizing: Kitchen Utensils

Decluttering & Organizing: Kitchen Utensils

     Now space constraint is really a concern. For this reason I prefer not to keep cooking stuff I do not need and have to discard it. That’s really a big amount of things! My cupboards immediately got a lot of space inside where I relocated necessary things I use: dishes, cutlery, lunch boxes and other little kitchen items.

Decluttering & Organizing: Kitchen Utensils

 

Decluttering & Organizing: Kitchen Utensils

 

Decluttering & Organizing: Kitchen Utensils

     Clutter in the kitchen was really overwhelming! I will need a few attempts to tidy it up to the final result. I will post it day by day following my progress.
      But for now - at least I managed to organize kitchen utensils and  see available space for further arrangements!

 

Decluttering: Expired Make Up

     Decluttering: Expired Make Up

     I love everything related to beauty, and make up is no exception.
I have a good range of make up, different products, brands, many are high-quality from department stores. I was able to accumulate a good collection of lipsticks and eyeshadows, however I use
d on a regular basis only a few of them. Others were just kept. Just in case. What if I may want to use them?

     And...
     R
ecently I was really shocked by discovery: expiry date of open make-up products differs from the date stated on the pack (that date is only for brand-new unopen product). And it’s shorter than I might even expect!

     Open lipsticks, glosses, foundations and other creamy type make up products can be kept after opening for only around a year. After that product gets spoilt, sometimes even becomes smelly and has to be discarded.

     Powdery type make up products like powders, eyeshadows, powder blushes and so on have to be used within 3 years after opening. All older than that may have unhealthy impact to the skin and recommended to discard.

 

   This was surprising news. Most of my make up collection exceeded recommended use period and have to be thrown (sigh!).

     To be fair, I do feel upset I wasted money buying them and not using.
But it also gives me some feel of relief.
      First, because it does not weigh in my mind that I have so many products and not sure when I can use them all!
      Second – yes, because I’m able to release a physical space from unnecessary products. I might not dare to throw most of my make up for other reasons, even realizing products are unnecessary. But now I have a fair reason to release the space they took and be more conscious when buying any make up in future.

     Well, I still have make up – but now it’s only new products I bought within past several months and using regularly. All outdated items I can throw without any regret, and no unnecessary stocking anymore!

 

 

Reducing Clutter: Switching to Higher Quality Products

     Reducing Clutter: Switching to Higher Quality Products

     Who doesn't like to save some cash on budget products? I do.

     Many times price tag was the final factor I give preference to one product and not the other. For budgeting purposes I set notional price limits for a piece which I usually didn't exceed.
     Buying clothing? Oh, I cannot afford to spend too much. Instead of one expensive pieces, I'll take three of a lower price! Just to have more choices and alter them.
     Buying accessories? The same concept – more and cheaper is better. More choices!
    Want to try something new but not sure if I need it? I will buy budget option and see!

     Finally I realized I kept buying things which didn't make me satisfied. I may be not satisfied with quality, performance or design. And kept buying the same things thinking I will find better piece.

     Once I started decluttering, many things were replaced with higher quality equivalents. And I noticed I stopped craving to buy something new (hoping it's something better) than already have.

     I started with the easiest (and my favorite!) category to experiment: clothing. For a long time I wanted to improve my weekend wardrobe, so I use it as a start.

     I had very voluminous range of budget weekend clothing – and yes, was not satisfied with that wardrobe.
      I think it’s fine for women to wish looking pretty. Clothing we wear does have a big impact to that, and it’s hard to feel pretty wearing unsightly clothing. On weekend I usually didn’t look presentable and was not happy with that.

For sure switching to quality products is costy. But for me – from clutter aspect - it will be an advantage as I cannot keep buying expensive things often, so it restrains me from unnecessary spendings. Unlike cheaper options which are attractive by their price tag in the first place.

     That’s ok I will have less options available, as long as they are the best.

     Also I noticed that after trying better quality standards, I’m no longer tempted to buy less quality things, even with attractive prices. It had happened to me a lot before! Buying cheap, I thought I’m saving money, but ended up I was wasting money, decluttering now things I do not love.

     Also, quality pricey things eliminate chances of impulsive buys. I have to think thoroughly, plan and sometimes make some savings to purchase one or other quality thing.

     So far wardrobe is the field of my experiment. I will try to apply this concept to the other stuff I use at home over time.

 

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     I always thought wardrobe is my messiest area in the house... Oh, dear, how much you pleased yourself!

     ...After I have done basic cleaning of the toilet area, I noticed sink ledge is full of moisture. Is it mold?

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Oh, that’s fine! It happens to bathrooms sometimes, isn’t it? Ok, I will spend a few more minutes to wipe it.

     After I removed storage boxes from the ledge, I stunned. Water accumulated under the boxes and mold was everywhere. Do I still think my wardrobe is the most untidy place?

     That’s the time I realized I need to re-focus all the attention and actions to declutter and clean bathroom area. Right now.

     I read a good advice from different sources: no point to start cleaning until you finish tiding.

     Cleaning deals with dust and dirt, tiding (in other words decluttering) – with unnecessary stuff. It’s just time-wasteful to try cleaning clutter.

     Well, I liked the advice...because got excuse not to clean. And there are some areas in the house (like bathroom!) which I was intentionally avoided to tidy up. They are so cluttered, I even couldn’t think what to do with all the stuff there!

     But one thing I underestimated.
     Well, clutter in the wardrobe is about inconvenience and bad closet look.
      Clutter in the bathroom is about hygiene. It causes water accumulation and mold growing.

     That day my intention to do a little cleaning ended up with major decluttering.
      I realized I MUST keep bathroom dry. All the stuff from the ledges have to be relocated to the cupboard.
But cupboard is already full with other stuff! 

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

What to do? Exactly!

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Most of the stuff goes into trash bag.
     Don’t know what habit is that, but I used to keep all not needed things in the cupboards out of sight. And those which I need and use – within a reach, near the sink in this case. Isn’t it convenient? I can see everything at a glance, can pick what I need quick!

    Oh no, my moldy sink ledge says for bathroom it does not work. I had to place all the necessary stuff into the cupboard and keep it away from water.

     Ledge will not be used for permanent storage anymore. And after each use I must wipe it thoroughly with the towel – the only thing I’m going to keep near the sink.

    In the end I was able to see the difference:

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Ok ok, not Pinterest perfect. I see I'm yet to clean the sink and tiles. I didn’t really organize much, just put everything into shelves. But it’s progressing! And I still can see where is one or another thing.

     Guys, if you have any tips, please let me know in the comments below! I will be interested to know how you handle your bathrooms, keep it dry or organize its stuff.

Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

     Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

     I never though so small things like plastic bags can have so big input to clutter.

     We always have plastic bags kept in the house.
     We always remain grocery plastics to use them - mainly for throwing the trash, and even buy purposely a set of plastics for bigger size trash bin. I find it's a mundane necessity and do not mind keeping them (though, I do plan to reduce the number of plastics kept).
     But I never thought they also can be organized!

    Just a little peek to the stock of plastics:

Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

    Guess what’s inside the laundry basket below? Even there I used to keep plastics!

    The only way I kept them organized was that I kept them inside basket. Bring groceries home, open the basket cover, shove bags inside…oh, I'm gonna miss doing that.  A big trouble I realized that plastics take a lot of space when they are filled with air or knotted.

    Seriously, there are not so many of them on the picture, doesn't it look so? Well, I know it does not.  This pile used to occupy the entire big box!

Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

     The woven basket on the first photo I used for keeping plastics was actually meant for keeping laundry, while laundry was kept in another basket cluttering our room entrance. Finally I decided to save the space, fold all plastics and keep them in available storage boxes, while laundry basket can be used as per its direct intention.

     I had to take all the bags out and start folding them. Well, it did take time. Only after 3 attempts of couple of hours each I managed to fold them all and store in the available boxes neatly. I think it will not be an issue to fold just several plastics after bringing them from grocery, but when a big pile accumulated – this is when I have to spend time improving my home organization. It's ok, I still was able to enjoy folding and at the same time watching something, let it count as part of my time spent useful. And now they take much less space, only 2 small boxes which I can put to available shelf. And basket is released!

     After folding is done, here is the result:

Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

    Ok, not Pinterest result but I'm progressing! I was able to relocate all the laundry into released basket, throw another one and noticeably increase available space in the unit entrance where it’s all located. That’s great that simple folding availed additional space in the room which we can enjoy now. This is one more time when I realized that small items (just plastics bags, how much space can they take?) can have an input to the clutter and affect bigger picture.