This summer we put our house up for sale. It would have gone on the market in the spring but for one thing: the clutter in every part of the house.
We are squeezed in to a house much too small for our big family and, as a result, it is already crowded. I’m not a hoarder, in fact quite the opposite, I would love to live in a beautifully minimalist house where we don’t own much and everything we do own has a place to be stored away out of sight. But I also hate throwing anything away that I believe might be useful one day (the environmentalist in me) and so there were plenty of items that I was keeping ‘just in case’. Add those to an already crowded living environment and four busy children who never seem to put anything away and I would look around at our house and think we have no chance of selling it looking like this.
So there was that.
And then we had some removal quotes done.
Nothing focuses your mind more on decluttering than the thought of having to pay to have the things you don’t really need, or particularly want, moved from one home to another.
There was only one solution and that was a radical declutter and sorting of our possessions.
We have gone further than that too and stored a whole lot of things that we want to keep but don’t need for the duration of our house sale, some in the garage in case I need to access them and some in self-storage. These items have been in storage now for a few months and with the exception of my SAD light (I packed it in the height of summer, not remembering that we might not actually have moved by the time winter comes) and a few children’s board games we haven’t really missed anything.
So for many weeks over the summer while the children were at school I went through every part of the house deciding what would be kept in the house, what would be stored, what could be given to charity and what would be recycled. If I wasn’t sure about an item I used the criteria ‘do I want to pay to move this?’ and it was surprisingly easy to de-clutter!
That’s a scary amount of stuff we didn’t need that we were keeping in our house.
I don’t know if all skip companies are required to do it anyway, but the company I chose recycled everything they could from the skip so I was able to feel reasonably confident that we weren’t making too much of a contribution to landfill. Still, that was a lot of rubbish to say goodbye to and I felt a little guilty. And also quite a bit relieved, because it is a surprisingly good feeling to get rid of so much stuff you realise you don’t actually need.
Now we have a policy of one-in, one-out – if we have to buy something new, we try to get rid of whatever it is replacing – I don’t just store it with a vague plan that we might use it somewhere else one day. We don’t automatically keep boxes for the boys to use for craft activities, I bin them unless I have a definite activity in mind. There are always new boxes in the not-too-distant-future, at least while their feet keep on growing and growing like they do.
I donated all the baby clothes I was keeping ‘just in case’. That was hard 🙁 .
We also decided to make the study (which in reality was a junk storage room) into a bedroom. Now there is nowhere just to dump things that I will deal with when I have a minute. Instead I have to make a minute to deal with the item right there and then. It’s harder that way but stops the clutter piling up. This is what our storage room now looks like:
I can’t find a picture of what it looked like before which is probably just as well as I’d probably be too embarrassed to post it here.
One of the best tips for selling a house is to put all your stuff away but it’s hard work to have to do that every time you have a viewing when you have four small children underfoot. So now we have specific places for items we use every day and my dream of living a minimalist life is getting a little nearer! It also makes cleaning so much easier (which means I’m much more likely to do it) and the sense of peace I get when I look around at my clean and clutter-free house is wonderful:
In addition to the usual cupboards and toy storage, I have three items of furniture that I couldn’t live without because they are great for storage: my beloved apothecary chest (also coveted by others) which, because it has lots of small drawers, is great for storing things you want to keep but don’t know quite where to put.
I also have my work chest which is the old set of drawers in the hallway in the picture above where I store all my paperwork, school books, pens, folders and items I need to hand every day. There are trays for paperwork in, a file for filed papers, drawers for everything else.
I also have a Go Shelf which is a cubby storage shelf unit in the hallway where I put everything that needs to go out of the house at some point, so letters to be posted, birthday gifts to be taken to parties, mobile phones, shopping lists and all sorts of paraphernalia can go here and I’m never hunting around for stuff right before I have to go out.
I’m so much happier with the way things are now and I feel more inclined to keep the house clutter-free.
How do you deal with clutter?
Welcome to the Friday Club Carnival, a weekly carnival held here. Sorry for the delay in publishing but it’s here now: this week’s Carnival is all about dealing with clutter and here are the other entries in this carnival, please click through and read these great posts:
Lasso The Moon posts Take 100 things off your house’s waistline.
Kooky Girl Blog posts Ironing and Clutter and Stuff.
Jennifer’s Little World posts Dealing with clutter in the home.
Living it Little posts De-clutter or die.
Inside The Wendy House posts Clutter.
Midlife Singlemum posts Clutter: A Straight Exchange.
Green and Tidy posts Five ways to have a clutter-free Christmas.
Who Teaches Whom posts Clutter.
Live Otherwise posts Decluttering – a dream.
Multiple Mummy posts Clutter or Memories?
Freckles Family posts De-cluttering – My new hobby.
Mymumdom posts Clutter.
Kate on Thin Ice posts Reflections on Clutter.
Here Come The Girls posts How to clutter your home.
Thank you to to all these lovely bloggers for taking part and for their patience in the carnival being published this time!