My husband and I had a delightful dating tradition during the first decade of our marriage that seemed like such a wonderful idea at the time. We would save Saturday mornings for garage-saling together. We were on a tight income and were great at spotting "treasures" in the midst of all of the junk. It was such an awesome way to spend time together and it
Little did we know what we were doing to our space.
All of a sudden, we were 30 years old...with an American-sized home full of stuff...and no space left to enjoy ourselves in.
Sometimes, all it takes is a new way of perceiving in order to act in a whole new way. I don't have cleaning methods, per say, but tactics that change the way you see your home...and your stuff.
Let's get started, shall we?
One morning, I was standing in my kitchen, staring in frustration and love at a vase that I have never found a decent place for. I could store it, but I don't get flowers that often, and it's the kind of thing that is beautiful enough to be out. All of a sudden it occurred to me...Brittany, you don't HAVE to own this, you can just like it. Someone else can find a place for it to be appreciated. The thought was so ground-breaking for me that I nearly dropped and shattered it on the floor in shocked self-discovery. I quickly wrapped it up and put it in the donate box, freeing my counter of another extra item and me of responsibility for it.
Take a moment, appreciate it, and move on. This same tactic works when you are looking through a magazine or Pinterest and see a tablescape or furniture arrangement that fills you with that "I WANT. I MUST HAVE." feeling. Resist the initial urge to "consume" or "own" the objects and instead admire the photo as a piece of art. Perceiving something as art helps you change your perspective from that of a consumer to that of a conscious observer. One who does not HAVE to buy what they are seeing.
Any time my house got incredibly messy, I'd suffer from a debilitating form of anxiety that kept me from accomplishing anything that would help our situation. Why waste energy on cleaning when it was obviously going to take days and days of concentrated effort to get everything where it belonged? How would we accomplish that kind of cleaning with so much going on?
Then one day, I looked at the counter next to my refrigerator and I thought, "Britt, you don't have to clean everything...but you can clean this spot." It was about 2 ft of counter space with just enough clutter to make it unusable. So I attacked it and 10 minutes later, I had some counter to work with. My sense of accomplishment was HUGE.
I started looking around at everything, and for the first time, didn't feel overwhelmed...I saw opportunities.
Sometimes, one space is dealing with the overflow from another and you just can't see it at first. There was a phase in our lives where no matter what I did in the living room, I couldn't keep the toys tidied up. It was so frustrating as I tried to keep that room from overflowing with toys (we don't have a playroom). I finally threw my hands up and went to tidy the boys' room for the first time in awhile...and discovered that they had tons of space left for toys on their shelves once I organized it. I was so focused on tidying our "main spaces" that I was ignoring an obvious answer in better organizing the bedrooms.
Cleaning another space might actually free up the first space!
I have never read any books or articles on cleaning, so I don't know much about the KonMari method, but I have seen a number of people mention this "joy" question on social media. I think it has good intention, but it STILL gives too much power to the object.
you don't have to keep everything that brings you joy.
Your SPACE can bring you joy. Your freedom from too much stuff can bring you joy. There are many paths to joy.
And if I had gone through my stuff and kept everything that brought me joy, I'd still have my Indiana Jones poster that never fit anywhere, most of my holiday decor, and tons of mismatched coffee mugs. Instead, asking myself if I could live without them and still find happiness, I was realizing that even things that brought me joy didn't have to exist in my home for me to have a beautiful space that brought me peace and contentment. In fact, my path to joy existed in getting rid of them. WHAT A FREEING REVELATION.
I know this is hard because us hoarders tend to LOVE our holiday decor choices. They are usually magical and whimsical and fill us with excitement. But you know what else they do? They take FOREVER to put out and put back away. I mean the tree alone takes a million years to set up and decorate and THEN you have to put your decor all over your house. They also take up all of that gorgeous basement storage that you could be finishing into another room to enjoy, or make space for the clutter that is all over the rest of your house! And you know what, I didn't even really like the look of all of that decor once it was all done.
The reason so much decor is needed is because if you have so much stuff in the first place, just setting out a handful of holiday objects won't get noticed. So you have to put out the right proportion to what you already have out in order for it to be seen. So if you reduce how much you have out, you can reduce how much holiday decor you need to make your space feel just as magical.
I was loving the objects, but I was NOT thinking of how I wanted my space. This is SO IMPORTANT. When you are done setting out all of your beloved objects, do you ALSO love your space? Or is there a chance you yearn for uncluttered magical space as well?
You know what I realized? That I love uncluttered space. So I got rid of nearly all of it.
I kept my FAVORITES, and in my newly clear space, just putting out a handful of my favorite items changed the entire tone. I was shocked and delighted to find that my space was just as whimsical, but with far less, and I had barely anything to clean or put away when each season or holiday ended. It takes me about fifteen minutes to decorate or clean up for any holiday (minus the Christmas tree, of course).
Wait...what? WHAT. This tactic has the 1-2 punch of eliminating unnecessary decor while spotlighting the beautiful things you already own and chose with care.
In the kitchen, do you have a cake stand you love, some vintage salt and pepper grinders, or a lovely bowl you inherited from your grandmother? Consider using these items as your decor, instead of wasting space on unusable items. I can't say 100% of what's in my kitchen is usable, but probably 98% is, and I donated any of the odd trinkets that just didn't have a purpose.
And guys, nature is the most beautiful thing. USE THAT PRODUCE.
In the bedroom, I love to use my jewelry. Hang an accordion style holder on the wall and put your jewelry on display as a piece of art.
Whether it takes up valuable space, gives you more things to dust or put away, or creates a stressful environment for you, extra stuff is not just free stuff. Giving away something may mean losing it, but you are GAINING your time, your energy, and your peace in return.
From one lazy person to another, this was a gamechanger for me. Less stuff means I don't have to put it away for the billionth time OR worry about dusting it. I can't tell you how many things I've decided to get rid of purely because I thought about never having to dust it again. SEE YA, STUFF! I'VE GOT SOME COUCH-LOUNGING TO DO!
This will begin to happen naturally as your desire to preserve your beautiful, enjoyable space overrides your desire to have more things. You can avoid ALL of the steps above simply by being very selective about what you purchase for your home, like a curator in an art gallery. This method also saves you money AND when you buy less objects, you allow yourself to use that money to buy objects of more substance, quality, and durability. Win-win-win....WIN.