Decluttering: Here’s To Less

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It is January 3rd, the pine needles are all over your floor or you have recently swept them away.  You have taken the mountains of wrapping paper to the recycling bin, and the leftover champagne that you toasted the new year in with that is now in your refrigerator has gone flat.  Now is the time that we begin to think of what we can do to make our lives better – a.k.a. resolution time. My biggest focus is always decluttering.

I have thought a lot about my own 2011 resolutions as my life has been a tad bit hectic and I haven’t been able to enjoy it as much as I would like. I started making a list of things I would like to change, but when I looked at the items on the list I realized there was one common denominator.  Seeing it pop out on the paper made me realize there was only one New Year’s resolution I needed to make – the rest would follow.  My New Years resolution – is simple  –  literally – to simplify.

I am going to try to make 2011 the year I truly learn to live without so much “stuff”.  My life is filled with things. I am overwhelmed by possessions I own but do not treasure. Stuff I have bought, but do not need.  Perhaps in  2011 I can be different. Perhaps now is my opportunity to reassess what really matters.  After all, if everything I ever bought disappeared overnight, what would I truly miss?

-not piles of  stuff that I no longer need
-not too many Christmas decorations
-not the stacks of china I use only once a year
-not a basement filled with stuff I have no idea what to do with

By decluttering and  simplifying I will have more time in my day to take care of the things that really matter.  By not having to take care of so much stuff I will have more time to eat right.  By getting rid of boxes of junk that I haven’t used in years I will have more time to exercise.  By not going to the mall to shop for things I don’t need, I can have more time to spend with family and friends. By not having to dust tchotchkes and excess stuff  I can take a class or an online course to learn something new.  Simplifying will allow me to come home from work and spend more time creating and connecting with you.

Living simply can mean completely different things to different people. Whatever it means to you, living simply frees you to simply live consciously with clear purpose that coincides with your ideals.   Excess clutters not only your space, but your mind as well.  As a consumer oriented society we usually associate simplicity with self-denial and austerity. Rather than depriving, simplicity allows you to live more fully. It lets you focus on what is important to you as an individual while getting rid of the stuff that gets in the way. No extra unneeded flourishes to catch dust, clutter you don’t enjoy looking at, and trendy accessories that tend to get tiresome and date rather quickly that you end up having to take time to pack up and haul to Goodwill.   Living simply has quite another and more lasting message – the revealing of your personal style – as you only live with what you truly love and can’t live without – the items that make your life better, richer, and in tune with who you really are.

So, my resolution for 2011 is that I am going  to try to make every minute of every day the best I can by doing only the things I need and love to do and clear the rest off of my daily slate.  I want to have the time to discover my essential self, or shall I say rediscover it – the part of me that was lost within the clutter.   The part of me that makes me happy – doing creative things with fabric, good junk, and color.

As I simplify I am going to view my  possessions as things that help define me, not rule me. Things I am going to keep will be things that make me smile or are a special remembrance from my life so far: seashells from the shore, well-loved books, a tea cup that starts my day off with a smile even before I fill it. Out goes the stuff I bought on a whim, to fill a space, or were just mistakes or things I thought would make my life easier, but didn’t.

So far I have completed my dining room- Ahhhh! Bliss…  Click to see the updated version of my dining room

Now in 2011 I will start on my family room.  I love the look of these two rooms and am using them as my inspiration. I love the clean simple lines and natural elements.

Next up will be my kitchen and pantry.  I love the light and brightness of the spaces in these photos as well as the open shelving and basket storage.

And then I will continue into other rooms until I feel a positive clutter-free vibe all through my house.

A new year is time for reinvention – I am going to simply do it.

I wish I could just wave a magic wand and have the life and home I dream of.  I plan to do one thing at a time until I get it right. I will be charting my progress and posting about it.  If I am successful, I will be clutter free and living perfectly content with only the things I love by this time next year.

*Here is the progress for you from my worst clutter zones…the Basement #1, Basement #2 and the Garage.

Do you have a resolution for 2011 that you feel so passionate about that you know you will succeed?  As Thoreau said – “Let’s go forth in the direction of our dreams.”

Photo Credits:

StyleAtHome.com
Outdoor Furniture at PotteryBarn.com
Brabourne Farms
Charm Hill Interiors
Atlanta Homes Magazine

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35 Comments

  1. Very good post. it is very useful and informative post. its looking great. Thank you for your sharing.

  2. Declutttering is a major issue in my family. Especially where it comes to the point that at the end of the day you are just the step-mum. I tried having my step-kids get rid of stuff and I’m known as the bad guy. They have a bunch of stuff that just lies around the place and no one seems to be using them and I’m like “hey guys, would you like to donate this to an orphanage, kids there would really appreciate it” and the reply is “No!My mom gave me that, I can’t give it away” yea my bad. So we came to an agreement to have these stuff boxed and place in a storage. Thanks to A-1 Moving & Storage, the job was done and I can finally call my house a home.

  3. I found your blog through Impact Thrift Shop’s December newsletter and am really enjoying it. My only thought about the open shelves with dishes and so forth is this: doesn’t the stuff get dusty? I’m thinking the doors might serve a purpose. When cleaning my kitchen I find grease and dust on the tops of the cabinets, etc., but it’s not inside the cabinets, and wonder how open shelves work in practice.

    1. Hi Kristen-

      Thanks. I wish I had a stone fireplace like in those photos – that might take a miracle, but I am working on somehow getting that look.

  4. Your dining room looks wonderful! and I love the ‘inspiration’ photos you’ve posted. I just moved my washer/dryer so that I could have a butler’s pantry, and your post is inspiring!

  5. Thanks I just read your comment to me and thank you for following my lil ole blog! (I am your newest follower too) I absolutely LOVE your blog– it is beautiful and your pictures are A-mazing!! I need to add “get a new camera” to my 2011 to-do list!(Along with some photography lessons) Your inspiration rooms are gorgeous! happy new year–Ann

  6. Bravo! Your dining room looks peaceful and relaxing.

    I’ve been working on sorting and boxing my oldest daughters things. She’s getting married in May, but lives 26 hrs from home. So when she is here, we’ve been doing wedding stuff. Plus she doesn’t seem to have the incentive I have to clear out ! My youngest daughter was helping me, and got inspired to work on her room. Especially after she decided her sister might be a ‘hoarder’. :)
    Out go those former boyfriend photos and momentos, high school notes, etc.
    Yeah!!!!!

    1. Hi Janet-

      It does feel good doesn’t it? Getting rid of all that clutter especially the old boyfriend photos :) now that she has found the one. My daughters are both abroad right now and how I wish I could get into their rooms and purge everything, but I am not sure what they want to keep. It was easier when they were little. If I have to move because of my husbands job – their rooms will be the hardest to pack up. good luck with your sorting, purging, and and boxing up.

  7. Such great thoughts and I couldn’t agree more. I just came across your blog, and living with less is something I always struggle with, so I’m so glad I came across this post. On one hand, I like my “things”, but on the other hand it always feels so good to get rid of excess. I love the idea to have only things you use or have meaning.

  8. Great Post! I am always in a constant state of shopping, organizing, donating, shopping, organizing, donating, etc. It’s a vicious cycle and one of my resolutions is to save more and spend less. Less shopping and acumulating means less organizing, sorting, and getting rid of and more time and money! Cheers to you Diane!

  9. Diane,

    I positively crave less at the start of the New Year. And every year just after Christmas I am a de-clutter freak…getting rid of alot of the stuff we don’t need. I love this time of year!

    Jane
    FF

  10. My thoughts exactly!! I have been working in my kithchen today. I want it all done NOW, but am trying to remember that it will take time. I just don’t want to lose my “itch” before getting to my bugaboo of a laundry/storage room!

    1. Hi Kay-

      I don’t want to lose my itch either that is why I am going to take it slow and one room at a time. Just keep in the back of your mind that if you have a laundry room that you love – you may not mind doing the laundry anymore. That should keep your “itch”going for some time :)

  11. ahhh! i can’t wait to get declutter and donate/trash some things! that’s the one thing i love about january and february … cleaning house!

    thanks for the motivation boost!

    1. Hi Michael-

      Since January and Feburary are “indoor” months in many parts of the world, it seems fitting to want to declutter. I know when April comes around and I can open my windows I will go on an actual cleaning frenzy. First I have to get rid of the junk.

  12. Wonderful! I am also trying to pare down. I wonder, however, if anyone else in my house will acquire the ability to pare down, donate, etc, b/c I’m always the one culling the too small clothes, decor, etc.

    1. Hi aninchofgray-
      When my girls were little I always purged their rooms when they were at school. I used 30 gallon trash bags to get rid of all their accumulated little junk – like prizes from school fairs, unnamed stuffed animals, and other stuff that just was collecting dust. They never once missed anything. Years later when my youngest was in high school she asked me, ” Mom, you know that thing you used to do to our rooms when we were little, can you do that to my room today? She liked not having all the clutter, but was afraid she would not be as dispassionate as I would be about what got tossed.

  13. This rang so very true for me! (I’m forwarding this to some friends as well!) We moved from a 1940’s bungalow, where out of necessity everything had its place to a sprawling suburban home where we’ve accumulated stuff! Nothing special, nothing sentimental-just junk! Your post is inspiring, and I’m planning on making this my goal for 2011 as well so I can spend more time playing with my children and crafting instead of caring for objects that have no value. Here’s to simplifying!

    1. Hi Lesli-

      Such a great goal. Our children grow up so fast and before you know it – they are out on their own and all you are left with is literally “stuff” Quality time spent with them now is the best thing you will ever do. Mine used to love to do crafts with me. Enjoy!

  14. You spoke the words I have been thinking this past few weeks. I did not put up all of my Christmas decorations this year but we still had a wonderful Christmas. I am thinking of simplifing my piles too. I love your inspiration pictures and I am looking forward to seeing your progress.

    1. Hi Alaina-

      I hardly put up anything this year either, but got ALL the boxes down from the attic. I liked it much better – there was breathing room. We had the tree and a few small touches around the house. I didn’t miss any of the things that stayed in the boxes. I will probably have a yard sale come Spring to unload the stuff I didn’t use.

  15. I have made an almost identical resolution. I think part of my “purging” will have to wait until Spring…and then there are going to be more changes in my life anyway. A wonderful post-Here’s to a simplified life! Hugs- Diana

  16. I agree!! Only do each day that which makes your heart sing:) And declutter your house….only surround yourself with things you truly love!! I think your house is absolutely beautiful….your dining room, your fireplace….all lovely!! Happy New Year to you~

  17. Dear Diane,
    my best compliments for your strong decisions for this 2011!
    It’s true, we should free ourselves from all the unuseful staff, it seems to be difficult doing it; but it’s only a matter of the heart, not mind.
    When you throw away the unuseful things, you have more space for you and your life and everything is clean around you and you can better organize your space! Compliments to you, because, I always think I should throw away lots of thinks, but I never do it, I always think ” but it can be useful one day or the other…..” Who knows, maybe I’ll take the cue from your intentions to lighten my house and my life! I wonder if I will succeed??
    with affection Fanny

  18. I love what you are saying about living simply, and I agree with you completely. This is also what I will be doing for awhile because my husband and I also made the decision to downsize and move into a smaller dwelling….nice but about 1/4 the size of our house. I must also look at everything we have and decide what to do with it. I was doing rather well, until the holidays came. Now I feel like I’m starting all over with all there is to find room for. So, please don’t leave your blog page. I really need you and your philosophical viewpoints as well as helpful ideas. Promise you’ll be here.
    Sincerely,
    Rosalie/mudderbear

  19. Good for you! The dining room looks beautiful. A less cluttered life leaves more space for creativity. Don’t give up, even though at time the task may seem daunting. You will be so happy when half of the clutter is gone and the other half neatly organized and put away. Your mind will be free to think of all kinds of fun stuff!

  20. Five years ago we staged our home before selling it and I loved the feeling of having less. We moved into a home double the size and only added a few pieces of furniture. I like the less cluttered feeling.
    Like Lori I would like to sell some of the projects I work on so I can still have fun working on things.
    Traci

  21. I get what you are saying. I undecorated my house from holiday stuff and left all surfaces empty (mostly because I wasn’t feeling well). I am enjoying all the cleared spaces and going to keep this way for a few days and only bring out what I really love. It’s funny because I redecorated a few years ago and sent clean simple lines with very little clutter and fell in love with it, especially when it came time to dust. However as time has moved on I find myself filling it up with more stuff! I’ve decided to start selling some of the things I make so it doesn’t fill up my house but I still get the joy of making it! That is my way of simplifying! Happy New Year to you!

    1. Hi Laura-

      Growing up I can remember my mother saying “When you bring something new in, you take something out”. She loved to decorate and our house never looked cluttered when I was growing up. It was always evolving. If she had a HomeGoods or TJ Maxx back then, I think she would have had a harder time choosing. We have so many options today and resourses. Where are you going to sell the things you make? Locally or on etsy?

  22. I so agree! I started TWO years ago to simplify – it has taken me THAT long! I love what you said, that simplifying means different things to different people. I went all the way, from a 2800 sq ft home to a 320 sq ft cottage. We are so happy! Every day I think about what our life was before, and how simplifying and paring down has added to our life. Your dining room is beautiful – can’t wait to see what else you do!

    Here is my home: http://minkeebabygifts.blogspot.com/p/our-cottages.html and here: http://minkeebabygifts.blogspot.com/2010/12/ceiling-is-finally-finished.html

    1. Hi Debra-

      I may have to move which is constantly in the back of my mind. My hubby has been unemployed now for quite a while and moving is a real possibility. Our daughter’s are grown and if we do move we could downsize. I think about what type of home I would want and know it would be smaller and designed more in tune for the way we actually use each room and or space. Another thing that has motivated me was last week we moved my mother-in-law into an apartment. She has SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much stuff and can’t throw anything away. My hubby an I just kept looking at each other all day long and shaking our heads in disbelief at the amount of stuff we had to move for her. We vowed we never let our home get that way.