Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Declutter, Condense, and Organize

I almost skipped writing this post because it’s just too detailed a subject for one post! But remember my quirky little math example?

I think a well-decorated home is:

50% What you DON’T have

30% Where you put what you do have

15% The atmosphere created in your home through attitudes, disciplines and comforts


5% What you buy for your home to look good

It would be leaving out 50% of what I do to decorate without debt, if I were to skip over this topic!

This topic is actually one of my favorite because I like to really think of the way things work in a home, what we really need to make those things run, and how to get those things up and running. And because this is such an enormous topic, I will soon start a new series that will run much longer than a few posts. But, for now, let me just give you a cut down to the very basic post on decluttering.

What does decluttering, condensing and organizing have to do with decorating? In my opinion—everything!

Have you ever walked into a home or seen one on a movie, where the person has way too many nice things? I don’t mean trash. I mean, really great, nice stuff! Does having all that nice stuff do anything for the appearance of their home? Nope. Not a single thing. It looks trashy and crowded and dark.

Now, have you ever been in a home that’s really humble, but you can just tell the woman who lives there takes pride in what her home looks like? I have. No trends, no expensive accessories, no fuss, and no clutter…but absolutely beautiful. It feels like you walk into the room and breathe better air! That’s what my Granny’s home was like.

Clutter depresses and darkens. It weighs something…physically, mentally, and visually. Clutter is emotional and exhausting.

Clutter Depresses

Unless you’ve always lived and visited perfectly clean and orderly homes, you know from experience what I mean. Clutter is depressing. It mentally holds onto you like tentacles. It reminds you of things you never finished, places you went and can’t get back to, projects you wasted money on. It flogs you with guilt and reminds you that you’re not the woman you always dreamed you’d be. It sounds a constant alarm in your brain reminding you that you’re not finished. There are still things to be done—why are you sitting around? Even some of the good things can remind you that things used to be better.

A home can be so much a part of a woman, that when her home is ugly and cluttered, SHE feels unbeautiful and weighed down.

Clutter Darkens

Every single thing you own casts a shadow. Everything. Even the cord running from my wall to this laptop I’m writing on casts a shadow. Multiply that by how much stuff is in the room and you’ll realize why clutter has a darkening effect. This shadow effect is probably why containerizing is so popular! You bring 20 things all casting a shadow and put them in a pretty basket…and wha-la…more light!

It is so important if you want your space to be beautiful, to declutter. Light itself is important. I don’t know the last thing about adding light to a room, but I know how to take darkness out. Get rid of things.

I know this but it’s still hard to accomplish! The series I will start after this will have tons of before and after pictures, because well…I’m living in the before.

Have you ever walked in a room and been instantly scared? It usually has something to do with darkness. And I don’t always mean more black. There are rooms with black furniture that are still bright rooms. I mean that you can’t see enough. Are there bugs lurking behind those boxes? Is a rat sneaking behind my feet? You wonder because you can’t see.

I actually have a rat sneaking into my house right now at night. We’re battling that sucker and he’s in for it! But, I’m not scared in my kitchen. I walk around barefoot all the time. Why? Because I could see it coming if it were around. When there’s space and air and light, there is nothing to be scared of. However, I’ve got this back door closet that’s full of stuff—really, really full with stuff. I am scared every time I open that closet that something’s going to come crashing down by my feet and that unwanted pet is going to scamper right across my bare feet!

Clutter Adds Weight

This is really an understatement. It adds weight, but it feels much heavier than weight. It weighs on your soul. Not everyone is like me, but when I look around, I am constantly reminded of all the unfinished things I have to do. I see a Barbie on the floor and I am reminded how little I get to play with my 9 year old. I see a dirty shirt on the floor and it reminds me I need to catch up on laundry. On it goes. Every single thing that’s out of place reminds me that I’m sort of out of place, too.

Clutter Is Exhausting

Just as clutter adds weight, it adds stress and exhaustion. Every unfinished thing reminds you of how much there is to do and seems to remind you that you’ll never get there. There is no rest in clutter. Do you know that every few books I get rid of, I actually feel like I have more time! Why is that? Because I was looking at all those unread books as time in my future that is already spent. When I only have the books I’ve already finished, the ones that are just for the kid’s pleasure of glancing through, and the ones completely for decoration, I have no future time commitments staring me down. The same is true with projects. I have a guitar that sits by our piano in the school room. It reminds me every time I pass it that Josh spent good money giving me a guitar that I wanted, to only play it three times. Every toy, book, game, set of whatever, and gadget adds to your future time commitment. That is exhausting.

Clutter is also physically exhausting. Every single thing you own adds to your life other stuff and responsibility. Let’s think of something really simple. A towel. If you own a towel, which I’m assuming you do, you also have to own something to wash it in (washing machine), something to dry it on (line or dryer), and probably more to match it—not to mention a basket to carry it from the dryer to the room you’ll fold it in. Now, you don’t just own a towel, you own the responsibility to care for that towel, including using it, picking it up, washing it, drying it, storing it appropriately, folding it, putting it away…and the cycle continues.

That’s just a towel. Think of a computer, a Wii fit game, a set of legos. Everything you own comes with more stuff you have to buy, use, and do, to take care of it. It’s really no wonder that people in this time in history are more exhausted than ever!! Well, the opposite applies as well. When you give up something, you also give up anything directly linked to that item alone and the responsibility to store and take care of it.

So, what do we do about all of this?

Work really, really hard at getting rid of everything we can! That’s what my next series will be about. There wasn’t much practical advice on how to declutter in this post, but that’s soon to come.

So, what do y’all think? I’m trying to decide how often I should post about de-junking specific areas in our homes. I’m leaning toward once every other week. I want to give enough time for people to keep up, but I also don’t want people to lose interest. I figure most people get paid every other week and could buy a few little necessary items for a small bi-monthly project. Maybe I should even limit how much I can spend on each project?? What do y’all want/need?

Okay, so I have some super exciting news for all of you out there reading my blog!!

For the first time ever, I’m going to have a guest poster!!!!!! Yay!

If y’all haven’t read Kylie’s blog, Kylie M Interiors blog, you’ve been missing out. Her two blogs are the very first place I go to find tutorials about all things interior design. I’ve asked her to write a post about one of the things that scares me most about decorating a room—accessorizing. I can’t wait to read what she comes up with!!! Until then, please go visit her blog for some really inspiring before/afters from some of her client’s houses and WONDERFUL, very practical advice on decorating.

After her post…………the big REVEAL!!!!!!!!


  1. More wonderful information!
    dee dee

  2. Thanks, Dee Dee! I am so excited that you keep coming back to read and comment. I think you're my first "fan" on this blog. Smile.

  3. I have never thought of the visual clutter causing darkness in a room and the correlation of this darkness to depression and emotional weight. What an "Ah Hah!" moment to read your post here and learn this very simple (yet not easily seen or recognized) idea. Please, please, please continue your posts. I would love to follow your de-junking projects and try to implement them in my own home.

    Thank you so much for your blog!

  4. Ah, so sweet! Is this Kathy, like Mama's friend Kathy? HI!! I'm trying to get this blog up and running after my other one took off unexpectedly. I love to decorate, but my real passion is helping people get out of debt and how to manage a home on less money. I figured I would start this one as my overall blog and use that one for just house updates and decorating. Welcome to my blog, Kathy!!

    1. Hi,

      No, I'm sorry that I'm not your Mom's friend, Kathy. I'm Kathy from Chicago IL and I just found your blog while following a pinterest pin that led me here. What is the URL to your other decorating and house update blog? I would love to read that one also.

      Yesterday, after reading your page here about light I went right out to the store and bought a little lamp to put in a dark corner of my kitchen that has always bothered me (and I didn't know why until I read what you posted). Oh, I am so pleased with the result!! It's amazing how even a small change like that can make such a profound difference. :). And my husband liked it also (and not in that, "oh that's nice, how much did it cost?" way either!) LOL.

    2. PaperKat--well, then, it's nice to meet you!! Happy Easter. I'm so glad you did something nice for your house that helped. If you go to the right hand bar to this blog there's a page that says, "My Other Blog: Debt Free Decorating". That's a direct link there. I would love for you to link up a picture of your new light if you've made a post about it. The link up should start at a little after 3:15 today. I started it a little early so that I wouldn't have to do any computer work on Easter. I just stopped by to say hi. I'm very glad to meet you! Do you have a blog I can visit? I'll try and look tomorrow. Have a good day!


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