To prepare for our move to the new house, we packed up a bunch of stuff in a POD and sent it off to storage until we move.  A lot of it was attic stuff, seasonal decorations, etc. but some of it was stuff that got pretty prime real estate in our house. 

There was a lot of stuff in there...  and I'm sure some of it means something to me...  but I kind of don't want it back.

Here's an instagram coversation with my friend Seleta that pretty much explains my feelings:

laurenliess: House is all clean (with a bunch of junk in storage.) wish we could always live like this!

simplyseleta: Such declutter beauty.  We need to toss at least 50% of our "stuff" to put it in ladylike terms.

laurenliess:  we put all of our stuff in a pod and i secretly want to blow up the pod.

simplyseleta:  same here!!  You blow up mine, I'll blow up yours, ha ha!

{image from here}

Do we all feel this way????? 

And what can we do to fix it??

Every time I move (which is becoming fairly frequent!) I tell myself I don't want a lot of "stuff."  I am contstantly getting rid of things,  giving away toys and clothes and trying to keep clutter from coming in.  But it does anyway.  It's like that blob movie they used to show clips of on Muppet Babies. 

I've accumulated too many towels & linens (I guess I get new ones to replace the messed up ones & then forget to get rid of the old ones)  too many vases (why??? when I pretty much only use mason jars, pitchers or beakers?!!!) too many boxed foods & kitchen condiments that never get made or used and the number of unmatching sippy cups to lids is absurd!!!

There are too many clothes that I don't look good in taking up room in my drawers and closets, cleaning supplies I forget we have, and I have toiletries to last me (and a few of my closest friends) a lifetime!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH

{Queen Hoarder}

image here

I have got to STOP.  (or start giving away faster.)

We have very little storage in our new house.  Our new house is 200 square feet smaller than our current one.  We have a garage and an out-of-the-way attic and a teensy tiny bit of storage in our miniscule laundry room room... but nothing really to speak of. 

The one thing I've noticed about my decluttering patterns... They come in phases. Every other month or so I wake up on a Saturday and tear through the house, creating a massive "giveaway" pile.
But this time, I ( really!) don't want to mess around with my stuff.  I don't want to keep sending my stuff from room to room.  helllllllllp!!!!!!

I need a refresher to keep me disciplined!!  What are your best junk-busters?  And storage tips too!  Let's get a good tip list going!!


Bethany [at] Powell Brower Home said...

You're so right. I feel like I have those same hot buttons - toiletries... WHY? extra condiments that I just had to have at trader joes, that i havent used (can food drive at thanksgiving?) and definitely clothes. More like t-shirts and things that no longer fit. I have such a teeny house that I may not be able to ever keep stuff that I want, but even still, I manage to have junk sometimes! Is it ever possible to not?

BaileyWife said...

My 2012 goal was to ORGANIZE and DECLUTTER. And so far, so good. One room and one closet at a time! It doesn't happen overnite...which is why my post today was "A Nap"



Debby said...

we got rid of things in a big way two years ago. Now, we need to do it again. It is a good feeling.

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

I am in the same clutter-ific place. We had things under control for about a year then BAM! all of a sudden there was stuff everywhere.
One of the things that kept our family room tidy was minimizing the amount of toys our 3 year-old has. We have one of those shelves that holds 10 fabric bins and everything has to fit in there or the nearby closet. The problem now is that people keep giving her things and her bins are full.

Lisa said...

I'm currently in a similar boat - we are preparing for our first child and trying to clear out stuff to make room for all of the new baby stuff. My goal is to have the closet in the nursery (our only bedroom besides the master) truly be for our child and not have any of our things in there. It's really a challenge.

My best advise is to try to group as much one type of clutter together as possible so you can take a good, hard look at your collection - then you can make an informed decision about what you really need vs. what you might have been holding on to because you thought you might need.

Another tip - use zip lock bags to organize small things in bigger boxes. I was able to take three medium boxes of office supplies down to one large box by pulling it all out, deciding we really don't need two staplers/two tape dispensers/etc... and then grouping unruly items in bags. I have to admit, I was pretty excited when I was done!

Michelle said...

I am SO bad at this. Our basement is overflowing with shelves of party stuff that I only use once or twice a year.

Yuko said...

I'm no minimalist, but I've been de-cluttering my "stuff" over a year now. It's been the most liberating experience ever! It helps me focus on what's important for me by getting rid of excess in life. I love good designs and beautiful things, which is why I enjoy reading your blog, but at the same time I have a strong urge to simplify my life. I think it's all about identifying what you love and is beautiful for you and what's cluttering your life.
www.bemorewithless.com is a great blog that will help you simplify your life. Best of luck, and congratulations on your new house!!
ox Yuko

Leanne said...

My best advice on decluttering is don't bring it into the house to begin with. That's usually easier said than done. But if you declutter then use the "one item in, one item out" rule it will be pretty easy to stick too. If I'm thinking of buying something I have to first be able to know exactly where it's going to go and be able to get rid of another item in that room. It's not 100% but it works most of the time.

Karena said...

Lauren yes my girlfriend has one item in one item out philosophy! I put my house on the market briefly last year and packed at least 20 boxes and sent them to my son's storage behind his garage. In fact I could really pack even more...

I have not missed a thing except a couple of designer pillow covers and some of my art/ design books!

A Country Farmhouse said...

I am constantly dropping bags off at Good Will - but the stuff is never ending! The new towels made me laugh! I think I have done that three times now so we have several shades of 'white' towels in our linen closet.

Jennifer said...

giirrrlll when you discover the secret, please do tell. I feel like I am always cleaning stuff out, and yet, am still buried under stuff. I SO DO NOT want to live like this! I really think it affects my quality of life, haha. I wish I could follow the 'one in, one out' rule with more discipline.

tanyaj said...

you just have to stay on top of it daily. i always have a give away pile. one or 2 great fitting jeans is all you need don't buy 10 and every time you bring something in take 2 things out. it is a constant process. good luck

Jennifer said...

and I refuse to believe that Trina has too much stuff! just goes to show how blogland can trick us :)

Sjn said...

we had a garage sale this year and there's always Goodwill. That's so easy, just drop the stuff off and it can be used by someone else.
I think we need to de-clutter seasonally.
I just did my pantry and laundry room cabinets. I love to feel organized!

Domestic Engineer said...

one item out for every one item in. dont' use your attic storage unless absolutely necessary. repurpose old stuff to make new. EVERYTIME you buy something new to replace an old item, put the old item in the donation pile. I always have a donation pile going! Always, except for the few days between donations!

Courtney {a thoughtful place} said...

YES!! I have had this same conversation. We have things stored in our garage from those hanging racks. I secretly want them to disappear. We went camping and when I came back I realized I don't need most of my things.

jvw home said...

Hi Lauren!
I haven't written to you in so long...just bc i honestly never have alot of time to comment, much less read everyone's blogs...but I always love getting your posts.
We are in the SAME mess as we speak...PODS in the driveway!!! I"m in moving h-e-l-l as we speak...but we do this alot and finally are starting to wittle down alot of CRAP. But I'm completely in agreement on wishing i could live without all this stuff...my office and my closet especially...i'm lovin the liberating clean, open spaces....so, i'm challenging myself in the next house to only use what's necessary and then DONATE, DONATE if it has no spot or makes me feel cluttered....
good luck with yours and i'll keep ya posted on mine!

Nicole said...

I was just saying the same thing this weekend about my girls' endless toys/art & craft projects/"little things".... But then I have the mommy guilt about giving stuff away that I'm afraid they will miss. A great tip I've used is to bag up things they don't use and put them in a holding area (garage/pod??) for a month, and if they don't miss them during that month, give them away.

Crystal (theweekendhomemaker.com) said...

Lauren, I am so with you. I try, I really do. I even posted this great 2012 declutter calendar: http://theweekendhomemaker.com/clearing-clutter from A Simpler Life.

And it worked wonders for about 2 months and then I slacked off. If I stuck to it, I think it would be great b/c it only requires you to declutter one little space a day.

Anonymous said...

I am so with you!! We have been living with just what we brought and the movers forgot to grab for 6 weeks now while our home undergoes a remodel. We are learning that while we always long to get rid of stuff we are now missing having "stuff". We can certainly do with less and will since our new house is 15oosf smaller than our other home (just saying it makes it scary!)but I cant wait to be surrounded by the things that make me feel comfortable etc. My biggest helpful tip is to toss clothing each season as you pack away sweaters and pull out shorts etc...look at those things that dont fit or you didnt wear last season and just toss them...same with old linens etc....when you buy new towels toss the old sheets that you have been saving to cover furniture during painting etc...you never use them anyway. Good luck and when you blow up the pods add mine to it, will you?

Squeak said...

I think we all have a tendency to buy everything we see that we like without giving much thought to whether we need it or not. I've had to become ruthless in my efforts to keep from over-buying. I have a mental list of the things I need and the things I truly want. When I'm out shopping and see something I like that's not on the list, I ask myself if I truly need it. I try to envision it in my home. If I can't immediately conjure up a place for it, then I don't need it.

I love kitchen gadgets, which are usually relatively inexpensive, but have to stop myself from buying more by asking myself how many different slicers or graters or choppers I really need. The same thing applies to towels, candles and the dozens of other "little" things that just seem so easy to buy regardless of whether we need them.

Jena said...

This helps me. http://home.yourway.net/10-questions-to-help-you-declutter/

Anne said...

I received this advice which has made deciding what to get rid of so much easier! Look at an item and decide:
1. Is is beautiful?
2. Is it functional?
3. Is it sentimental?
If it's not at least 2 of the 3- get rid of it!
Also- keep catagories of items (like all the cleaning supplies or all the tools, etc) in one location so you can quickly see what you have and what you need.
Then keep a pile in the corner of the attic or garage of items for the next garage sale or goodwill so when that time comes everything is ready to go! Good luck!

Kelsey said...

Fly lady is awesome! Fly lady.net she even says we should pretend we are moving every once in a while!

DesignInMyView said...

If you can fake yourself out to believe that you are moving every 6 months that will work very well - only your best stuff will survive.

If you (me included) can not fool yourself to do this I recommend sitting down and watching 2 episodes of the cable show "Hoarders".

Oh I know! We would NEVER let it get that bad! But you may relate a bit if you listen to their words on how it started, how emotionally attached they are to the "stuff" (which in their case is now buried in cat "stuff").

I admit to being Human. Even this motivation only lasts a short time... but today is a new day! And I watched "Hoarder's, Buried Alive" last night! I am ready to dump.

One, two, three, GO! :-)

Beth said...

This might be a little heavy, but I think hoarding has to do with the fear of death. If you watch "Hoarders", a common theme runs through the stories. The hoarders usually start losing control when a parent or child dies. It seems that they are trying to stave off death by building a fortress of junk.

I'm definitely an anti-hoarder. I can always part with things, but that can translate into feeling disconnected from the world. I'm sure there are helpful tips to stop hoarding, but I think has more to do with a basic need to push off death.

Laurie Jones said...

We literally do a purge every month, we work on the house a lot so we almost always make a trip to the dump and get rid of any sort of garbage or anything broken that can't be reused. A few times when we've moved we've had an auction house sell a lot of our belongings, they take a portion of your sales but I figured I didn't want it anymore anyways so any money was good in my book but more and more ofter I find myself giving our stuff away to charities that may need it, I'm a big believer if you do good it comes back larger then just immediate money! (Good luck on your move and purge!!)

pve design said...

As we grow and our families grow, it becomes sort of an evolution to watch and while we live, we need to let things evolve. Letting go of unwanted or unused items can be very challenging but when we think of someone who might benefit from that thing....it then becomes easier to let it go. Try doing this seasonally.
We renovated and have been very cautious to bring too much clutter. We would rather live with less or live without it.

Carole, Ellen & Rachel said...

Hi Lauren,
I feel your pain! I am a professional organizer here in the Washington, DC area and we are moving this Thursday! I have had to go through my own items and I keep in mind what I always tell my clients. When was the last time I used it? Do I find it beautiful? Does it make me feel good when I look at it/use it and does it go with the "personal brand" I want to display and have in my home? It is a constant maintenance but I feel like once you have a system down, the harder part is over. You just have to be open to the possible changes in your system. Good luck!

Carole, Ellen & Rachel said...

Hi Lauren,
I feel your pain! I am a professional organizer here in the Washington, DC area and we are moving this Thursday! I have had to go through my own items and I keep in mind what I always tell my clients. When was the last time I used it? Do I find it beautiful? Does it make me feel good when I look at it/use it and does it go with the "personal brand" I want to display and have in my home? It is a constant maintenance but I feel like once you have a system down, the harder part is over. You just have to be open to the possible changes in your system. Good luck!
Rachel (www.rachel-company.com)

Tara said...

I am a reformed pack rat. The only thing that reformed me is knowing that with my husband being in the military, we have a set weight for our household goods when we move. If we go over that weight, we have to pay per pound. That put the fear of God (or the Army) into me RIGHT AWAY!

First things first...DO NOT MAKE PILES!! I keep reading people's comments saying "throwaway pile" "donate pile", etc. NO PILES. Why? Because the piles will inevitably just wind up staying there and will take over a space. You have to have something to contain the throwaway stuff, such as a garbage bag. Go through your bathroom cabinets with a big garbage bag and just start chunking things. ONE TOUCH rule. You can only touch it once, once you've touched it, you have to make a decision RIGHT THEN. You can't put it back and say "I'll decide later." Because later will never come. Keep goes back into the cabinet (or a box if you're packing) and throwaway goes into the garbage bag. Simple.

Closet: Strip down to your skivies (that's military for undies), start trying on clothes you hardly wear (you know the ones). If they don't fit, be honest with yourself...will you lose the weight to get back into them or probably not? If you know you won't, have two garbage bags, one for toss, one for donate. Move any clothes you want to keep, out of the way & just work through your closet. Be ruthless. If it's out of style, toss it or donate it. If it needs to be mended, toss it or donate it. If it's stained, toss it. Same with shoes & junk accessories. There's NO reason to be sentimental with clothes.

Electronics: I hear all the time about people hanging onto adapters and chargers that they have no idea what they go to. Ya know what?? THROW THEM AWAY!! Electronic stuff becomes obsolete so quickly & stuff changes all the time. Chances are, it won't work anyway! Still have that old landline? Donate it...why keep it if you don't even have phone service at your house?

Towels, sheets, etc. If you have more towels than you know what to do with, keep the ones that match your current bathrooms, keep a few (I said just a few) for washing cars & pets & then DONATE the rest. Same with sheets. We currently have 2 sets of queen & 2 sets of twin & THAT'S it at our house. There's no reason to have more. You can only sleep on 1 set at a time. Donate the rest!

Do you get my drift so far...go through your stuff & be ruthless. When boxes & bags fill up, take them to Goodwill or Salvation Army, RIGHT THEN!! Don't wait & let them sit around. Then you become used to the boxes sitting around.

Also, don't buy stuff to store your stuff or pay money to store stuff. It's a racket. If you have too much stuff, your priorities are out of whack and you need to go through your junk & get rid of anything you aren't using.

Crystal said...

Reading "It's All Too Much" by Peter Walsh was a life changer for me. The tag line is "Living a richer life with less stuff." It helped me really see my stuff for what it is and helps deal with the emotional side to letting the stuff go. Highly recommend!

Kathysue said...

We are all in the same boat with one paddle going in circles. When I purge my clothes I have a, give-away,throw-away,keep, and an I-don't know pile.
The I-don't know pile is really important because at the beginning of a purge we are more likely to be emotionally attached to items, but by the end of the purge it feels so good to declutter we will most likely get rid of all the I-don't knows. This has really helped me in the purging process.
Good luck,

redbrickbuilding said...

Great topic! I think enlisting the help of the other people in your household is essential. The "naturally occurring" avalanche of debris is bad enough without "man-made" contributions. My husband is more of a hoarder than I am but since we moved to our current home (which has way very little storage space) he's gotten a lot better. It helps that I periodically delegate to him the task of finding places to put any new non-essentials. Seeing for himself how challenging a task it is has really curbed his overbuying tendency. He actually will say "Let's not buy that, we don't have anywhere to put it" now. Heavenly!

karenP said...

It is much harder to declutter when you have kids. I insist that anything broken is thrown out immediately (also makes them look after things) and clear out their stuff when they are out and can't object. I'm really strict about how much stuff they get but unfortunately family and friends are far too generous.

Brooke @ Blueprint Bliss said...

I get rid of everything that I haven't touched or used in the past year. The only things allowed in the attic are Christmas decorations, beach chairs, seasonal items. I have a few baby items up there because we think we might would like to have one more! Everything else I give away (or sometimes have a garage sale). Inside... I only keep things I use. We have TONS of storage in this new house and about 50% of the drawers and closests are empty!

Kris Vogelsang said...

have you read 'It's All Too Much' by Peter Walsh?? He's the professional organizer in the tv series Clean Sweep. He has great tips for, as he says, 'an easy plan for living a richer life with less stuff'. I really do think all this 'stuff' is an American problem, I'm trying to think like a European!

mcgrathinnola said...

I completely understand your pain! For years (30 +) I was constantly pushing the family to simplify. And then one day in August 2005 the declutter lady named Katrina came in , used her magic of 11ft water and voila!! the clutter/stuff was gone! That was our answer to "getting rid of the stuf"...LOL Good luck with your elimination!

Christina said...

I moved and downsized two years ago and found this to be my favorite method of purging. You are forced to go through everything. We kept only the toys that were really played with, and got rid of all the dishes or vases that were never used, linens were handled the same way. I still find myself going through "stuff". I'm not one to hold on to things and sending items out to a donation helps in not feeling like you are throwing it away!

Jilly said...

Oh Lauren, I feel your pain!! I recently attended an organization seminar, and two things really stuck with me, so I'll share them with you. The instructor challenged us to go home and open every cupboard, drawer, closet, ect. and take a picture of it. You know when you see a picture of something, it hits you much harder than when you just look at it every day. Looking at a picture of disorganized spaces is unsettling, and can really be a wake up call!! Set the timer in 20 minute intervals to work on organization, but just 20 minutes to discourage burnout. Once you have organized a space, take another picture of it in pristine shape, and mount that picture to the inside of the space where you can see it. That way, you have a point of reference of how it is supposed to look and it's easier to keep yourself in check!
When it comes to clothing clutter, she suggested you go into your closet and count how many of each article of clothing you have. (skirts, jeans, shoes, etc.) Once you have made a tally, it's time to get rid of HALF of those items. For example, if you count 20 skirts, it's time to whittle that number down to 10. I did just do this myself, and found it so liberating to only have the clothing in my closet and drawers that I love! No more sorting through the stuff I have passed by for years now.....
Good luck in your new home! I love your blog and outlook on life!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...


I can see by the comments that many of us are in the same boat! I am certainly making notes of all of the great ideas because I live in a house with lots of storage and it is bursting. I just opened the linen closet and a pile of towels fell out on my head.

Looking forward to your move. When you blow up the pod be sure to film it!

Take care, Elizabeth

Patty said...

Whew! You got some great advice Lauren...I especially like Tara's...be ruthless! No piles! I do always keep a bag for donation stuff and LOVE being able to put stuff in it. Also, play a game with yourself, and occasionally commit to finding 5 items to get rid of. That works too! Think of it as doing a good deed, because someone will need or love what you donate.

Rie said...

Read the Joy of Less. It will inspire you.

Rie said...

Read the Joy of Less. It will inspire you.

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Dayum...and here I thought it was the whole POINT of moving...all this time.

I need to reevaluate.


Windlost said...

lauren, i feel exactly the same and could have written this post (and had been thinking about the same). the other day i found a pile of summer pants in my closet that i did not even recognize. i think they were from 5 lbs ago (2 years ago) but who knows...went into the donation pile. good money going down the drain. it makes me sick to see the waste of money constantly. my only direction these days is to not bring things home unless i love or need (a new strainer) them!

and if i buy something new to "replace" an old thing, the old thing has to be repurposed or it has to GO. so many times i have bought new towels or linens only to have the old ones still in the cupboard. i am making a serious effort to begin to pare down my life to the things i love and need, but it is work, esp. for us, who love beautiful things...

xo terri

Anonymous said...

Must be something in the air. I've read a lot of "stuff" blogs. But the one that I just love is

I love how clean and simple she does things. She also did a blog on stuff and starting over. If you get a chance take a look. Very calming. :)


Speaking of clutter. I watched Four Houses because my friend was on there well that's the channel Hoarders is on, holy moly did it freak me out lol I just wanted to purge like an enegergizer bunny. That show is so scary lol
This is such a great topic for a blog guest posting!

Have a great Tuesday!
xo E

dervla kelly said...

someone else may have already mentioned this but when you've done your throwing out/giving away check out I Heart Organizing for awesome storage tips. www.iheartorganizing.com

the language of design said...

Hi Lauren, Along with your blog, I read http://thegardenerscottage.blogspot.com/
and the first word in her tagline is SIMPLICITY. She is a very good writer and inspiring about her simplistic way of life. I am pretty sure trying to stay uncluttered is an evolution so keep at it and read Janet's blog! Tell her I sent you.

Nataliya said...

We are renovating our home and throwing things out/donating as we go. My best trick? Stop buying things. Seriously. I'm probably the worst mom ever, but I have a limit on my kid's toys. When asked what the kid needs for b-day or x-mas we usually prefer "experience" gift over toys. Things like museum passes or help paying for sport equipment/art supplies. Things we know we use and have made closet space for.

Oh, and I LOVE Pax closets from Ikea. They are great because you can designate a spot for every item, and never loose things.

I've changed my shopping habits from hoarding and buying things just in case (like one more bottle of ketchup) to only buying things that we need and run out of. I've come to realize that running out of things is not the end of the world, and I should not spend money before I need to.

Which has done wonders for not only our clutter problem, but our budget as well! :)

Good luck.

Aimee@ the Functional Space said...

I can't seem to manage my clutter in lots of ways but I have gotten a handle on my clothes. At the begining of every season I turn all the hangers around so they face the "wrong" way. As I wear them they get put back into the closet the right way. If I wear something and it makes be feel bad (we all have those in our closets) I put it in the donate pile immediately. At the end of the season I take all the clothes still hanging the wrong way (the ones that didn't even get worn) and donate them, with the exception of one or two special occasion items that I might not have had a chance to wear. It makes it so easy to see at a glance what is actually getting worn and it makes it much easier to say goodbye.
Looking forward to seeing how you decide to manage your new storage challenges!

Angeline said...

i like to say i am in a constant state of organization. i find myself in purge mode often, and yet the amount of things in the house still feels untouched. perhaps that's because i have two toddlers?

EmbryRucker via RestonInterfaith will take toiletries/personal care items and pantry dry goods, even gently used clothing esp coats. i've brought over trial/travel sized toothpastes, shampoos, lotions etc ...

the kids and i are at TheCloset in Herndon with donations at least once every two weeks - not always a big donation, sometimes just a bag of clothes. as i fold through laundry and put clean clothes away, i place into a bag all the clothes the kids are 'done' with; every season i go through mine and donate the ones i haven't touched in a few months+.

the kids are really good at setting aside toys and books they're 'done' playing with as well that we donate. if toys in the toy room have gone untouched in a few months, i give them the option of letting them go - if the verdict is 'keep' then at night i stash it away and swap them out with ones that have been in hiding for a while ... a rotation if you will

i don't keep catalogs for more than a couple of days, keeping my counters clear and reducing my chances of ordering more stuff.

call me a food waster, but i only bother storing leftovers from meals if my husband swears he'll take it to work for lunch the next day or i know i'll eat it myself. but leftovers that sit in the fridge for more than a couple of days get tossed as well.

is my house still a clutter? so it seems, sigh. i don't even want to imagine what it'd be like without the steps we do take to try and declutter.


but alas, the best we can all do is try ...

Unknown said...

I am sooo in the same boat. We decided to sell our beautiful home and are temporarily moving into a house that is 600 square feet smaller, and I am just not wanting all the stuff! Hubby will be away for a few weeks, so I have decided I will only move in what looks good, what is most precious to me, and the rest is a big MOVING SALE. Then I will try to live on the "one thing in, one thing out" principle.

simply seleta said...

Just saw this and LAUGHED AGAIN!!!! I have found myself secretly wishing something would come along and destroy our storage unit!! Things can really become a burden and I'm trying like crazy to unload/purge/minimize.

Thank you for making me smile today. SOOO excited about your new house! I absolutely love all of the natural light it has. It's going to be amazing!!!