“Having nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
Early last year: I just finished photographing a 10 hour wedding and I walk into the door to find a mess. A full sink of dishes, three laundry baskets piled up, and toys thrown everywhere. “Why is this place such a mess?” I think to myself. I live in a house that’s under 1,100 square feet, and it must be that I do not have enough space. For three people to live here and one of them working from home (that’s me) , that must be the case right?
Does this conversation sound familiar to you? Last year I was so stressed with this mess of a house and I started to come into realization that it doesn’t have to be that way. If you know me, when I was a kid I lived part time with my dad in a 300 square foot living space. That’s right 300 square feet. That is where we all slept, ate, made food, etc. I only stayed there part time but as a kid it never really bothered me. I actually quite enjoyed it. We had a lot of adventures in that little place (and a heck of a lot more outside as well). Last year these memories started to flood back and I realized that I could totally make this work. So I did. Below are a few tips on how I uncluttered my life and made my life a little more meaningful.
Organizing junk is not decluttering
I have a lot of places for things. Places for my overflowing clothes, places for my papers I used 8 months ago and places for my utensils I use once every two years. The problem is, I do not use so many of these items that are taking up space and my time to put away. Go through your room one by one and every item you come across ask yourself, When is the last time I used this? “Will that “just in case” day actually ever come? Does this item bring meaning into my life? If you go through those questions and cannot bring yourself to toss it then put it in a box with those “just in case” items and put it in your garage. If a month goes by and you haven’t opened that box then donate it. You will be amazed with how many items you can live without. Now what do you do with those items you are throwing out?
Donating is awesome
We are implementing a cool wire bin tucked in next to our front door that will be our donation box. Throughout the month my husband and myself can put items into this bin that we just do not use anymore or things we have replaced. At the end of the month I will take this bin to donation center near us. You can google one that is close to you or donate to organizations you support. I think this is a awesome way to keep the clutter out of your home and it teaches your kids to give to the less fortunate. In the beginning you might be making more trips then one in a month but once things are under control you can make less frequent trips. It’s whatever works for your family. What about those items that just cost so much?
Selling is cool too
Ebay, Craigslist, Facebook, Swappa, if you name it I have probably sold something on it. I had a mass amount of things on my kitchen table for a month. Those were the things that I worked on all month in my spare time to sell. If it didn’t sell, I donated it. “But Liz, you spent so much money on that thing that takes up space on your shelf!” Yeah and everyday I looked at that thing and I would be racked with guilt that I did not use it. So I gave myself a month to work on it and told myself after that month if it wasn’t sold, it was going bye bye. And guess what? I feel so freeing that those things are gone from my house and I haven’t given it a second thought of how much it was worth because my time of enjoying my space was worth more to me.
Value what you own
Lets get real, do you value those 15 sweaters you are hoping to fit into again? Do you value those 30 coffee cups sitting in your kitchen cabinet? I went through loads of clothes that were my pre-baby clothes that fit but just didn’t fit like they use to. My body changed from having a baby (shocker I know). It was painful for me to get rid of my 22 (yes 22), nerd shirts. They were funny, they described a bit of me but they just did not fit right anymore and they were a reminder that my body was forever changed. So I let them go and it is go nice to see my drawers not stuffed anymore. I now have a small but extremely functional wardrobe. Speaking of stuffed, let’s talk about kitchen cabinets. I remember looking at my cabinets and wondered to myself, “Why the heck do we have this many mugs?”, I looked closely at what we use in a months time and go figure, I have three coffee mugs that I use on rotation. When I wake up in the morning to get my cup of coffee now I am always happy to see my favorite mug staring back at me in my un-cluttered cabinet. Getting rid of the extra helped me value my favorite items even more. Which is why it is so important to to get rid of that excess stuff.
Have a purpose for those valued items
I don’t mean you they need to get up and get you a beer from the fridge. Every item should have purpose to it. For a example, I am a photographer and I value photographs (shocker I know). Every image in my home has a purpose, it brings me happiness. I can look at those photos and it triggers a wonderful memory of that time and place and I get to see these every single day. I believe tucking away your photos in a forgotten area on your phone is digital clutter. I value these prints so much that I offer a wide amount of options in my business so you can value your images in your home. Your valued item might be books that you can curl up and read over and over again to bring you happiness or maybe you love a decor filled home and looking at your beautiful home, realizing everything is beautiful and has a purpose. Whatever your valued things are make sure they give you a purpose or there is no reason to value them.
What a year it has been for us. This journey is far from over for our family but we have found so much value in our lives from de-cluttering our life and appreciating the things we truly love in our home. I hope this post helps you look at your home differently and helps you along the way to a more loving home. If you are interested in seeing my fun loving work with other families you can head over to my portfolio here. If you have questions about this post or anything else under the sun you can contact me here.
Until next time ya’ll.
Elisabeth is a photographer from the Akron, Canton area specializing in Family and Senior Photography.