Monday, June 21, 2010

Need More Space In Your Home?

I apologize in advance if this post causes anyone undue stress and hardship. You've been forewarned, so read at your own risk!

Ever have a room in your home that you just don't want to be in? It's too crowded, doesn't work like you need it to function, or is just plain messy? We've all been there. It sneaks up on you. One day you are perfectly content with the room and then suddenly, you realize it has issues!

Photo Credit: cseeman

I like to watch House Hunters on HGTV occasionally and something thing has struck me on several episodes. The families in the program often claim they do not have enough space, yet as you examine their current home, it is filled to the ceiling with just STUFF! As Americans, we are notorious consumers and we constantly buy to replace or upgrade things. (I could do an entire post on that issue alone, however, my focus today is to discuss the results of so much consumerism.) All that STUFF has a way of accumulating and taking over a room or an entire house for that matter. 

A lot of people ask me about organizing. Where should they begin? What would work for their space? What ideas do I have that would make things more efficient for their family? If I could give one tip that would solve most of their organizing dilemmas it would be this...PURGE!

Yes, get rid of STUFF. In fact, get rid of lots of it! Toss, sell, donate, or give it away, but get it out of your house. Even the most organized system won't work if it is over-taxed with too much stuff. If you are having difficulty letting go of something, here's some things to consider:

Is this something I use regularly or have I even used in the last year or two?
Am I willing to pay for an item to organize it?
Am I afraid I might need it someday?
Would it really be that difficult to replace if I later needed it?
What would my life be like without it? Would it really make a difference?

Heirlooms and Sentimental Items
Does this item have sentimental value?
Would a photo of the item suffice? (Example: your child's science project from two years ago?)
Is it an item I really like and appreciate? 
Will my children appreciate it when it is handed down to them or will it be more of a burden to store in their attic? (Example: a fine chippendale chair as opposed to an old sofa that is worn).

An heirloom doesn't have to be of extreme value, but if it is a common or inexpensive item, chances are it only holds value to the person closest to the original owner. For example, my mother's old glass rice cooker will mean very little to anyone except myself. I remember her always cooking at the stove with it. I have chosen to keep it, but I use it everyday, just as she did. Someday it will break and no longer be useful. But until then, I will continue to actually use it and enjoy the memories.

Photo Credit: highteaforalice

Do I have too many things to manage in my collection? 
What is the real reason I'm collecting these items?
Could I just keep my 10 favorite items in the collection and display them well?
Am I willing to dust this item often or pay for a display case to prevent dust from accumulating?

I use to collect items, but found I hated to dust them. Since then, I have chosen to keep just a few select items, placing them in special locations around my house. One is a ceramic sheep that I love to look at. I never get tired of it and I never mind dusting it. (I thought my husband was going to totally collapse laughing so hard the day I bought this. He couldn't believe I thought it was such a treasure!)

Legal Documents 
Is it really necessary for legal reasons, such as taxes?
Do I have a method for knowing when to destroy the paperwork?

Larger Purchases
Is it an item I paid a lot for and I don't want to just throw it out ?
Is it adding value to my life by taking up space in my home?
I am hesitating because I do not know how to dispose of it in a way to regain some of my investment?
Could I donate it and experience joy, knowing others are being blessed by this item?

Photo Credit: lynda@dwc

Okay, so now you know you need to get rid of a few things. There are several ways to do this, but if  you have a lot of STUFF that is just plain, old trash, get a garbage bag and go through one room each day until you get the bulk of it out of the house. However, if it is just general clutter, my favorite method is The 15 Minute Timer Method. Get a garbage bag and four boxes (or three if you don't plan to have a garage sale)and label them:

1.  Keep
2.  Relocate
3. Donate
4. Sell

The Keep box is for items that will remain in the area that you are organizing. The Relocate box is for items that have wandered into the wrong room or area. It could also include items that need to go into long-term storage. Just be sure that it is an item that you really want to keep. Items in the Donate box should be clean and in usable condition. Otherwise trash the item. If you plan to sell some of your things, it might be a good idea to purchase stickers and price the items as you place them in the box.

So now you know the PURGE basics. Of course there is more to organizing, but this is certainly the biggest issue. Once you PURGE, you will know what is left that really needs to be organized.  And what better time to go through the house and declutter the rooms than now?


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