Our Yellow Door is named after our home, and the ridiculously cheerful yellow door that we have. We gutted/remodeled the entire first floor before our wedding...never have I ever been more proud of hardwood floors in my entire life. I love "home fluffing" (aka, decorating) and keeping things fresh and cozy. Clean sheets make me giddy. A well organized office leaves my knees weak. We just bought this yellow elephant poster from IKEA that I've been pining after since November.
It's no secret that we spend a lot of time in our homes. They are our haven from the world...our space to be ourselves, our landing place and where we slow our pace. They grow into an outward display of our inner lives. They also can deeply affect our mood and frame of mind. A peaceful home can become a restful sanctuary for ourselves and our families.
Our homes are also susceptible to a lot of chaotic clutter...both physically and mentally. Kathleen Quiring from Becoming Peculiar put it so well when she said:
"Each thing I own is another thing I have to look after - to keep clean, keep working, keep safe against thieves. Each additional item in my home is something I have to pick up, walk around, dust, clean, or keep in storage. They tax my time and attention. More possessions mean more clutter in my home and in my mind.
Even more importantly, "Jesus once said, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none” (Luke 3:11). Dorothy Day interprets this to mean that “if you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor"...In other words, anything I own that I’m not using rightly belongs to someone who could. One might say that I am hoarding other people’s possessions by holding onto things I don’t need."
Let's start simplifying and create homes that are void of excess and full of the essentials. Your home is for YOU, not your stuff. Make your home work for you, not the other way around.
So, how do we get rid of the excess?
1. Reset your mindset.
Our American culture bombards us with the buy-it-all mentality. Kick it to the curb, friends! You don't need as many things as you think you do, and you probably have way more than you use.
2. Don't buy stuff you don't need.
Slow down your consumerism, and simplicity will catch up with you. Especially after you've decluttered, the urge can be to fill in all the space you've just cleared up. Resist!
3. Look around your home.
What areas are cluttered? Where do you spend the most time? What areas are your favorites? Where needs a breath of fresh air?
4. Interview your stuff.
- "What are you?"
- "What do you do?"
- "How did you get here?"
- "Did I buy you, were you given to me?"
- "When did I last use you? How often do I use you?"
- "When will I use you again?"
- "Would I notice if you were gone?"
- "Do I hate cleaning you?"
- "Would I rather have the space you take up?"
- "Are you more trouble than you're worth?"
- "Did I forget that I owned you?"
- "Are you valuable?"
- "Do I have something like you that is more functional that you?"
- "Do I find you beautiful? Do you make me smile?"
- "Would I replace you if you were lost or broken?"
- "Did I ever want you in the first place?"
5. Get rid of duplicates.
You probably don't need four spatulas, nineteen washcloths, or seven water bottles. Figure out how many you really need, get rid of the rest.
6. Keep a continual "purge pile".
Hans and I currently have a monster of a pile in our garage for a sale in the summer. Having a specific place for purged items (and seeing that pile grow!) is a great way to motivate yourself to get rid of things. You can have specific "piles" for donating, selling, throwing away, etc.
7. What are your favorite things?
Keep those, get rid of the things that you don't like as much. When I was younger, I used to hoard collect Breyer model horses. Over the years, I got rid of all but one - a grey stallion that I genuinely find beautiful. When you get rid of the excess, you can more easily display the things that really make you smile.
8. Challenge yourself.
9. Sell things you don't need.
Whether with a garage sale, eBay or Craigslist, or places like Plato's Closet...you probably have cash to be made just lying around your house.
10. Storage is not a solution.
If it's still in your house, it's still clutter...hiding it won't make it go away! Storage does have a place (seasonal clothes, holiday decorations, etc.), but it's not to store your clutter!
11. Have a "Replacement Policy".
When you bring something new into your home, get rid of something in the same category. For example, last week Hans and I bought a new bookshelf and two new chairs from Ikea. So, we got rid of an old bookshelf and two old chairs. This policy keeps your home under control.
A cluttered home isn't a restful place. My desire is for you to have a sanctuary for yourself and your loved ones, a place that is full of things that are useful and beautiful, not clutter that drags you down. Simplifying your home does take some time, but it's so worth it.
Other posts in the Simplified Series...
Your Simplified Challenge: using the questions from #4, pick 10 items and "interview" them. If they don't pass the test, get rid of them!
What can YOU gain by simplifying your home?
PS - Bonus points for watching "Hoarders" whilst decluttering ;)