This post is twins with Simplifying the Home, but we're going to go a bit more in depth. If you haven't read it already, I encourage you to start there!
Stuff. Buh. Where do I begin?
Our house was foreclosed on because the former owner apparently left in the middle of the night (I'm not kidding). The bank cleaned out the house itself, but they didn't realize that the attic was brimming with, ahem, "treasures".
And by "treasures" I mean a box full of matching family reunion baseball caps, hoards of rat-poop infested wrapping paper, old baby photos and yearbooks, and two busted out guitars...plus so much other crap. It literally makes me shudder to think about.
Once we took possession of the house, our first orders of business was cleaning out that attic. While Hans was madly curious to see what was up there (personally, I was hoping for a box full of diamond rings so we could pay off the house faster...alas, no such luck), I mostly just wanted to get the clutter out! It really bothered me just knowing that mounds and mounds of junk were up there.
Hans and I have been waging a war on our stuff for the past four months. Even though we just got married, it's amazing how many possessions we'd already accumulated. We bent our ways towards simplifying. Maybe it's his Scandinavian roots or something. Those Scandinavians know how to do functional minimalism super duper well.
And you know what?
We love it.
But, it can be hard to get rid of certain categories of things. So, let's talk about those persnickety items, and why we should say "no" to them and "yes" to simplifying. I included articles with each category if you want to read more!
This one was/is very difficult for me...I love my books. However, the truth is that if you haven't read something in a year, you're probably not ever going to read it. If you read something and it was "meh", why keep it? If you have leftover textbooks from college, sell them. Give books to friends. Donate to a rescue mission in your area. Someone else will benefit from the pages that are sitting on your shelves. Breaking the Sentimental Attachment to Books
This can be sticky. You have a responsibility to be thankful for the gift, but you don't have a responsibility to keep it. Obviously that's a pretty general statement, but think about it...you have control over what you have in your house, not someone else. You do need to recognize and be thankful for the effort they went through to give you something, but if that gift isn't falling into our "useful or beautiful" category, part ways with it. The Minimalists on Gifts
3. Sentimental Items/Heirlooms.
Again, sticky. If you genuinely love your Grandmother's old brooch - then by all means, keep it! But if you inherited the good china that you abhor, don't hang on to it out of guilt. Your family's history is not in things - it's in stories and memories. Likewise, if an item has sentimental value...evaluate it. Will you remember your first boyfriend without the teddy bear he gave you? Probably so. Hold onto the memory, get rid of the stuff. The Top 10 Ways to Declutter Heirlooms
4. "Just In Case" items.
Listen. I am all for keeping an emergency kit in your car and your house. You should be prepared for the unexpected disaster or dilemma. But there's a limit. Have you had the same basket of quilting supplies for the last three years "just in case" you find a spare moment to start stitching? Do you hang onto that pair of stilettos "just in case" you decide to go out on the town one night? (When really, your idea of going out on the town is going to a coffee shop?) Evaluate what "just in case" items you're keeping around your home...and evaluate whether or not you're really ever going to use them. The Minimalists on In Case Items
GUILTY. Hans and I decided we would start collecting elephants. As of now, we have seven...we've also only been married for seven months. This does not bode well. Like a house I saw with my sister-in-law on a home tour...the lady who owned the house (which, by the way, was decorated in a cacophony of plaid and paisley. I don't care if it's a historical home: it was hideous) had been collected giraffes for nearly thirty years or something. They were piled onto shelves in the most jumbled and unattractive way possible. Ask yourself: do I truly love all the items in this collection? Or can I just keep my favorites and be rid of the rest? Miss Minimalist on Collecting
There is something about a clutter free home that lends itself to a clutter free mind. Not having your eyes bombarded with piles of papers and jumbled knick-knacks at every turn. Knowing where everything is. Living lightly. Keeping things you love and getting rid of things you don't. While simplifying your home and your stuff isn't something that happens overnight, it's a process that is so worth walking through!
Other posts in the Simplified Series...
Your Simplified Challenge: go through your house and get rid of a book, a gift, a sentimental item/heirloom, a "just in case" item, and an item from a collection. Feel the freedom, friend!
What stuff do YOU hold on to out of guilt, sentimentality, or habit?
PS - I found the most incredible blog on simplifying your home. Complete with an 8-week downloadable PDF checklist! Check it out at Beginner Beans!