You may have seen pictures like this on Pinterest of perfectly organized, beautifully styled closets and pantries. Inspirational? Very. Real life? Not for me unfortunately.
Dear Lillie Blog
A Bowl Full of Lemons Blog
While the end results of my recent whole-house purge and organization project don’t come close to the stylish and magazine-worthy storage spaces of Pinterest, I couldn’t be happier. It feels good to know exactly what I have, where it is, and that it’s organized in a way that works for me. I have empty cabinets and shelves and drawers all over the place now. Most of the closets in my house–except for the one that holds my clothes–are 50% full at most.
A lot of stuff has left the premises at Jilly’s house in the last two weeks. To be specific…
*15 giant bags of junk made their way to the curb
*7 huge storage tubs are filled with items for a future garage sale
*4 storage tubs of my kids’ memorabilia are ready for them to take to their own homes
*3 big bags of shoes and clothing have been dropped off at Goodwill
I began this enormous task by starting with one room and focusing only on that room until I was completely finished with it. I emptied one cabinet/drawer/shelf at a time, tossing what I knew I didn’t want or need into either the trash, the sell pile, or the donate pile.
I was ruthless. If it was left here by my ex, in the trash it went. If it had no value to me or anyone else, I trashed it. If it was broken or expired…in the trash. If I had to spend more than two seconds deciding if it was really trash…trash.
Here are some lessons I learned along the way:
1.Hard-to-reach, bottom corner cabinets are for the birds. Unless you’re a contortionist, you won’t often reach for anything you have stored in these black holes of disorganization, assuming you even remember what you’ve put there. Once I cleared out everything from my kitchen corner cabinets (and I almost got stuck in there twice), I put back only a very few items and only on the top shelf near the front. In my master bath corner cabinet I also avoided the space in the corner, storing towels only where I could easily reach them.
2.You don’t need an excessive number of multiples of items. A few old, ratty t-shirts to wear when doing yard work or painting? Sure, you need a few. Forty-seven is not a few.
3.Items stored so high that you need a step ladder to get to them will rarely, if ever, actually be used.
4.Not all trash bags and not all plastic storage tubs are created equal. If you spend a little more on the good ones, you won’t regret it.
5.You will question your sanity at some point during a major clean out and organization process and wonder if you’re just creating a bigger mess.
6.It’s tempting to get sidetracked when returning items to another room where they really belong. Stay focused on one section of one room at a time.
7.Re-evaluate where items should be stored. What worked in the past may not work now.
8.Junk drawers are a fact of life, and it’s okay to have more than one.
9.You will uncover filth you didn’t know existed. Clean as you go, saving the floors for last.
I purged and organized and cleaned like a woman possessed for a solid ten days until every part of each room was addressed. I’m blessed to be retired and have a flexible schedule, so I just hit it hard and stayed with it. If you’ve only got three hours on a Saturday here and there, start with one room as I did and don’t drag out more than you think you can sort through and re-organize in that time frame. When you have another block of time to devote to the room, pick up where you left off.
If you’re planning on cleaning out and simplifying in 2018, I hope you’ll be inspired by this post. If you’ve completed your own scorched earth purging project recently, I’d love to hear about it.