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Minimalism, decluttering and moving house

We are nearly ready to move house, actually we are in a constant process of moving things from one house to the other, and more correctly, we are nearly ready to permanently live in our secondhand house at Cheslyn Rise.


getting used to the "no dogs inside" rule


Too things have sparked my interest in minimalism and decluttering recently:

1) we have lived here at Eight Acres for eight years now and have accumulated a lot of stuff.  Our last move from the Lockyer Valley was paid for by my company and so a team of people came to the house and packed everything.  I remember unpacking the boxes and thinking "why did we bother to move this!?".  Some of it was just silly, but as the move was paid for, we didn't rationalise what we moved.  This time we are moving ourselves, with no moving truck or people to help, just loading stuff on the ute and car trailer, so I don't want to waste effort moving anything that we are not going to use.
2) our house at Eight Acres is small.  It is two bedrooms, one bathroom and open plan everything else, about 72m2 in total, the size of an apartment.  There is very little built-in storage, some cupboards in the master bedroom and a small hall cupboard.  We have used stand-alone wardrobes and book shelves, and ended up with every surface with stacked high with boxes on top and more boxes tucked underneath.  Our second bedroom was generally piled with stuff that didn't have a place to be, and it was a big job when we had visitors to uncover the bed and make space for them to walk around.  The new house is bigger, more like 100m2, but I know how stuff can accumulate to fill a space, we are both agreed that we do not want to end up in this situation again, no more stacking of boxes!

As we are gradually packing and unpacking our stuff, we are trying very hard to declutter.  If you haven't come across the decluttering movement (you must not read the same blogs as I do!), it means to "remove unnecessary items from (an untidy or overcrowded place)".  One of the difficulties we have as natural hoarders, is that we like to keep things "just in case" and often we do end up using things, but more often they just become clutter.  Pete finds it hard to throw away a second or spare item, just in case our good one breaks, so then we have to store the spare one somewhere.  It does make sense, but it also makes clutter.

One of my favourite blogs, Root Simple, has an excellent post about decluttering for creative people (i.e. people who hoard materials just in case) and decluttering for DIY-ers, and have written extensively on their experience with the Marie Kondo method.  I haven't personally read the book (if you haven't heard of Marie Kondo, you really don't read the same blogs as I do - start here), but I have read enough blogs by people who have read the book and watched a bit on youtube, to know what its all about.  Stop keeping stuff that you don't need!  The more stuff you have the more you have to work to keep it clean and organised.  And when you put things away, you want to be able to see everything you own, so that you remember what you have.

Another one of my favourite blogs, Treading my own path, has written about how you can declutter without just making a heap of rubbish.  This is always a concern when you're hoarded things intending to use them for something and then end up having to throw them out, it feels like a waste.  But Lindsay explains that it was a waste the minute you brought the item into your house, so all you can do now is try to give it away or repurpose it somehow, but in future, think about your choices and try not to end up with so much stuff in the first place!  I am really enjoying her more specific posts about decluttering your wardrobe.  I have too many clothes, most from the op-shop, and I'm keen to reduce numbers to something sensible where I can see everything and wear everything.  While Lindsay suggests giving away what you don't wear, I am happy to put it away and get more items out as clothes in my wardrobe wear out, rather than buying new things.  Its kind of exciting going through a box of clothes that you haven't seen for a few months and rediscovering them!  The key here is not buying anything new though and remembering what you already have.

Have you seen the whole capsule wardrobe thing?  This youtube video explains a 10-item wardrobe philosophy - I'm not going to get down to ten items by the time I factor in work uniforms, farm clothes, business wear for my occasional trips to corporate office and casual clothes for the weekend!  However, I did take from that talk the idea of not hanging on to really daggy clothing.  Even once it gets to farm wear status, it doesn't have to be covered in paint and full of holes, those shirts can become rags at some stage!  Its ok to wear something nice!  I also am in the habit of wearing an apron in the kitchen, as this helps keep clothes clean (and I remember my high school home-ec teacher explaining that it also keeps dirt from your clothes out of your food, a comforting thought when I've just come in from the garden!).

I think we now have a semi-minimalist vision for the new house.  Minimalism as a philosophy is about only having the things we need.  In a design sense this manifests as very simple clean spaces with little clutter.  The obvious advantage to me is the ease of cleaning!  I hate dusting or having to move things around to clean behind them, the less clutter the better.  We have tried to facilitate this by including a lot of storage space in our new house.  The true minimalist would not need so much storage as they would have actually reduced the amount of things to be stored, but we are building up to that point!  I will be happy to see the cupboards only partially used, its much easier to find things when the cupboard is not jammed full.

Another favourite blog, Gully Grove, details her decluttering efforts and I really love how she explains her thinking behind each decision and the weird attachments we can have to certain items.  Her tidy cupboards are a nice reminder that of what can be achieved by dedicated decluttering!

There are many other advantages of minimalism, explained in this post from Becoming Minimalist.  As we start to clear out the things from the house at Eight Acres, and put them away in the new house, I am enjoying this house more.  It feels calmer, less cluttered and more comfortable.  I find clutter very stressful, I need to clean the kitchen before I cook, or clear my desk before I start work, so a minimalist house, along with continued decluttering, will be a nice change.  It does take discipline to put things away instead of leaving them out on surfaces, but with fewer possessions this should get easier.

What do you think?  Have you tried decluttering and/or minimalism?  Does it work for you?




Comments

  1. I live in a minimalist, clutter-free, open-plan home, but clutter helps me to focus, so my office is clutter central! I love the difference between the two environments. I wouldn't want to live with clutter; I don't like working without it. Good luck with your move! Wishing you happiness in your new clutter-free home.

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  2. Liz, how I would love to declutter but I am married to a hoarder. Sigh! We have never shifted in nearly 40 years which is half the problem.

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  3. How exciting to be on the cusp of moving in to your new home, a good chance to really go through all that stuff that's piled up and to really consider what you are going to take with you. It's funny how stuff can kind of settle into particular areas of a home. I started subtracting stuff a little while ago and I'm still going through things one drawer or box at a time. I really like the cleaner spaces and surfaces that are opening up. Meg:)

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  4. So exciting you are nearly ready to move in! Yep, we love de-cluttering. I dont like cleaning all that much and the less clutter, the less time it takes. :) I also feel calm in a clear calm space. Though we are cramped at the moment in two bedrooms. Once our extension is done it will feel far more spacious. :)

    xx

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  5. You have reminded me Liz, to get back into my organizing. I have been sidetracked by outdoors projects (now the heatwave and rain has gone) and finishing a large quilt for an approaching birthday present. I hope to resume those room declutters afterwards. I look forward to reading the post about the day you have officially finished moving.

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  6. Liz as I read your post I kept thinking ditto and ditto and ditto. We have just 'downsized' to the one home instead of two (though I have yet to blog about that), and because of having two homes we had two of everything. We managed to give some of our excess furniture away to our town neighbours and the rest of the surplus gear went to the Salvos. Some of it was really good furniture e.g. leather lounges, but one can't keep everything. Our home in the country is small, (read tiny) and we are surrounded by boxes with no end in sight as yet to the unpacking and re-organising. I have done what you wrote about regarding clothes. I have kept out a minimal wardrobe and packed the rest away for when my current wardrobe becomes shabby.

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  7. We are total minimalists, one of the biggest things many other mums who come to our house notice is that my kids don't have heaps and heaps of toys. Of course we have some but they are kept to the basics and if the shelves start to overflow it is time to giveaway or donate. Everything else in our house is basic, the kitchen our linen cupboard. I did a clean out just the other day I had over 30 pillowcases! What on earth for? I only have a total of 8 pillows in the house. Crazy isn't it how things can just pile up.

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