Making Space Clearing the Clutter

My house testifies: I come from a long line of clutter-keepers. We’re a clean people group, but we’re cluttered. I’m convinced it’s a genetic predisposition. One of my grandmothers had Olympic-level clutter (seriously), and mine is of a much junior rank, but I’ve worked hard on catching up and collecting stuff over the course of my years. And honestly, as much as I love my collections of picture frames, candleholders, seasonal décor, food storage containers and – glory – craft supplies – I’m starting to understand that the maintenance of clutter is exhausting.

Collecting these things can be a lot of fun. I’ve loved 7 AM yard sale trips with my neighbor-friend this summer, and it has felt so very good to take some time to update my house’s decor with the treasures I found (like a gorgeous painting for $20 that hadn’t even had the original packaging – with a $129 sticker – removed). Yes! (My thrifting-friend Lorilee – author of Money Secrets of the Amish  – would be so proud). As we “shopped” we determined that everything we brought home had to have a place, which was good, but still brought some challenges.

Eventually, some thing had to give so our house could be joy-filled instead of stuff-filled...

Becoming a mama two summers ago put a hiatus on caring too much about what my house looked like, as we shoved things aside out of baby-reach, put locks on cupboard doors and stuck baskets of junk up high. We did replace the carpet in our living room, after two baby+coffee cup disasters, which helped, and we have kept things clean, but friends – I needed help. I was finding new treasures but as my beloved groaned with each carload of joy that I brought home I realized this – some things had to go, and something had to change so that our house could feel joy-filled instead of stuff-filled.

In my quest for order & joy & figuring out how to be a mom and have a beauty-filled home, I picked up two books – Design Mom (recommended by Jessica Turner and I’m SO GLAD I picked it up) and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

These. Books. Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my. You need to know about them.

While I’ll never have that perfectly crafted life (remember, genetic predisposition?) here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Function + form = fabulously

I do not want to live in a model home. It KILLS me when a space isn’t functional, when a place has no purpose, and when you can’t actually use a room. I also do not want to live in a theme park, with my house a veritable playground of stuff and things to do. We need places to read. Places to play. Places to create. Places to cook and eat and laugh and talk and connect. I’m learning that it is crazy-satisfying to make tiny, thoughtful changes. Changes like replacing my Sweet Girl’s perfectly cute bedding & an aggravating top sheet with an equally adorable duvet in a cover that can be washed just like a top-sheet and makes it SO MUCH EASIER TO MAKE THE STINKIN’ BED). Simple. Functional. Pretty. Less aggravating. And she can actually make the bed herself, which will make her room look tidier every day. If the only thing I got out of Design Mom was that one tip, it paid for the book.

  1. My dream space is clutter-free

Part of the “Magic” of tidying up, is visualizing your perfect space / home / life. My perfect dream space is effortlessly clean. It is ready for guests. It is ready for me. It is relaxing. It is bright. Its surfaces are open. It wasn’t actually about the best furnishings or newest décor. Once I dreamed it up, I was so ready to take my existing space, my existing stuff, and seriously pare it down – free it up – to make my dream space happen. And I did. In an afternoon, I set our bedroom free from the crap by just cleaning out my jewellery stash and my closet. No joke. What a relief. I love walking in our room now, instead of avoiding looking at the cluttered dresser-top.

  1. Choose joy 

Another part of the “magic” is getting rid of those things that don’t bring joy. What a freeing way to live and an easy filter for the keep / donate / trash piles. Get rid of what doesn’t bring joy! No guilt. No second guessing. Done.

  1. White space is life-giving

When you get rid of what doesn’t bring joy, you make room for things that bring joy, and you make room for life. I’m LOVING my uncluttered countertop because there is room to cook! (Imagine that!)

Saying no to good things is something I’m learning in all areas of my life.  I’m in process – there are still piles of papers in my dining area that I’ve got to sort through, and every room in my house still has stuff that I don’t even notice anymore that just needs to go, but just making a little space has made our home feel so much bigger, like I have room to breathe.

Making space for my soul

The unexpected bonus of clearing clutter has been making space for my soul. That stuff, when it starts to collect in piles here and there? It sucks energy. Truly. In simply clearing the clutter from my bedroom, where overflow clothes, piles of ironing and accessories easily landed on my quiet-time chair & table, I made space for myself in a remarkable way. Space to stop and rest. I crafted time to reflect, read and pray rather than frustration at having to shift stuff from place to place. A whole box of stuff left my house that day, and it felt glorious.

Tell me – how do you conquer clutter? What is your biggest disaster area?

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