Back in January, I picked up my long ago acquired and never touched copy of ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Mario Kondo from a very cluttered and overflowing bookshelf, and read the whole book in a day. As I mentioned in my New Year Goals post, it completely inspired me, and I immediately grabbed bin bags and started sorting through drawers. I am a hoarder, and I don’t think I realised how much of a hoarder I really am until I started this project. I’ve been in my current home for three and a half years, and before that I moved about a lot, and my previous flat was very tiny – so I didn’t think I really had very much ‘stuff’. I couldn’t understand why I could never keep my house tidy, aside from having two small children. I used to spend hours reading interiors magazines and looking at homes on pinterest, again never really understanding why my home was so far away from my ideal.
The answer, once it came to me, was so obvious.
If you can’t keep your home tidy, it’s because you have too much stuff.
So simple! The reason my kitchen surfaces were always so cluttered is because I couldn’t fit anything in the cupboards and drawers. Why? Because the cupboards and drawers were full of things such as a broken juicer, countless tupperware boxes and lids that didn’t match, fifteen dinner plates and forty yes, that’s FORTY side plates. There is one of me, plus a toddler who has his own plates, and a baby who isn’t weaning yet. Why on earth would I need forty side plates?! (Confession… I still have forty side plates. They’re pretty, they’re vintage, they make good plant stands, and they don’t actually take up much space in the cupboard in their neat little pile… this is a work in progress!)
Anyway, for the past three months, every spare chance I’ve got, I’ve been working on the house. I didn’t follow the Kon Mari method, which is to tackle items by category. For example, Kon Mari suggests to start with your clothes, take every item of clothing and put it on the floor of one room, pick up each item one by one and choose whether to keep or discard based on whether the item ‘sparks joy’. I didn’t have the time or the space for that – plus my clothes were a tricky one to start with as I’m still carrying far too much baby weight and the majority of my wardrobe doesn’t actually fit me, so based on that I would have discarded the whole lot except for my maternity leggings and giant jumpers.
I think, about eight car loads of ‘stuff’ has left my house, including broken furniture and appliances to the tip, an armchair that came as part of our very old three piece suite but didn’t fit in the living room, piles of books, clothes, ornaments to charity shops, and I also sold quite a few things on eBay and on local Facebook selling groups. In fact one of the first places I tackled was the cupboard under the stairs, which I emptied in an afternoon and sold most of the contents (an old ride on bike that was too small for Frey, a playpen, and a baby carrier) on my local Facebook selling group, making £60 and having an empty cupboard in return that I can now use for storing things I actually use, like my vacuum cleaner – which was previously just sitting in the hallway as it didn’t fit in the cupboard.
I quickly decided that ‘minimalism’ wasn’t for me. I love to decorate my home, I love vintage nik-naks (such as side plates!) and I have two small children. But I wanted to clear through all the bits and pieces that I didn’t need, use, or love, of which there were many, so I could properly display the things that I have that I do love.
It has taken me three months to do the whole house, and is still a work in progress, I think it always will be. I have to stop myself putting things out of sight in a cupboard to ‘deal with later’ as ‘at least it’s out of the way for now’ – I know what happens after three years of thinking that way! (Why did I fill a whole kitchen cupboard with a huge broken juicer.. why?!)
I didn’t take many ‘before’ pictures unfortunately, although I’ve found a few from searching through my camera roll – so most of these posts will be the ‘after’ pictures, but I’ll explain what I’ve done to make the changes.
Let’s start with my living room… (eek, are you ready for the before.. I’m not really sure I’m ready to share it!)
Ok.. to be fair this is a pretty extreme example of the before.. the giant Christmas Tree is in the corner and there are all Frey’s Christmas toys, with no home to go to apart from that small basket, and a matching, but slightly larger basket. Coming down to this room in the evenings after the babies’ bedtime wasn’t much fun, it certainly wasn’t a place I could get any work or relaxing done until I’d tidied up – but there wasn’t anywhere for everything to go.
My first job, was obviously to take down the Christmas decorations and then have a think about toy storage. After a quick browse on pinterest for inspiration, it seemed that the best way to store toys was cube storage. Sometimes it helps to be a hoarder, as I happened to have a spare cube storage unit in a box upstairs.. I’m not sure where I’d originally planned to use it, but it’s time had come! This one is from www.ikea.com but they’re available from other places too.
Amazingly, almost all of Frey’s toys fit in baskets on the bottom row of this unit. I’ve got a basket for craft and painting supplies, a basket for little board books, a basket for ‘toys with wheels’ and a basket for miscellaneous.
Ah, the other side of the room. This has just been finished this week, and I absolutely love it. The plant stand used to be filled with bits and pieces that I didn’t use, such as old dusty candleholders and ornaments. It actually used to be part of the display when I had my shop – so I’m quite attached to it! Now I just use it for plants and a few other small items. And I love my collection of framed vintage fabrics that I’ve picked up at vintage fairs over the past few years.
Of course, the room still gets destroyed by my toddler on days when we stay home, but Frey is pretty good at tidying up now, and this is so much easier now that everything has a home! (Apart from the toot toot garage, which is still a feature in it’s own right… although at least now it’s not right in the middle of the floor!)
I’ll share more of my changes, and how I’m getting on with the rest of the New Year goals in the coming weeks. If you’re struggling with keeping part of your house tidy, I’d definitely recommend giving this a try. Removing bags and bags of things from your home and being left with only what you use and love is very therapeutic!