Casual Friday + More Clutter Q&A

  • Where I live, Tuesday marked the first day back to school. Despite an original forecast of rain, it ended up being hot and sunny all day long. What a great way to launch the academic term (we walked of course)!
  • John and I managed to sneak away this week to use his grand-prize win – a trip to White Point Beach Resort. It has been wonderful, and the kids were thrilled to have Grammie and Grampie come to babysit – complete with homemade Mac n’ Cheese and meatballs, two of their favourite meals. Stay tuned for a recap!

Until then, here is a bit more decluttering Q&A.

do you use storage containers? Don’t minimalists discourage this?

I LOVE storage containers. For most things my go-to’s are: KIS brand Omni storage boxes (the lids go on easily, they’re clear, stack well, and have been very very durable; I tend to use these for larger items like clothes and bulky toys). For everything else I use the inexpensive plastic shoe boxes from Home Depot.

  • I use these shoe boxes (without lids) inside my kid’s dresser drawers – lots of them. I/they can fold up their leggings, shorts, pants, and PJ’s and they fit right in.
  • I use them to store travel toiletries under the bathroom sink.
  • I use them to organize facecloths in my linen closet.
  • I keep my (pathetically small) sewing stash in a single box – needles, thread, hemming tape, and random buttons.
  • We’ve also used them to organize our LEGO!
LEGO, organized by colour. The shoe boxes can fit two deep and two high in this IKEA Kallax; a good thing as we have lots of LEGO! And no, it doesn’t always look this neat! Bins are typically scattered all over the foam tiles; my husband just happened to ask the kids to pick it up the morning I took this picture, coincidentally. The large white bins (also from IKEA) hold miscellaneous toys. Inside one there are – wait for it – more shoe boxes that contain play food and tea set paraphernalia. NERF guns and darts find a home in one; laser tag in another.

Where/how do you store everything?

I’m just going to go through a few pictures as it is likely easier to visualize our storage systems.

I’m a big fan of furniture with closed doors. Also, baskets for the win!

We store games, photobooks/albums + all things related to the gaming console and TV/audio accessories in this IKEA unit. I love the glazed doors which do a great job of hiding the contents. The electronics are all my husband – I’d still be using a 13″ TV with the built-in sound. Gold star to him!
Also in the basement family room – we store all our blankets in a basket. No need for folding to make things look neat. The coffee table has a bottom shelf where we keep remotes, coasters, etc. when not in use.
Our dining room + living room + front entryway are all one long space. The little metal basket by the armchair holds all our current library books. The IKEA hutch does all the heavy lifting.
More games (the ones we usually play with the kids – the others are downstairs) + the drawers hold all the colouring/workbooks, though the kids each keep a set of markers in their room and prefer to just create things on blank paper most of the time.
Another IKEA purchase – this desk is wonderful for our 10-year-old’s room. Lots of storage space.
And then we organize the drawer contents with an IKEA divider. And no, her desk does not always look quite this clean. To get ready for school she’s been keen to get her living space tidied up – she actually LOVES organizing…as long as I’m alongside her for the process.

What about food? Do you stockpile?

My husband and I have a long-standing debate. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE an empty fridge and pantry. He prefers to see them bursting at the seams.

Having a whole bunch of raw materials for meals always leaves me feeling anxious. I know I need to use ingredients before they spoil, and I know it will take time and energy to do this. It all feels a bit like a ticking time bomb.

As much as I love cooking, this is often how I feel.

Fun fact: our 1970’s kitchen is currently configured for an apartment-sized fridge, so space is limited! I try very hard to only buy items we need/will consume and prefer to shop several times a week so I get items fresh without having to store them for long periods.

The pictures below are actually after a huge (to me) grocery order, but it usually looks fuller than this. We had just gotten home from a week away and things were already pretty sparse. All the veggies go in the crisper drawers. I try to get rid of condiments we no longer need/use as we don’t have much door storage.

I’m so glad we have this storage space in our basement. I organize things in totes and/or by product. We do have a small pantry in the kitchen (not walk-in), but I store most excess items downstairs, out of sight.

you like decluttering, but my house is a mess? Where do I start?

This depends. Some people do best tackling a single space – say the shelves in a linen closet. Others do better tackling a single category – say all the clothes in a closet or a bin full of Christmas decorations. Some people like to clean everything at once – blitzing the house in a matter of days. Some people prefer to pick away at it, tackling one space or category a week.

Regardless of your personality type and penchant for decluttering, I’d say the safest launch point is to pick something small. Start with a relatively neutral space – a sock drawer or your bathroom vanity – something that won’t take a lot of time to get through and likely already contains categorized items (that don’t come with a lot of emotional attachments).

Clear this space. Assess how it feels to downsize, repurpose, and organize. If items are out of place, find them an appropriate home. If cosmetics or medications are expired or if socks are uncomfortable/missing mates/have holes – GET RID OF THEM! By tackling doable spaces first, it can help build momentum to carry your efforts through your entire living space.

Finally, there is no finish line. At some point it becomes more an issue of maintenance, but there will always be new messes, new paraphernalia that enters your home and it’s a natural part of life. You don’t start once, complete a task, and declare victory. It’s a lifestyle and something you’ll return to over and over again (with varying levels of enthusiasm)!

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