Friday, May 11, 2012


All the clutter that amasses each day in our condo is mind boggling and borderline maddening to me. There comes a point every day that I'm at home when I feel like stuff is attacking me. It seems like I'm always picking things up, putting things away, throwing things away, donating them, or eating them, and yet crap still comes at me, stronger than ever, and intent on choking me. I can’t take a step without walking on a metal space shuttle or a small child. Insanity!

Recently we’d been itching to do a house-purge. It had been a little over a year since our major closet project, which necessitated a full-on purge as well. Before the boys’ party I did what has become a regular toy purge. We’re fortunate to have Gammy’s basement for all the overflow toys, so those toys are on a regular rotation, and by rotation I mean we are rotating them from our house into hers and they are rotating around her house and staying there.

I recently saw a discussion thread on Facebook about whether or not it’s a faux pas to ask guests not to bring gifts to a party and there were some mixed responses. I’ve never felt bad asking party guests to either not bring a gift or bring something little, intangible, or consumable. I think it’s necessary when living small. Perhaps I am a tactless party-throwing shrew? 

While discussing the condo-overhaul, Brian mentioned the possibility of getting rid of our china hutch, and even though I’d resisted it in the past, I took it up as my cause, for whatever reason. It would give us some more room in our dining room and there’s this feeling of freedom that comes from getting rid of stuff, so I was game to do it. 

For a couple days, in between watching three children and keeping a house functioning, I chipped away at going through all our kitchen cupboards, the hutch, and the pantry. If the stuff had no sentimental value, if we hadn’t used it more than once or twice and never recently, or it couldn’t be used elsewhere as a space-saver, it left in a box for Goodwill. After rearranging everywhere with fewer things, I decided to keep the hutch for all the storage it provides.

My proudest accomplishment this time around was taking the canisters I rarely used, which were taking up valuable cupboard space and putting them in the boys' room as art supply storage. Before I had their art things in shoe boxes and tins, but with the transparent canisters it's easy to find everything and it looks cool.

I went through the linens in the drawers, got rid of some, and put others on upside-down box tops (one for linens we actually use sometimes, one on the bottom for wedding gift ones that maybe one day we'll use). Nothing pretty, but it freed up all the drawer space in the hutch!

I went through the vases in my hutch and kept one of each size. When do I ever have more than three bouquets of fresh flowers in my house? You're right. I took them out of the hutch and found a corner of a cupboard for them. I found a Magic Bullet mixer that we used maybe once. It had seven accompanying cups! It was decidedly un-magical when we did use it, so that got donated, which freed up more space.

My second favorite part of the purge was being able to take much of the clutter off the usually-unsightly shelves to the right of the hutch that serve as my office. With more space in the hutch, I put office things in the lower corner, and more things from the shelves, like our video camera, into the middle section. Because of the linen-purge I had four drawers in the hutch to fill. I put art things that we use frequently that often clutter up the table, CDs (I know, who has CDs still, right?) from the shelves, all the aprons and kids' baking things, and gave my blog its own drawer!

Now I have to take my purge-fervor to other areas in the house. Bet you’ve never heard purge-fervor before. Rural juror, anyone?

I recommend doing similar purges at least once a year, especially if you live in a small space. I know a lot of people who regret having a bunch of stuff, even though they have room for it. It actually feels amazing to let things go. 

I apologize for some out-of-order pictures. I also wrote about another aspect of this family purge on DC Metro Mom today.   

The disastrous, dusty hutch
The drawers had table linens we seldom use.

I kept some of the linens, put them on box tops
 in the back of a cupboard.

I never used these canisters that were taking up space...
so I put art supplies in them and put them on the boys' shelf
The boys love funnels so instead of the kitchen, 
I put them in the bathtub.
Yes, I'm sure we will one day need 100 packets of
soy sauce and plastic utensils-- tossed almost all of them.
These two sets of silverware were easily combined into one box.
I got rid of all the small tea containers by squishing them
 into a plate box.
Super-inefficient cupboard
Reworked with my entire set of China and extra silverware 
stored in the back.
So they're on top, ready for finite 
periods of fun.
Lately, fridge magnets make me 
Reorganized hutch
Four new empty drawers freed up the cluttery shelves 
that serve as my office.
CDs, aprons and kids' baking gear, art stuff we use often, and
my blog now has its own drawer!
The lower section by my laptop now has my 
office stuff in it.
Another kitchen space-saver: hang things up...
like spoons and knives
Took some lesser-used dishes out of the cupboards
Bulletin board on inside of the cupboard door, 
so not visibly cluttery

You have no idea what an improvement this desk area is--
 unless you've been to my house...

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