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Simplify Your Home: Declutter

Updated on October 10, 2017
PAINTDRIPS profile image

As a Baby-Boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

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Sweaty Creative Types

I’m the creative type. You know the type. I was one of the people no one wanted to sit with in high school but now everyone wants to be me. Creatives are lonely in that way. But if we are creative we live for the art and don’t really care what people think or do. I suppose you heard before that creativity is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So that makes me and my husband sweaty creatives.

I have to say that I still squint at people who stop me at gas stations and greet me by name with a big smile, announcing that they knew me in high school. I squint because I can’t remember them for the life of me; they certainly never spoke to me at school and weren’t my friend, but now, we must be friends. Hmmm. I don’t care anymore about that. I am having too much fun being an artist.

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Simple lifestyle

Part of the new lifestyle I have adopted means living simply. To live on an artist’s income is not usually a very lucrative endeavor, but very satisfying. So I simplify. Not too long ago my husband and I were victims of budget cuts in our respective jobs. That’s turned out to be a good thing and given us more time to work on our respective creative first loves. To do this we had to leave our large house and move into a small one-bedroom apartment. We look at it like an upgrade instead of a downgrade. We have more time for creative endeavors; less time spent cleaning and maintaining a large home. Here are a few of the things we have learned about simplifying:

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Love Stuff

Keep only what you use or love, ditch or donate the rest.

When I first started ditching things it was a punishment and a chore. I felt really mistreated to have to eliminate my books (over 1,000) and my crafts (considerable) and my artwork (most went to storage). I love to have all that around me but the more I got rid of and lived through the loss, the more I found that I didn’t NEED all that stuff after all. It got easier and easier, until now 5 years later, I can’t imagine living with all that clutter again ever.

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A dirty word

Do feel like downsizing or simplifying is a punishment?

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Room dividers

Use bookcases as room dividers. Put hooks near the door to replace a coat closet.

You really don’t need a whole closet for coats after all. I couple hooks near the door and you are good. I have some hooks for my keys too so now they don’t get lost so often. Also bookcases that used to be filled with thousands of books now hold the few precious ones I have kept and serve double duty as room dividers to make two rooms out of one.

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Real-estate hogs

Ditch room real-estate hogs, such as big overstuffed couches, dining room furniture, and big beds. Bulky is out. Try not to interrupt line of sight with wooden or solid furniture that makes the space look smaller. As much as possible use wire, Lucite, clear acrylic, metallic dining room furniture.

I remember when the bulky over-stuffed look was very in, but it also made a room look crowded and small. With smaller spaces, these hogs just don’t work. We had to get rid of our overstuffed couch and love seat combo in favor of a smaller love seat size couch. The clear acrylic coffee table is a nice touch that opens up the room. Clear dinning is nice too, but we got a breakfast nook that fits nicely into the small corner space that serves for a dinning room. It looks small in the store but fills the space perfectly in the apartment.

Declutter one room at a time

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Vertical clutter

Use pegboards to move clutter upward. Put shelves above doors and windows. Go vertical; get it off the ground.

I think going vertical is a genius move and I love having shelves above the doors and window for my little trinkets and memorabilia.

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Sneaky storage

Use sneaky storage wherever possible; shelves and cubbies under beds, tables, bench dining. Find dual-purpose places that give 2 for 1 space under and behind. This is one reason we love our Breakfast Nook dining table. The bench chairs lift for storage under them.

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Vertical stripes and light

Decorate with vertical stripes. It gives the illusion of more space.

Lots of light makes rooms appear bigger. Don’t cover up those windows completely. White is bigger… but impersonal… so add color accents.

Mirrors are an age-old fake-out. They make the eye think there’s more space than there actually is… and it’s very fung shui.

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Declutter papers and magazines

As much as possible don’t leave newspapers, magazines, and flyers lying around. Toss these out weekly so that your home says uncluttered. Clutter makes a room look small and unkempt fast.

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Home Blessing Time

Make a place for everything and everything in its place as much as possible. Carve out a “House Blessing” day when you go from room to room, attacking clutter, putting away and tossing the rest. Once a week is often enough to keep small spaces in great shape.

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Simplified Comments welcomed

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Austinstar,

      Try typing in "Homegoods for sale" or "Garage Sale goods" or something like that. I stumbled on one of these and found there were dozens of them on Facebook. Better than Craigs List and Ebay, you get immediate answers. The rule of thumb is that the first person saying they are interested in your product actually have first dibs unless they say they change their minds. And you can have them meet you at a local place like Walmart parking lot or something if you don't want to give your home address. Seems much safer to me. Hope that works for you.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 

      3 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      No, never tried fb. I'll give it a shot. Thanks

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Austinstar,

      So sorry you feel that way. I think it isn't a matter of no one wanting it but more a matter of you haven't found the right buyers. Someone somewhere is probably looking for just what you have. Have you tried Facebook?

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 

      3 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

      I want to get rid of my junk, but nobody wants it.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      moonlake,

      I'm so sorry. That is a problem. I think that it doesn't happen overnight and sometimes it takes months (years even) of ongoing work to actually make a dint. Like I stated above to DzyMsLizzy, it's taken my 5 years to eliminate most of my books, the popular stuff went first and the more obscure books have taken time. Storage is the key. Find a place to put things that you know are on the "sell" list so you can find them easily when you get that call. Don't worry. It will happen in the right time. I believe firmly that things happen for a reason and in the right time. I hated that we had to move from the lovely 2 story place we had, but then I developed osteoarthritis in my hips and had to have both hips replaced. I could never have maneuvered up stairs... so the move was perfectly timed... who knew? So don't worry. Just plan for the sale and it will come.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      DzyMsLizzy,

      Oh, I can appreciate your dilemma. I am sorry that it is a problem for you and I think that I said those same words about apartments a decade ago (best laid plans and all that). However in my case, we never really OWNed a home of our own, always renting in the hope of owning but it just didn't happen for us. So I can't relate to equity and would feel different, I'm sure, if I had any. That being said, we have a number of friends who purchased homes and when the bottom dropped out of the economy and they lost their jobs, they lost all the equity they had built up and had to sell anyway. We are actually relieved that didn't happen to us. We are actually relieved also, that when things break down here, we don't have to call in a repairman and fix it out of pocket, we don't have to hire a lawn service (since we can't physically do lawn work anymore) and we don't have to pay the city for garbage and water anymore. There are upsides to apartments. We found the cost of Gas and Electric was cut by 2/3 and we saved a huge bundle on the Water and Garbage the city was billing us for before in a home.

      As for stuff, antique, memorabilia, and heirlooms, we decided to give things that we thought had value to our children while we were still alive instead of waiting till one or both of us passed. That way there could be no fighting or misunderstandings. We cleared out our storage space that way little by little until one of the kids asked if we had something to tell them (she thought we were dying and didn't want them to worry)... lol.

      Things that the kids didn't want or couldn't use we sold little by little using Etsy (for handmade things like quilts, etc), Ebay (for things you don't mind shipping long distances), Craig's List and Facebook Homegoods pages (for things that you couldn't possibly ship long distances like extra freezers and furniture), and Amazon (for books and things). It has taken 5 years for most of my 1000+ book hoard to sell but most of it is gone now. In that amount of time the little extra here and there came in very handy. Of course I didn't get what I paid for books originally but I did read them and use them and enjoy them... and it was time to let someone else do that now. It gave me enough extra income to get a Kindle and some of the most prized books in digital form so I actually still have some of them.

      I guess it comes down to asking yourself, why are you hanging onto it? You can't take it with you... and if you aren't using it at all... why not let someone who can use it, even if you are only getting a fraction of what you think the thing is worth?

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      3 years ago from America

      I'm trying to declutter but it isn't easy doing it by myself. I found 4 large dog crates/kennels in the barn. I knew we had two but my husband must have picked up 3 more at a rummage sale I guess. I tried to get rid of them I called a rescue place that was always asking for crates. FREE CRATES...They wanted them but would never come and get them. I tried Craigslist no one has called. It's going to take me forever to declutter. Enjoyed your hub.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I am struggling. I know there is SO much stuff I need to get rid of; much of it from my mother's estate...it's been sitting here, some of it in use, ever since she passed back in 1998.

      However, I am loathe to just toss things out or give them away. I can't afford to. Our finances are in such rough shape, (retired, hubby disabled, we are on a low fixed income), that I really need to SELL stuff to help with the things we need (including some of his over-the-counter meds that are prescribed, but nevertheless, the insurance won't pay for because they are not 'restricted' to prescription-only), and household maintenance etc. Trouble is, selling stuff is a SLOW process, no one is buying much, and well, the rest of that is a whole long story.

      We cannot sell and downsize to an apartment, because the going rates are higher than our mortgage payment, and we are barely managing that. Besides, we got a mortgage modification, and the terms state that we have to stay here for 5 years before we can sell. Anyway--I've lived in apartments before, and never again would be too soon. Waste of money going to something that will never be yours, and in which you gain no equity, so you can't sell eventually and get a financial boost that way.

      I'm not a hoarder--the rooms are clear--no "pathways through stuff" (hubby would never stand for that), but for sure, all the closets are well-packed. ;-)

      It is, as you say, a chore, and feels very much like a punishment to have to get rid of my stuff--things I worked hard to get, and will never be able to afford to replace. No, when we moved here, it was with the idea that the only way we were leaving would be feet-first. I just need to thin out the closets.. ;)

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      FlourishAnyway,

      So true. My husband is a video genius, but in so saying I have to also acknowledge that he loves his research. He must have every old black and white movie ever made from Citizen Kane to some very obscure B & W TV shows like the Halls of Ivy. He must have boxes and boxes, thousands of them in VHS and DVD. At last count there were 27 boxes in storage and at least 7 or 8 here at the house. It is a problem we both have with declutter! Mine is artwork and that's a lot of paper too. We would be chin-deep if we didn't both fight it consciously on a weekly basis.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 years ago from USA

      I enjoy clutter-free living but my husband definitely keeps too many papers. I ditch them in the recycling after fair warning. No need to be knee deep in clutter.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Lawrence,

      That's good for you. I imagine if we move again (short of be striking it rich and famous) it will be to an even smaller place. So decluttering is a constant must. Still I do like having less to clean and mop. It is interesting how similar our families are.

      Blessings to yours,

      Denise

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Denise

      Your home sounds like ours. I write (when I'm not working) the wife is creatve with numerous crafts (whenever we're on holiday we have to do the craft shops rounds) and the daughter does both!

      Decluttering is regular but last time we moved it was to a bigger place!

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Lawrence,

      Thanks so much for the confidence boost. I appreciate your visit.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Denise

      Loved this hub.

      Lawrence

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      lollyj lm,

      Long in the tooth.... lol. I have quite a few rings around my trunk myself and I agree, clutter is a problem that we have to tackle regularly.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      3 years ago from Washington KS

      We declutter at regular intervals. We're both getting a little long in the tooth and can't function amidst clutter. Loved the hub.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Dana Tate,

      Thank you. My husband is this awesome writer and videographer and I am an artist and children's book illustrator. Together there is a plethora of creative things going one here all the time. And they say two creatives can't live together but we make it work. We respect each other's space and talents. That must be the key. Along with agreeing to periodically declutter!

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      3 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      I hate clutter and always look for ways to live simpler. I applaud you and your husband for making the decision to devote more time to your creative endeavors. Life is way too short. Live it to the fullest.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      DebMartin,

      It is so true. I need the reminder from time to time myself. Thanks for the comment.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • profile image

      DebMartin 

      3 years ago

      Always good for a simplifier like myself to get re-inspired. It can sneak back in, ya know? Thanks for the uplift. d

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Rachel L Alba,

      Very wise, Rachel. I am totally with you. I like art magazines and tend to donate them to my local art group and they sell them to members for 25 cents each. That way I'm supporting my non-profit art group.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Virginia Allain,

      I know what you mean. I love magazines but they seem to accumulate like magic. I have to give myself the rule that if I haven't read any more of it before the next one arrives, it's time to pitch it. Hard rule but keeps the clutter down.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Larry Rankin,

      I have trouble decluttering too. That's why I need a House Blessing day where I spend one hour going from room to room making two piles, the pitch it pile and the put away pile. At least that way things keep an open feel but aren't so anal that I can't live here.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Carb Diva,

      Well, that is a pickle. I didn't take into account antiques and things you just can't part with for sentamental reasons. Those precious things need a special room or a special home. And I know what you mean about the rich look of antique wood. I just don't have a place for that anymore. I passed down the beautiful baby grand piano that belonged to my grandmother to my daughter who has a large home and 4 children (well, technically 3.5... one is coming next month) because she has the space for it and plays it and I don't. I've reached an age where I just don't need one more thing to clean.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      3 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I do clutter up with old magazines. They aren't thrown all over, they are stacked neatly in special places, but there they are and I never look at them. I keep thinking that maybe I could sell them, if there is someone who collects old magazines. But, I realize that I am just kidding myself. I have started to simplify my life by getting rid of them. Now I love to see that space empty. The more simple my life is, right now, the better I like it. Thanks for sharing a great hub.

      Blessings to you, Denise.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with possessions right now, so think I'll go get rid of some magazines. A start, at least, on streamlining.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      I have trouble decluttering. Thanks for this helpful hub.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      I love this advice. A wise person once said the more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you. Your rooms with open windows and acrylic tables look light and refreshing, but I love my vintage (100+ years old) oak wood furnishings. Yes, they are heavy and dark, but my particular artistic nature is soothed and satisfied by the rich tones and varied wood grains. I'm in a pickle. What to do?

      But that's enough about me. This is a very well done useful hub. Voted up.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Jodah,

      Thank you so much for the vote of confidence. I know I have to regularly declutter or it begins to breed and grow... Monster like.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub and advice paint drips. We really need to think seriously about decluttering again. We seem to have to do it more and more often. You provide some wonderful tips. Voted up.

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