A guest post by ~ Moni Gilbert
So you’ve caught the de-clutter bug and you’re slashing your way through cupboards, corners, shelves, nooks and crannies. And while you can see big inroads with your work, you also realize that on your journey to organization and simplicity you have generated a lot of chaos, which wasn’t really the vision. When this happens, people quickly turn to storage systems to combat the disorder, and swiftly things begin to look neat and organized again. Peace prevails, sanity is restored.
Storage solutions can be as simple as a utensil rack in the kitchen or extra shelves in the linen cupboard and whole industries have been built around creating effective wardrobes that utilize every last centimeter of space. It can be a series of storage boxes, vacuum pack systems, racks, etc. I find when I am flicking through storage catalogues or wandering through a shop specializing in storage solutions that I am like a kid in a candy-store. All these options and ideas to conquer disorganization and chaos! The problem is that we often use such storage solutions to move clutter from one place in the house to another storing it attractively but haven’t actually addressed the underlying problem ……………….. too much unnecessary stuff! Remember, organized clutter is still clutter.
My friend gleefully bought two handbag holders that hung from a coat hanger in the wardrobe, each held 7 handbags. Handbags aren’t my weakness but I am in no position to criticize as I have my own “vices” on the collection front. However the obvious question was……who needs 14 handbags? – and this wasn’t all of her handbags either, these were just the ones that were bought to match particular outfits. Just for fun we tagged them, to see how often they were used and a year later she realized that she didn’t even have most of the outfits that she bought them for anymore. So they all ended up auctioned on trademe (NZ version of ebay) along with the holder and the proceeds went to buying something else.
I was determined to buy a trolley designed to hold extra paraphernalia in the bathroom as the vanity cupboards were overflowing. I had measured the space available and carefully selected the model from the catalogue and was eager to do the purchasing when it occurred to me that it was an area I hadn’t actually de-cluttered. Suffice to say, by the time I removed the empty bottles, the expired medicines, the hair clippers that didn’t work, all the cleaning agents that had been shoved in there instead of being returned to the laundry shelves and realized that there were enough full bottles of shampoo and conditioner in there to last us months – we actually had plenty of room and didn’t need the extra storage trolley.
I have two friends who bought those vacuum seal bags that you store clothes or blankets in. A great idea.. Ironically the friend that lived in the warm North had more blankets and duvets (doonas) than the one who lived close to the mountains. So she decided to re-evaluate what she actually required and eventually donated a large number of blankets and quilts to the Christchurch Earthquake Disaster relief effort last year. However, the friend with the few blankets was attempting to store mostly clothes – and all from bygone eras and sizes. She got caught out when she asked the other friend for the now excess vacuum pack bags. She wrote out a stock take and quickly realized she wouldn’t wear the clothes even if she did get back down to those sizes. The final outcome was neither ended up needing any of the vacuum pack bags. But that’s not to say, someone with very little or no storage space, and living in a climate with extremes in temperature wouldn’t utilize them well.
So how do we know when we have crossed the line from a storage solution to attractively stored clutter? Only you can decide that. Don’t be surprised if a storage system that was going to be the answer to all your problems, is leaving the household a year later. Sometimes we just aren’t ready to let go of a particular area of our life and home, but as we peel back the layers of clutter elsewhere our ‘protected’ clutter begins to become more obvious to the eye and less necessary to us. Ask yourself, can I delay purchasing this storage solution for a month? If so, will I still need it? Am I simply trying to contain something that I just don’t want to sort out yet? Do I want to admit that I have too many whatever-it-may-be ? Am I just trying to make a quick fix in a tsunami of clutter I have unleashed on myself? If I revisited this collection of stuff over several weekends, would I be able to get rid of more stuff each time? Is its replacement worth more than the storage item would cost?
If the storage solution deals with, say, a laundry cupboard that has never had enough shelves, go for it. But if it is to support something that you just haven’t dealt with or is something you have an unnecessary emotional attachment to….then you probably should save your money, and work thru the issue separately.
I’m not telling you throw out precious items, or to leave valuable items unprotected rather than give them the storage they need. Only you can decide what your priorities are in your home. But a good indicator is that if your best friends tell you that you have way too many shoes, don’t buy an extra shoe rack. Or if you don’t actually know what is in those twenty storage cartons, don’t invest in that attic access ladder.
So my friends, I leave this in your hands to discuss. I am merely someone who is on the same journey as you are on, and this is only my opinion. I am open to other perspectives, or to answer questions. And if anyone in NZ would like a shoe holder that clips onto a wardrobe door…..mine has outlived its usefulness, and is free to a good home!
Today’s Mini Mission
Return something that you have borrowed from someone else that you should possibly have returned some time ago.
Colleen’s Decluttered Item of the Day
I so understand where Moni is coming from when she says… “I find when I am flicking thru storage catalogues or wandering thru a shop specializing in storage solutions that I am like a kid in a candy-store.” … I love storage solutions too. But without the clutter I don’t need the solutions. Now that I have less craft clutter I don’t need this set of storage bins to organise it in. It does take a little extra will power to let it go though.