How decluttering can improve your finances ~ by deanna ar USA

How decluttering can improve your finances ~ by deanna ar USA

With contributions from her husband Randy

The last few years hubby and I have noticed an improvement in our finances because we were purchasing less, in order not to add items to our home, when we were in fact working to declutter it. It was easy to see that I had not  shopped Coldwater Creek (my favorite) in a couple of years. In fact I had not been compelled to shop anywhere because so many items were decluttered that we hadn’t needed anyway, i.e. household items, hubby’s hobby items, tools, etc. About the only place I was shopping was thrift shops and, of course, grocery stores. I’m still learning what clutter is.

We didn’t set out to actually focus our decluttering skills on finances, but we were aware that we wanted to reduce expenses. We had talked about it often but didn’t really take enough action. I do think that having been actively decluttering for awhile and learning to release things, it was easier to release some things in our financial world too…like DirecTV (subscribing to Netflix and Hulu instead)…over $100 savings monthly. We’re now hoping  to reduce homeowners and auto insurance. We’re going back to a mail order pharmacy, it’s much cheaper. Our prescriptions are all generic now. We’ve also reduced the number of times we eat out each week. And we generally drink wine only at home now, except for special occasions. We’re in the midst of these changes now, so we’re eager to see how much this is going to affect us monthly. Last month was great! But we are finding that, like most decluttering, this too is a process.

I was not raised to declutter. My mother saved everything. Even though I did it in spurts, I never considered that it was ok to let some things go. However, I’ve been decluttering clothes (mine and hubby’s) for several years. But we traveled halftime for hubby’s work so, not being home much, I just couldn’t get started on decluttering the house. It helped that I had been reading several minimalist blogs regularly. I already knew that if I wanted to clean out my closet, then I could read my favorite style blog to get motivated. When I found Colleen’s blog and started reading it, it quickly became my favorite. I was so taken with her style and how active many of the readers were. So I started reading her archives and learned a lot of things I’d never considered before and became so very motivated to get rid of stuff I wasn’t using or didn’t love (even when it involved finances and entertainment).

These are a few of the things that have helped along the way:

1. Natural progression…the more you declutter, the more you want to declutter.

2. It’s ok to destroy pictures (or pass them along to relatives), especially duplicates, unflattering pictures, people you don’t know…

3. I thought some things were off limits. But what about those who lose everything in floods, tornadoes, etc…instant decluttering!

4. I thought I knew myself well, but after reading about fantasy selves, I’m now questioning what part is fantasy and what part is the real me.

5. Decluttering is addictive, so is shopping.

6. Reducing finances is also decluttering. What an “aha” moment that was.

7. It’s ok to return a gift(s) that you no longer use, need or want. And it can sometimes be done without hurting anyone’s feelings, especially if you’re forthright about it. Or…you can regift.

8. I have decluttered things recently that I would never have considered before…like my baton, my mandolin, some favorite clothes that I no longer wore, and on and on.

9. The less “stuff” you have, the fewer decisions you have to make. I love that. When I’m decluttering, one criteria I use is, “Do I really want to have to make this decision again at a later date?”

10. The more careful I am with my criteria, the more hubby is willing to trust me…that I will not declutter his stuff without asking. And he’s been decluttering more on his own. Hurray!

#9 is my favorite. It’s amazing how excited and happy decluttering can make you, giving you that sense of freedom from stuff.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Home again and on with the decluttering. Hi folks, well all good things must come to and end and my vacation is one of those things. We had a lovely time in Japan but it is always nice to be home again. And now it is back to the […]
  • The problem is acquiring Clutter is very much about being keener to acquire than to let go. We acquire things we need or want but once their usefulness to us has expired we hang on to them. I feel that there are […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. I too noticed that my finances improved when I started to declutter! It wasn’t my goal, it just happened. Ways I save money without even noticing are: only have trash picked up once a month instead of weekly ($8/month), no landline, just cell phone. ($40/month), switched cell phone companies ($20/month), switched to the very least cable package required to get my internet ($50/month), only get fancy coffee occasionally instead of daily ($100/month) & eat out occasionally instead of most nights (at least $200/ month).

    Not shopping, but going with a list of things I intend to buy has helped immensely. I now think this will be in my declutter pile in a few months, so why bother!
    Nice blog! Isn’t it wonderful to have such a great side effect of decluttering.?!

    • Yes, it is!! Thanks for commenting Calla…(my first comment!). You gave me some new ideas by including your list. We did go to only cell phones, no landline, when my hubby retired and we no longer needed a fax line. I hope many others post their lists too so we can all get ideas that we haven’t considered before :))

    • Great comment Calla. I liked it so much a posted it at the 365 Less Things Facebook page.

  2. Cluttering = decluttering
    Hit post before I checked

  3. Oh I loved reading this list. Even though I take a while to declutter I guess you do have to start somewhere. We have Netflix at home instead of cable and we have just one credit card.

    • Hi Lorena! We have not finished solving our DirecTV dilemma yet, but we’re still trying to come to an agreement on it. We had a bump in that road. So far we’re saving about $33 a month, but I think we’ll end up with a bigger savings. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Raesha de Ruiter Zylker :

    Again, another FABULOUS post. I have been following this blog for several years and the posts in the last few weeks have really touched me. Keep up the good work everyone and keep decluttering!!!!!

    • Thanks Raesha! I love this blog. It has helped me so much. Sometimes I get impatient, but I try to just count it as a little snag and keep on going. Wonder how many people Colleen has helped here?!?

  5. #9. -how many times we make a decision or have a thought about a single item? Like in “I really don’t use, sigh”. Again and again. By getting rid if it, the whole cycle of thinking and sighing is over with. Deanna, Thanks for your openness with us.

  6. About re-gifting: I keep a plastic tub in the hall closet for things to be re-gifted. It is a real money saver. My secret for not hurting anyone’s feelings accidentally: I put a sticky note with the giver’s name, the occasion and the year on it. I re-gift unwanted items from co-workers to relative or friends who will appreciate the item, but who are unaffiliated with my workplace or the co-worker in question. If it is something from one of my relatives that I cannot use, I give it to a friend or relative. The sticky notes make sure that I do not re-gift something from “Aunt Matilda” to her niece, thus sparing “Aunt Matilda” the hurt feelings of seeing the gift given to someone else.

    Old photos and portraits: I had to work on my mother for years, to give away two old photo portraits of distant relatives who died before she was born. They were old Victorian things in enormous, hideous frames. We took them to an antiques shop which declared the portraits and the frames to be of little value. My mother felt obliged to keep them because they were pictures of relatives, however distant. No one in the family who was more closely related to the long-deceased relatives wanted them. We finally gave them to a local amateur theater company, as they would be useful for set dressing for period plays, and large enough to be seen by the audience.

    As for ordinary-sized photos, consider donating old “vintage” photos depicting unknown persons to a University library or art department. especially if you have a large number of them and the people in them are wearing good examples of period clothing. Old photos are often used in art collages and historical presentations covering certain periods of history such as World Wars, the 1960s, etc.

    • Hi Dez,

      That is so interesting, how you handled those old portraits. I would never have thought of that! And you have a good idea about the smaller old photos, too. 🙂

    • Dez, I loved your ideas! I, too, use sticky notes but for my card sending. If I have multiple birthday cards of the same design, I put a sticky on there with the name of the person(s) I have already sent to, so I don’t do it again. With box cards, I use a index card and divide into 4 sections for each design.

      I, too, have some large ancestor pictures in the big oval frames with curved glass. I enjoyed them for many years but now have removed them from my walls. I haven’t yet started the search for someone to give them to. I am hoping a relative will want them.

    • Dez, my mother told me yesterday she is NOT going to hang the old protraits of people from before I was born or those of my brother and I as babies. Wew are going to put the latter ones in the album with other pictures of us over the years. Maybe at some point I can get her to also declutter some of those. We don’t need 8.5 X 11’s of each year.

  7. OOPS! I said “If it is something from one of my relatives that I cannot use, I give it to a friend or relative.” I meant to add, “on the OTHER side of the family.” So, for example, if an accessory scarf which does not suit my complxion was given to me by a niece on the paternal side of my Mom’s family, I will re-gift it to someone on the maternal side of my family, or a friend, whose style or complexion is better suited for the item.

    • Hi Gail! I love this one. I would much rather just agonize once…but sometimes I don’t hit that goal :(( Thanks for commenting.

    • Hi Dez! You are brilliant! Good idea to keep up with who the gift came from. I have never considered your ideas on photos. Great ideas!

  8. Hi Deanna,

    I totally agree about saving money since decluttering! I don’t buy so many duplicates because I realize I don’t need to stock up or get a bunch of “flavor” or color choices for every type of item.

    • Hi Peggy! Alas, I am a huge stockpiler (is that a word?) I thought our home was nicely decluttered, then we sold our motor home. I had 2 of every spice. I had GOBS of Tupperware because I had stocked the motor home from our home…gave away GOBS of TW. I had sooo many duplicate clothes items (one…or more…for home and one…or more…for the motor home.. I have always been one who, when I find a pair of jeans or shirt that I really like, I will/would buy one in every color that matched me. I think I still have some work to do on that! However, I’m not buying much these days…that’s the good news.

      • Deanna, this is one of my problems, too. I do NOT like to shop for anything, so I stock up.
        I house WAY too many Groceries at home because I don’t want to go to the store. Then, we just pick up milk and bread at the Dollar General store not too far from home. I’m trying to use up what I have and then do better.

        • Hi Brenda! I don’t like shopping either…especially grocery shopping So I tend to stock up on any item that would cause a special trip to the store. I know about how many of each item I need between trips, and I usually have the makings for most of our favorites. The main problem for me is that I have a HUGE grocery shopping trip about every 4-5 weeks…a very tiring day.

  9. Deanna,
    Loved your post. Saving money/Reducing expenses is an added benefit of decluttering. I have also had friends that have lost weight during their decluttering journey.

    • Thanks Kimberly! We lost weight in 2011-2012 because we changed our eating plan…and we’ve pretty much kept it off. It called for new wardrobes for both of us…mostly from thrift shops and eBay. And we are still paring down our closets but at a much slower pace. That started our deep decluttering, but we still have a long way to go.

  10. Thanks Deanna ar USA for your money saving story!
    I save money by keeping my old 2003 Honda Odyssey – just hit 100K miles, paint chips ok.
    We pay lots for Direct TV and eat take out many nights but we save some since we don’t eat in restaurants or drink. Also we only take driving vacations.

    • You’re welcome Pat. Good job on driving your Honda! We haven’t had a car payment in quite awhile, and I hope we never have one again!!! We did lower our auto insurance and homeowners last month.

    • Pat, LOVE those old Hondas!!! You just can’t beat ’em!! I am driving a 2000 Accord. And I still have a 1989 Accord that I call my “Dogmobile”. I keep it because it runs when everything else is in the shop. Has almost 200,000 miles, I think. I use it to take the dogs to the vet, take off trash, etc.
      The dogs go berserk if they see me pull out a trash bag because they know they are going for a RIDE! Ha! I guess I am kind of like the dogs—–doesn’t take much to excite me. A little decluttering will do it every time!!

      • Brenda, that brings back a favorite memory! Years ago we used to take our dog when we took off the trash. One day Randy put the trash in the back of our old green pickup to take off later. Several hours later when we looked out, our dog Red was still sitting in the back of the truck, waiting for the trash run. We loved that dog!

      • LOL about your dogs, Brenda!

  11. Hi, Deanna and Randy! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your decluttering journey. I’ve been waiting to read this post and it was worth the wait!

    I think you have #7 down to a fine art, Deanna … I remember you mentioning how you returned the doll and snow globe. And I totally agree with you about #9 – decision-making can be exhausting.

    Decluttering can be a reality check when it hits home just how much money you’ve spent on things that you could have easily done without. Decluttering now can also help save on future moving and storage costs. And when you know what’s in your decluttered fridge and pantry, you can plan meals to take advantage of the use-by dates of your items … and avoid ending up buying that third jar of seasoning.

    You have done an incredible job, Deanna … keep going!

    • Thanks Nicole! I wish I had all the money back that I’ve spent unnecessarily. I’m sure all of us do. As for my fridge and pantry, used to most of my frozen stuff ended up being dumped. Now I work through both in a regular rotation. It makes me so happy !!

  12. Deanna, I thought this was a wonderful post on all counts. Well written, and right on about everything! It is so wonderful that your husband is on board with you. My husband is not a clutter bug, but he wastes so much money that it is grievous tome! When I was planning my last yard sale, which I was hoping to literally be my LAST one ever, he (without my knowledge) had me two yard sale signs made at a sign shop. They were on high end metal stands and cost $60 USD!!!! I almost croaked!! Any profit I might have made was just spent on two signs that might never be used again. Sigh………..

    I am trying to figure out how to save on TV, which I don’t watch at all, but to get the sports hubby wants to watch, it is now up to $60 a month. Same as the cost of two yard sale signs!!! Ha!!

    I still have a long way to go with my decluttering, but the simplicity it has already afforded is invaluable! I can’t wait to get farther along! Like you said, it is addictive!

    I love #9 about the decision making. I wish I could be ruthless and just get rid of it in one fell swoop, but on some things ( like family memories), I know I will have to make more decisions down the road when I pare down again. Unfortunately, it is sometimes like an onion and you have to peel one layer at a time! But, I haven’t cried so far. ha!

    Last night before bed I went through a large stack of newspaper clippings I have saved for years. Mostly articles about history in my area when they were doing “remembrances”. I am letting it go. As Don Aslett pointed out in his books, I don’t have to be the historian for the world! I have decided to be free from the past and look forward to my uncluttered future!! Thanks for the inspiration and to Colleen for this blog and to all the wonderful commenters!

    Thank you for writing!

  13. Brenda, thank you! I/we have a very long way to go also. I agree it’s like an onion…and I’m still on the outer layers. When things don’t seem to be going fast enough, I remind myself that I’ll be going through this area again and contents will gradually be getting less and less.

    Hubby is the bigger spender now in our home (except for household items). I have tried to be very careful so he will trust me not to declutter his stuff. If there’s stuff I want to declutter and he’s not ready, I know that his ideas on that may change if he’s not pressed. He likes to spend on his hobby items, but he’s very careful, and we try to weigh, would I/he rather have ‘this’ or ‘this’. I also try to get him involved on any part of it that I can, even making decisions on my stuff. That way he doesn’t feel like it’s all out of his control. He did an awesome job cleaning out his shop a few years ago. He has a birthday coming up next month and he’s been poring over catalogs and shopping online. His hobby stuff makes him so happy, and he’s very careful with how much he spends and makes trades when he can.

    Good job on your historical info! “I don’t have to be the historian for the world!” I love that. I was the logical one to be the historian for our family. Thank goodness one of my brothers was interested, and a few years after he died, his daughter (my niece) took over. I’m so glad!!

    Thank you for commenting.

  14. Good post Deanna. I too have noticed that as we have decluttered it has made a difference in our finances. This move is going to make some major changes because we will have no need for many things as Mom is now eating one meal in the dinding room of the independent living place she moved too, I have been able to dump the charge cards, the rent of both places included utilities, and a number of other savings. I think it even going to help with medical bills because both of us will be less stressed.

    • Hi Deb J! I feel like I know you because I’ve read a lot of the “oldies but goodies”…(still working on that because I’m reading all the comments for each) and all of the recent posts and comments. Thanks for commenting and good luck on your new lifestyle (and your mom’s).

      • Thanks Deanna. I will certainly be glad when I have sold the house and can move. I want this over with. Too much hassle for me. I hope I don’t have to ever move again.

  15. Excellent post Nicole – alas my finances resemble a scrambled egg at the moment, but at least I know that it hasn’t been purchasing ‘stuff’ and ‘clothes’ that’s the issue, its more a case of an extraordinarily busy six months with a lot of unexpected expenses relating to family matters and getting my daughter reading to leave home for University. My goal is to slow down everything going on around me so I have a clear head and sufficient time to make good decisions.

    I remember something from Fly Lady where she said a home should be run like a hotel, it provides all the same services and requires all the same maintenance. Likewise it needs to be run at a profit.

    My focus this week (I am running behind on posts) has been on clearing the backlog of chaos that surrounded my daughter’s moving to University, returning stuff to other people and getting my daughter’s competitive dancing stuff listed on trademe to take advantage of the start of the dancing year. I could probably have done without the online auctions this week but I have been holding onto the stuff to get better prices, so I just keep reminding myself that the choice is mine, in two weeks time I will either have cash and less dance stuff in the house, or I will have the same amount of dance stuff in the house and less cash to put towards my daughter’s University costs. The choice is mine.

  16. Amazing post –
    I think it was Dez, who is doing the exact same thing, I am doing: writing the givers name on the post it on the gift – that way you can actually regift every single thing. That also includes books that are in great condition and I just give to friends and family, who would like them.
    I have developed a few “rules” over the past six years:
    – everything has a home.
    – what belongs together, lives together
    – paper lives in ONE single place and nowhere else
    – unwanted gifts are collected in the gift box
    – decluttered items are collected in the donation box
    – unpack immediately after returning home (pockets, hand bag, suitcase, rucksack, whatever it is)
    – different bags for regular activities must be pre packed and ready to go (physiotherapy, kickboxing, swimming)
    – some things are space limited – CDs get only one shelf, plastic containers get one kitchen drawer, bathroom items live inside the mirror.

    two changes I made recently are not so much about decluttering. I needed to improve my health so I decided, I would consume one cup of coffe a day and reduce drastically the amount of sugar. which means, I drink my home made coffee, because it is the best in town and I love my porcellaine coffee stove can…
    I never thought about my finances, but it is HUGE how less money I need during a normal work week – I dont buy the fancy caramel latte anymore, no more soft drinks, no candy bars, no muffins, cookies, pastries from the bakery downstairs, etc.
    I was not aware how much real money I was spending by just buying snacks and coffee here and there.

    in general, being on top of your stuff (and your habits) means you are usually on top of your finances. Some people call me a little control freak, but I can happily live with that if it means I am living my life and not the other way round.

    • Lena, that was so good you should have turned it into a guest post!

    • I agree…great post, Lena!

    • Lena – excellant future-post!

    • Yes great post Lena. I will publish that as a post in a couple of weeks if you are OK with that. If you would like to expand on it feel free to do so and just email it to me when you are ready. If you don’t have my email just send me a message and I will send it to you.

      • huh *blush*, thanks guys…
        I have been reading this blog for more than four years: I. Learned. So. Much.
        not just the psychological, emotional link that we have with stuff, but mostly practical tipps, like using microfibre cloths to clean windows (!) or “clean the fridge when it’s empty” (Thanks Moni, I send minimalist greetings from Germany to New Zealand everytime I do that) or “limit space” or “a good knive does the trick 99% of the time” (I think that was Colleen.)

        Colleen, I dont think I need to expand – use it the way you want! maybe add your remarks, they are always valuable.

    • Hi Lena,

      I love your rules for yourself!

      Cutting back on routine spending is something we did years ago, after I figured up how much hubby & I were spending to buy ourselves lunch every day. Ever since that time, we bring our own 🙂

  17. Thanks for the ideas about what to do with old photos. I inherited the family photos from my Grandmother and I was stuck with many pictures of relatives that are unknown to me. I ended up distributing many of the duplicate pictures to my aunt and uncles, but some of the pictures are of people even they do not know. I might seriously declutter these pictures of unknown relatives to a local museum or university. I just hate to see them end up in the trash.

    • Hi Valerie! Museums or universities seem a good idea…though sometimes the trash works for me. I would never advise that for anyone else. It does seem ruthless. But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to spend my last days agonizing over old photos.

    • When my mom died, my brother did a wonderful thing. He took all her photos, scanned them in, and sent each family member a cd. I don’t know where the originals are, but it doesn’t matter.

  18. What a great guest post and comments!

    I definitely believe that decluttering goes hand in hand with improved finances and losing weight! That has been my experience over the years. As decluttering becomes a habit and a way of life, it spills over into all areas of your life.

    • “As decluttering becomes a habit and a way of life, it spills over into all areas of your life.” I agree, Melanie. It changes your mindset. Also, there have been times when my sis-in-law and I are unknowingly decluttering at the same time, or when I’ve called her to say, “I need you to start decluttering. I need motivation!” I’ve read that it’s contagious. Thanks Melanie!

  19. A great place to “keep” old family photos especially of ancestors who have passed on is familysearch.org. It is a free website that is user friendly. Start your genealogy tree and easily add/upload your old family photos. They will be accessible to all your relatives and help your grandkids know who-is-who for future generations. Then you can do whatever with the originals without feeling guilty, or worry about unexpected natural disasters, fire, or deterioration.

    Also, other family members can help edit or make changes and you can upload other memories such as letters or family recipes:-)

  20. Hello everyone 🙂
    I have an unusual question. I’ve been hardcore decluttering for a couple months now and I’ve reached a point where our build in shelves in the livingroom are now completely empty. It looks a bit weird looking at them. Have any of you reached that point? I don’t have any decorations left in our livingroom except for a lamp and a good bowl, which I have placed somewhere else. What do you do with your empty build in shelves or do you haven’t even gone this far? Should I place something in them just so it doesn’t look so, hmm, unfriendly? I’m really unsure what to do about it. Any advice would be appreciated 🙂

    • Sonja – I dont have any built in furniture but I have completely emptied/decluttered a number of pieces of furniture – which fortunately were freestanding so could be sold – but I do have one room which looks a bit austere (ironically it was the most cluttered room back in the day).

      I googled ‘repurpose built in bookcase’ and also did the same on Pinterest. I didnt realise that there were so many variations on built in bookcases.

      I also googled ‘how to fill an empty bookcase’ and read a post on apartmenttherapy.com as a reader had the same question. The comments have a number of really good ideas. I personally like the idea of decorative wallpaper, displaying storage boxes. You could set up picture frames, small prints etc.

      • Sonja, that is pretty amazing!! You are truly a minimalist! Boxes are one of my favorite things. (I’m talking pretty boxes, here). Do you have any need of storage of anything that could be put in a decorative box? Maybe not at the point you’ve decluttered! But boxes can hold current bills or paperwork, a sewing kit, photos, a project like knitting, etc. Most anything can be kept in a box. The only item on my coffee table is a pretty box that looks like tooled leather but is an inexpensive imitation. It holds my thrift store collection of incense sticks waiting to be used. It smells wonderful when you open the box! maybe a box with a purpose could be one item of use in your bookcase.

        There are probably lots of suggestions on Pinterest too.

    • deanna ar USA :

      Hi Sonja, I’m curious to see answers to this problem…I haven’t gone this far yet!

      • I’ve gone so far that I couldn’t even take moni’s advice on board as I don’t have storage boxes anymore (storage boxes for me attract clutter therefore I got rid of all types of boxes in my house) or framed art/photos.
        I might just give the built in bookcase a coat of paint and leave it completely empty.
        I’m still looking for more replies though 🙂

        • Sonja, sorry! I did not see your comment about boxes before I wrote above that maybe a box could be one of your items.

        • Sonja – Plants? Framed photos?

          Here is the article I was talking about:
          http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ideas-for-lots-of-empty-builtin-shelves-good-questions-205933

          I have ended up with a number of empty pieces of furniture, which fortunately were freestanding, so I was able to sell those pieces. For example I used to have three large bookcases and three half size bookcases in my house. I now have an e-reader, the kids outgrew their books and the majority of books ended up being donated to a local charity fair. Those bookcases served no purpose and were sold off. Likewise a number of other pieces of furniture. For the most part, most areas look much nicer without the extra furniture but there are a couple of areas that do look a bit austere.

          I’m going to be honest I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet trying to think of ideas which won’t re-clutter the areas but I’ve been given the name of an interior designer who is very reasonable and she’s going to tweak things for me, as those particular rooms are unusual shapes.

          Maybe you could e-mail Colleen a photo of your built in bookcase (there are a lot of variations on these) we could tackle the problem as a group as a post.

          • I’ll definitely contact Coleen. Mostly because the shelve is taking up valuable space in our small livingroom ( I live in the uk) and I had to place furniture in front of it. I wish I could just rip the whole thing out, but my husband doesn’t want that haha 😉

    • Colleen Madsen :

      Hi Sonja, I have never had build in shelves so this hasn’t been a problem for me. All my stuff was stored in piecew of furniture which were then decluttered as well once they emptied. I do still have some decorator pieces (actually fine art pieces) that are out in display in my living room. Because they are only a few they are easy to dust and dust around. It is up to you whether you put anything on the shelves or not, however if you have nothing left to go there it would be crazy to acquire something. Empty shelves are much easier to dust than full ones is all I can say about that. Just remember you don’t have to be conventional about what you put there if you feel they are too bare and need something to adorn them. If you have a box of keepsakes stuffed in a cupboard somewhere why no display a few of those (just one on each shelf) rather than only see them on rare occasions. Then if you get tired of them you can declutter them too. If you husband, who won’t have the shelves removed, decides to put something of his on there then make it a rule that he maintains the area.

  21. Sonja, good question on what to do with the empty built-ins. My first thought is DO NOT FILL THEM UP WITH ANYTHING!!! If you don’t want to look at them and they can’t be taken out of the room just yet, then can you hang decorative curtain or fabric panels over them to make them sort of look like fake windows behind them? It is hard to describe what I am trying to say so ask me questions if needed. Another thought is to hang huge canvas painting or art pieces which covers the area. Not knowing your exact tastes this is also difficult to translate into words over the Internet. Hope this gives you a couple of ideas!

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