Improvise don’t compromise

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I’ve said this before. It drives my mother nuts that I haven’t put anything on the walls of my bedroom in the 3-1/2 years we have lived here. I told her that until I found what I wanted and could afford to buy/make it they were going to stay bare. The same thing came up with the area in my bathroom where the tub/shower was removed. This past weekend I finally found a cabinet for it. I got it free. ALl I need to do is paint it.

  2. That looks exactly like the iPod I very rarely use. I am contemplating putting it on Craigslist or eBay, along with the first Kindle I had. I bought myself a Kindle Fire when it came out (can you say rampant consumerism?), so no longer really have a need for the original. I thought it might be good if the kids need a book and forgot to bring it home (no excuse there anymore!), but really, how often does that happen?

    I am traveling to SC for a week to see my parents and am thinking I will use the iPod on the plane. If it turns out that I don’t, I think it will be a declutter item, along with the large dock that came with it.

    Thanks for the nudge, Colleen!


    • Let me know how the experiment went with the iPod Chelle. I often do such experiments with things I am not sure whether to keep of not. When you put your focus on the object it soon becomes apparent whether it is truly useful to you or not.

  3. Happy Australia Day, to Colleen and all our other Australian friends here!

    As for the subject of today’s post, I wish I had known thirty years ago what I now know about purchasing and decluttering. But – better late than never! Enough said 🙂

  4. I find that I have made some purchases without really figuring out what I wanted before I did. After living in our home, we realize the things we like and don’t like. We are keeping a list, so when we purchase a different home some day, we will know what we do and don’t like. I think it is a great idea to keep a list of what you need and like and are looking for so you will have it when you want to make a purchase and are not sure if it is what you really want. I usually never pay full price for any clothes. After Christmas, I found a 800 fill down light jacket that was exactly what I needed to put under my regular coat here in the winter since it gets really cold. My husband was with me, which happens very rarely, and he encouraged me to get it since it was exactly what I want and need to keep warm. I am so glad I did it. It will last me many years and is perfect. I wish I felt that way about all the things I have!

    • Spendwisemom, not being in a rush to make a purchase sure does pay off at times. I have a friend who I am sure finds my patient shopping style infuriating. But in the end I usually get exactly what I want/need. I like to get a bargain but even if I don’t at least I can be satisfied that I will get good value out of what I bought because I din’t settle for second best.

      As for knowing what you want in a home ~ Through years or experience renting I know exactly what I don’t want in a home that’s for sure.

  5. We’ve been improvising for 5+ years with a single bed/mattress and a single put-me-up kept together with our bed sheet. I can’t find what we need ( aplatform bed) on the open market for less than £400 so I am beginning to think of making us one.
    Freecycle etc not really an option as we want a ‘platform bed’ a mattress sits on,rather than a frame that contains a mattress ( and is therefore larger than a mattress) due to contraints of room size vs a mattress as large as possible.

    • Hi Katharine,
      do they not have ensemble bases in the UK or is that not to your liking. I used to have the kind of platform bed you speak of when I was a child I believe. Mine had drawers in it for storage. They always help dress fabrics as my mother was a dressmaker who worked privately from home. The fabrics were probably clutter really but we did utilise a beautiful guipure lace in my wedding dress. The old price tag stated she paid $13 for about a metre of it. At the time we used it, it would have cost about $100 a metre for a similar fabric. I suppose sometimes keeping clutter does pay off. Just don’t let that rumour get out.

      • I had to google ‘ensemble bases’ Colleen, to discover they are what we call Divan beds here in the UK.
        The trouble with a divan is that given the tight space we have, we need gaps between the legs to be able to walk round it properly , rather than infill. We already have independent drawers on wheels Ilove and finally, I have always found Divans skin crawlingly unattractive. Getting one would be a case of ‘settling’ rather than what I would love. It would also cost £100’s and I think I can make a bed with legs for £60 and then invest our budget in a better mattress.

        By platform bed, I mean an ordinary bed with legs, without header or footer boards, so the exact size of the mattress.

        Your secret about re keeping clutter sometimes paying off is safe with me 🙂

        • Katharine, I have alway found ensembles unattractive too. If you have one those you then need a bed ruffle to cover it up and I hate them, they are just fussy dust collectors.

          • We sing from the same hymn sheet Colleen:)

            • Here here Sister! 😆 It is funny because I always loved singing hymns you know Katharine. I don’t go to church these days but when I was a child I always preferred to go to the services that included hymns.

              • I play the flute at church and I prefer to play the old hymns rather than the modern stuff. They are much easier to play, have better more meaningful words IMHO…

                • My sister, one of my brothers and I used to sing hymns in the back of our car on long trips to our grandmothers when we were kids. Catholic school upbringing I guess. I love the flute by the way.

                  • I learnt in Year 4,5 and 6 at school, gave up in high school then took it up again about 6 months ago. I just had to freshen up my music sight reading skills, practice a lot and relearn a couple of finger placements I had forgotten…I can now basically play anything without practicing first now…when you learn young, you never forget it!

                    • That is what I loved about the compulsory music class my children had to take in year five in Washington State. My daughter continued for another three years and my son also did extra classes and taught himself to play guitar.

  6. This is so true. I keep telling myself I need a new desk (much of my work is done at home–prepping lessons and correcting papers) but I won’t settle for just ‘any desk’. It has to be exactly what I need if I’m going to replace my current, almost the right kind, desk.

  7. I’m glad I helped prompt a post. I did find the ‘right’ draining rack! The dishwasher still holds the BIG stuff…

    Happy Australia Day to you too!