Mini Mission Monday ~

Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It takes the guess work out of decluttering and makes it easy and “fun” for you to achieve some quick decluttering.

This week lets do some small space decluttering. The there are lots of little places in my house where little things hide that are subject to becoming clutter. Maybe you have some of these spaces as well. I will name the space and all you have to do is take a look and see if there is some clutter hiding there.

Monday – A kitchen drawer

Tuesday – A side table or coffee table drawer or shelf

Wednesday – Under a bed

Thursday – The toiletries cabinet

Friday – The glove compartment of your car

Saturday – A desk drawer

Sunday – Your keepsake box

Good luck and happy decluttering

Today’s Declutter Item

Yes Lena you were the first person to guess the answer to Saturday’s What Am I quiz.  Although I have to say that Joanna and Lynda were very accurate with their guesses of Coppertops (the product name for the batteries) and Duracell batteries. Thanks for playing everyone who submitted and guess.

These batteries were taking up valuable space in our small stationery drawer. Completely wasted space because we have no devices for them to be used in. Those devices have long ago been decluttered. The batteries were in danger going flat sitting there unused. I took them to the thrift store where we put them in a drawer to be used to check battery operated items when they come in as donations.

Batteries we have no gadgets for.

Something I Am Grateful For Today

A tidy house, washing folded, another load in the machine and a BBQ to look forward to with friends. All in all a good day.

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


Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission Monday Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Things you may still have more of than you need Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
  • Mini Mission Monday ~ The keepsake box Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
About Colleen Madsen

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

Comments

  1. wooohooo. I won I won I won I won…

    I make my own mini missions this week: I will give myself 3 days off and wait until my boyfriend is gone again, and then go crazy on the little cleaning/storage cabinet, including shoes. Because we were out quite a lot, I need to cut back on the spending and will therefore be cooking on a big scale again and hopefully declutter my kitchen cabinet too.
    And since spring started this weekend, I decided to declutter and then pack away winter clothes and get summer clothes out again. and because I lost more than 10 kilos since the last one, I think I might add to the sell pile.
    cant wait to get started 🙂 happy week everyone

    • Lena, are you waiting until your boyfriend goes out of town so that you can declutter stuff without his knowledge or just because you have more time when he’s gone? Although, my husband is on board with decluttering, he often suggests we keep something that I would get rid of. What do the rest of you think? Are you obligated to ask the other members of your household if you’re getting rid of community items (pots, pans, lamps, etc) if you were the one who bought them in the first place? I would never declutter my husband’s stuff without checking with him first, but what about the stuff I bought for the house?

      • more time when he is gone, as well as a bit more space…

      • Hi Anita,
        I guess it depends on whether the rest of the family are using the items or not. In my case I do ask my husband about kitchen items as he does do some of the cooking in our house, so he might be using something I think we can declutter.

      • Ooh, difficult one I face too Anita. I now want to get rid of our sofa – I bought it (10+ yrs ago) and it has been sat on twice in the last 6 months (not good for our backs). But if I ask, I know I will face objections…

        • I’m fine with any of my own stuff.

          When it comes to household stuff I declutter everything except what was an expensive item and then I talk to my husband about it. He almost never remarks of anything being “missing” so that means the items weren’t being used.

          As far as his clothing and shoes are concerned I always ask and usually he says OK, if not, then I live with it. He has more clothes than me, not that he wears them all, but slowly, slowly!

        • Does the sofa come in useful when you have visitors in your home Katharine? In our little adventures of looking at smaller homes to buy I often wonder how our sofa and chairs would fit. My first thought is where would our guests/visitors sit if we had to get rid of a chair or two.

          • Well , tragic as this sounds Colleen,lol, we very very rarely have visitors really other than say one of my girlfriends, and as I arrange their visits for when my husband is at work, they will have his chair (nice velvet purple). Home tends to be our sanctury for the two of us. So it really has only been used twice in the last 6 months (I’ve been monitoring it since I first thought ,could I get rid of it)when we have had a take away and it is easier to share the meal sitting side by side.
            However, getting rid doesn’t really qualify as decluttering as I would plan to replace it with something smaller – I’m looking at a slimline conservatory wicker type sofas that are going pretty cheaply on ebay (£10 – £20). This would knock 25% off the size and therefore fit our room better,specially for something that isn’t used a lot. I would be sorry to lose the ability to sit next to each other and once in a blue moon we do host a couple of visitors.

      • I will neither comfirm nor deny that a few items in my household have been decluttered without taking a poll first. And “if” that scenario did occur in said household – then no one has noticed. 😉

      • I forgot to answer your other question:
        I am currently living alone (first time) and I love it. I have been living with family and flatmates before, and I have to say: ask them before you get rid of stuff that could be used by others on a regular basis. its like knocking on the door: showing respect by accepting other peoples lifestyles too.

      • Hi Anita, I believe that you are obligated to ask the other members of your household if you’re getting rid of community items. If there is any likelihood that they care for or use the items then they should have a say in the decluttering of them.

        There are things in my kitchen that I know are of no interest to anyone else in the household but there are other items that I would ask the other family members about before decluttering. Just because I don’t use things enough to warrant keeping doesn’t mean they don’t.

      • Hi Anita – It can be a little tricky sometimes ! My husband is also “on board ” with de-cluttering – most of the time ! I think what really got to him was the phrase I used from a feng shui you tube video which referred to “stagnant pools of negative energy ” – I still love that phrase and we laugh because we both agree we dont wont want any of those! But – he suprised me the other day by getting upset when I told him I had sold some gold jewelry (after a wonderful BIG decluttering of my jewellry box and childhood trinket box). Fortunately I hadn’t sold anything significant he had given me (he’s a sensitive chap) and it did lead on to a discussion about a gold necklace that he had put a lot of thought into but which has never” sat “properly and hence was hardly ever worn . It has actually been a source of disappointment to him ( a little stagnant pool of negative energy !) so we may declutter that together . I do not consult about pots and pans etc but would never de-clutter his stuff ( ok maybe a shirt or two…occasionally …).. to be honest – there are times when I quietly declutter something because I think he will suddenly show some interest and want to keep it but I justify to myself on the grounds that he has forgotten all about it and lived happily without it for years so no need to bring it to his attention now!

        • Hi perhaps the stagnant pool of negative energy gold necklace could be sold and buy something positive.

    • Congratulations Lena, both on the right guess and the weight loss in the last twelve months. You must be feeling pretty good about yourself.

      • you bet. despite just losing weight, I also started sports, and I go kickboxing twice a week – I love it!
        actually I feel pretty good about my wardrobe too. I think I got rid of half of my clothes so far. All the stuff that was really tight before is lose and in good shape now. its impressive to see how much I really need. and fascinating enough its not more than 3 trousers, a couple of shirts and a couple of zippers/hoodies. So instead of replacing the old items (I had to do so with bras, sigh) I just used the stuff I had… I will soon need to get new trousers as the others are way beyond their good times, but for now that’ll do.

        • I have discovered that we seem to have a lot of spare coat hangers cluttering up the spare room closet again. It isn’t that we have bought more hangers it is because natural progression is decluttering the clothes so there are more empty hangers constantly available. I do need to replace some of the clothes ~ I am waiting for my trip to the US next month for that ~ but I think perhaps some of the hangers are now definitely excess to our needs.

        • oh I have a very special relationship with hangers. because I used to hang only jackets and coats on hangers, but everything else was folded. So while I had almost no space in the other parts, my hanger was almost empty. Especially now, that I got rid of all but 3 jackets. I started to use hangers differently. I hang my trousers and my zippers, and I started to hang all my worn clothes too. So they only land on a chair for a night (and not for a week anymore), if I decide to wear something fresh, I hang the other items. I used to have a full washing mashine by the end of the week, now it takes me two weeks… but I also have excess hangers. and I defo need to cut that down.

  2. Wednesday is already in the pocket! I have nothing stored under my bed. What a great feeling. 🙂

    • Good for you Nurchamiel, I only wish I could say the same. The things under our beds are mostly large things that don’t fit in other places. Big photo prints and large storage tubes with art work in of my son the artist, a large cutting mat the both he and I use, my photo mat cutter and large portfolio with mat board in and a low storage container for winder clothing. I actually might see if I can’t declutter that last thing this week if I sell the snow clothing that a lady is interested in buying. I would like to see it gone.

      • Hey Colleen, why don’t you display some of your big photo prints?

        • The big photo prints are my son’s uni projects. Much as I would like to display them I am not so keen to pay to have them framed. We are talking about 100cm x 80cm and bigger.

  3. My good news is that the TV I mentioned last week that no one on freecycle wanted has been asked for today and collected within the hour. They were delighted, I am delighted, so everyone’s a winner.Yay.

  4. Ugh the glove compartment. While I don’t have much in it to begin with as it gets so blooming hot here that anything left in the car is subject to a quick & untimely death – there are a few items that roll around in the glove compartment which drives me batty. Yeah I’m talking about you the little tire air pressure thingy.

  5. Kitchen drawer- this didn’t take very long as the drawer had a major sort and declutter last year but I still managed to remove two bonehandled sharpening steels and two very worn EPNS tablespoons and some chop sticks which we have never used but thought we might – one day (the aspirational clutter). They will all be going to one of my local op -shops and I’m sure someone will delight in their vintage quality. I am about to sell some other bone handled cutlery and some EPNS on eBay but with regard to today’s lot I’ve decided its not worth my time and effort in listing these particular things (it would create mental clutter !) We now have just one sharpening steel – an item used by my husband- which he bought and which he enjoys using .

  6. I often watch this program from the UK where they makeover the house in under an hour. I have noticed that the rooms seem to be very narrow and not much in the way of wardrobes, hall cupboards etc I asked friends who immigrated here to NZ if that was the norm, and they had left quite small houses, flats, apartments but they have all been here 20 years + .

    I was wondering if there are any 365er’s from the UK and if you could tell me if what I see on TV is typical? And if so is it tricky managing a decluttered/minimalist home? Or does the restricted space, sort of naturally restrict it?

    Early days we rented and had to shift alot and so had no clutter. Our first house was a do-up, budget, no storage, tiny house (we learnt a lot of DIY skills) and then we moved into our current house which is comparitvely huge (though considered average by real estage agents). We had a fair bit of clutter by time we moved, and it was when we got to our current house that clutter seemed to multiply. I was wondering if house size has any bearing on it. Or is it a time of life thing, ie a lot of what I’m getting rid of dates between kids age 7-14. Any thoughts? And I’d love to hear from any UK 365er’s.

    • Hi Moni,

      My family moved to Australia years ago, and we all moved into a 3 bed 1 bath house which in comparison to what we left seemed massive. 2 adults 4 kids, Mum & Dad in the “Master Suite’ us girls shared a room and my brother had the sleepout and we had a combined dining/kitchen and a huge lounge and a separate laundry (in England and Europe most houses have a washing machine set-up in the kitchen area). We thought we were kinda posh having a large bathroom with a shower cubicle as well as a huge bath and a laundry and a separate toilet. Not to mention a backyard the size of a small park and a front yard you can play footy in! When I went back for a holiday I was shocked at how small houses seemed but even though I was little when we left I do remember the housing well. I think my shock was more to the fact that I’d been here in Australia so long that I got used to being spread out in sometimes overly large homes.

      My Aunty and Uncle raised 5 children in a 3 bed 1 bath 2 storey home (what we’d call a townhouse) downstairs was a kitchen, dining area and a lounge, upstairs 3 bedrooms and a bathroom, no built in storage of any kind, no Garage, most places in UK you park on the street, and they were cluttered up with kid stuff and it was squishy but they managed. Yes the rooms are small and narrow in 95% of houses that I saw over there. I seriously could not get over the feeling of being squashed but I do think it is all relative, you can only fit so much, I feel this is why Ikea is so popular in the UK because the cleaver small neat designs really do fit well in all UK and European Style homes. There are larger homes of course but the majority are as described above, and then you have Buckingham Palace!

      There are a few UK’ers on this site so they can fill you in on the housing now but I’m sure it’s pretty much the same. I have noticed that over the last 10 years in OZ the houses are getting smaller and smaller again, people don’t want as much land or space in the house anymore, our lifestyle is evolving again and we are more inclined to live smaller. Do you have this in New Zealand? 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Hi Dizzy – a townhouse, that’s the word I’m looking for.
        It does seem ironic as the average family size has gotten smaller here, the average size house has gotten bigger and the section smaller.
        The area I live in is relatively new ie 20 years ago this area was scrub/swamp and a few holiday houses, now there are about 5000 houses, and pretty well all that has been built in the last 20 years is brick and tile. I think there has been pressure from the government for brick and tile to make houses warmer, and given our climate isn’t a silly idea, but has pushed up the price. I have heard it is very difficult for young couples to get into their first home now.

        I was really surprised that house in the UK don’t have built in wardrobes, I was like “wow what a narrow bedroom” and then I realised they had to fit a wardrobe in too. Yes, the washing machine and dryer in the kitchen is something quite different, here its either a seperate room (usually in older houses) or in most modern brick & tiles it is in the garage. I have wondered how that works out.

        One thing people who immigrate from NZ to Oz comment on is that there is no Hot Water Cupboard. We have our hot water cyclinders inside, in a cupboard that usually doubles as a linen cupboard. Of course, it makes sense here to keep as much warmth inside, especially the further south you go. Quite often school jersies ie wool, may not get enough sun to dry outside over the weekend, so they’ll be draped all over the hot water cylinder to finish drying.

        I wonder if townhouses will become more common over here as young people find it harder to get into their first home. Personally, I would have no problem living that close to other people and not having a section, but I know others wouldn’t like it. However, I’d probably need another six months to downsize the clutter and furniture in this house first. I’m thinking we’re a bit spoiled in NZ because the majority of people expect to own their own home, its kind of the mentality the country was colonised on. We don’t have capital gains tax and for most people they view their property as their retirement nest egg. Yes it will be interesting to see how it evolves in the next 20 years.

    • Hi Moni, that show you mentioned gives me the creeps. You don’t have to look real hard to see what a slap dash job they do of decorating those homes. The wallpaper is always full of bubbles and the painting in dodgy at best. I love to watch Escape To The County, another British show about city folk looking at homes in the country with the intension of a tree change. There are quite a variety of home styles to choose from.

      As for the question of does time of life have an effect on the quantity of clutter ~ I would say not really. There is always a lot of maintenance clutter involved with having kids but I don’t think it would be fair to tie the accumulation to them in particular. The declutter mission I am on now mostly involves my own and my husbands clutter. For me my kids clutter was always contained within their rooms while the adults in our home had the run of the rest of the space.

      • Yeah I have always doubted the quality of workmanship that can be done in an hour, but I do enjoy watching an interior designers work.

        Would love to blame all the clutter on the kids, but I’m the one who had the money card!

    • I am not from UK but also here in Italy we have not so much space in our homes. In big cities we live mostly in apartments, sometimes the ground floor ones have a small garden but usually not. Only high class houses have a specific room for clothes, while 90% of the people have a wardrobe (furniture). We keep our washing machines in the bathroom or in the kitchen or even outside on a small terrace, and not many people have a dryer, so for example I use a drying rack that I open in the living room or in my bedroom when we have someone over for dinner. I have a very small room with shelfs, accessed from the entrance, maybe you’d call it a closet: here I keep suitcases, ironing board and drying rack when not in use, tools, cleaning supplies and a lot of stuff we do not use often.
      Also in the kitchen it is very rare to have a big pantry, we only have the cupboards. Also the fridge and freezer are often quite small (usually small freezer over or under the fridge).
      I think all over Europe it is quite common to have smaller spaces. My apartment is 65 sq meters and it feels pretty ok for a couple with no children, we have an entrance, a kitchen where we can also seat to eat (max 3 people), a living/dining room, a big bedroom and a bathroom. No garage, we park on the street. No attic or basement either, our apartment is in a 8 storey building and there is nothing else than apartments, and shops at the ground floor.
      But we are building a house in a village 30 km outside Rome, it will be around 150 sq meters + garden, we’ll have 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living/dining room and a big semi-underground room we will use as hobby room / guest room. And we’ll have a 1 car garage + some basement for storage space, whoooo!!! 🙂

      • I terribly want to see pictures of your apartment. We do well in our small space but our pantry, especially, is overflowing. (Not that I’m complaining, truly, but no pantry? How do you manage?)

        • I’ll try and see if I can take some pictures but in the weekend, because during weekdays I leave early (with the bedroom still occupied by my husband 😛 ) and when I get back at 7 pm it’s already dark.
          As for the pantry, it’s easy, you just need to keep only a few supplies and buy only when something is about to finish. I use only 2 cupboards and a half for food (1 pack/bottle each of sugar, salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, some spices, coffee, tea, honey, cream, then 3-4 packs of snacks/biscuits/crackers, 2-3 of pasta, 1-2 tomato sauce / other sauce bottles, 1 pack of rice, 2-3 cans of vegetables (peas, beans, corn, asparagus) 2-3 cans of tuna, and I guess that’s all. Of course the rest goes into the fridge. We eat outside at lunch Mon to Fri (for work) and in the evening we do not cook so much… 😛 The other 3 and a half cupboards are occupied by kitchen tools/pots etc, and I keep pans also in the oven (not using it much…) and plates/glasses/cups/mugs/some pans and pots on the plate rack over the sink. I actually need to declutter all those kitchen stuff since I rarely use many of them.
          One cupboard is occupied by the washing machine by the way!

          • Eek! We love cooking entirely too much. I’d end up not owning any dishes and eating right out of the cooking stuff, I think.

        • Sabrina from Italy :

          I did it! I took pictures of the whole place and put them here: http://s1165.photobucket.com/albums/q588/SabrinaFromItaly/?start=all
          Have a look and comment if you feel like. 🙂

          • uhhhh, nice. I just love pictures from others. I love your maps on the wall, and the nice big bookshelf. amazing. also the pan in your cupboard that is still originally wrapped 😉

          • Sabrina from Italy :

            Thanks Lena 🙂 I noticed the descriptions of the photos don’t open immediately, I have to reload each page. Hope it get fixed soon, otherwise I have written all that stuff for nothing 😛

          • Sabrina, I loved this insight into your home! Thank you for sharing. 🙂 I had more comments the first time I saw this but my little one hasn’t let me reply so I forgot them all.

          • Since this is an older post, not sure if you’ll see it, but….
            Love the flat! Hubby & I live in Italy as well…for his job. We are scheduled to leave in the spring…hence the de-cluttering now. We live in the Fruili region. We haven’t been to a few of those “must see for us” spots yet (including Roma), but will when he returns from his work trip in the winter.

      • Thanks for that Sabrina – apartment living is something that new but rare here, everyone seems to insist on having their bit of land. You won’t know yourself in your new home.

        A friend of mine recently shifted into an apartment, and then realised that his washing machine was too big, the fridge/freezer were too big – actually everything was too big. Though he refuses to part with his big screen TV!

      • Sabrina, your place sound similar to ours (in Germany, 2 persons as well).
        I dislike the drying rack situation in our flat (some houses have a common drying area in the attic or outside in the backyard, but ours has nothing, not even a balcony, so living room or hallway it is).
        Apart from that I think, 65square meters is plenty.

        • Sanna and Sabrina, I have an outside clothes line and yet I choose to hang my clothes on an airing rack inside. I do have a spare bedroom I can do this in so I am a bit spoiled. I prefer to hang inside because things last longer when not exposed to harsh sunlight.

          • There are inside retractable clotheslines now, if you wanted to look into that. I plan to get one for my daughter’s diapers/my delicates. (I do actively use a dryer, though I’m capable of handwashing and air-drying all of my clothes, as I lived in Peru and Mexico where W/Ds are rare commodities.)

          • Oh, a bit of irony for me, though. I wish I *could* hang my daughter’s diapers outside because the sun helps bleach out certain stains. 😉

          • In New Zealand EVERYONE has a dryer. We have a lot of rain. I also have airing racks, but find they cant keep up with the quantities especially when the air temperature drops, as things take days to dry. And I live in a fairly mild part of the country. I’d love to have a fireplace, but don’t really have a convenient spot in the house that would meet bylaws. I grew up in the Central Plateau which is really cold in winter and then later lived in the King Country which is really damp, and we always had fireplaces as in Kent burners, all the laundry got dried in front of it, it was hooked up to the wet-back so it heated the hot water cylinder, the house was actually too hot and mum would often put a casserole on the cooktop. Fond memories. However I forget the ash and dust and stacking wood thru summer and autumn, and splitting kindling…….

        • same problem here. 44 sqm, drying rack inside. My biggest problem is, that the flat is very insulated, so the damp doesnt just search its way out. if my washing is drying, I need to open a window almost immediately. Thank god winter is over and open windows are not a bad thing anymore.

  7. Hi all,

    Pretty well up with everything at the moment, I have just committed to keeping track of all the tiny spaces as I am a ‘shover’ at times although this last fortnight I was a monumental ‘Tosser’ hahahaha.

    Feel the need for a screech! Went house hunting again (by the way Colleen you may end up with another follower, I left your details with the Real Estate Agent I met on the weekend) I went to see a fabulous house, perfect in every description (only 1 photo of outside) when we got there, no wonder, the people hadn’t even bothered to clean up, what a disaster, I was so shocked and thought I’d blacked out or something. OMG I felt so sorry for the Estate Agent, It was a booked appointment and we arrived about 5mins after the Agent so even she couldn’t lock the door again and hope for a re-schedule.

    We got to talking about having a home ready for viewing and I suggested she have a chat with the owner about de-cluttering so I gave her your web address. (Cheeky I know but hey this is a great place for inspiration and clarity) The house was great and suited our needs but now I’m really worried that there could be too many other issues with maintenance etc.

    I don’t care how anyone else wants to live, but honestly why would you not tidy around when you’re trying to sell your house!! Unbelievable. We got to look at a few more and it’s starting to make me crazy! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Dizzy,
      we had a look at a townhouse on the weekend and there were two young men renting it. They didn’t bother to do any cleaning up either. What a mess. It didn’t suit our needs anyway so no problem having to make the decisions you did. It is an eye opener though look at different places. The areas we fancy have a lot of old homes some have been renovated some have clearly just slapped up some paint to make the place look presentable, and when I say slap I mean slap. I am just glad we are not in a hurry to buy so we can afford to take out time and choose something that is right for us.

  8. Hi Moni,
    As a Brit, I can confirm that UK homes are pretty small. We are apparently the only European country which lacks legal minimum sizes for homes. What you have to understand is the the UK is a very small country with a large population and land is extremely expensive. For example, a smallish field of agricultural land might sell for a few thousand pounds to be used for farming but give it planning permission for homes and it’s value will leap into millions.

    My flat is 240 sq feet, which is very small even for Britian. My parents have a 3 bedroom house. The master and second bedroom are just big enough to take a standard UK double bed (4 feet six inches wide and 6 foot 3 inches long) and small bits of furniture against the walls (no room for nightstands) and to sidle between the furniture and the bed. The third bedroom holds a single bed (3 feet wide) which stretches from one wall to the other, and a desk. Their lounge-diner is 10 feet 6 x 22 feet long. This is a 1960s house btw. Newer-build houses are even smaller, with the companies who sell new estates resorting to displaying the rooms with special under-scale furnishings to make them look a bit bigger. I’ve been in some new-builds where the “master” bedroom just about fits a double bed (no room for nightstands) and one shallow built-in cupboard (think it was 18 inches deep). For these dollhouses, you pay a big chunk of your income for 25 years on a mortgage……….

    We don’t have basements as a rule (and we’d call them cellars if we did) and most houses are terraced (row-houses in American). A porch in the UK is a small roof section projecting above the front door, usually just big enough for two people to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and shelter from the rain as they fumble for their keys. Built-in closets aren’t part of our housing culture but most houses have understair cupboards/ hellholes, into which we stuff things. They’re notorious muddles. Our attics are typically full of clutter, too, but they are unfloored, unwindowed and mostly crawl-spaces only. People resort to buying little wooden sheds (standard size for these is 8 x 6 feet) to put in the back garden. The majority of homes lack their own garages so cars sit on the road outside or people sacrifice pocket-hankerchief front gardens which are just about big enough to drag a smallish car off the road. No garage means even less room to hoard clutter.

    Car boot sales are a huge part of British life and have been for about 30 years now as people peridically clear out their stuff. If anyone is really interested in knowing what real British homes look like, you could try Googling “UK estate agents” and looking at what is being offered for sale; hopefully they would have internal pictures, too. You might also want to see if you can find “The Royle Family”, a UK sitcom show from a few years ago which is pretty unique in that it shows what a working-class home would actually look like for a lot of people. A lot of UK sitcoms show middle-class, much roomier homes.

    I’d say we Brits ought to be naturals for the de-junked and minimalistic life but we are a culture of hoarders and savers……….I’m still working on my own personal part of the problem, with inspiration for 365 Less Things. Thank you for your posts, Colleen and Cindy, and for the comments which are entertaining and inspiring.

    • GreyQueen, this was a fascinating look at British housing; thank you. I never realized it was so different from other countries.

      • Hi JoH,

        If the housing fascinates you the shops and shopping habits will entertain. I was absolutely blown away when I went back over and had my first shopping experience in years. I think I’m still recovering. I found it truely amazing!

        I think it may even be in a par with America, my English bestie lives in the US and she feels at home!

    • Hi GreyQueen,

      You just took me back home for a while. Thanks for that. My sister is living back in OZ now after 10 yrs in Manchester, it was a huge shock for her to adjust to English terraces and an even bigger shock for her husband to adjust to the fact that he can swing the cat around inside the Aussie house, without hitting anything, if he so chooses!

      Funny how you mention the hoarder/hang onto it state of mind. It’s so true, my mum is in her 70’s and although we’ve had a great life here, pre-marriage life was pretty tough and I dare say that is where the ‘hang onto it, it may come in handy mentality comes from.

      P.S just love the ‘Royle Family’ hahaha oh and ‘Bread’ but you can’t beat ‘Hyacinth Bucket’ god I love her, I swear she’s my Aunty’s twin hahaha. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Grey Lady – wow! Are your houses all joined together or do they sit on seperate titles?

      I am feeling very spoilt!

      Our first house was 79 sq metres – 3 bedroom 1 bathroom – very very small by NZ standards, and was on a cross-lease. It was the “Beasly Box” design, they sprung up in the 70’s, basically to house all the grown up children of the baby-boomers. (Do you have the term baby-boomers? Post WW2 the govt encouraged BIG families here with incentives, so 7+ children were the norm, and we call those the baby-boomers) The beasly boxes were built budget and not particularly well insulated, but they could be built quick and were affordable. Our houses have to be built to earthquake spec ie extra framing, which pushes the price up a bit, so people overlooked the not so quality fixings and chattels. Great do-uppers by time my generation were trying to get into our first homes. This was really snug living, and it did my head in towards the end as there was no storage. We stayed as long as we did as we had a neighbourhood of people who bought and did up their houses at the same time, kids grew up together etc etc. Helped with each others decks, landscaping, a lot of DIY. The mums did kindy, PTA and a fair bit of drinking wine together. We have all since shifted away, but got together recently for a reunion BBQ – it was lovely.

      Our next house, this house – this is embarressing – 215 square metres, internal access garage, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 lounges, brick and tile. And yes we could swing a lot of cats if we wanted. And its in the average range. Within 5 mins of here, there are houses which are palaces, houses are easily double the size of mine.

      However, out in a new suburb where my daughter goes for maths tutoring, I noticed they have built this new village and two houses are joined at the garage, and there are 3 lots of two all facing a court-yard. They look very nice, smallish, but certainly fine for a small family or a couple. So there were six houses on what would be the equivalent of two of my house-section. I’m wondering if that is the way housing is going to develop in the future to make it affordable.

      • I really hope so. Density should be the new black. I studied urban planning for a while…
        Urban sprawl is the worst thing, that is happening right now. While it doesnt only take away good ground (which is very important for the eco-system of the area, and the climate in general), it also promotes private transportation. That means, more people drive a car for longer distances… and there the circle starts again. More cars mean more – car accessible shopping areas, more parking lots, more and wider roads. That means, more ground is taken (we call it ‘sealing’ ?), more cars can access, more people will take the car. Fewer people will feel fine by driving a bike, fewer people will have a green area right outside their home… not only is it bad for the climate to drive a car, it is noisy, expensive (!), far too big for most of the people (in an SUVs you cant see a child that is right in front of your car), and it stinks. Living closer to the center might mean less space for you, but it means also, that you can take a bike to your work, that you can do the shopping in walking distance, etc. If every person on this planet would live in sprawl areas, you would need at least 3 more planets to house them.

        Density should be the new black. Period.

  9. Hi Moni,
    I was LOL as I misread your post as “beasTly boxes” the first time. I’ve been a tourist in NZ for a total of 9 weeks in the past decade and was surprised to see that most NZ homes are single-story, free-standing on their own plots, and made of wood, which is very uncommon as a building material for homes in the UK.

    In the UK, we have cities, towns and villages laid out centuries before the car so the pattern of settlement is rather different, and very much more compressed.

    Homes are divided into the following categories, from most-coveted to least coveted; detached (non-estate), detached (estate), semi-detached (semis for short, literally a pair of houses), terraces, apartments (flats). There is also a snobbery thing about people who live in council homes (state houses in NZ-speak) and people who rent privately. The majority of Brits (circa 70%) either own their homes or aspire to do so, although rising house prices and falling incomes are making this an unaffordable dream for many of us……….

    My (provincial smallish English city) has a central hub of buildings, some of which are medieval, with suburbs (oh, all of a half a mile away ;)) of late-Victorian-Edwardian terraces. Beyond the Vic/Ed streets (a mile from the centre) are homes built from 1930s onwards which are often semi-detached. A 1930s semi is a covetable piece of property as they are sturdily-built in brick and often have a good-sized garden. Semis are joined on the side wall with one other home, so they have a front, side and back garden. The side garden means it is feasible to build a garage/ car-port and get your car off the road. This is very popular.

    Vic/Ed terraces are common over a lot of the UK; builders had pattern books and copied designs. They are one room wide, with a “front room” which opens either directly onto the street on onto a small front garden (think about 2 metres from the street if you’re lucky). The front room has a doorway into the second reception room which would have once been the kitchen but nearly all these houses have been extended backwards to create a galley-kitchen over what was once part of the back garden. Sometimes the rearwards extension has taken in outside WCs and/or coal-bunkers into the house-proper. A common thing is to create a small galley-kitchen with a tiny area beyond to hold the washer and beyond that a downstairs shower-room/WC or even the main bathroom. UK planning regs don’t allow bathrooms opening directly off kitchens unless there is an intermdiate zone like a utility area.

    The stairs are incredibly steep and run between the reception rooms in a staight flight of about 14-16 steps; I know of someone who broke their back slipping on a set of these. 🙁

    The stairs lead to a small landing (less than a sq meter) with the front bedroom on the left (taking the whole front of the house) and the master bedroom on the left, which fills the whole back of the house. Most of these terraces were originally 3-beds with the 3rd bedroom leading off the master bedroom. This walking-thru-one-bedroom-to-get-to-another is so unpopular that people have usually turned the 3rd bedroom into something else (en suite bathroom, home office etc). A lot of these homes were built minus bathrooms and with outside WCs.

    These old-style terraces are very popular and they cost easily £150,000.00 in my city, which is a lot cheaper than a major metropolitan area. There are also a lot of terraces from major housebuilding programmes post WW2 where there a small 3 bedrooms like my parents’ place set in terraces of 10 or so, and built on “Closes” which are small dead-ended side streets (averaging about 40 homes) on housing estates leading off the main estate access road. Not to be confused with “Closes” in older parts of Scottish cities which are alleyways………..I’ve also been in northern English cities where they have terraces of houses in red-brick which seem to extend in unbroken lines for hundreds of meters…….

    Pick a UK city at random, or even a town or village and go wandering about on Google Streetview…………it’s fascinating to see the little details of each others’ countries, isn’t it?

    • Hi Grey Queen – I have noticed the really steep narrow stair cases, especially on Coro Street! They are illegal here, have to have a return to slow down falls.

      I imagine a Mr Beasly came up with the idea of how to build quick cheap houses. They look a bit like a shoe box. The government wants houses to be warmer now and not so cramped.

      Yes a two storied house here is considered a bit of a luxury. And yes we use timber, I imagine it is because we have a lot of it, and also because it is supposed to be safer in a big earthquake, the house will twist rather than collapse.

      Yes NZers do have a thing about having their own plot of land, I think it is in our DNA from the original colonists who came here for that reason.

      Isn’t it interesting how different cultures have different ways of arranging their housing? I watched a doco recently on how they have built a new station in Antartica, and its like a space ship. It even has these hydraulic legs that lift it up as the snow builds up around it. How cool is that!

    • Hi GreyQueen,
      the housing is similar in Australia to NZ where Moni lives. Many homes a relatively large and on there own land. Where I live though there are a lot of old workers cottages mostly single story with very little land and no parking place for vehicles. It seem newcastle no matter which country you are in is a coal town. Own Newcastle was also a steel town but not any more.

      Semi detached houses here are called duplexes. I live in a two story townhouse with one bedroom with en suite and small walk in robe up and a parent’s retreat (we use that as our office/craft area and two bedrooms down. It is nice having our own space upstairs . We also have, arguably a lounge dinning room and a family room (they call it this on the plan just so they can charge more rent but in reality it is a lounge room and a kitchen with a meals area). These room are down stairs along with a laundry (what you would call a utility room), another bathroom (with a spa bath no less. I think this is another trick to justify its rental status) and a two car garage. There are seven homes in all in our complex four smaller ones in the front on the busy road and two others like mine out the back. We love this, what we would call, little townhouse you on the other hand would probably think it was big.

      • They are duplexes here, as well.

        Let’s see…lots of Americans here, I believe, and I can’t even begin to think of all the types of housing. There are condos that are privately owned (we rent one of these from a private owner) and they are usually about 69-89 sq. meters. Ours is 74 for a family of four, and I feel like it’s plenty of space most days. (Some days I long for a three bedroom house – room for the kids, room for us AND an office since we work at home when we have work.) Closets are not only an American standard but some are obscenely large – as large as a small bedroom! – and I don’t think I’ve seen many free-standing wardrobes being used with younger people.

        Then there are the standard houses, of course. One story, with a 2-3 bedrooms and a small – possibly large to those in the UK, though – backyard with a very small area between the houses for a trash bin and a hose. Duplexes aren’t much bigger in terms of the amount of space they take up, but they’re mirrored and sliced in half so two families can share. I’d love to live in a duplex and have a bit of garden for my own, but c’est la vie. Maybe next year. We’re lucky in that here, we have a lot of gated, common grounds outside that the kids play on and are maintained well so we have the semblance of a yard. Just wish my back “porch” was accessible! (Foundation settling has made it inaccessible for now.)

        Of course there are the bigger two story houses in the more affluent areas and larger plots of land. Depending on where you are, you can see land just rotting, up for sale but too expensive for anyone to purchase and not valuable enough to the owner to actually take care of it. *sigh* Land is expensive here but not very scarce – at least, not where I am, but I’m in Texas. If you’re in areas like New York, you pay a premium for a 23 sq. m apartment. So in that respect, I am lucky!

        Not nearly as thorough of a job as others have done but I hope it gives SOME insight as to American living for those who have no idea.

  10. Oh, I forgot about bungalows, which would look more like regular houses to Aussies and Kiwis; single story homes on their own plots. These are popular especially with older and/ or disabled people (no stairs) but are pretty expensive as their require more land than the equivalent rooms arranged over 2 floors. And a recent type of development in urban areas is the “townhouse” which often sits over a communal garage and has accomodation on 2 floors and is joined to its neighbours’ walls. Basically speaking, we Brits are insanely-overcrowded and stressed and would love to have our own homes on our own plots and can’t afford them……..hence the poplularity of the National Lottery.;)

  11. Hi Lynn,
    My flat works out at a hair over 24 square meters which means the bedroom takes a double bed and one piece of furniture in the alcove and that’s IT. But it’s cheap to run and bang in the centre of my city and that suits me just fine. Nice to “meet” a Texan; do you realise that you could put the UK, Germany, Italy and one or two other European countries inside Texas and have room left over? Amazing, isn’t it? I’m glad to finally know what a duplex is…………..

    • Cindy is from Texas too! (The one that blogs here.)

      Yes, I did know that. Texas is so *big*. It boggles my mind, sometimes, and I’m Texan by birth (though I did not grow up entirely in America). Here, a car is a necessity, whereas public transit and walking in the UK is considered pretty run of the mill. We do have public transit here but it takes nearly two hours to get a few miles away. 🙁

  12. Hi all,

    All this talk of houses and I’m still trying to find one! Over the years I think I have lived in everything built and called a ‘house’ at one time or another. My first place was a flat, not counting childhood homes. My flat was all in one room and in a complex. The bathroom and toilet was separate but all living sleeping and kitchen was together!. I met my husband in a caravan park! We were neighbours hahaha. I was living there because it was closer to work, the family home was a huge sprawling property too far to commute in a reasonable time back then. My hubby to be had just moved over from NSW for a job.

    When we got together we moved into a big Italian styled home and it was massive, quite austentacious for 2 people, then we moved into a unit, then a duplex, then another unit, then a massive house with a loft and mezzanine floor and a pool and 6 bedrooms and huge entertaining areas and the laundry itself was as big as a master bedroom, ridiculous but rather cheap. After renting again for a while in two big houses we bought again and shopped around. We upsized and downsized, changing jobs etc but all the while experiencing every type of housing dilemma and of course major clutter!!! Our last house before building was rather huge and I liked it but with a busy lifestyle out of the home we decided to build small. this house I think is 110sqm living space with a small garden out front and 2m sides and a 4m back deck. I felt like I was in a box but we love it and even more now since I culled everything again. Now we need a bit more room for the ‘karri tree’ but I don’t think we’ll go too much bigger!

    My English cousins have been out for a holiday and they think my house (bungalow to them) is huge!! This house is built on what we call here a ‘Cottage Block’ long and narrow.

    The biggest place I’ve lived in was an 8 acre property with a huge homestead. It was lovely to live there but we rattled around in it like two pills in a bucket. Sometimes you can have too much space.

    • Did you get better at shifting house as you went along?

      • Hahahaha yes we did in a fashion,

        This move we hope to do it in 4hrs with about 10 moving boxes (less if possible) our move into this house took 4 days and heaps and heaps of boxes hahaha.

        I have ditched so much stuff you can literally hear a pin drop in my house at the moment.

        • Sounds like our last move! We used to be able to move in 4 hours without breaking a sweat, this last shift took 2 days, 5 of us and 9 friends.

  13. Great summary grey lady of uk housing! We live in what would have been a ‘2 up 2 down’ Victorian(1874) terraced house – i.e. two rooms upstairs and 2 down but a some point in the first half of the 20th C a small two story extension was put on each house in our row, which made a kitchen and bathroom.
    We don’t have room for a wardrobe in the smaller bedroom (which we use as our main bedroom) so we have had to put up rails in the chimney alcove. The main bedroom, that we use as a living room is about 16ftx 11ft. It’s by far the largest room in the house. We let what would have been the sitting room, next to the front door, as a double room. It is very expensive to buy property in the south of uk, so we need to let a room even at our age.
    Non of the rooms have built in storage but I have managed to gain control over the potential hell hole of junk that tends to gravitate towards the understairs – I keep our freezer and recycling bins there as no room in kitchen. We also have our washing machine in the kitchen. We cannot afford to run a tumble dryer, but if you wanted one, you would need to choose in the kitchen between that and a dishwasher in terms of space. No larder. No garage. A backyard about 16ft across and 8 ft deep ish. Front door opens on to street.

    I love our little house though and have no aspirations to move or upscale. We have enough space.

  14. wow. thats a nice sum up of housing of the western, industrialized world. Great.

    I dont have a lot to add here, I just want to say what I thought was strange when coming to the UK, first, in old houses there are fireplaces all over the house, second: where the heck is the couch table? where do you put your feet on, when sitting in front of the TV? 😉
    I never really seen an American home myself, but judging from series and movies, you guys enter form outside RIGHT into the living room, Dont you take your shoes off when entering a house?

    • Yes, we have fireplaces in everyroom (except kitchen and bathroom). But many (including us) don’t use them as we have central heating but keep the fireplaces as a decorative feature. Original features,like fireplaces, also generally add to the value of selling your house. Modern houses are obviously less like to have fireplaces and chimneys. My parent’s bungalow built in the 1950’s just has a fireplace in the living room.
      What do you mean by couch table? Do you mean a long low table infront of the couch/sofa? (We would tend to call that a coffee table) They do take up room though and are a clutter magnet:O) Some people have them, some dont — we don’t no room but we do have small tables by our chairs to put books/drink/telephone etc.

      For putting your feet up, in the uk we tend to have foot stools that either come with leather reclining chairs (or can be bought separately) or cyclindrical leather ones called pouffes.
      I love putting my feet up, but thinking about it,I can’t think of many friends/family houses where there is something to do that on.

      We don’t tend to take shoes off when entering a house as a guest. In our own homes, I think it is more likely we will take them off at some point to put slippers on, but not necessary the moment we come in and before we have walked any further. Of course individual families will differ, but it is not overall the cultural norm here.

      • I wouldn’t say it is the cultural norm to take your shoes off in Australian houses either. We have a cupboard that we store things in at the front door though so I mostly do take mine off. Also I am the one who cleans the house so I am more aware of not traipsing mess into the house. Liam has a habit of leaving his under the breakfast bar or in his bedroom and my husband keeps his in the wardrobe in our bedroom so he leaves his on until he gets upstairs.

        As for fireplaces. Many old homes here where I live in Newcastle Australia have fire places in them. I know this because I have been viewing houses lately. Most modern houses don’t because they usually have reverse cycle air-conditioning.

      • “I love putting my feet up, but thinking about it,I can’t think of many friends/family houses where there is something to do that on.”

        Yeah, its the coffee table that I missed in the UK most. I have one. No clutter whatsoever, right now there are two candles standing there (they can actually go to the cupboard – no winter = no candles) and underneath is there is my bowl with my lighters, the two remote controls and a set for the table for when I eat there. Actually except for my desk, I keep tables as clean as possible, because I love to just sit down and do whatever you have to do, whenever you have to do. as soon as it turnes into a black hole, the tables are useless…

        as for taking off shoes: its very normal to do that here as soon as you enter a home. I would always do it, and sometimes you get the “you can wear your shoes inside”. most of the people are doing it as far as I can recall. I also own another pair of slippers for guests.

        • fireplaces are not common. old houses usually have a tiled stove (ranging from dark green to black to terra cotta, you can get everything) usually with an integrated bank to sit on (usually uncomfortable), while modern houses have a small metal stove instead. I have never seen an open fireplace in the wall in a german home though, except for old castles and really fancy villas.