Simple Saturday ~ Sharron’s declutter story

For 14 years my decluttering was punctuated by 6 monthly bursts, and after each phase was completed i felt a feeling of calmness wash over me. I was left completly bewildered as to how my house got so full of clutter!! Then 18 months ago, fed up with the usual six monthly ritual i decided enough is enough!! I had to declutter and keep it that way, we had a major cull and as drawers were emptied the furniture was sent to the charity shop. I sent what felt like a thousand storage ‘solutions’ packing too. We remoddelled our kitchen and delibretly installed no drawers. I felt happy and calm at my sparse home, the rest of the family enjoyed it too!! Friends would ask ‘Where’s your stuff’.

One day I Googled minimalism and stumbled across some blogs, including this one, I finally felt at home!!! I read about 5 blogs, but 365 Less Things is the one that is updated daily, therefore it is my daily inspiration!!! Thank you Colleen & Cindy!! I totally realised that this was the way I wanted to take our family of 6, 2 cats and 2 dogs. A light bulb had gone off in my head, there was no way I was going back to my 6 monthly ritual. I realised that consumerism was the reason my house got in such a mess and we collectively decided as a family to step of the treadmill. Shopping for leisure was no more, as most of what we decluttered was impulse buys. Sure we still need to shop, and the truth is I enjoy it, but it is more a measured and well thought out process, but it is no longer a focus in our lives.

The photos of our home were taken at 10 am in the morning all the kids were at school and minimal tidying was done, i.e beds made, breakfast dishes done, bathroom cleaned and washing done. It took me 15 minutes for my house to look this way, and I promise you this is a true representation of our home.

Everyone enjoys our home more, we spend less time organizing and cleaning and more time doing things we truly value, and because it is so tidy it becomes obvious for everyone when something is out of place. We all feel that our home truly nourishes us, and this is our prize!! So dear readers this is my advice to you all, keep your eye on the prize, work away at it and believe you can do it, one day , one item at a time. This is our journey so far.


Continue reading with these posts:

  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom – Two Year Anniversary Cindy's Weekly Wisdom May 30th marked the end of my second year of decluttering and the end of the second year of reporting daily on Facebook what I have decluttered. (Possibly I've […]
  • Day 261 Decluttering with kids A guest post by Cindy Bogard This summer in May, I discovered Colleen’s blog and committed to a 365 decluttering on June 1. I keep myself honest (and hopefully inspire others) by writing […]
  • Friday’s Favourite Five ~ 13MAY2011 This week's favorite five have been chosen by Cindy because Colleen is away on vacation Favorite Five comments From Cat's Meow in response to Do You Shop to Fill a Void? She shares the […]
About Colleen Madsen

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

Comments

  1. Sharron – Thanks for sharing pictures of your lovely home. I especially enjoy how it looks minimal and tidy, but still inviting. It’s very fun to take a peak into other minimal homes!

  2. Absolutely. Simple yet welcoming. I love it!

  3. A nice story… I am aiming for that level of calm with my belongings… I’m still stuck in the 6-month-purge loop.
    Will I miss the stuff? Or will I enjoy the space more? These are the tough questions… (That and when will I get the time to do it?)

    • I know what you mean, they are tough questions. I can honestly say i don’t remember a thing of any meaning that i decluttered. We definetly enjoy the space. If you are already on the 6 month loop why not do it, then get rid of 1 thing a day? A la Colleen style? That way you will never have to find the time for a big declutter again, it took me ages to realise that i have to be a good ‘gatekeeper’ and scrutinise what came in. I also didn’t replace certain things as they wore out, sox, 10 cans of tomatos, kids school bags, i simply made do with less.
      Hope that helps!
      Sharron x

    • Hi Creative Me,
      If you minimise the stuff coming in and dedicate ten minutes a day to declutter then you will make progress I assure you.

  4. Thank you Candi, i like peeking inside other people’s homes too 🙂
    I forgot to send Colleen the pictures of our other living room, it’s my favorite room it literally has a sofa, a chair, a footstool, plant and a television stand!
    Sharron x

  5. It looks lovely and serene! Congratulations on stepping of the buy-purge treadmill..

    • Thank you Cats meow, yours is one of the blogs in my blogroll 🙂 i salute you…
      Sharron x

  6. Sharron, congratulations on having a house that is decluttered and looking good. I know it is a blessing to you now you have it.

  7. wow – impressive. this is the absolute opposite of uglyhouses.com 😉
    very nice story. and yes, this blog is perfect. I use it every day to keep my mind “decluttered”, so I wont fall back into bad habits or forget that I own too much 😉
    I just got the ok for a 2 bedroom flat. the first time I will live alone. I am soooooooo excited to move in… and I am already scared of the space and the stuff that I have. But I will seize the chance and just make it as nice and tidy as possible from the beginning (although I will never ever have such a living room as sharron)
    thanks for sharing your pictures Sharron, I keep it as a motivation in the back of my mind…

    • Thank you Lena, how exciting to be starting a fresh. When it was just me and my husband we lived in a 1 bed flat, with hardly anything but the nessceties (times where hard) i just loved the space. Throughout our married life i often referred to how i loved the flat and wish i could have the space, it took an age for me to figure out that it was the clutter free status i loved not the flat. When i look at giving an item away, i really think about the space it would create and do i love the item more than the space.
      Keep up the motivation, it is worth it
      Sharron x

  8. Look! Look! Look! *squeals excitedly* – this is just what my house SHOULD look like! *Sighs deeply*
    pamela xxx

    • Trust me Pamela, if i can have a home like this anybody can! It didn’t happen over night. It took one big cull, then i peeled the layers off over about 18 months, i’m stll not finished, doubt i ever will be!
      Sharron x

  9. Truly inspirational! I love photos, so thank you for sharing.

  10. Ooh, lovely Sharron. I really like that blind you have in the kitchen too; it’s so pretty, and because your kitchen is so uncluttered it really stands out.

    • Thank you loretta, i have the same blind on my landing and in blue in the bathroom. Pattern bothers me, i can get fed up with it really quickly, it becomes clutter to my mind. I reserve pattern for one item in the room. In my bedroom it’s the cushions (and the pictures, that’s 2 lol) in the bathroom it’s the blind, in the kitchen it’s the blind in the living room it’s the wallpaper on the chimney breast. That way it can easily be changed. The only exception is my daughters room which is an explosion of Laura Ashley and Cath kidston, but i reason it’s her bedroom and that’s the way she like it.

      I keep all big furniture, flooring, walls all in plain solid colours. I don’t have curtains upstairs. This way it keeps the house with cleanish lines.

      Sharron x

  11. Your house is lovely and you have the same rangehood as me 😀
    Practical question. Where do you keep your cutlery if you have no drawers?

    • Aha a b&q special rangehood lol.
      I keep the cutlery that we use to eat in the cupboard located next to the dining table along with napkins and place mats. Just like Cindy said on Wednesday, i keep them close to where they get used. The other cutlery that gets used in the kitchen is in the pink pot that hangs on the rail above the hob, below the rangehood. I really did give this lots of thought before i remoddelled our kitchen, as i really didn’t want drawers. It doesn’t suit everyone and each family is different, but i love the fact i do not have a junk drawer 🙂
      Thank you for your kind comment 🙂
      Sharron x

  12. Thank you for sharing your story and photos of your lovely home!

    “SHOPPING FOR LEISURE WAS NO MORE…” Oh yea! Bingo! You got that one right!!! That has been the toughest part for me. Thankfully with the help of Colleen and Cindy and comments/readers input, I’ve so learned how to change my behavior and STOP the madness (shop, declutter, shop, declutter…).

    • It was for me too Annabelle, and the truth is i do actually enjoy shopping, but once i had broke the cycle my home was considerably less cluttered. Although i do stll shop (other than food) i mostly shop for things that need relacing or have worn out. The end of August was shopping time for school uniforms, nothing was bought that wasn’t needed, all the old uniforma and shoes had been put to the charity shop. The 20th of October is christmas shopping day, i have researched what i am buying, where from and have money set aside. Other than food i will not be partaking in the madness that is december shopping 🙂
      Thank you for youe comment
      Sharron x

  13. Looks great!

    To me this is how a lovely home should be…………clean and clear.
    Well done!

    Actually now l read again, more than impressive, you have kids and minimal clearing done before this pictures……….even better!

    My decluttering today was 5 cassettes……yes those old things that used to play music……….were turfed!

    5 less things.

    Plus my sister in law was grateful for the yoga mat that l gave her.

    • Well done on 5 less things, it’s so nice to give away something to somebody else who will actually use it. I had a bag of food (dried goods, nothing we would use) hanging around for ages, then the other day my son’s school sent letters out for donations of food for a homeless charity, i was chuffed, and when i told my mum she gave me an even bigger carrier bag of food to pass on, all good food, just that she wouldn’t have used it.

      Thank you for the kind comment, it’s 8.30 am on Saturday morning here in the uk and my house probably looks the opposite to this right now, the only good thing is it will take me 15 minutes tops to get it looking like the pictures .
      Sharron x

  14. Congratulations Sharron on doing such a wonderful job with your house! I aspire to this, although I’m very attached to many souvenirs that I bought overseas (carvings, pottery etc) so it will be difficult!
    I’d like to know how you managed decluttering and keeping the house tidy with kids. I have an 18 year old daughter who uses the floor as her closet and never makes her bed. We want to sell our house sometime in the next 2 to 3 years and I don’t know how I’ll get her to keep it tidy for inspections!

    • Hi Sammyleia,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thanks for coming out of obscurity and leaving a comment. It is good to hear from you. I have a 22 year old daughter and she hangs her clothes on the floor too. She left to go to university and now hangs them on the floor at her grandmothers house. I wish she would grow out of it because it now drives her grandmother mad. It’s not that she wasn’t taught from a young age to pick up after herself but kids will be kids and you can only lord it over them for so long. She is a great gal otherwise. When I was young I wasn’t quite so messy as her but my mother did once throw all out stuff out of the window. It left no impression on me because I don’t even remember the incidence I only know because the story often comes up. Now I am a neat freak so there is hope.
      Regards Colleen

    • I fear i am a ‘Nagigator’ My eldest son is 16 and he has a floordrobe too, as Colleen says it’s not as though he has been taught that. Every morning after everyone is showered and dressed i tidy all of upstairs, and every morning i shout eldest son to come up and make his bed (top bunk, i can’t reach) find the socks out of his bed and put his clothes away, it’s just the dance we do, we do it with humour though, i never get cross with him i know he’s just normal 🙂 I went through different phases as a teenager, messy, collector, and then neat freak, so there is definetly hope.

      My biggest key to keeping my house like this is very boring, routine, i’m afraid. Every morning the upstairs is tidied, then the eldest two do the breakfast dishes and feed the pets. I then hoover (do this daily, pet hairs 🙁 put on a wash and take anything that shouldn’t be downstairs up. Every 4-5 days i clean, iron, and anything else that needs tending too. Me or my husband deal with mail and paperwork as it comes in.

      We too are *thinking* about selling too, but the housing market is so dire at the moment.
      Thank you for your comment sammylei!
      Sharron x

      • Oh, Sharron, I love the term you used, ‘floordrobe’! This past week I placed a round laundry hamper on the floor where my son usually tosses his clothing (the hamper in the bathroom, only two feet away, is, “MOM, it’s too FAR away”…ahummmm). The next day I looked in his room, and there right NEXT to the hamper, ON THE FLOOR, were his dirty clothes. Now that was really testing my ‘nagigator’ abilities…. he’s 8, I’ve got time to work on him…

        • Hi Annabelle,
          my son used to hang his clothes up on the floor next to the coat rack I bought him to hold the clothes that were still clean enough to wear again. Talk about bang your head against a brick wall. The trouble with boys too, if you just left them there until they ran out of clean clothes they would likely just keep wearing the dirty ones until we couldn’t stand the stench. Little rat bags (that’s probably a very Aussie saying).

          • Oh Coleen , that is just the case, i protested the case aginst my son and him leaving his socks in his bed, leaving them there, after about 6 days i found him under his duvet looking for socks, he proclaimed he had none in his drawer so he would have to wear a ‘cleanish’ pair from his bed!!! Talk about banging my head against a brick wall. Glad to hear he’s not the only one….
            Sharron x

            • Hi Sharron,
              ah children, it’s just as well we love them or they would be out on the ear by the time they are 8. Precious little darling!

        • Catch ’em early, 8’s the perfect age!! When my kids strt to moan about doing chores (nothing hardcore) i remind them that if we were in victorian times they would be sent up chimneys and under machinery to pick the bobbins in cotton factorys, so stop squaking. Humour is MY secret weapon to get my kids to be tidy…
          Sharron x

          • Hi Sharron,
            i think I have said it before but you and I are very much alike. I used to tell my kids stuff like that to. God knows it would be easier to do the jobs yourself but that wouldn’t teach the children to be contributing members of a society.

      • With kids you have to fight the battles worth fighting. If the worst thing your teen / young adult does is have a messy room than you’ve done a great job parenting them 🙂 Sometimes you have to let it go.

        One of my friends only washes clothes that are in the dirty clothes hamper. If her son doesn’t put them in the hamper they don’t get washed so sooner or later he’ll run out of clothes and put them there.

        My Mum and I regularly fought over my messy room when I was a teen and the only reason I kept a messy room was to continually prove that I could win the fights. Weird teenage reasoning but true.

        My siblings also all went through messy room stage but 5/6 of us swiftly changed that when we moved out and got our own places, especially my baby brother, which was a shock to us all!

    • I used to have many special things like you mentioned, but my husband did not like them. I finally got rid of them, and I don’t miss them. Only you brought them to mind. I think if I were to have loved them for more than sentimental reasons and found them really lovely I would have taken a photo of each and put them all in a lovely frame somewhere for me to view them. You could also put all your favorites on one shelf and limit to what fits on that shelf if pictures won’t do it.

      • Hi Angela,
        that sounds like good advice to me.
        Colleen

      • I’ve also taken photos of things I felt it was hard to part with, only to look at the photos a couple of months later and deleted them cos the emotional strings were gone.

        I do like the idea of limiting collectables to one shelf / space. This means you only keep the best / most important.

  15. I forgot to add that I love this site too, and have been so inspired by it. I love the idea of decluttering one item per day.

    • Hi again Sammyleia,
      thank you for those kind word and I am very glad my blog is being helpful to you. All of the great contributions from our readers makes for well rounded advice and it has become a great little community for those who need a little decluttering inspiration.

  16. Oh Sharron,
    I AM impressed!! I have been following Colleen and decluttering all year, and, looking at your photos, I can see I’m nowhere near the starting gate. I definitely WON’T be posting photos for a long time yet!!! Still, Colleen, I’ll keep plugging; I don’t think visitors would see a great difference yet, but I know the cupboards and drawers are very different, and surfaces look better – I’ll get there yet. (Also very few books of the floor, now; a big improvement, Cindy. 🙂

    • Try not to get caught up in the end result, as you say keep plugging away, dealing with it a little at a time is better than not dealing with it at all, or worse adding too it 🙁

      Even this time last year my house didn’t look like this. I was looking at photographs from Christmas last year and even though it was sparse-ish it still had a way to go. We still had curtains in the bedrooms (why? i don’t know we only ever closed the blinds!) and the christmas decorations were positivley cluttered. The reason we are giving most of them away this year.
      Keep reading, keep commenting, you’ll do it!!

      Sharron x

  17. Sharron,
    What Christmas decor did you keep? Any? I sold ALL of ours on e-bay over this past year (I was glad to have it go to some great homes and get OUT of mine!). The important part, for me, has been NOT to purchase MORE (which is hard to do when one lives in Germany – all those Christmas Markets are amazing!).

    • I have not tackled it yet 🙁 In November when the stuff comes out the loft, i’m doing it then. Like you my challenge will be NOT to buy anything this year!!
      Sharron x

  18. Great photos! Very calming. Love the kitchen.

    Mark

    http://minimalistlifestyle.wordpress.com

  19. Frustrated, overwhelmed, excited and tired all at the same time! I only started decluttering a few months ago, and in the last month, having started a new job….training etc, have not moved a morsel from the house. Sharron, you have inspired me to keep going. Colleen, your daily messages and encouragement are constantly in the back of my mind. Last year we bought our dream house, and I said to my husband “I know it will never look as good as it did in the For Sale brochure….we have two small kids….so much “stuff”. Thank you….I will persist…..what’s your saying Colleen? “The slower I go…..” 🙂

    • Hi Janine H,
      keep at it Janine, try to schedule a ten minute time slot each day to do just a little something. You would be surprised how those ten minutes add up. Don’t focus at all on the enormity of the task you only ever have to focus on one little thing at a time. All those little things add up over time.

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

    • Don’t give up, i know best of all how kids have som much stuff. If you identify what they truly enjoy, you have won half the battle. Keep going and remember hoe your house look in the brochure.
      Sharron x

  20. Sharron,
    What a beautiful – and beautifully-kept – home you have. As well as the lack of clutter, I think one thing that you referred to is key – the lack of strong colour and pattern on the walls; it is so restful on the eyes to have the solid clean background. Thanks for giving us a look into your home and some more motivation to keep going if we’re not there yet.

    • It was indeed a pleasure, A big Thank you to Colleen for allowing me to share 🙂
      Sharron x

  21. I really delight in this post! I am trying to get there. I love this blog too! Such inspiration!

    • Hi Angela,
      I am sure you will achieve your goal just remember there is no rush just keep working towards it. Thank you for the kind words, I am glad my blog has been an inspiration to you.

  22. Hi Sharron, amazing girl Well done, are you living in England? I come from England and travelled back a few times and was always amazed at how little everything was and how FULL it all was quite often the average there is 2+2 and a dog and a cat and even a bird. I was amazed how some of my own family squeezed everything in and still got more, I have an Aunty & Uncle with 5 kids, a dog a cat and assorted children in and out of the house all day everyday and me(the visitor who was staying for a bit!) drove me nuts but I had a ball but I wondered how my Aunty coped (REALLY)The kids have since grown and moved on and now her house looks like yours but by God I still remember what is was like and I take my hat off to her!
    Congrats girl YOU ROCK!
    Dizzy xx

    • Yes i am in England, and i have been in many houses including my mum’s who cram so much into such a small house making it even smaller. Our house looks like this beacause it’s a team effort with every member of the family playing part. I don’t think it would look like this if it was just little old me, i’m good, but not that good 🙂 Thanks for your comment Dizzy!
      Sharron x

  23. Sharron,
    What a beautifully clean, simple, and inviting home. Congratulations on your accomplishment and thanks so much for sharing. How true the saying…A picture (or two) is worth a thousand words. Just lovely.

  24. Hi fellow MINI’S,
    On the subject of ‘Little Darlings’ & ‘STUFF’ this might sound cruel but it worked for me! My son dances, (Tap, Jazz, Ballet) 4 nights a week, with at least 4prs socks, assorted dance jocks, workout pants, jazz shorts & longs, 4 t-shirts, ballet tights & singlet & depending on weather & level of sweatiness, up to 4 extra singlets or t-shirts, extra socks, handtowels for wiping down & a warm up jacket, makes for a lot of washing, this plus school & casual wear & when he does tri-athlon training there is bathers, towels, run shorts, tops, bike pants + sundries! (Don’t worry I am waterwise, I always wait till I have a full load.) So just image what happens if said ‘Darling’ slacks off & doesn’t clean out sports & dance bags!!!! He kept adding his grotties into the bags over the course of the week (plus an apple & banana & a slightly leaky water bottle at various intervals) whilst I was away and I came home to a Monday night lament “I haven’t got any clean gear” (I must defend myself here for not reminding either of my boys about keeping it together coz I fully expected them to survive with me gone for a week after all they were becoming well trained!!)
    Horrible as it sounds I made him find the least yukky dance gear to wear, needless to say he was not impressed, he whinged and moaned and said “I’ll Smell and I can’t go like this and these are wet!!” Hahaha you should have seen his face! Won’t try to describe the smell!! His dad was laughing all through this (Don’t worry he didn’t come out of it unscathed, sometimes a little reminder from Dad is all that is needed whilst Mum is away!) I explained to my “Darling” why washing machines were used regularly (which he knows coz I have taught him how not to be intimidated about using these wonderful inventions) and if bags are emptied every night nothing gets left and then everything eventually gets back in the inventions we know as drawers and cupboards (he knows what these are coz he has to put his gear away, not on the floor) then everything is together and neat till needed. I left him in his ‘OUTFIT’ while he emptied his ‘ROBEBAGS’ and loaded everything into the washer (after sorting and with a large dose of disinfectant and extra detergent, (it all probably should have gone to a Nuclear facility and subjected to a decontamination protocol!) with that lesson in hand we headed to dance class.
    He was not happy (understatement) on the way but I held firm (to my nose & took shallow breaths!) till we got there and then as he was at his most “OMG I CAN’T STAND MYSELF” tirade (by this point nor could I, weather was chilly but I had the window down) I handed him a bag with a bodyspray (alcohol-free & enviro friendly?) and a set of ratty dance pants and shirt (which was heading to the rag bag) & gruffly told him to get changed! (I was also wondering how much a sanitising car interior detail would cost!?!) His face was priceless (for the 2nd time that evening) and I got the hardest hug and promises to never be slack again etc etc! He danced beautifully that night (even though his togs kept slipping due to expired elastic!) but no whinging and I had the mums in fits of laughter as I told them what happened and why my son was wearing a ‘DERELIQUE’ outfit.
    To this day there has never been another “Robebag” incident and apart from a few white socks turning a funny colour he’s very good at his “laundry detail” God I love life lessons!!
    As I write this I’m just looking at the 3 trophies my son just won at our recent Dance Comps. I’m so proud of him but I’m thinking of the dust these beauties will attract! Oh well one thing at a time LOL!!
    Footnote here, although it sounds like a lot of gear for dance it all fits in one drawer and his school wear in one slim cupboard! I’m pleased to announce that I de-cluttered another shelf ‘to empty’ with my sons guidance 🙂
    Love Dizzy xx

    • Hi Dizzy,
      ahhhh, life’s lessons. One of the most effective ways to teach kids is through consequences. I am sure it will be a very long time before he forgets this incident and I am sure he won’t be scarred for life. I got a good laugh out of it that’s for sure.

    • Dizzy! This is priceless. What a hoot. You did good girl.

  25. Thanks Deb J,
    I’ve just realised that since that episode my ‘Darling’ is picky about apples and bananas! Wonder why! LOL
    Have beautiful clutter-free day 🙂
    Dizzy x

  26. Wow! Fantastic, wonderful, beautiful, great! Your house looks better than mine (blush). Oh well, one day at a time, right?