Freeing up space

I talk a lot about freeing up space in cupboards, closets, shelves and floors. No one ever seems to have questioned me as to what all this space is being freed up for. What is the point in having empty spaces on shelves or floor space that could hold furniture to store or organise all your stuff.

Given that you don’t need to declutter anything if you don’t want to then I could understand why this would come into question. However you wouldn’t even be entertaining the thought of decluttering if being cluttered was working for you.

One thing for sure, that I have mentioned before, is that everything we own requires some sort of maintenance. So the more we own the more effort we have to put in to caring it. If we aren’t doing that our homes would be a pigsty and some of our stuff will perish prematurely from lack of care. This explains why less stuff is less bother, but it still doesn’t answer the question ~ Why free up space when it is there to be used?.

I have two answers to that question.

Firstly. Like the stuff itself, the spaces where we keep it require maintenance. The dust, grime and wear and tear of everyday life needs to be kept in check in order to retain a clean and functional environment to live in. So the less stuff cluttering up these spaces the easier it is to remove it in order to clean and maintain the hardworking surfaces underneath. And also, the less punishment those surfaces endure, due to a lighter load, the less maintenance they will require. The end result being ~ less labour and or less expense.

And my second, but no less important, reason for freeing up space is that the less stuff crammed into a space the easier it is to find and retrieve what you need from it. Once again this saves time and energy. It is so much easier to organise, and maintain organisation, in a space that isn’t jam packed with stuff. The minute you start piling things high and deep, that aren’t exactly the same, time is added to the retrieval process. And likewise, the difficulty returning items will add to the likelihood of messiness taking hold.

It makes me wonder sometime why cupboards, particularly in the kitchen, are build so deep. Pantries are often poorly designed for their function. Designed for maximum storage yes but functionality no.

Could I cram more stuff into the cupboards in my house? Sure I could. Do I want to do that and make life difficult for myself? No, absolutely not. And I especially don’t want to do it with a whole pile of stuff that would get used very seldom. The funny twist to this story is that a lot of what was cluttering up my home in the past was stuff supposedly designed to make my work load lighter. But in actual fact it was adding to the problem not solving it.

Life is much simpler for me now and it can be for you too.

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

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

Continue reading with these posts:

  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Happy Anniversary to Me Friday was mine and Dan's 16th wedding anniversary. Sixteen years of relatively smooth sailing. Not bad. We've gone from two working adults with two dogs and two cars in a 1000 square […]
  • Day 185 Unexpected decluttering Imagine my surprise today when I went to put some clean laundry away in my son's room and discovered he had decluttered one of his drawers. There was a big wad of shoe laces and other […]
  • Friday’s Favourites ~ 12July2013 On Fridays at 365 Less Things I share with you my favourite comments from my wonderful readers and my favourite web finds of the week. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Free space is freeing!

  2. So freeing!

  3. I totally know what you mean about pantries! We’re going to have our kitchen doors painted but I’m hoping to replace the pantry unit, so I’m putting a lot of thought into what would be the best use of the space.

    Stewardship is something that most people don’t consider. Stuff has to be maintained, it has to be insured, it has to be housed, it has to be eventually disposed of. So much easier if it didn’t come into the household in the first place, unless of course it is necessary or you are committed to its stewardship for years to come.

    • Amen, and well said, Moni!!!! I wouldn’t be going through all this elimination now if it hadn’t come into my household in the first place!! As I have said before….so much easier to bring it in than take it out!!!

    • I like what you say about stewardship Moni, well said!
      Take a look at Blum and Hafele products.

  4. I love having open space in my home, Colleen. If every single space in my home was filled with something, my eyes, my mind and my soul would all be screaming for a break! My home is a space for living, not for storing useless stuff in.

    • Free, uncluttered, open space. My wife and I can relate so much to this post. Nicole, we know what happens when every space is filled. We spent a week with my wife’s elderly parents; they are packrats bordering on hoarders. Every flat surface is covered several inches deep. There is only a path through the house to walk on. The kitchen table barely has enough room for them much less two guests. My wife made a pie for her father- she said it was the first time she had done that in a square foot section of the counter. We found outdated food, some to 2002, in the cabinets and garage. After about 3 days there, I figured out why it was all so unsettling- there was no place at all to rest our eyes! Everywhere we looked was chaos. I did find one spot to focus my eyes- out the front window on the neighbor’s front yard. This is a long term problem with her mother, and at her age 91 I doubt it can be helped much. However, it is an object lesson for US. We came home to a beautiful, uncluttered home, and we vow never to let our space get in that condition.

      • Wow, what a week that must have been, Jeff! I find myself wanting to turn and run – like the figure in Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ – whenever I’m in a cluttered environment. It looks like your decluttering efforts have paid off and you are enjoying the soothing calm of all that breathing space at home.

        • Munch’s Scream is a good analogy. Also, we had to sit on folding chairs and two broke under me. I’m not overweight. So glad to be home but have to go back soon.

          • Jeff, I can so relate to your post. One of my siblings, who I love dearly and we are very close, is the same way as your in-laws. The house looks like a city dump, and now the clutter has moved out to the carport and porch as well. I went inside this week and it looked like there were a million pieces of paper everywhere. It is so sad and distressing. It is one of the reasons I am so determined to not cause anyone so much effort if I pass away. As I write I have another truck load of excess packed and heading out for my yard sale destination this weekend. It has been a slow go, but well worth the effort!!

            • Mrs Pat Schneider in Colorado

              Great idea, Brenda! Yard sales are good to have. Also try Flea Markets and donate as much as you can. You can take an annual tax write-off for your donations. I also had relatives who had ‘a lot’ and as I have mentioned, we live far away from everyone and no relative to assist us to ‘downsize’. It’s up to us. And really, it gets back to shopping. Cut back on the shopping. I’m not bring as much into the house now. I have been retired 10 years and it was an ‘eye-opener’ as to how much ‘stuff’ we had! I have been creative to give items to many places these days. This site is giving me more ideas of items to donate and to where! Pat in Colorado

      • Jeff in OK, I can imagine how your week went. I lived with friends for 3 months recently while in transition from house to apartment. It wasn’t quite as bad as you in-laws but was bad enough. Drove me nuts. I found myself spending most of my time in my room so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. I have had few people in my new place since moving in a couple of weeks ago but those who have been in mention how open it feels or how bare it is. I love it.

        • Hi Deb J,

          I hope the friends that visit you in your new place don’t feel compelled to buy something for you to “make it look cozy”! I can just see how people might think it “needs something” because most people over-decorate (not saying I feel that way!) 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • Peggy, I know what you. I think I have my friends trained well enough to know not to buy me anything like that. I hope.

      • Wow Jeff that would drive me nuts.

    • I feel the same way Nicole. Although sometimes, now that I live in a smaller space, it feels a little cluttered again. Clutter is so much more evident in a small space. At least it keeps me ever vigilant and the decluttering continues. My craft is the main focus for my decluttering of late. Some things I just use up while others I bag up and send off to the thrift shop.

  5. I find uncluttered spaces very calming, a lot of clutter is visually, and mentally, distracting. Even if the clutter is hidden away, I still know it’s there.

    On a funny note our electric kettle gave up the ghost today. We had another one in reserve, the old one we replaced (which my husband didn’t want me to pass on) so of course he is vindicated! However for the years of space it took up, I would have gladly bought a new one today! But I’m glad for the space I have now!

    • Janetta, this has been one of my problems in the past—–always keeping a reserve, or 2 or 3, that I have found at a good buy, so I always have a replacement on hand. I have finally reformed!!!

    • I hope your husband doesn’t get the wrong idea from this. LOL! The kettle, although arguable the most important item in the kitchen, can be substituted with a saucepan on the stovetop when it breaks down and you need that emergency cuppa.

  6. So many great reasons to stay on the alert for the clutter demons! I have a cabinet in my kitchen that is placed in a difficult corner and the top shelf required me to hoist myself up on to the counter to reach! It is now an empty shelf! And I open kitchen drawers and immediately see all my utensils, no rummaging. All this helps to keep my eye and mind uncluttered. The more uncluttered I become, the less I am able to handle chaotic surroundings in other places! AND there is also the truth that I do not want to leave behind a cluttered mess for my lovely children to deal with!

  7. This is such a good post Colleen. I am loving my new place. The top shelf of each kitchen cabinet is empty. The small, set back shelf in the biggest lower cabinet is empty. Even the shelves that do have things are not full. My drawers aren’t either. I’m 5 feet tall. I don’t have to have a stool or anything in order to reach my stuff. Add to that, my rooms are fairly empty. In my living room I have my recliner for now. I plan to buy a nice, comfortable chair with ottoman for guests. I seldom have more than one guest at a time as I don’t entertain much. I have an office chair someone can sit in if needed. My bedroom has my bed and a small bedside table for my glasses, phone, tissues. I love living this way.

    • those top shelves are always hard to reach places so best not to have anything in them. Most of the time they get used for things less used and aren’t really necessary anyway.
      The sparseness of you place sounds lovely. You are near your mum again now too aren’t you. I bet she is happy about that.

  8. I love all the “open space” in my house. I have noticed that the trend flows out to my yard & garden. I like things simple & easy to clean. It might look bare to some, but to me it’s very inviting & usually clean. All my top kitchen cupboards are empty since I’m short & can’t reach them without a step stool. Also have 2.5 empty closets. I have found that keeping empty space is a struggle, other people are always wanting to store stuff at my place. Have to be firm, but kind in saying no.

    • Hi Calla,

      I am so glad that you are able to say ‘no’ to other people storing things at your place! They see all that space and probably think, “wow, she has plenty of room here…”, not realizing how much effort you have put in to get to that point 🙂 🙂 🙂

  9. Loved reading every comment, it is all still a continual effort to reduce the clutter.

  10. Mrs Pat Schneider in Colorado

    Colleen: Another motivation for me is my husband and I live out west with no close by relatives. Everyone lives in other states.

    Someone would have to go through the whole house before it would be sold, if we were to die or be put in a nursing facility. . So less items to go through is better for everyone. Also it’s the ‘quality’ of our things and life that is important and not the amount of items.
    Pat in Colorado

  11. Hi there. Ive just found your site and i love it. Ive been on a decluttering mission the past month its had its ups and downs but its slowly improving my life. I love you point in this post that we buy stuff often to save us time and make life easier but it truly takes up more time , energy and space. Like all i truely use in my kitchen is 3 pots, and one frypan and maybe the electric fry pan for big breakfasts. Everything else is going as it just sits their being difficult to clean and feels like too much effort to even dig out of the deep kitchen cuboard abyss.

    • Hi Lauren and welcome to 365 Less Things,

      What is truly useful in a kitchen is a very good realisation to come to. Especially given that the kitchen usually holds a large portion of a home’s clutter. I am glad you have come to this realisation and are getting rid of the excess.