Have storage will clutter

For some time now empty storage containers have been mounting up in my garage. I treat them with the same slow and steady approach that I use for the rest of my decluttering. Therefore I had set them aside until I was sure that I don’t have another use for them. The further into my declutter mission I go the more I confirm for myself that I am never going back to the way things were.

So I have come to the conclusion that I am never going to need these containers and it is time to declutter them along with the next load of items going to the thrift store. Myself and some space in my garage have both been liberated by this decision. Not only does this move reduce even further the amount of stuff in my home but it also makes more space for streamlining what is left.

The things that I find hardest to let go of are items that are useful and have served me well in the past. These containers fit that category. You might ask then, how do I finally come to the conclusion that I am ready to let them go. The simple answer is that I have reached the stage where my desire to liberate the space has become greater than any trepidation about letting them go. With these particular items there is another aspect to consider. They represent the ability to fill them back up again with new clutter and I certainly don’t want that happening.

What do you have in your home that your aren’t sure whether to let go of or not. Take a long hard think about it and weigh up which desire is stronger the desire to be rid of it or that little voice in the back of your mind saying maybe I will need it some day. Think what you would prefer, the feeling or liberation or the feeling of indecision. Maybe the choice isn’t so hard after all.

Today’s Declutter Item

These are the storage containers mentioned above that were excess to my needs.

Storage Containers

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Monday as always was cleaning day in my house but it was so clean and tidy that I just did a light clean. I wiped down the surfaces in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry, cleaned the toilets and vacuumed and mopped the floors. I love a decluttered house.

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

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  • What is right for you? I often get comments from people contradicting my suggestions regarding what to declutter and pleading their case on why they keep certain items or collections of things. Avid readers […]
  • Love it or heave it (Revisited) As you may have guessed, due to the lack of them, I struggle to come up with new posts these days, mostly because I declutter much less now, therefore the inspiration for posts isn't […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Drawers were always troublesome for me, i would sort them out then 2 seconds later they would be full again. When we refurbed our kitchen 2 years ago i purposfully designed it with NO drawers, i had gasps from freinds and questions where my ‘stuff’ would go. Having this success in my kitchen gave me the confidence to let go of some big pieces of furniture with drawers. As i emptied them i sent the chest of drawers off to the charity shop and i can honestly say we have never missed them. The little piles of stuff that would end up in drawers will now be sorted at the source and put away properly. The liberation from sorting these flippin drawers is amazing 🙂

    Whenever i hear people say they need a storage soloution i always say ‘No you don’t you just need to have a clear out!’ I think the more effective the storage the more clutter is kept. Sometimes having a small living space concentrates the mind into getting rid unesscery clutter.

    I do have a problem though with a particular piece of furniture at the moment, it’s a buero that my mother in law gave to us when she downsized, when i agreed to take it ( i know, it was a weak moment, what can i say:( ) she said ‘now you won’t be having it five minutes then get rid will you??’ To which i replied ‘of course not’……. I detest the piece of furniture but i feel as though i can’t do it. My husband says we can’t get rid either as it will upset his mum. I have planted the seed that it will have to be stored in the garage when the christmas tree goes up. What should i do, put up and shut up? After all it is his house as well and he is really great at the whole clutter free thing. Or should i stand my ground?? What would you all do??

    Sharron x

    • Hi Sharron,
      I have to say you and I are complete oposites when it comes to the drawer issue, I love drawers. If I could have my own kitchen built I would have nothing but drawers. My favourite piece of furniture in my house is the tallboy in our bedroom that has 11 drawers. Funny how what is good for one person is a curse for another. I am glad you found your solution and eliminated the drawers from your life.

      As for the bureau of your mother-in-law. If I were you I would investigate a solution to rehouse this item. Is there another relative on your husbands side that might want it? If you come up with a taker I would then discuss this solution with your husband and then your MIL. If not I would let her know that you no longer wish to keep it and ask if she would like it back or if she has any suggestions as to who else she might like you to offer it to. Be as diplomatic as possible of course (do the “it’s beautiful but…). I personally don’t hink anyone should have to right to expect someone else to house their discarded clutter. I know that probably sounds a bit harsh but your home should be your sanctuary, not a place for items that you cringe at every time you see them but feel obliged to tolerate. Rereading your comment it sounds to me that judging by what you said about your MIL asking “Now you won’t be having it five minutes then get rid will you?” she possible thought she may have been asking too much in the first place. Perhaps she had other options that she felt she could have called on at the time that you could now utilise to offload the item. Perhaps your conversation with her could go something like this…
      Remember how you said “Now you won’t…” when you gave us that bureau. I was wondering did you have another person, at the time, you thought you might like to give it too because I am not sure that it really fits into my home. If you thought someone else would appreciate it more than us then maybe we could pass it on to them…
      Good luck I sincerely hope you find a solution to this dilemma.

    • Hi Sharron,
      I do like Colleen’s idea, but here is another one. Assuming that your husband doesn’t mind drawers, does he have a place in the house that is mostly “his”, like an office or workshop, and could the bureau be used in his area? Then you would not have to see it so much, but it would be put to good use and your mother-in-law would not be hurt.

    • I’m stunned. You hate drawers? Oh, I think they’re the best thing since sliced bread. Love them. My whole kitchen, designed by me, is drawers, and I’ll never go back!

      • Thank you Colleen, i really needed to hear that, MIL is difficult at the best of times. When she downsized she gave a tv cabinet to her daughter, then procedded to say to me, ‘ If i find that to be dirty i will go mad, she must keep it clean’ I’m more concerned with what she says behind my back than to my face. I’m not sure if she did have someone else in mind but it’s certainly an option i will explore, with as much diplomacy as possible!!

        Jo, my husband doesn’t really have any space that he uses other than the garage and i’m not entirley sure he is that attached to it. Sure, he remembers it in his home when he was growing up but i think he is more concerned with upsetting his mum. My husband is totally on board with having less stuff and even he said the bureau (thanks for showing me how to spell it lol) has no real purpose. I think my MIL asked us as we live in the same style house as she downsized from, but our tastes couldn’t be more different.
        Thanks for the suggestion Jo and i will certainly run it by my Husband!!

        How funny is that both Coleen and Cindy both adore Drawers, one mans’ meat is another mans’ poison!!

        Sharron x

        • Hi Sharron,
          have you ever noticed that it is always the difficult family members that seem to pass things on with strings attached. I often think what have you got to loose by getting rid of the items, if they are already hard to get along with how much worse can it get.

      • I love drawers too. Anything to keep those things I need out of sight. I’ve a friend that loves shelves. Every room in her house has them. I understand why but it drives me nuts. All that stuff to dust for one thing. I hate housework.

    • If your mother is law is still alive, let her know she can have the bureau back if she wants it. Other-wise, you are going to sell it, give it away or throw it away by (insert date here). She didn’t want to throw it away so she dumped it on you. Once its gone, all of you (you, your husband and your MIL) will forget all about it. I am pretty sure she has already forgotten about it. Get rid of it before Christmas. You don’t need it cluttering up the garage. She will probably not want it back so plan to sell it or give it away ASAP.
      Be strong, be kind, tell her gently but firmly and don’t back down. She didn’t want it anymore, why should you be stuck with it?

      • One more thing, if your mil has passed, then just get rid of it ASAP. Tell your husband to settle down. Its just a bureau!

      • Hi again Lois,
        I couldn’t agree more. People should not foist their unwanted stuff on to others and then put conditions on it. Other people’s houses are not these people’s storage units.

        • Mother in law is still with us!! She offered the bureo (i still can’t bloomin spell it lol) when she was moving from a much bigger house to a smaller house. She still would have it had she not moved!! My (first) mistake was to accept it. My second was to put it in such a prominent place in my very minimal home!!

          This saga has become EPIC, dh and i have discussed on numerous occasions and we are still no where nearer a soloution, so your thoughts and comments are much appreciated. I should point out to ya all that i am very strong willed and i don’t usually deviate once my mind is made up, but i really don’t want to upset her given that she is only recently widowed.

          Thank you Colleen for putting me friday’s five!!

          • Hi Sharron,
            perhaps you will just have to tolerate the bureau for now and perhaps in six months pledge to do something about it them. Just remember it is your home, you sanctuary.

  2. Good job Colleen. Getting rid of those storage bins is a great thing to do. I wish I could convince my mom to do that. If we spent money of them she thinks they should be kept. Argh! Drives me nuts.

    I think my biggest clutter problem is our main shed. It is where we keep our tools, freezer, Christmas stuff and all the stuff that my mom wants to hang onto. Probably 1/3 to 1/2 of it could go as far as I am concerned. Every once in a while I am able to convince Mom to get rid of a bit of it. It’s so excruciatingly slow!!!!

    • Hi Deb J,
      I am sure, from your previous comments that you discuss these items often with your mother and she is aware how much you want to be rid of them. Perhaps you just need to come up with a different angle to help convince her that the items will never be necessary to your lives and would be far more useful to someone else. If they make her feel secure there is probably nothing much you can do about it though. There are things in my house I would like to get rid of but they aren’t mine to make that choice and there is no point in me letting them get me down. Every now and again I ask the question do we still want this or that and I accept the answer I am given because we are all members of this household and all have different personalities.
      Good luck Deb just keep prodding away slowly but surely she might come around.

      • I know what you mean. Sometimes you learn to live with it. One thing that is nice is that Christmas in Arizona is warm but not hot. So when we get out there to gather all the Christmas decor to bring into the house maybe I can get some things decluttered then. one never knows.

  3. Oh man, I just wish I had more or had budget room for more of those kinds of containers!

  4. I’ve been holding on to some clothes for my daughter. Most of them are about her size now, or will be very soon. And I know these are not the kind of clothes she will choose to wear (or that I prefer to put on her). So I finally made a decision to sort it and get rid of it. There is some great stuff that some other child and their mom will be very happy to have. My daughter’s clothes fit in one shelf in my closet (and that’s plenty clothes for her!) and we just keep wearing the same favorites. I don’t want to have clothes there that never get worn, it just makes the shelf crowded, and it gets messy and hard to find the stuff we do want to wear. Just like with my own clothes.

    • Hi Cat’sMeow,
      My son who is now 20 wears much the same thing all the time and as much as I sometimes think that I wish he had one good outfit for extra special occasions I know he would never wear them anyway. So I am with you stick to what you know will get worn and forget the rest.

  5. Your garage has crown molding? Wow, that’s some nice finishing for a garage.
    I too have trouble being “sure” that I don’t need to keep those empty containers. Though I have loaded up an empty bin with donate items and then dropped the stuff (bin included) off at the thrift store. They are always so surprised that I would let a perfectly good container go! Also when I am selling something on-line, the customer always appreciates a sturdy container for the objects (usually toy sets) that they have bought. Like a value-added thing.

    • Very observant to notice the crown molding. My garage isn’t even painted, and it certainly doesn’t have fancy trim.

    • Hi Creative Me,
      you gave me a laugh when you mentioned the crown molding in the garage. I had forgotten that weird little American quirk where the garage never seems to be finished off. The house we lived in in Seattle was the same, half finished even thought the house was about ten years old. Do they assume that people are going to have it so full of stuff that you would never see the walls anyway. I also remember so many of our neighbours had three car garages and all of their cars were parked in the driveway or on the street. We had a three car garage and the only reason the third car wasn’t parked in there was because it didn’t have an automatic door. Once again they must have thought that would be overkill because no one was ever likely to actually park three cars in there.

      As for your containers ~ I am sure you will let them all go when you know you are ready. Sometimes it is hard to let go of old habits and really that is all the container represent. Leave them empty for long enough and you will eventually realise you no longer need them.

      • Ooh, I didn’t know our British unfinished garage walls were a quirk to some parts of the world, lol. I just thought that is how garages were.

  6. I think I still have too many under layer clothes lurking – that never actually get used. They become underlayers when I decide i didn’t like them as outer layers (before I learnt to have a small capsule wardrobe and just wear what I love) but they were into good a condition to get rid.

    I have too many shoes too – mainly because they take a while to get comfy on my feet and they then last me for years. I could do with a little purge. Will report back in due course.

    • Hi Katharine,
      the beauty of living in the climate I live in is that we never really need too many layers. Some tops with long sleeves and a couple of handy jackets takes care of most of our Winter need. Although that does necessarily mean I don’t have a similar problem to you. Instead I have the not good enough to go out in clothes that are good enough to wear around the house but then I have to change if I go out anywhere. Once again they are too good to throw away.

    • the beauty of living in the climate I live in is that we never really need too many layers. Some tops with long sleeves and a couple of handy jackets takes care of most of our Winter need. Although that does necessarily mean I don’t have a similar problem to you. Instead I have the not good enough to go out in clothes that are good enough to wear around the house but then I have to change if I go out anywhere. Once again they are too good to throw away.

  7. I got rid of some huge plastic lidded containers recently, then almost immediately regretted it. Because we’re planning to move, I wanted to use them to store stuff under the house (you know, the sort of stuff that lurks on top of wardrobes) in preparation for Open for Inspections. However, before rushing out and buying more, my husband and I managed to find temporary homes for almost everything, in our decluttered wardrobes and cupboards, and the rest we just gave away (eg mini camping chairs my kids were too small for). Problem solved!

    • Hi Loretta,
      you may have regretted getting rid of those containers but you soon found a solution to the problem. When you get to your new home you once again won’t need them.

  8. Remember, Colleen, if you change your mind and decide you need a container you can just go get one. ‘Let ____(insert name of company) store it for me until I need it.”

    I know I have dishes I will never use, but because they are from my mom and grandmothers and I think maybe my girls will want them, I keep them.

    Today: clearing out a couple of piles of papers!

    • Hi Willow,
      I know what you are saying. I let the grocery store store groceries for me all the time, I only pick them up if I need them. 😉 Most of the others stores have given up on me and know I am not coming back in for my unbought stuff. 😆

      Have you asked your girls if they want the plates? Maybe you are storing them for nothing also unless you are enjoying them now that is.

      How is your ankle coming along?

  9. I do have some empty containers which clutter some empty top shelves in our bedroom closets. What I found out is that if I have an empty shelf – trophy of a few days/weeks of decluttering 🙂 – it tends to not stay empty very long. 🙁 I re-organize stuff, move things around… So having these as a reminder that this is decluttered space, that does not want to be cluttered again, is very helpful to me. As we are planning to downsize in a year or two, I hope to have many more of these so the move will be done effortless.

    • Hi Nataliein CA,
      because my husband’s work pays for our moves I really don’t have to lift a finger when it comes to the pre-pack and uplift so that part is always easy for me. I am very much looking forward to seeing how few boxes there are compared to our last move though. Taking into consideration the number of loads of stuff that I have taken to the thrift store over the last eighteen months and how little has come in I should think the count should be greatly reduced. It should only take half the time to pack and deliver as our last move I hope. As for those pesky containers they were taking up space whether they had stuff in them or not so out they go.

  10. Aah Colleen, will I ever get as far along the declutter road as you? I did the back bedroom “room of doom” built-in cupboard yesterday. It’s where I keep my hanging casual clothes and I’m dismayed to see how many pairs of jeans I own as well as too small office clothes. On the top shelf were enough table cloths to fit out a restaurant as well as never used towel sets, a fleece blanket I’ve been looking for all winter (and now it’s spring here) and a basket of bath loofahs and brushes still in cellophane. The shelf has collapsed under the weight and I’ll have to get a new one. Meanwhile I’ve propped it up with a door stop and bagged the can’t use clothes for the second hand shop. I’ll sort through the other stuff this morning and see if the charity shop can use them.

    • Hi Shirls,
      don’t forget I was always a fairly organised decluttered person and I have at this latest declutter mission for 21 months now. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It sounds to me like you made great inroads into that room of doom and you should be pleased with that. So long as the clutter is going out and the inward flow has been slowed to a trickle you will eventually see a huge improvement. Look on the bright side, you must be able to notice the change in that room while I hardly notice the difference any more when stuff leaves my house. Your visual reward must be far greater then mine at this point. You just have to be a cup half full kinda gal. And with a name like Shirl how else could you be. My mum is also Shirley and she is one of the most fun people I know.

  11. WEll I tried the ‘ask your family one thing they think you should unclutter’ and my mum said ‘I don’t want to play this game’ (even after getting off the sofa and coming to my room!!) We did hang the canvas print, but at the expense of some photos. And when I have more walls, in my own place, I’ll want these over bare walls (which I dislike seeing at friends places)! Alas, I tried!

    I did however get rid of 2003-2008’s journals/diaries (and I can’t find 2010s, which I actually needed the other night for a phone number!!). Was interesting to review my crazy uni schedules, and planning. Shame to throw out those nice pictures on every facing page, but another diary, another year of nice photos (though I haven’t chosen to use one this year, just a plan lined journal). Small impact (space wise) but it’s a start on the glory box of school memorabilia! I also looked back at our facebook (in paper) in 2002, and what we wrote as our further careers, shall be interesting to review that at a 10 reunion next year!!

    • Hi Snosie,
      didn’t your mother, just last week, say that your room didn’t look very decluttered, apparently she likes it that way. 😉 Nevertheless you completed the mission and that is what counts. You can only lead a horse to water you can’t make it drink. Removing those journals would have made a nice dent in things though so good for you!

      • Yes! Exactly! I think she/we realised uncluttered to her means out of sight. She pointed to my shoe rack, and said, if I say ‘shoes’ does that mean you throw some out? And I said yes. And she’s like, can’t you just put them in your drawer? (Which I would, but it was a pain to see what I had, store them properly, put them away etc, so now they are in the open)

        • Hi Snosie,
          I am an out of sight kinda girl myself so I know where your mother is coming from. Have you ever considered putting all your shoes in boxes with a photo on the outside so you can see what is in them easily?

          • Then I’d have to BUY shoe boxes. And again, more effort than I’m likely to take, to put things back where they below. I’m better with these open shelves…

            • Hi Snosie,
              that sounds like a good choice to me. Whatever system works is a good system in my book. I remember when my daughter was in high school and the teacher didn’t like the wasy she took notes in science because it wasn’t the usual method. Bridget told her she would do it her way if she would prefer she failed the subject.

  12. Well, Colleen, I’m sure I could find a use for all the large containers in your photo, so I guess I’m not “cured” yet! 🙂
    However, clearing the garage a few weeks ago, husband and I argued about several cardboard boxes (empty); he wanted to recycle, I was sure I’d “be glad of them some day” – well, at one or two a week, I’m down to the second-last one, refilled and sent to the hospice shop! So, I “won” that one, and now he has too. 🙂

    • Hi Ann,
      sounds like a win win situation to me. Not only because you got your way but in the end so did he. But the best part was that you have him so well trained now that he is wanting to declutter things that you don’t.
      I keep cardboard boxes too, mostly for ebay packaging. I am about to try one last ha-rah on ebay and if that is unsuccessful I can throw out whats left of the boxes, declutter another empty container and donate or Freecycle the items that I give up trying to sell. Wow, that does sound exciting.

  13. Am I the only one who immediately lusted after the storage containers? I am a minamilist wanna-be but I fail at it, only lusting after minamilism as well as soon to be discarded storage containers.
    Thanks for a great blog. Know that I wish to be like you but so far its just wishes!
    (and how do I spell: minamilist???) Love the concept, hate misspelling.

    • Hi Lois,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for adding your voice to our community. And no you are not the only one who would like to get your hands on those boxes. And don’t worry about your misspelling you are in good company here with the trait. I am notorious for bad grammar and misspelling. You might be happy to know that I usually spot the misspelled words in comments and fix them for you. The word you were looking for is minimalist. Where would I be without spell check?


  1. […] Colleen wrote Have Storage Will Clutter, I assumed it would be about storage units, which exist all over the US, some row after row of […]