Space Goals

One of the areas of my home that I have been working on regularly since the very beginning of my declutter mission is my craft room. At the beginning all I knew was that I had too much stuff and I didn’t really have an ultimate goal aside from to keep working at it until I was satisfied I had gone far enough. As I have slowly gotten closer and closer to that point my goal started to become clear. I wanted what I owned to fit into the craft organising cubes that I had long ago purchased for the task. No overflow  into other rooms in the house, no stuff in other items of furniture, no stuff in other storage containers…

It occurred to me while working at this task last week that I have used this goal of decluttering in other areas of my house. Long ago I achieved the goal of fitting everything that was in my china cabinet into my kitchen cupboards. At another point it had become my goal to fit all my linen on two shelves in my linen closet. All my spare blankets had to fit into my camphor wood chest. All our books on one shelf in the book case and all my shoes in the cupboard near the from door.

In general setting an allowance of space for certain items is a great way to inspire you to declutter the things you just have too many off. It is as simple as realising you have far more of a certain category of item than you need and setting a realistic allowance of space for them to take up. Here are some suggestions…

  1. Allow one small cupboard space for cleaning supplies.
  2. Only keep enough clothes to fit in your closet. No spreading them into the closet in the guest room.
  3. One bookcase for all your books, the rest must be sold, donated or given to friends or family.
  4. Only keep your favourite DVDs that must fit into your entertainment cabinet. Not piled two deep into a full size bookcase elsewhere in the house.
  5. Cookbooks must fit on one small shelf in the kitchen.
  6. Kids indoor toys should fit in their bedrooms not taking over the family living space.
  7. Utensils could be limited to one kitchen drawer, the same for cutlery.
  8. Personal paper work might be limited to a two drawer filing cabinet or maybe even one drawer if you are clever enough to digitise and minimise the non-essentials.
  9. Shoes might be contained to what can fit on your closet floor not piled on shelves, in baskets by the door, or hiding under beds.
  10. If you have a large home you might even consider making your overall goal to fit everything you own within the closets, cupboards and storage shelves throughout you house and not have items hidden in boxes in the basement, attic or taking over the car space in the garage.

So consider a space goal in your house this week whether that be a big or small goal. It might be the inspiration you need to set a final limit on a category of items you have been slowly reducing for a long while.

Today’s Mini Mission

Do you have too many glass items ~ vases, plates, bowls, drinking glasses…? If so now is the time to weed out a few.

Today’s Declutter Item

This is way more than one item but they were all decluttered in one effort so why not group them together. Although some time back I decluttered enough items form both my kitchen and my long gone china cabinet to fit what was left into my kitchen cabinets I am not stopping there.

Glass Items

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Some days are just special in an ordinary kind of way. A good breakfast, a chat with a neighbour, doing more than just the weekly housework chores, leftovers for dinner, the sun shining long enough to dry the sheets…

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

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

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Thursday 21Dec2017 Declutter your fridge of out of date items or by using up as much as possible before adding more. With the holiday season here you will likely need every inch of spare space.
  • Don’t agonise over getting rid of clutter It has been a busy week for me and I didn't get around to writing a second post. So rather than leave you uninspired for the week I am republishing the following post from the archives. […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. I helped a lady who never wanted to get rid of anything. Everything seemed to be special to her and her home had stuff everywhere. She couldn’t get around because it was so cluttered. I found that the only way we could move ahead with helping her declutter was to use this space idea. I found a box and told her that she could keep whatever would fit in the box and everything else in the dresser or bookcase or whatever space we were working on had to go. IT WORKED! I was so glad, because I was getting to the end of my rope trying to find some way to get her to get rid of something. This method really works.

  2. I recently wrote about losing all our stuff to mold. Well, now I have a new de-clutter mission.: my dad’s house. We moved in with my dad, it was supposed to be temporary. We got healthier and our daughter liked it here… we had been thinking about living in this house (my childhood home) before. So my dad was kind enough to give us this house – first for rent and later we will possibly buy it if we decide we will stay here. But as he will move in with someone who has an apartment full of stuff, he will leave a lot of stuff behind. We don’t need nearly all of it. So after he moves out I will de-clutter and put some of the stuff in storage if he wants it later, and some will just be donated. But now we don’t have to buy furniture and things like that because the house is fully furnished. I will remove a few pieces of furniture and some decorative items but mostly it’s a practically decorated house.. my task is not too huge:) But there is still way more dishes, vases, craft supplies (my mom’s), books etc. than we need, the usual suspects, hiding in closets and drawers and shelves.
    We already started cleaning out the storage space and it has never been as neat and empty.

    • Hi Cat’s Meow,
      I have just been over to read about your mould problem. How awful! I so hope you all get better and better and that horrible mould will leave your systems.
      I haven’t had a chance to read too much over at your blog but I want to go back and catch up later. I have been trying to find how to subscribe but I can’t find a box for that. The red house is gorgeous is that the one you are now living in. How perfect.
      Good luck with the decluttering. You will have the place looking just the way you want it in no time I am sure.

    • Hi Cat’s Meow,
      I read your blog and was very touched (and shaken) by your fate. How wonderful all is turning out (and how kind of your dad)! I was sure you’d be fine in the end with the mental strength you have but it is great to see things happen for you so fast (though I am sure it does not feel that fast for you being in the situation). I wish you luck and strength with the big decluttering task you now have ahead and – I absolutely admit selfishness here because your thoughts always resonate with me though my (aspired) minimalism is really mini and nowhere near yours – I am looking forward to reading about your insights and thoughts on your way.

  3. Wow, I admire your goals, but right now that just doesn’t work for me. I have gotten a lot out of the house in the last year or so, and if it were up to me, I’d have a lot more out (books in particular, but my husband is making progress). But you do have me thinking. I am down to the last room and hope to have it completed by the end of the month. Then the question is: how do I want to use this and each room and what is the feeling I want to have (and for others to have) when they step into it. I want the whole house to feel like a place of welcome and a place you can be comfortable in it.

    As for one shelf for books; that will never happen for my husband and for me; even being Nook owners. But we can start to limit the books and have agreed that no more bookcases will come into the house. But to each their own.

    I like suggestion #10 and believe that is my over all goal. And to have empty spaces. Not every nook and cranny needs to be filled.

    • One room left how great Mary. You never know your husband may just get more and more ruthless as time wears on. If you have ever read any comment from Deb J ~one of our readers ~ you will know that her mother was dead set against decluttering to begin with but now is starting to make suggestion about things that need working on. Wow what a turn around that is.

      • Colleen; when I started the process of going thru my husbands books with him it was a struggle. He literally had at least 12 boxes (or more) and that did not include what was in the bookcases. He reluctantly let some go. The next go round more books went. And the third go around even more. I think we’re down to 4 boxes of books left in the garage for him to go thru. So he has made a lot of progress. And every time we have worked thru his boxes I have complimented him and asked him how did it feel to have all that gone. He did admit it felt good. It also helps that he will sometimes watch episodes of Hoarders with me and has told me he knows that he has some hoarding tendencies (and I freely admit that I do to).

        Your blog has helped a lot too. Just knowing I’m not alone in wanting to live clutter-free in my house and that you and others know exactly what I’m going thru. It’s baby steps, but I am getting there along with you and the others.

        • hey Mary,
          whenever you need a cheering from around the world, just let us know. you are so welcome to brag about your decluttering victories. We all know how it feels to let go of things. YAY you and your husband for making such progress…

        • Good for you Mary both for what you are managing yourself and for being such good encouragement for your husband. The rewards of getting rid of stuff sure makes up for any uncomfortable feeling of letting go. Relieving the aspirations of doing things with clutter like books and unused craft items is a huge relief in itself. You tell your hubby “good job” from me as well.

  4. I very much understand the idea of fitting my belongings to a certain space because my home is very small. I have a wall unit (piece of storage furniture), a mixture of closed shelves and open shelves above, with drawers and cabinets below. 70″ tall x 47″wide x 17″deep. This relatively-small piece of furniture contains 3 shelves which are 17 inches wide. One is for my books, chiefly reference books as opposed to temporary pleasures like novels, which are in and out constantly, often library books. One shelf holds stationery, and the top shelf holds a few drinking glasses, as there is no room in the kitchen for these. That’s it. This same piece holds various files, my fancy china (used), meds, more files, photo albums, a couple of art pieces and some offfice equipment. It’s a self-limiting system; if it doesn’t fit in or on the unit, there is NOWHERE else for it to go. Thanks to 365-led inspiration, there is room and to spare.

    I also self-limit by saying my CDs go in my CD wallet. It holds 50. If I add a CD, I subtract one, rather than purchasing another wallet, and another, and another…….. Allocating x amount of space for y kind of item is a brilliant way of keeping things under control.

    I’m just doing the same with my garden shed and have posted 2 bags of stuff on Freecycle this evening and both went within the hour. Can’t wait to get back up there tomorrow and dejunk some more. 🙂

    • It sounds like you are a veteran of spacial limits GreyQueen, good for you. I used to have a limit once, if it fitted in our cupboards all was good. That is definitely not the case any more. That is the problem with having too many cupboards and too big homes. I have learned my lesson on that score.

  5. this is a good one. This is what I am promoting her at home. Whatever we have has to fit inside the house and whatever it is in has to have generous space and not stuffed. We sat at breakfast this morning and my mother stated that she was tired of all of the stuff we have. She wants to limit it more and sell the rest. She’s really beginning to see how much difference it makes. Things I thought she would never get rid of she is willing to sell. I’m Fall-on-the-floor-shocked!! I’m excited to get going on it. WooHoo!!

    • congrats! this is amazing. soon it will be her the minimalist and you arguing to keep things 😉

    • Wow Deb J, your story with your mom is an inspiration to others. I am so thrilled for you. May you get more money than expected for those items so she will be happy to release more and more.

      • Big Congrats!!!! That sounds amazing and let’s me hope for my own parents. I’ve been trying to infuse the thought of less stuff on them with some results so far but mainly it’s a long, LONG road and I wonder whether they’ll ever take it fully (I am happy for every thing they let go, no matter why, but I am not sure whether there really is some change of mind going on or if they are rather just trying to please me with our occasional decluttering … time will show, I suppose)

  6. We got rid of a three-seater sofa this past weekend. Our living area has undergone an amazing difference by just having a loveseat in here and our son’s room is a much bigger play area since the loveseat is no longer in there.

    Allowing for more space indeed!

  7. this is an excellent post colleen, and so true. as you know I recently got rid of my bathroom plastic drawer as it was just annoying. I decluttered and rearranged so that everything would fit elsewhere, without being crammed full.
    I think I do that for other places to. making space for everything to fit nicely and easily just goes hand in hand with my one-hand-accessibility-rule.

    • I like the sound you one-hand-accessibility rule, tell me more.

      • everything I own I must reach and get with one hand. I hate if I have to hold/push/catch something else with my left hand before I can reach my target with my right hand. Really truly HATE, it makes me swear and shout everytime. I am so impatient. I dont know why that is, or where this is coming from, but I often run around holding something left side, and doing something else right side… Or I just never stopped pretending to have one arm (now THAT was a child game I was good at).
        So everything in my home is now accessible with 2 or three moves by my right hand (except my suitcases/the backpack and the heavy boxes with the painting utensils)… I can push the one box aside to pull out the other one, without having to fear for everything else stored in the same space falling out. right now I am fighting with my little dirt devil, the vacuum cleaner – everytime I want to get something else behind it, it falls over and I have to put it back after I got the item I wanted. So the next project is the hook on the wall for this (…) devil.

        • That sounds quite sensible to me Lena. Ease of use is as good a goal as any for decluttering I think. That is why I keep removing more and more stuff from my kitchen. Aside from it being a pain to have to dig past things to get to what I need my son also hates to dig past things to put them away when he empties the dishwasher. As a result he usually doesn’t put them away properly and I can’t say I blame him really. I still chastise him for it of course though, he isn’t getting away with it that easily. 😆

  8. Question for you and all readers: What about the stuff that doesn’t have a space? I know this is a work in progress but as I choose my purposes and spaces I have more things that don’t have a home but I am still keeping. All our CDs are in a carton. They don’t fit into any current piece of furniture. I wanted them in one place rather than some in the car, some on a bookshelf, scattered all about. But I don’t have a logical place. Same with art supplies. I don’t have space in my desk. There isn’t a designated art area; if I want to do a project I will use my kitchen table because it’s the largest flat surface. The games are in the spare closet along with table linens so they don’t fit there. I have slowly corraled like with like and limited space to one shelf or container but I have categories that don’t have a home and are still things that I do or use. I’m sure as I continue I will find more and more space but for now what do people suggest? It would be nice to free up the floor space used by cartons and piles of homeless items.

    • Hi Delores – thank you for the word “corraled” I have been trying to think up a way to describe the process of herding ‘like’ back with ‘like’.

      • Delores, I think decluttering can be a way for you to try and find a space for things. I live in 66sqm, so I have a small place. And i have to think about where tools/hardware will go, and where floristry tools will go etc. For me, the idea of ‘no space’ or ‘on the floor’ wasn’t ok. So I had to minimise something/somewhere else to make sure things were away and tidy. I can’t stand things being out, so I gave myself tough love!

        I don’t have CDs, really (one wallet), but ask yourself how often you are getting a CD out of the carton and playing it? And are you using all of them in the carton? If you keep these questions in mind, over time, you may come to find you need or want as many. It doesn’t happen overnight…

    • It sounds to me that you are doing the best thing possible already Delores. What is left of our games are in the spare room closet as are the spare picture frames that I wasn’t prepared to part with. The camera gear is also kept in this cupboard as are the CD’s that we don’t actually use because the music is all on iTunes and iPods. Everything can’t have a “real” space, we don’t have a photographic studio for the camera gear or a games room for the games for instance and there is space in the spare room closet so that is the logical place to keep these items.
      Perhaps if you eventually declutter the kitchen further you can start storing your art gear there near to the table where you usually use it. Perhaps the same will happen for your table linens. It seems to me that your space goal is be to eventually be able to fit everything into cupboards and have nothing on the floors. Just keep working towards that, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Good luck and happy decluttering.

    • Delores, I feel your pain. My flat is silly-small (240 sq feet) and it taxes my ingenuity to the limits.

      I have some things stored in ways which might strike others as a bit odd, assuming that they notice or would care if they did. Due to lack of space in the kitchen, I store tinned goods on rolling trollies under my low-slung pine bedstead. They’re hidden behind a valance. I have a small cabinet in my living room with a footprint of 24.5 x 15 inches which is a mixture of shallow cabinet, two pull-out shelved sections and a drawer below. It was marketed to hold CDs and DVDs but I bought it in a thrift store and use it to hold all my sewing equipment. Working on a project just means opening it’s door and having it all accessible. Don’t be afraid to think laterally.

      I have a very small hall cupboard which is 13 inches deep by 26 inches wide. It holds a tub-style vacuum cleaner and my ironing board, two shelves stacked with small stuff corralled into labelled shoe boxes, a tiny plastic drawer unit to hold fiddly little things like paperclips etc. And there’s still space on the top shelf alongside the iron. However, I do have to shop with a tape measure as the tolerances are so tight that something a teeny bit bigger than the item I’m replacing could end up not fitting into the only available slot and being homeless.

      I think it’s great to pick other people’s brains/ search the internet/ look at tips for caravan and boat dwellers etc to find ingenious ways of storing what you have to have. Not forgetting to be very critical of anything which you find is unnecesary, as it’s often easier to get rid of something than to store it. My Nan (rising 90) has never owned an ironing board in her life, and irons on a folded towel on her kitchen table.

    • I agree with the others: Over time this will sort itself: just halve the linens and board games in that dresser and you have plenty of room for your craft supplies.
      You could also do this now and just store that other half of everything somewhere out of the way – a box on top of a bookcase or similar.

      I also encourage you to get creative with thinking of storage solutions.
      I own 3 wooden vintage sewing boxes for example. I find them really handy. Two of them hold nearly all my craft supplies and the third holds all our board games – I emptied the original cardboard boxes and put all the bits and pieces into the sewing box. Of course this probably works, as we own mainly “classics” like Backgammon or Scrabble and card games – not a lot we would fear to “outgrow” soon. While we might not be able to resell those games – or only to people who also don’t care about the original box – it works great for us, especially as we also had a lot of old games, some of which didn’t have all pieces or dices etc. anymore but having all those things together we have enough dices etc. at hand for everything.
      The monstrous packaging of board games always put me off – even as a child. 😉

      • I agree. It will slowly find its place. you just have to declutter other places first and rearrange.

        Dont forget the storage space that the wall provides… I always loved to use the space right up to the ceiling, even if it makes the room look cluttered. But I would rather have cluttered walls than the floor covered in stuff. Especially with CDs. I like CDs that are on display so that you can actually stand in front of them and choose the one you want, rather than touching all of them in order to find the right one.

  9. Grace from Brazil

    Colleen, great insight. I think the goal to have everything fit, without being cramped or overcrowded is exactly what we need to shoot for. The other day my linen closet was left open. It had been decluttered and organised about a month or 2 ago. I was shocked to see that it still looked nice. Woo Hoo! I mean if things fit in a space well they can be put away easily, found easily and retreived easily with no mess.

  10. Dlores just get rid of the cds you wont miss them did it a year ago havent missed a single one. I just listen to the radio, and my iphone. You will be relieved when they are gone. I donated all of mine to a charity

  11. Great post Colleen. I agree with all of it. Had a discussion along the same lines with my Mum this week. An unsolicited big box of clothing arrived at her house from a relative which included no less than 27 scarves. Most of the items are back in the box going out the door to the opshop and the few that stayed were exchanged with something from the drawers or wardrobe. So there was not a net gain. If there are too many clothes for one wardrobe and chest of drawers per person its time for a clear out.

  12. Excellent post Colleen!!!!! You have spelt out what I joined 365 to achieve. You should add this to your starters guide to decluttering Colleen if not already done so.

    I can cross off most of the list above BUT have some that need to be added to my list.

    Don’t think we will ever eliminate ceiling storage but we have eliminated at least 50% of what was up there. And I’m not finished, I hope to get it down to 25% by the end of Spring (we’ve just gone into Winter).

    Of the last 25% which won’t be leaving this year, about half the stuff will be able to reduce after the kids leave home such as the number of suitcases, the need for extra fold out camp style beds for extra visitors (useful now for sleepovers or visiting friends who have children) and we probably will only need one chilly bin, rather than the assorted shapes and sizes we need for summer excursions.

    But there is still currently stuff up there earmarked for trademe/ebay but am trying to not overload myself with more listings than time to manage and now that I have cleared the garage floor I don’t want to fill it up again with auction stuff waiting sale/dispatch. Where is my Oompa Loompa when I need it?

    • I bet it is too cold up in the attic to work on that space right now. Our low today was about 10° and that is too cold for me. I can’t begin to imagine how cold it is where you are.

      My garage is the space where my holding area is. That is where I put stuff until I work out the best way of getting rid of them, whether that be selling them or giving them away. Sometimes they are out there for far longer than I would like but so long as they leave in the end I am happy.

      Here is a scary thought ~ what if the kids don’t leave home. I wonder this about my son sometimes and it is a frightening thought.

      • Hi Colleen – yup its really cold here at the moment, we’re getting blasted from the South.

        My mum felt the key to older teens/young adults living at home was to not make them too comfortable. First mention someone was leaving home and she’d move her sewing gear into their room. And when you actually left home, she’d change the locks. If you absolutely had to come home (which I made a point of not doing) there was a 48 hour limit. She probably was a bit extreme but never had a problem with overstayers.

        • wow. thats serious. changing locks?!?

          There was never a question about moving out with my parents as we lived in a super rural area. After finishing school of course. And my personal drive was to go as far away as possible. But my parents also expected me to move out. Not because they didnt like me at home, but because they were convinced that in order to let us grow into independent people, we had to face life alone, in a new place. and how to run a household is something your mum can only teach you via the phone 😉

  13. Great post, and mostly how I ‘think’ in terms of decluttering, and staying that way! I can’t ‘keep’ mum’s spare sewing machine, it doesn’t have a home (and in my mind, doesn’t warrant the space for the irregular use).

    I don’t use my storage nook, other than for what I planned it for, before I moved it, which is my two suitcases (one which has the out of season clothes in it). Then I tuck the vacuum in there. And there’s currently a plastic storage tub (needs to go back to my parents…) and carpet off cuts, to recarpet the nook… The past tenant had it JAM packed (it’s maybe 4 cubic metres of space?) I refuse to let it become a ‘dump all place’

    • Good for you Snosie. I wish I could say the same of the under stairs cupboard in our garage. It isn’t a dumping space, it is where we store boxes for electronics that will one day need to be packed up and moved interstate. It also houses a fan, folding chairs and the like but I really would like it to be less cluttered particularly with boxes. Although some of those boxes were living in my linen closet so I am glad they are now out of my way.

  14. Good post Colleen, but I couldn’t limit the books to one bookshelf! At the moment we have a tiny bookshelf for 1/2 of my novels, and the kids’ books are in their rooms. My son’s are in his wardrobe (on shelves) and my daughter’s are now all stacked neatly along one wall, in rows. She has over 300 paperbacks and rereads voraciously. I have told them that I won’t be buying them new books till Christmas, as they still have titles they haven’t read, and the library is a short stroll away!

    My daughter and I decluttered her room AGAIN on the weekend. This time we tried to find room in her wardrobe (the only storage space she has apart from a 2-drawer bedside table) so she has a shelf for each of her interests. So now one shelf houses her art/craft supplies, one shelf is for her large hardback books, one shelf is for her Sylvanian families and – drum roll – one shelf is EMPTY!!

    • Don’t panic Loretta it was just an example, I couldn’t limit my craft supplies to one set of drawers either so I know where you are coming from. Limits are definitely an individual thing.

      Well done with the empty shelf. Talking about kids, I am looking forward to the end of this uni semester so Liam can declutter old assignment from his bedroom. He has been doing a drawing class and boy has that spread itself all over the place. Not only in his room but in the garage as well.

  15. Glass. I have a few candidates for this mini mission, but there is something that I’d LOVE to get rid of but everyone else in the family disagrees, and as these two glass tropical fish are not actually cluttering, and they are actually quite nice to look at – I loved them when I saw them and brought them back from Oz with me in my carry on – but 4 years ago my son knocked one over and broke off a piece, he set it up so I wouldn’t notice, and then ironically a few weeks later reached past them to open a window and sliced his wrist open. It was a miracle he missed his veins. If you all look at the veins on your wrists how they cross over and run parallel etc, he cut right between the two veins and stop/start before the veins crossed and it was deep enough that you could see his veins on either side of the cut, the doctor assured us you couldn’t do it if you tried and he was the luckiest kid in the world.

    I wanted to throw the glass fish out but son wanted to be able to show everyone how he did it, eventually hubby repaired it as it was quite a clean break using special resin as my son viewed it somewhat as a trophy. No one else is bothered by it but I shudder everytime I see them. Every time I mention that we should get rid of them they are against the idea.

    Anyone got some zen wisdom for me?
    Dizzy – hit me with some sheng fui!

    • be the dictator 😉 and tell them that you dont want them near you because they make you shudder. if someone wants to keep them, those fishes need to go to their rooms. period.

      or you just keep nagging everyday about decluttering them until they are so tired of hearing you going on about those fishes, they are throwing them out themselves.

      or (and that is the hardest) you try to turn your emotions regarding these objects away from “reminder of fragility of life” to something else. Although I dont know what that could be, and I think it is pretty hard brainwash work to replace negative feelings on an object with positive. I guess I would try to get them out, because I would really not want to be reminded that my son was in serious danger.

    • Who am I to judge Moni, we still have the shattered helmet from when my son had his horrific cycling accident. I think he views it as a sign of his invincibility, the little weasel. I don’t mind it because it is out of sight for the most part and it reminds me of how lucky we were that he survived.

      I think you can only keep asking and eventually the rest of the family may capitulate. Either that or go against their wishes which I wouldn’t advise. Then there is the freak accident scenario ~ if you get my drift. 😉

      • And we kept some stainless steel pins! These were used to hold the bones in place when my daughter had her horrible accident – she was hit by a car as a pedestrian when she was young. She recovered totally – but why did we keep the pins ? Not sure but the hospital gave them to us and somehow there wasnt ever an appropriate way to get rid of them.Anyway they have gone now – very unceremoniously and quietly in to the bin one day when I was decluttering.

        • come to think of it, we had this long screws hanging in a plastic cover on our toilet pin board (right in front of our toilet we have a wall sized pinboard with all sorts of pictures, a big birthday calendar, postcards, tickets, poems, newspaper articles, homework for us children (back in the days) , etc.). My mum had a huge skiing accident 15 years ago and they gave her the 4 really big metal items back that held her knee together for years. My brother kept the numberplate that was wrapped around a tree when he crashed the car. Seems like accidents/operations can bring in “souvenirs” more often than not?

        • We share another thing in common then Jez. They are scary times, aren’t they, when your child is lying injured in hospital.
          I dare way that helmet will go one day too but there are a lot more things I want out of here first. I have to admit the bent bicycle frame is also here. My son, being an artist, is considering using it in an art work some day.

          • Hi Colleen – this has reminded me that my son was very reluctant to part with his sawn off arm cast back in the day. Maybe they view them trophy’s.

            • Guilty again Moni, Liam has his arm cast from his motorcycle accident just before Christmas. He’ll be able to do a complete art installation with the evidence of his misfortunes soon.

          • Yes – not a good time! -and you see others injured as well – not just your own child as you would know only too well. Well good on your son – it sounds like interesting times ahead for that helmet!

  16. I just came across this very concept recently in a simple living blog, and it really was a complete revelation to me – instead of keeping everything and finding room for it (also known as “cramming it in until it overflows”), assign a reasonable space to things and declutter until it fits easily.

    The difference is like night and day 🙂

    • Hi Jo H – I like Mohamed of Midway Simplicity’s idea of to only allow yourself to use 80% of each storage facility. I’ve been trying to implement that. Some cupboards/wardrobes are easier than others to get to that point. Some are still work in progress.

    • It moments like that when you think ~ “Why didn’t I think of that before?”

  17. Have lost track of the order of things but out the door went a pretty pottery dip tray – had to be firm with myself – I have an identical one and I dont need two! But I had to fight the little voice that said “what if the other one breaks !” Well if that was a genuine reason we would have two of just about everything! So if it breaks I will use something else .Then out went the very pretty Danish plate – yes its gorgeous BUT I don’t need it and I hardly ever use it .Someone else can love it instead. And five scarves went with them – all in two days. No regrets but it amuses me that the little voices are still there sometimes.

    • Jez, you are not alone with your little voices. I have one too. I have often little fights with her (she is a persistent little thing), but I am getting good in arguing her down…

    • Ah Jez, if the big voice drowns out the little voices saying declutter it anyway and to heck with the what ifs, you will win the war on clutter in the end. Each one of those little skirmish victories counts and makes you stronger.

  18. You really hit the nail on the head with todays topic Colleen. The space issue is exactly why I stareted to declutter in the first place. Now my goal is to empty the storage unit we rent and fit everything into the house or get rid of it. With me on maternity leave we are getting by on only one salary so paying for the space is extra painful. And we had intended it to be temporary due to the renovations.
    I couldn’t find anything for the Monday mini mission, as somehow I must have worked out long ago that I hate souvenirs. Meaningless junk, specially the stuff others bring home for you. Although I did go through a pile of photographs and threw out all the ones with people I can’t remember and known buildings. (who needs 10 photographs of the Eiffel Tower taken from every possible view point?)

    For todays mini mission I will declutter a set of 4 glass bowls, which are nice and I got them from a friend, but I have a set of 12 bowls at my parents house which used to be my grandmothers and which are Iittala. They are much thicker glass and I reckoned with the little one they might be sturdier and I will have a matching set for dinners and for serving things like nuts. I allready have the big bowl for this set, so to me it makes sense. And unlike my other family memebers we like to use our good stuff everyday, as it can all go in the dishwasher and I don’t really care if it breakes because I know we can replace them. Better than leaving it all to my children whitout any signs of use. (like the bowls from my grantmother)

  19. In my eyes, this is the best aproach to decluttering.
    My first goal was to fit everything into the cupboards and shelves. Now it’s to fit everything into “sensible” cupboards and shelves (for example: to fit all table ware into the kitchen cupboards – I still have some glasses in the living room – or all towels into the bathroom)
    This way, I’m slowly emptying the shelves and cupboards in the entryhall and in other “storage areas” that are a little inconvenient for everyday use.
    I think that apart from my boyfriend hardly anyone noticed just how much left the house in the meantime, as all the easily reachable places have been refilled with items that lingered in boxes or cupboards that weren’t as easily accessible. But the two of us know.
    And I’m constantly amazed at how well-maintained my home looks, even if we don’t clean at all for one or two weeks – the worst it gets nowadays is “a little untidy” – as compared to “a huge mess” in times when even after a thorough cleaning my apartment never looked quite “tidy” due to overstuffed closets and boxes on the floor.

    • Thinking about it, I don’t really think, it’s the best approach. For me, the best approach is to change the approach regularly.
      Like: going through my stuff once asking myself “do I like it” – thus decluttering unloved items.
      The following week I might go through my stuff asking: “is it useful to me?”
      The week after that I might go through it asking: “How much space am I willing to give to this kind of stuff and what can I get rid of so that it actually fits this space?”
      And so on.
      Changing that perspective really helps me.

      As the little voice that says “keep me, keep me!” is getting louder these days, I think I will trick myself with something I think I never did: I actually consider that giving things to the thrift store here is not only “getting rid of them”, but also a real donation. Every sale there contributes to a worthy cause and these few cups I don’t quite want to get rid of, although I don’t really need them might just raise the money to buy someone who needs it some food or schoolbooks.

      • Changing focus is great. Thanks for wording that out, Sanna, yes, it is really true. It’s like attacking something from different sides to discover it’s weak spot.

      • very true. there are changing perspectives on clutter, very well put!

      • I like your approach Sanna, I pretty much do the exact same thing. If one reason can’t convince be to declutter something another approach might. If I am on the fence about decluttering something, knowing that the thrift store will make good use out of the money my donations make might just tip me over the edge. It is especially gratifying that I can actually witness my stuff being sold. Just today I took in some craft bits and pieces, one of the items was a bag of paper offcuts I was having trouble finding a new home for. Everyone I offered them to didn’t want them. I figured I would take them to the thrift store and put them with the craft items and see if they sell. I can always take them home and put them in the recycling bin if they didn’t. They were gone before the end of the day along with a pair of knitting needles, a skein of wool and a knitting needle holder. It was very gratifying.

  20. *giggle* I couldn’t help thinking of outer space when reading the title. But of course it is really „out of space“ you are referring to …
    Good approach though – and still (!) way to go for me to get there (if ever … after all Germany is the land of (often) no closets which means, there would always be pieces of furniture that could be decluttered or exchanged for smaller furniture if the contents get too “airy”)

  21. I’m just getting to reading a few days’ worth of posts and want to add my $.02 worth.
    Years ago, I read in a homeschool magazine that all pencils/pens should be in ONE place; all paper in ONE place; all scissors in ONE place. I’ve found that it’s so much easier to keep track of what you own if you limit your items to ONE spot and not have more than can fit in that ONE place.
    Also, Freedom over at just wrote a great post about how he and his wife decluttered their daughter’s room. It’s worth checking out.

    • Thanks Willow I will take a look at that link. I have always been a “Place for everything and everything in its place” kinda gal. It is a rare thing when I can’t put my finger immediately on the tiniest thing in my home. Now it is even easier with less stuff the get through to get to those things.

  22. About a month ago our hot water geyser burst and dumped water into my study, ruining the carpet, the wall and ceiling and the parquet flooring which began to pop up like popcorn. The insurance company agreed to fix it all so I will have a totally clean room with a new floor. The painters have done their magic and the room has been cleared of all furniture while the new floor is installed. So mountains of stuff is now in the back room and I feel fate has kindly given me the chance to only put back what I need and love and to declutter the rest. This will be a whole lot of books and knicknacks and files, Fortunately I had already thrown out a lot of redundant paper when I got inspired by this blog last year, but this will be the great big declutter. I’m really looking forward to it!

    • Hi Shirls there is nothing like seeing the fortune in misfortune is there. Good for you, have a good declutter and you will have that room looking great.

  23. Julia St. Charles

    Love your list but item #10 troubles me just a little. You don’t need a “large” home to accomplish this. Basement/attic/garage should store only seasonal items (skis, tents, holiday decorations if you decorate, costumes, or outgrown baby things IF you are planning another child, etc.). This can be accomplished in any sized home. If you have boxes of “things” in the garage or attic, you’re clearly not using them unless they are out of season items. These boxes should be first on anyone’s purge list.