Staging your home for you

In Cindy’s post yesterday she talked a little about staging a home for selling purposes. This got me thinking two things ~ 1.) Why wait until you are about to sell before making your home look good. 2.) A home can look good without being impersonal such as they suggest in this staging process.

How nice would it be were your home in a state where it looks good enough to show people through at the drop of a hat while still having those personal touches that make it feel like home? Keeping in mind that people viewing a home, with the intent to buy, will look in your storage areas to see how they are configured.

Why wait to make your home look good for complete strangers while you live day to day in the inferior version of what your home could be? Don’t you deserve that much from yourself?

I have viewed a lot of homes in the last year with the intension that if we found one that was just right we would consider taking the plunge into actually buying a home to live in. Some of these homes have had occupants  whether owners or renters, who clearly weren’t too house proud, and I can tell you that among these I have seen some pretty scary examples of how not to present a home to the public eye.* There have also been some examples of homes that don’t appear to have been professionally staged but are uncluttered with enough personal possessions on display to give the property a peaceful homely feel. And we have also viewed homes that have been newly renovated and not lived in but have clearly been professionally staged for the viewing public.

What I have notice about these three examples is that one has to look past the mess to see the potential in the unkempt homes, while with the professionally staged homes it is very easy to see any shoddy workmanship in such a sterile environment. The homely, uncluttered, lived in, homes give you such an feeling of warmth that it is easy to miss the little imperfections because you could so see yourself living there. Which says to me that a uncluttered home with a reasonable amount of personal items is the ideal atmosphere for any family.

Does this kind of home sound like something you can aspire to? If so why not make that your ultimate declutter goal.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter small hardware items that have accumulated. Excess screws, nails, drywall plugs, used sandpaper, multiple allen keys, washers… .

Eco Tip for the Day

Get familiar with your local bus timetable because it is cheaper and better for the environment to take a bus rather than a taxi when necessary.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

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

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  • Day 71 Dematerialise The idea behind 365 less things is not only to rid our home of clutter but also not to replace that clutter with new clutter. I like to refer to it as "dematerialise", that is to stop […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. This is a good goal to achieve and I know it can be done. I’m just not there yet. I had the living room to that point before the remodel, so I know I can get that back as soon as the work is completed. The bedrooms may be the worst in my house. Too much clutter. I really wish I could just take a week off from my job to go through this stuff. Sometimes I’m excited to declutter and sometimes it is just draining. The end result is always good though, so what am I complaining about?

    I am completely guilty in the excess hardware department. Lot of nuts and screws rolling around in my head!

    • Using a timer and just decluttering until it rings can take some of the emotion out of it.

    • Michelle, I’ve had many ups and downs through the process as well. I think that’s completely normal.
      However, that little phrase that Colleen’s blog showed every day for quite a long time, always brought me back on track:
      “Slow and steady wins the race”.
      Sometimes you can’t go on decluttering like you wish for various reasons – they range from little time to little mobility, the resistance of others in your household, not finding any takers for something or simply some kind of mind block that makes you focus on something that deep down you’re not quite ready to part with. If you just keep tossing that one thing that strikes you as completely unnecessary, it will add up eventually. Many of the reasons that hold you back from the great purge are things you can’t change but that change over time. Some time the right opportunity to get rid of this or that item that weighs on you will prevent itself and some time, having tossed all those little tidbits, the piles that seem so huge now will have become smaller and suddenly it won’t be a task for days any longer, but just a matter of a couple of hours. So, just keep going. It WILL have the outcome you wish for.

      On a side note: for things that are rather smallish, but in big unsorted piles, like paperwork, pictures etc., I like the method of taking a box full of it with me on the sofa, turn on the TV or an audiobook and just go through that box, just sorting for one thing at a time. E.g. “take out all recipes”, “take out all blurry pictures”, “take out all bank documents” etc. Then process that one thing: throw away the blurry pictures, sort the bank documents into “keep” and “toss”, sort the recipes by “would I really want to eat this? (would I want to spend that much on ingredients, would I want to cook for 6 hours and would I want to eat this unhealthy?)” etc.
      Just one box at a time, just one question at a time. It is a nice task for the evenings and you will be amazed how soon those boxes empty, even though you don’t work hard on them.

      • Sanna, thank you so much. I really enjoy reading your posts as they are very helpful and you can put things in a proper frame of mind so that my frustrations don’t win these battles that take place in my brain. Sometimes I feel like a child who has had way too much sugar – – bouncing all around, nothing gets accomplished, and then I get sulky. 😉 (I also noticed upon re-reading some of my posts that I seem to bounce around and not convey my proper thoughts and then feel like I’m a weirdo.)

        Time to buck up, take advantage of ideas from the 365ers, try not to get discouraged and I haven’t tried your method of multi-tasking with the TV and going through small things so that is something to add to the process. So, thank you.

        • You’re welcome.

          The truth is I myself am just as much of a headless chicken sometimes – and a couple of days later I don’t even know why I was so uneasy and upset about the whole matter.
          There were times when I got so fed up with all the stuff in our home and I felt as if I didn’t really make any progress at all (or at least not in the areas that “count” – whatever that meant). However, when I look about me now, I see that there really is less stuff overall, there is especially less random clutter, no boxes that haven’t been opened in months and smaller stacks of everything (not quite as many pens, fabrics, note books etc.). I really like the progress I see – and that progress gives me courage for the rest of those stacks, for the not-quite orderly areas in my apartment. Also, it is getting easier and easier: that cleaned shelf provides room for some homeless item, that clear floor makes for quicker cleaning and so on. There are so many rewards in that process itself, so there is no need to be discouraged by the fact that the goal of the decluttered house won’t be reached over night.
          This doesn’t prevent me from being discouraged nonetheless sometimes, because just like a child who wants that christmas present NOW, I do have my impatient moments… 😉 Gotta put your head straight and realize that just wanting it won’t make it happen NOW, so chipping away it is.
          Be proud of you working on your goal! You maybe can’t make it happen NOW, but you can make it happen, and what’s more, if you keep chipping away, you WILL make it happen! 🙂 There’s no way around it. There’s just so many chips. 😉

        • Hi Michelle, I agree with Sanna, I also like to sit with a bunch of stuff and sort it, except I crank the stereo up and throw on some motivational music, Rock ,Pop, or Jazz, the boppier the better as it keeps me going. I like having the music playing whenever I’m sorting or cleaning. I re-did the pantry the other day to the delightful tunes of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and TNT. Man I was done in a jiffy!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

          I’m actually going to get a bunch of Rock Songs and name the CD my ‘Garage Cleanout Motivational Tracks’ that my dear is the Highway to Hell that requires some TNT !! (It has become the dumping ground again but is also the launch pad) !!!

        • Michelle & Sanna, if you had told me a year ago that I would get rid of 90% of my scrapbook/craft supplies I would have laughed in your face and said, “No way.” I would declutter some occasionally. It wasn’t until in January or February that I realized I wanted to really pare it down. Then about the end of April I realized that I wanted to get rid of almost all of it. I think it just takes some time for us to really get to the point where we need to be to make the hard decisions.

          • One thing about it, Deb J., the more I have to keep moving stuff around, my tolerance for it is shrinking. My hubby and I get up at 4 a.m. because he leaves early for work. I get up with him, make his lunch, pay bills, whathaveyou, and have my coffee and watch reruns of old mysteries. LOL Listening to everyone here (Colleen!), on some days, I am really blowing that time. Sometimes I weed the garden too, but that’s pretty good right now. Being up that early makes me exhausted by evening. Anyway, this morning, I vacuumed and dusted the bedroom and went through my jewelry box again. Decluttered one brooch, 3 necklaces, and 2 pairs of earrings. Not too bad. 🙂

          • I totally get that Deb J. I’ve been there with quite some things as well.
            The good thing about it is that it isn’t really a “hard” decision any longer once you reached that point. I often got so stuck into something I at that moment wasn’t ready to decide – then, just a few months later the decision was suddenly absolutely easy. It’s a good thing to take your time. You grow out of most things and there’s no need to get rid of something under tears, when just some time later you’ll feel comfortable about giving it away.

          • Michelle, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a calm morning before work. Still, I can understand that it is a great time to get something done. Ugh! 4 AM is not for me. I used to get up at 5 and thought nothing about it. Now my body won’t even let me out of the bed at that time in the AM.

        • Good trick for bouncyheads: Try to stick with the thing you started but write down what buzzes through your mind so you don’t forget it and can do it later/the next time. I am guilty of procrastinating finishing what I started and being distracted quite often myself. Sometimes I can fight it, sometimes I can’t. I get mad at myself for not being the most effective I could be. But I try to tell myself: I still am getting things done (even if I could do better, what I do is better than doing nothing)

      • Wonderful advice and encouragement Sanna.

    • Hi Michelle, if you were there you probably wouldn’t still be reading my blog but I bet you are well on your way. Little by little, bit by bit, you will get there in the end my friend. It is harder when you have to work. When I started my mission I was working, but only part time so it has always been easy enough for me to find the time. I quit work about 10 months into my mission so it only got easier from there. When writing my posts I often wonder if I sound a little obnoxious to those who are trying to do this while working full time. My only suggestion is, don’t be in a rush just set yourself a small time slot each day to find something to declutter. That is after all why I decided to declutter a thing a day in the first place, because I didn’t want the task to be burdensome. I am a bit of an Energiser Bunny though and actually find decluttering and organising to be a fun activity so perhaps that is another reason why it has never been hard for me.

      Good luck and happy, relaxed decluttering. 😉

      • You have never been obnoxious Colleen because you have always advised that it can be just one thing a day. That isn’t hard for anyone. I think the problem is that most of us once we see the light want it done NOW. We get down on ourselves when we don’t see the results we want to see fast enough.

        • Exactly right, Deb J! 1) I don’t feel Colleen is obnoxious and 2) I want it done NOW! ha ha

    • Michelle – I like the timer idea, I put on upbeat music – don’t laugh but “Eye of the Tiger” from the Rocky movies is a favourite for me when I’m not in the mood to do something that I really should make an effort, and then I have a playlist of my current favourites (no ballads) to keep me going.

      We all know the feeling that you have at the moment but hang in there, it will get better. And remember that you might despair about the bedrooms, but the lounge area was probably once a on a par with those, and look how much you’ve enjoyed the changes. Maybe once the remodel work is done and you have the lounge back to how you want it, you work on one bedroom at a time, just get thru the remodel first.

      • Hahaha Moni – we are definitely separated twins!!! I just told Michelle about my Tunes!!! I also have a mix of songs with Eye of the Tiger and Queen, We Will Rock You!! My all time favourite when I am actually going through stuff to toss Is ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again!!! hahaha 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Dizzy – ohhhh We Will Rock You – yes that’s a good one. We should get Colleen to do a post where we all suggest songs for a Decluttering playlist.

          • The South Pacific song ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My hair” change it to :

            “Gonna Toss That Clutter Right Outta My Home with 365 Less Things” !!! hahaha now I’ve got that stuck in my head. 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • You guys are cracking me up!

          • yes – never mind lullabys – it would be songs to declutter by!

      • Moni, I love “Eye of the tiger” for the same reason. I’m also singing along, loud and wrong.

    • I have recently returned to work and I have to admit that although decluttering is on my mind much of the time, we all get tired or perhaps need to take a break from our desired goal for a bit, but don’t be too hard on yourself. I was a little frustrated at first when I returned to work, but I just needed some adjustment time and time to get into a routine. I know that it can’t be easy right now with the remodel going on to be able to focus 100% on how you want things to be, but you will get there, just keep pressing forward. Just like Sanna, I find that I often multitask while a television program is on. I don’t watch too many shows myself, but others in the family do, so in an effort to be in the same room, I often can sort through things or do mending or whatever while the television is going. I also still try to find something everyday to put into my donation bag, because decluttering has become somewhat of a constant for me until I get to where I want to be. I also try to set aside time on the weekend and work on a certain area or even a cabinet until I get it accomplished. Little by little we will all get there! Love the timer idea!

  2. It is too bad that the only time some people clean and “stage” their homes is when they are selling them. We should care enough about ourselves to make it nice for us, not just the next person who will be living here. As for the clean areas that people see when people have lots of clutter, etc. stuffed in closets, I look at it as us putting on a “face” for others to see when our closets and cupboards show what we truly are like. Just a thought.

    • I agree, it is a shame.

    • Hi Marianne,
      I so agree with you. I hated myself for having a chaotic home, 99% of the time, we all functioned well but I was just surrounded by so much that I never saw it!! I was working and raising kids and balancing everything else with trying to stay on top. One day I learned the word NO and ENOUGH is ENOUGH!!! It took ages but I slowly shifted everything around and things started changing. I loved that I didn’t have to fly around clearing the couch of ironing if someone turned up unexpectedly!! I would cringe but I got through it. When I finally pulled the reins in on my workload, I just loved getting to do all the things I had to do without hoping and praying that people would want to come over and I’d be in a mess. I hated myself for only having the house looking nice if we were having company. My family deserved to have a lovely home to come into without having to move the ironing board or jump over ‘whatever’ was waiting for my attention.

      I laugh now because most people think our home is always on the ‘Market’ many don’t believe me when I say this is how it is all the time now!! (except the Garage that is my hold and launch at the moment hahaha) 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Thanks for sharing your experience. It is hard to change habits, especially ones that we have had for years. But, little by little we finally get to where we want to be. I think little changes help develop those good habits and keep them. I have read about several people who have simplified their lives and it has taken a period of about 5 years to make and keep the changes. I was glad to hear that. It is nice to have people over and not worry, isn’t it? I just wanted to stop having my house and housework feel like a burden to me. I wish I had learned this years ago when my kids were small. I would have saved a lot of time and money!

  3. Colleen, this is what we are trying to achieve. We have it close but we still have too much hidden away. It all looks well organized and most would say we have it done. BUT, I know that there are things we don’t need and that weighs on me. I just keep thinking about that next move and what I don’t want to have to take with us/me. You can have a home that is lived in and yet keep it looking nice. I think that is a great goal to have.

    • I think you are well on your way Deb J, and at least your home looks lovely on the surface. That is more than some people can enjoy. I think you should use almost the exact words you have written here in a conversation with your mother. She may not understand how oppressive the stuff is to you.

  4. What a great post, Colleen!

    In the last few days I’ve finally got rid of quite some furniture and of course rearranged rooms a bit. The new sofa covers also add to the general “renovation feeling”
    I got rid of much hidden crap in our storage/laundry room and made things accessible. There is still room for improvement, but I wouldn’t be ashamed to have people look inside those “hidden” areas as well – or at least a lot less ashamed than just a week ago. I also feel that there is a weight lifted from my shoulders, because the stuff that has been stored for no real reason except that it would take work to get rid of it, is finally gone. I think, I got down to a home without “what the!?”s 😉
    There is still clutter, but that’s more along the lines of maintencance clutter: paperwork that once was important, but some of it can be tossed now, books I grew out of etc. – there is only little that I really know to be clutter, though, so that’s a great step. I think I can still improve how quickly I handle my maintenance clutter and not let it pile up at all anymore, but I’m getting there. It’s finally the only sort of clutter that’s left (well, that and my boyfriend’s stuff, but he is decluttering, too, though at a slower pace), so I think there will be much less distraction from it. 😉

    Let me say, it is a fantastic feeling. I feel kind of as if I just moved into this apartment. I don’t know if you have these overseas as well, but German packing case distributors/renters and shippers offer online estimators about how many packing cases you will probably need for your next move. Apart from square metres and people living in the household they also include the number of years you lived somewhere in their estimation. I played a little and found out that they add two boxes per year that you live somewhere. So I figure, it is considered normal to add two boxes of stuff to your house – every year?
    I think that we managed to not add since we moved in – most certainly not 8 boxes! – I’d even say we own quite a little less now than we did when we first moved in .

    • Hi Sanna, I am so pleased for you. I know also about the weight lifted off your shoulders. It is a feeling I have felt over and over again during my decluttering mission.

      That is an interesting equation for estimating how much stuff one would have in their homes. I’d love to give it a try. If I gave them the square meterage of what was brought into this house, the fact that the two kids have left, and they factor in that we would have accumulated tow extra boxes a year, it would be interesting to see what figure they come up with. Especially if I omit the fact that I have been decluttering for years now.

    • Sanna – that is an interesting formula and probably to the majority of people, a fairly accurate one too.

    • Hahaha gotta love the ‘What The’s’ The more I find the more I am motivated 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Sanna, what an interesting equation. Thankfully I could say we have been shedding about 12 boxes a move and not adding on. When my dad died and Mom and I moved the first time it took a semi truck to move us. If we moved today it would take a small rental truck for the furniture and boxes or 3 pickup truck loads if local. That makes me feel good.

  5. Good post…you should be able to enjoy a neat, clean home while you’re living in it. I’m at the point where someone could drop by and I could have them in without worrying that my house is a mess…I’ve been making the bed everyday and keeping the dirty dishes out of the sink, in Flylady fashion. No clutter in the main living areas and very much improved in closets and storage areas, even my sewing room is no longer a complete disaster. You may still find dog hair on the sofa, but that tends to reoccur immediately after vacuuming…oh, and I can’t ever vouch for the teenage boys rooms!

    • It sounds like you are keeping your home inviting and tranquil Deanna. Well done. I gather the dog is all part of that homely feel so a little hair here and there is normal. It is usually my hair that everyone finds all over my house, including in their socks and sadly even sometimes in their dinner. And I am sorry I have no miracle cure for messy teenage kids rooms. Nothing legal anyway.

  6. I have started looking at my living room with a critical eye each day when I come home from work. I am slowly moving out the things that make the room look messy or cluttered. Because we keep the temp in the house low (65 degrees) in winter, I always have a fleece throw on each chair but am seeing them as messy and hot now that our weather is getting warmer. I thought I would put them in the closet but when I opened that door, OOPS! This closet really needs a good cleaning. I want my living room to look like the warm, inviting one that Colleen speaks about but it will take some work. Think I will start on the closet this evening and when it is cleaned out, put a small shelf in there to hold all the winter items we use in the living room. Handy (for those chilly nights in summer) but out of the way and keeping the living room fresh. Thanks for this idea.

    • Hi Maggie,
      I have throws out at the moment as we are in the Winter months. They do tend to look messy, I always pick them up and fold them and leave on the arm of the sofa or put them in the footstool. I simply cannot just throw them in a designer way and have them land perfectly for the casual- look- at -how- good- I- look- here!!!

      I have just managed to offload three small throws to a friend to keep her warm at Footy training nights. Yay more empty white space!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Maggie,
      what I like about your situation is that you are making steady progress on your goal for your living room, are giving it some thought as you progress and forming new plans of attack as you go along. This sounds like good adaptation to me. Well done.

    • The thing that bugs me is that Mom keeps a pillow (the kind for sleeping) on the couch because she uses it as a desk in the evenings. The I have a pillow and a laptray that I keep by my recliner. I think I am going to see if a friend of ours can come up with a something that will work better for both of us. He’s a wonder with making things out of wood.

  7. Mini-mission. Went through some money I found in some stuff Mom has been holding onto that was Dad’s. Found it is not worth any more than the face value. So we will use it. Since that didn’t take very long, Mom also worked on getting rid of more sewing stuff. She wants to go through all of her thread now and see wnat to keep and what to give away. Brought in a small plastic storage unit with 3 drawers from the shed, put all my stuff that from my craft drawers into it and put it in the built in room divider we have. Nothing left to take out of that set of draft drawers. Brought in an envelop box to put in all the handmade cards I am going to use for the church card ministry. Put them in the divider too. Took what we are keeping of the screws, nails, etc out of the big 24 drawer unit and put it all in a really small 3 drawer unit in the shed and put the big unit into the car to take to Goodwill tomorrow. Also put some other things from the shed in the car. Have a copy paper box in the house with stuff for Goodwill too. Need to have the housekeeper carry it out to the car. It’s been a good day.

    • That is awesome work, Deb J!

    • Woohoo way to go girl!! AWESOME!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Good on you Deb J !

    • Wow Deb, that was quite the chain of events decluttering. Well done you. You will have to send me and updated photo of your craft room so I can add it to the Before and After page. There will be nothing left in your craft room soon. You keep inspiring me to let go of more.

      I put all the stuff I have accumulate at my house for my daughter and took it to her house (Corner TV unit from Freecycle, a vacuum cleaner and planter from Wendy F and a clothes airer from a roadside recycling pile). It didn’t help much because I brought back enough rubbish and recycling to fill both my bins and a stack of removal boxes to put up for grabs on Freecycle. Oh well that will also be gone soon enough.

      • As soon as I have the 3 pieces of funrniture gone and the 2 new ones in and in use I will send you new pictures. I just wish I could get rid of the 133 spools/bits of ribbon on the wall. Mom isn’t there yet. Grin.

  8. I’m good with my mini missions this week. I got rid of about two hands full of bits that belonged to some furniture we – to my knowledge – never owned. Tools etc. are some of boyfriend’s holy items, so I always need to check with him. When we got rid of that furniture and also two random boards this week, I think, a lot of “potential” items for him left as well. Though he doesn’t have the time to build something and also there was no need for more shelving units or cupboards for us, all those boards and old furniture held the potential for him to maybe make some new piece of furniture out of them, so he also held onto lots of screws, drawer handles and so on. Now with all those items gone, the handles suddenly could go, too. 😉

    • Hi Sanna, well done with your mini missions. A well done to your boyfriend too. It is hard to let go of items that hold so much potential for creativity and/or usefulness. It is also sometimes a great relief when they are gone. 😉

      • You’re right, he is doing well. Though he sometimes is still making fun of my decluttering spleen, he loves the decluttered apartment and is working on keeping it that way as well.
        Also, as I introduced him to many options like freecycle, the thrift store etc. over the years, he feels less inclined to hang onto things “just in case”, as he knows that they can be replaced cheaply if the need arises.
        I’m really happy that he is mostly on board (although I might complain here sometimes 😉 ).

  9. Interesting post again Colleen (well they all are actually!) . I like to move things around and “stage ” our place ,often with the thought of what it would look like if we had an open inspection ,trying to see things from an outsider’s perspective but also to be pleasing to my husband and myself. Having successfully decluttered over the last few years it is a pleasure to rearrange what’s left .I have had two very interesting situations recently which hi-light the difference between my” before” and” after” (de-cluttering ) life. First incident – a local real estate agent rang my husband to see if we were interested in a quote and although we are not intending to sell for quite a few years yet we said yes ( the agent understood tha tand was still happy to come).And here is the good bit – I had almost nothing to do to prepare the house for his visit -in fact my husband and I both agreed the house was almost ready for an open inspection- just a quick tidy in the kitchen ,careful bed making and a garden sweep up !! Contrast this with 4 years ago when we thought we were going to sell the house and it took six months to prepare and even after we thought we had decluttered there were still boxes and boxes of neatly sorted CLUTTER (wrapped up, STUFF)on shelves .But this time the agent could have opened any cupboard and been impressed! ( I remember my surprise 4 years ago when several agents mentioned the need to declutter – I almost didn’t know what they were talking about, which is hysterically funny now).The second incident was when my overseas friend rang to say they will be here in December for the Test cricket – and once again I thought “you could arrive tomorrow with no drama” .This contrasts sharply with their last two visits when it took weeks and weeks to get ready and even now I cringe when I think of all the stuff we hade everywhere – dead computers and key boards and golf clubs in the corners of rooms to name just a few items. I really wish I had before and after photos .Anyway I thought I would share with you the pure joy in no longer needing hours or days or weeks to prepare for someones visit. And we get to enjoy our de cluttered house every day!

    • Wow Jez, well done! It’s a great feeling isn’t it!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Jez, I don’t need to tell you what a wonderful thing you have done for yourselves. You get to enjoy it everyday and I know what a wonderful feeling that is. Was it the suggestions from the agents four years ago that inspired you to declutter? I bet your overseas friends will be impressed when they see your place this December. Even though you tidied up for their arrival last time I bet this time it is so much better.

      • Hi Colleen! Actually I think the agent’s comments might have been the beginning .I clearly remember the female agent – probably the first agent to ever look at the house -possibly even a year or so before that -tossing her hair and saying “well of course you will need to declutter ‘-something like that – and I was a bit shocked (who -me ?-what is there to declutter???) -and it was a bit of a new concept -and one that obviously took a long long time to fully grasp! Then, when we getting very serious about selling, our lovely agent said the same thing -and this time I agreed ,thinking I knew what he was talking about -but really I can see that I still hadn’t really got it – I’d started to get it -with big things like extra desks and lounges but not the smaller stuff .I was doing a lot of sorting and labelling and “containing”and reshuffling . And then we decided to stay and that’s when the real decluttering began.I think we enjoyed the “staging ” process so much and that lovely feeling on open inspection days that we wanted to feel like that every day – and now we do! But it was a gradual process of culling and then looking again and culling again – once I’d started it was liberating though – a wonderful feeling of letting go of the past and being open to the present and the future. And I was so excited when I stumbled across your blog ! I didn’t realise there were lots of others doing the same thing! I have to say though that having decluttered we then painted all of down stairs and replaced all of the worn out floor coverings so that helps with how we feel about the house too. I like to think that if we had to move, for whatever reason, in a hurry, we could easily pack up in a day – maybe that’s a fantasy but it seems possible to me now -but IMPOSSIBLE to achieve in a month, four years ago.

        • Hi Jez, I am bet you are glad that the agent planted the seed of thought that got the process started. What seemed like an insult at the time because the inspiration for the life you lead today.

          • Yes you are so right ! – Maybe you could do a post on what triggers people to start decluttering Colleen?1 Just a thought!

        • Great job Jez and so glad that you had that trigger experience.

  10. Hi everyone. Just wanted to share this Swedish proverb that I read on Pinterest last night. I immediately thought of 365 Less Things. “He who buys what he does not need steals from himself”.

  11. Hi Colleen! Your thoughts about having your house staged for your family to live happily and comfortably in it are right on the button. I’m having an internal struggle with this at the moment. We moved from a home that was wonderfully clutter free and staged for our family to a new town and a larger house 18 months ago. The extra space has some wonderful benefits: a guest room for my retired mum to come and stay for extended periods without putting any kids out of their beds; also a storage and a work area for my husband’s small home business. But our separate lounge is still empty besides 3 bean bags, a china cabinet and a TV!!! I am excellent at decluttering but I find it very difficult to spend money on large ticket items like furniture. Is there a name for people at the opposite end of the spectrum to hoaders?

    • I have a name for that!……….SMART!

    • Purpledj – bean bags and a tv and a china cabinet sounds ok to me unless it is a very big room. If you don’t want to buy a couch you don’t have to, especially if this is the kids domain. Bean bags have a limited life span (I have two that constantly split the seams and beans everywhere) and you can figure out your next step then.

      If you think the room is a little too austere, maybe a pot plant or two to soften the space. Or put some pictures up, you may need to do bigger size ones if there are large spaces of wall. If you’re not sure how to figure out what size art to put up, get someone to hold up a piece of cardboard or newspaper on the wall and then stand back and see what you think.

      I spent a good six months winning back our seperate lounge from clutter and excess furniture, trust me, you’d rather have your situation.

    • Perfection is the word that springs to my mind!! Enjoy 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • If you don’t miss furniture there, you probably don’t need it. Ask yourself whether you really want a couch or whether you just want to fill the space.
      There are many ways to make a room cozy without adding clutter, much less big items like furniture. The best ways are colour, art and plants. I tend to feel uneasy in a colourless room. Adding some warm, cheery colour (there’s many ways for that: wall colour, cheerily coloured furniture, a rug, big scale art work) and a few living plants usually do the trick. It’s possible to create that warmth with “colours” like different shades of cream as well.

    • Hi Purpledj, I think the name is Colleen. 😆 Just kidding. I don’t know if there is a name for this but it is a preferable way to be I would say. My best suggestion is to buy secondhand. You can feel good about not buying new, you will get a better price and you can get rid of those bean bags, they are such untidy looking things. 😉

      In all seriousness, I avoid buying stuff myself and I am sure my friends think I am crazy. I can however justify it if I really need it and am sure I will get good use out of it. However I do my best to buy sustainably. This isn’t always possible without settling for second best and in that case I choose what will satisfy me the most and are likely to use happily for a long time. I won’t even accept free stuff unless I really have a use for it. Clutter is clutter and it is best avoided.

    • I have a friend who stages houses said that if you use a large picture in a room, people don’t notice that there isn’t a lot inside the room.

      • Marianne – it is funny that you say that because we were looking at a show home yesterday, all lovely and modern and obviously staged. We walked into the living room area and there was this big mirror on one wall. I was trying to figure out what wasn’t right about this room, then eventually I clicked it was about 1/2 the size of ours and there wasn’t an obvious place for the tv and wasn’t enough room for a 2 and 3 seater couch, but until then we kept looking at the decorative frame of the mirrow.

    • Love your replies, everyone! Thank you 🙂 It certainly works for our family at the moment and that’s what counts.

  12. Colleen – this is an excellent post. I have noticed lately that there are areas in my home that look a bit tired or out-dated, once I have my garage back under control I will give some thought. It brings to mind that quote from William Morris “have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” – well its the beautiful end of the equation that I need to address next.

    • Moni – White space is Beautiful 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Yes Moni- love that quote – says it all !

    • Actually Moni that was not what I had in mind. I was thinking about too much clutter making the house look unattractive. I have noticed while viewing homes that mismatched, vintage furniture is all the rage at the moment. Many of the cafes use the same style here. I love it. Perhaps your older pieces are fresher than you think.

      That being said I have a blend of both. We got rid of items that were two overpowering in the smaller space we have now and replaced them with smaller more modern styles. These are mixed in with items we have had for 12 or more years. There is even one item that I bought when I was 16. Keep in mind we are planning on going even smaller and those large pieces would have been way too big.

      • Colleen – I’m sure your place is lovely, but the lounge suite has faded to a bleh colour and now that we have cleared so much I can see that our furniture and decor crosses several generations of style-fashion that its starting to look a wee bit hodge podge. I’m not advocating running out to buy all new everything, and I’m not feeling fashion pressure – just stuff is starting to look tired and faded here, obviously led a hard life with three kids and two cats etc.

        • Hey Moni,
          Think of it as smile lines on your furniture 🙂 Maybe what you need to do is re-cover your sofa with some new to you fabric and maybe a lick of paint on some things to brighten them up!

          I have dark furniture and it does my head in now. I am going to have what I decide to keep, painted by a friend of ours. It will go in a spray booth and come out brand new. Like fake tan in reverse!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. Great post today, Colleen. I know that I find my house much easier and quicker to tidy up but I also know that I do have more work to do to get my house into that homely, lived in but uncluttered state. Definitely something I aspire to and we all deserve to have that kind of home for ourselves and our families.

  14. Another great post:)
    I also like to listen to music when I clear out the clutter. I agree with slow and steady, bit by bit. I often start the day by getting rid of at least one thing or recycling one thing. I do this after I put the kettle on, while waiting for the water to boil. I work full time, start work pretty early and do not have set ending hours. This way, even if I don’t get to work on the tasks set for the day, I will have accomplished my goal of getting rid of something.

    • Hi Sheryl, you use much the same method as I have on my declutter journey. There is some much time to be used productively between waiting for other things to happen. Boiling the kettle is just one example. One that I use often. Well done you.

  15. Hi 365ers,
    Most of you may know we are in a rental at the moment and I have taken the opportunity to go through everything we have and get rid of one way or another, anything that isn’t helping our lifestyle! Along the way I have managed to get rid of countless ‘What The’s’ and junk and god knows, loads of things that can better serve others. In the process, we decided to buy some barstools as we are building and don’t want to get a dining suite until we are absolutely sure we really want one. Up till now we had dinner on our laps or standing at the Breakfast Bar. Totally did my head in !!!

    We found the perfect barstools, (which by the way will most definitely fit and suit our new home) after much looking, and bought them home and set them up straight away. I was so pleased that we actually got them that I snapped a photo and put it on facebook for my friends and family to see!! I got a lot of comments and oohs and aahhs, but just about all of my extended family(none of hubby’s family live over here in WA) thought I had snapped a pic out of the catalogue. I heard thumps all over Australia, when I said no! we just put them together and put them at the breakfast bar. In looking back at the photo, I realised just how far I have come. I didn’t do anything to’ stage’ the picture, it looks like that all the time (aside from cooking and dishes at mealtimes) it is always tidy. This habit started back before we sold our previous home,No longer a dumping ground, more a transition station of food and goodies being sorted and put away. Always being ready for a potential buyer kept me and my habits under control so it just became automatic to put everything away. Being in a rental also keeps things in perspective, because there are inspections every two months here, which helps too, I don’t want to fly around in a tizz trying to clean up in a rush because we have a rental inspection! I am so pleased I took the photo and shared it, because it has spurred a few family members to get their houses sorted out!!! I am also pleased that my Kitchen area has been likened to a catalogue shoot and a Home Beautiful pictorial. My dear friend comes over for coffee and just sits and looks at my loveliness in my lovely kitchen/ Dining/ Lounge areas and then goes home and declutters more. He is also a happy clam, his partner tends to be the messy one so he comes over for inspiration. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I am so lovin’ it all!! I bring myself back down to Earth though, with the opening of the Garage Door and the site of the launch pad hahahaha !! I have pictures to share but only 365ers will see them !!!

    🙂 🙂 🙂 Enjoy your family and loved ones in your loved spaces 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Wow, Dizzy! That’s really great progress – having people think you show them a catalogue photo! 😀

      • Thanks Sanna, Deep down I’m really chuffed and a little bit glad that my other Nieces are jealous heehee!! Naughty I know but I love it!! LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Dizzy -I’ve enjoyed just reading about the “loveliness ” of your kitchen ,lounge and dining area .Not surprised your friend goes home inspired !

      • Thanks Jez, It all took a while but I’m glad it did. What makes me be more mindful of keeping it tidy is that I really love the affirmations. I hear so many excuses from my friends that they are too busy to tidy up, when in reality it isn’t too difficult to do 10 – 20mins a day. May not seem like much but it does add up! The difference is huge! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Dizzy – well done you! Am dying to see the barstools!

      • Thanks Moni, I will send the pics through to Colleen as soon as I can, I have heaps to sort through so I shall pick the ones that have a before and an after!!

        I love the barstools, they are comfy, easy to clean, easy to spin around on and they hold you in place if you have one too many at the bar 🙂 and they are white!! I searched high and low for white ones and I found them in an office shop – ‘What The’ !!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Dizzy I am so pleased for you. Congratulations not only on your lovely decluttered home but of changing habits that make it an automatic thing to stay tidy. I am also glad you are being an inspiration to others. I know how good that feels. And never mind that garage I am sure you will find home for everything useful or beautiful in your new home and ditch the rest. Your skills will be so honed by then that it will all happen automatically as you unpack.

      I’s love to see those photos. 😉 Do you need my email address so you can send them to me so I can share them with the readers?

      • Thanks Colleen, I’m so thankful for you and your site and all the 365ers’ for always being helpful and supportive. 🙂 I will eventually get all of it sorted, looking forward to that day!!

        I will definitely send the pics once I’ve found them, and got them off my phone thingy and onto the computer thingy that lets me sort them out!! Will e-mail them as soon as I can 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Way to go Dizzy. Love that barstool story. My next goal is to have the house look so good that nothing has to be changed in order to take a picture. I don’t want it too sterile but I do want it to always be looking good. Ooe place where I have to work is my desk. I just can’t seem to get it where I want it. But I am determined to get there.

      • Thanks Deb J, and don’t worry you’ll have your place looking just right in no time! My desk is a shocker, it always ends up with everything on it. I am determined to have it under control, much like my garage! ha! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Dizzy, that is really terrific! What a nice feeling to have, eh?

      • Hi Michelle,
        It’s an awesome feeling to know that I am finally getting there. I just want to power through it but I’m glad I’m sorting as I go and making sure I can get rid of it in the best possible way. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  16. This is my highest motivator to keep decluttered – looking ready for a showing. Just this week, I got an agent to pop in (after inspecting another place in the building) and it wasn’t at all tidy. I’m hard on myself though, it’s not like there were clothes strewn around. Just not everything in their place.

  17. Dizzy, Or your song could be titled “I’m NEVER going to see your face AGAIN!”

    • Hahaha Maggie,

      Yes that is a good one, I hope to never have to look clutter in the face again! After I’ve sorted my garage that is!
      🙂 🙂 🙂

  18. We constantly reset our house to one of simplicity and comfort, and use our ‘I don’t know room’ to house all of those items we are still working through, so we are not surrounded by visual clutter, or distracted by the related mental clutter.

    Thanks for your insights on this concept.