Monday, August 6

Finding Room to Breathe

The other day I posted some pics and a few tips on pricing and selling. Now we're ready to take a step backward and look at how to cut the clutter and give yourself more room to move and breathe at home!

Sometimes the hardest part of having a yard sale is finding things to get rid of, and even more so convincing myself to get rid of the things I truly don't need. Last year I decided to throw caution to the wind and truly purge. I made myself let go of the things I didn't need, things I didn't like, things that took up more space than they were worth, and even things that I :might: need at some point in the future. Basically, if it didn't have a definable use to us right now or at a specific point in the futureI gave it the boot. It was nerve wracking. But in the end, it was so freeing. I don't miss the stuff and it is wonderful to have space back that was really being wasted before. If you're in doubt about selling something, try what I did - move EVERYTHING of even questionable usefulness to an out of the way spot (I used the basement) for a week or two. Anything you need or :truly: miss during that time can be brought back in. The rest of it goes. Here are some of my steps for a pre-sale purge. I find it easiest to go room-by-room so I'm not overwhelmed purging everything at once. It helps to even break it down more in some rooms - like tackle on kitchen cabinet or one dresser drawer at a time as you get a chance.

In the Kitchen
Go through all the cupboards. Sometimes I take everything out, sometimes not depending on how much time I have. Really consider how much you actually use each item. Here are some of my guidelines for kitchen purging, but they will probably be a little different for you. We all have different needs and storage solutions, but hopefully this will get you started on sorting out the things you can put into your yard sale. 
  • I try to compare how much I'll use it relative to how much space it takes up. A mixer takes up a lot of room, but we use it all.the.time so it stays. Unlike a juicer which takes up the same amount of space but we would rarely ever use it. See what I mean? This also applies to the smaller things that clutter up drawers and cabinets. Every little bit of space helps!
  • Get rid of the extras. I cut back on things I had a ridiculous number of like spatulas or slotted spoons. Let's face it - I probably don't really need more than two of most of those things!
  • Most gadgets are just fancy knives and can take up a lot of space. Going through my drawers I would ask myself  "Can I do it with a knife/skillet/etc?" For me, I don't need to store a couple different chopping tools if I can do it with a knife. I don't need waffle makers and griddles if I can juts make pancakes in a skillet. There are some gadgety things that are truly useful for my cooking style, but for the most part I was able to get rid of those things (garlic presses, orange peelers, rice cookers) and I haven't missed them at all.
  • One of my most revolutionary decisions was cutting back to one set of dishes. Dishes take up a huge amount of space - I had my open shelves AND a whole cabinet devoted to all kinds of cups, plastic and ceramic plates, square dishes and round dishes. I realized if I kept only one set of versatile dishes it would make much better use of the space. By keeping my white square set and plain glass cups I can dress them up or dress them down for whatever we need. Plus they look pretty on the shelf so it left my cabinet open for other things! I did keep a small set of plastic kids dishes from Ikea as well, but got rid of the other plastic and round dishes so things store together nicely.
  • Clean out the pantry while you're at it! I like to use my purge as a chance to clear out any outdated food and organize everything in the pantry. You're whole kitchen will look and feel better once once everything gets tidied and purged. :)

In the Bedroom
  • Go through the dressers and closets. Get rid of anything that doesn't fit you unless you will truly use it again (like maternity clothes or post maternity clothes). This is super hard to do, but if you're in tighter space like me it's better to let it go for now. Also get rid of anything that you don't feel awesome in. Two years ago I kept things because they technically fit, even though I didn't feel like they flattered me. This years purge came around and there they were - still tucked in the back corners of my drawer, never worn. It's better for them to go.
  • Jewelry depends on how much you wear it I guess. :) I don't wear it very often so I had things I literally hadn't worn in years. I got rid of those (except a few things of sentimental value) and just kept the few things I actually wear.
  • Extra bedding is the only other thing I can think of that's bedroom related. We always want to have enough extra sheets and blankets for a lot of guests, but there is such a thing as too much. Between our queen sized bed, twin guest bed, and pull out sofa we have 3 sets of queen sheets. If we have to wash a set, we usually wash them in the morning and put them back on before bed. As for blankets (I'm including throws, duvets, etc.) We want to have enough for 2-3 blankets for each bed, and one or two for each couch. And for us this is one thing where we would rather have a couple too many than not enough. We tend to have a lot of guests and want to keep them all covered! (10 pun points to Gryffindor!!)

In the Bathroom
  • What about the towels? Seriously. How many towels does a person need? I honestly don't know. In my mind, we would only need two for each person in our family, and maybe five or six for guests. But then something in the back of my mind always says "What if there is a big mess and you need more? Or what if you clean up something really gross and want to throw that towel away - you'll need back ups!" But even with that could I need more than 2 or 3 backups? In 4.5 years of marriage I've never met either of those possibilities. And after 4.5 years of marriage I still have a closet stuffed with towels and, not one, but TWO rubbermaid totes full of towels in the basement. I need to ditch some of them for sure. How do you decide how many towels to keep?
  • Before my last yard sale I also purged all our toiletries. And it has been great! We condensed all our shower supplies down to a single bottle each of shampoo, body wash, and conditioner. By choosing a product we both are happy with (Trader Joe's tea tree products) we cut most of the clutter in the shower. We also ditched extra products we don't really use or need - lots of lotions, hair products I haven't been able to use since I was pregnant because the smell still makes me sick, and lots of extra baby shampoos. Now we only have one set of products for all of us to use, and a single back up of each in the closet. I made the most of my toiletry storage space by building these shelves in the closet.
  • While you're at it, clean out the medicine cabinet! Toss any out dated medications and replace your toothbrush. And if you want to snazz it up a little, try this! :)

In the Nursery
  • I'm also looking for advice about children's clothing! I feel like we haven't had too many clothes for Baby B yet, but maybe I'm wrong? He has a lot clothes he never even wore when he was younger but he grew so darn fast! Here is how I've decided what to keep so far: When Baby B moves up a size, I put all the too-small clothes into a labeled tub in the basement for his future brothers. I would sort through them as I packed them. I would keep my favorites and the things he wore a lot, but limited it to a certain amount of storage space. For things sized newborn - 6 months I only kept half a tub of each. So far for things 9 - 12 months I have kept a full tub of each. As I'm buying clothes for Baby B as he grows, I'm planning to limit them to three drawers of clothes for now, which will fit into a tub when they move to the basement later. How much do you keep? Will he need more as he gets older?
  • I also don't know what to do about toys, but I know that I don't want too many cluttering the house. Do you have a rule for toys? I feel like I need to get a good storage system of some kind, and only keep as many toys as fit. But for now, I just got rid of a few things we didn't really use.
  • I also purged some larger baby equipment. I kept a few things like a carseat (but watch the expiration date!), bumbo seat, and small bouncer that could be used again for future babies. I also kept our nice, moderately sized high chair from Ikea that we use regularly. But there were several things that we just never really used that got the boot - the baby swing, a bigger fancier high chair, other bouncers, and a big play mat. We just couldn't justify storing those bigger things, especially since Baby B never took to them. 

In the Living Room
  • Books are so hard to get rid of. :) I know I didn't get rid of as many as I should have, but I decided that I wanted to get rid of at least 10 and made myself pick out that many that I had to admit I either had never read, or would never read again! Baby steps, here. Baby steps.
  • Next up are the movies. We didn't get rid of very many because we don't have cable so our movies get a fair amount of use. But we did have a few that we don't really care for, and a few more that we like but just never reach for that we got rid of.
  • Have any games in the living room? Sort through those as well. We have collected quite a few board games, but really only go back to the same five or six to play. We decided it would make more sense for us to sell all the extras and just hang on to those few we know we will use. I think that would apply to video games as well!
  • As for things like decor and knick-knacks, this is where I really use the method of clearing EVERYTHING out for a couple weeks to see what things are really worth keeping. It was really nice to have a trial period and see that I actually didn't miss a lot of the things I had been holding onto.
This is also a good time to go through your attic/basement/garage and see what you don't need filling those ofter forgotten corners and shelves. If you don't even remember putting it there, you probably won't miss it!

Hopefully this at least gets you started cutting out some of the clutter and freeing up some space around your home. And well on your way to having a yard sale of your own, if that floats your boat. I mentioned this the other day, but it is worth repeating - As soon as your sale is over, get rid of the left overs! I like to put out a big "FREE to a good home" sign during the last few hours of the last day. Anything left after that gets donated. Don't even bring it back in the house or you will be tempted to start pulling things back out to keep! If a yard sale isn't your thing, just skip ahead and take everything straight to a donation center. Now pat yourself on the back for cutting the clutter and giving yourself a little more room to breathe. :)

You can check out all my posts about having a your yard sale here and here, my yard sale shopping posts here, and my tips for yard sale shopping here.

****I'm sorry to say that I do sell gifts from time to time. If you see something you given me, please know that I am still very grateful. But I have to do what's best for my family at this time in our current home and season of life (which is always changing) which unfortunately sometimes means passing on things that do not currently fit our needs. I do apologize if this means we've had to give up some of the wonderful gifts we have recieved from friends and family.****


  1. Funny but true, you know what at my home my brother and my dad they both are very lazy and what ever they use they don't keep the things from where they take and this is what I hate. In bathroom area I don's see any place where they don't keep anything even they both use how many towels I really don't know. Your this article remind me about the such funny things. Thanks.

  2. Not the pink high chair!

    1. Yeah, we kept a nice gender neutral one. Good for Baby B and the future brothers/sisters he's sure to have. :)