Over ten years ago, these dark, espresso stained end tables were a big buy for my new little apartment. The whole place was white from the walls and trim to the tile floors and ceiling. So, the brown provided a great contrast.
“I always carry lots of stuff with me wherever I roam, always weighted down with books, with cassettes, with pens and paper, just in case I get the urge to sit down somewhere, and oh, I don’t know, read something or write my masterpiece.” -Elizabeth Wurtzel, author
The creative process and organization are closely aligned. While the word “organized” may make some people think of a grey, stifled office cubicle filled with dead-looking filing cabinets, you can be organized in such a way that promotes the creative process. The trick requires balancing the process with the end result. Essentially, you need to use organization as a tool to aid creativity without stifling your energy. Continue reading
When I got my first apartment, I quickly became aware that homes take work to maintain. Each item takes up space and I wanted as much space as possible to be peaceful and creative. But the process of decluttering can be time consuming, especially when you try to tackle an entire room. One trick is to break up each room into several smaller tasks, cleaning each slowly.
This works well for two situations. First, some people don’t have large chunks of time available to declutter their whole space. So, they may be inclined to put off any home organization because the timeline is impractical. Second, some people have a strong attachment to their stuff. In fact, many struggle to dispose of trash and useless items. In either case, these little tasks can help you organize spaces that often collect clutter.
15 Things You Can Organize in 15 Minutes
I kept this list simple to encourage quick tasks. If you do one of these each day, you will have a much more organized home in about two weeks.
- One Shelf of Books: While it is difficult to deal with an entire bookshelf, or book collection, one shelf is less intimidating. Pick one and pull everything off. Dust the shelf and the books. Look through the pile to see if there is anything stored between the books that doesn’t belong. Often, little papers get stuck between volumes. Check each book to make sure they all belong to you, making a plan to return borrowed publications to the rightful owner. If you’re feeling brave, pull out anything you want to discard or donate. Put the remaining books back on the shelf.
- Magazine Bin: Whether you have a bin, basket or box, almost everyone collects magazines over time. Pull them out and count how many you have stored. Then, separate them into three piles. First, make a pile of magazines you still need to read. Second, make a pile of magazines you plan to store, clip or reuse. Third, make a pile of magazines that you need to discard. Leave the first pile in the bin to read later. Move the second pile to a workspace where you can tackle the bigger organization task. Recycle the third pile. If you’re feeling ambitious, cancel all your subscriptions for the year. Don’t renew them until you’ve dealt with all of the magazines you currently own.
- Coffee Table Top: Most people collect clutter on top of their coffee table. Take a quick moment to clear off anything that doesn’t belong and return them to the rightful place. Dust the top and arrange the remaining items nicely.
- Silverware Drawer: Silverware drawers can collect random items. Empty it onto a towel and wipe out the drawer. Then, add back in the forks, spoons and knives into the appropriate places. You’ll find that you are left with odd utensils (and maybe some junk). Discard the junk. Return odd utensils to the appropriate place or relegate them to a donation bin.
- Mug Shelf: Mug shelves get out of control quickly, with so many cute designs and Instagrammable moments. However, a home can only use so many mugs before the dishwasher overflows. Pull all of your mugs out and wipe down the shelf or hooks. Count the number of mugs and compare that to the number of people in your household. Really, you only need one mug per person per day. Pick one mug for each person (or let them select their favorite). Return only those mugs to the shelf. Move the others to long term storage, for special occasions and guests. Also, you can replace one of the mugs if it breaks. If you are feeling ambitious, consider donating or selling some of the mugs to cut down on your clutter.
- Fridge Condiments: Most people have at least one shelf of their fridge covered in condiments. Lay a towel on your counter top and remove all of the condiments from your fridge. Wipe down the shelf. Review the condiments, removing anything empty, expired or spoiled. Wipe down the remaining condiments and return them to the fridge. If you are feeling ambitious, make a list of the meals you can make to use up obscure sauces before they expire. Also, make a plan to limit your purchases in the future to avoid duplicate items (like five different mustards).
- Pencil Holder: Surprisingly, pencil holders attract random objects. Dump yours out and wipe down the inside. Test each pen, pencil and marker to make sure it works. Discard any that are used up or dried out. Return the writing utensils to the pencil holder. Discard any trash and return other objects to their appropriate place.
- Bulletin Board: The brilliance of bulletin boards comes from their ability to change. Keep yours fresh by removing all of the items and placing them on a flat surface. Dust the board and remove any broken pins. File any papers, receipts or mail that you need to keep long term. Discard any reminders that are past the date. Pack away mementos in a memory box or scrapbook. This should leave you with some fresh space to curate new ideas.
- Loose Cables and Cords: Most desks are cluttered with cables and cords. Check yours and remove any that don’t belong. Return those to their appropriate devices or discard any that don’t match your tech. Label the remaining cords and attach them to the correct items.
- Sock Drawer: Maintaining this monster will make your morning so much easier. Dump out all of your docks onto a clear surface. Wipe the drawer. Match each of your socks and return them in pairs to the drawer. For the socks without mates, make a small pile and set aside. Check them as you do your laundry. Discard or reuse any mismatched socks.
- Scarf Collection: One downfall of this trend? Scarfs can quickly overwhelm your closet. Collect all of your scarves for the season in one place. Make sure they are all clean and lint-free. Remove any that are damaged or don’t match your taste. These can be donated or recycled. Put them back in one designated spot, like an organizer or hanger. If you’re feeling ambitious, make a goal to limit your collection to a certain number. Only buy or accept a new scarf if you are willing to get rid of one.
- Shoe Rack: Shoe racks can become magnets for clutter. Empty yours and wipe it down. Check each pair of shoes, wiping them down as you return to the rack. Remove any worn out or uncomfortable shoes. Also, collect other items and return to their rightful place. Take it to the next level by vowing to limit your shoes to the number of spaces on your rack. Don’t buy any new shoes until you wittle down your pairs. Then, you can only buy a pair when you are ready to remove one.
- Medicine Storage: Whether you keep your medicines in a drawer, box or cabinet, collect them all on a flat surface. Check each item for an expiration date. Set aside any old or expired prescriptions to dispose of properly. Return the remaining medicines to their rightful place. You may also need to make a list of missing items and replace them at a later date.
- Everyday Makeup: Although decluttering all of your beauty products may take a while, most people have a bag or bin with the items they use every day. Place these on a towel. Remove anything expired. For anything you don’t regularly use, move it with your other long-term storage or discard. Wipe the rest of the items and return to their regular location.
- Tub Products: With all those shelves and racks, tubs collect clutter quickly. Lay down a towel and place all of your tub products on top. Discard empty bottles and old bath accessories. Check for duplicate items. While some households may prefer a separate soap or shampoo per person, no one needs multiples out at the same time. Store the extras and don’t buy more until you use those up. Return the necessary products to the bath.
Once you have cleaned all of these spaces, you’ll have a more organized home. In fact, the process may inspire you to continue your the organization process in other areas of your home. If you’re thinking about it, I would recommend 100 Tips to Declutter your Home. Read it for tips and ideas to clean out your place.
Do you have any other ideas? Leave your tips in the comments.
Later is the best friend of clutter… – Peter Walsh
Clutter articles range from judgmental, hoarding horror stories to useless, vague suggestions to advertorials for decorative organizational bins. Regardless, the peaceful state they all promote is both much-sought-after and mysterious to attain. Such was my struggle when I dumped my bags into my first apartment, a 400-square foot bungalow in South Florida.
As I compiled a long list of DIY projects and purchases, I also started absorbing artifacts from my parents, castoffs of caring friends, and unsolicited housewarming gifts. I just took everything with a “Thank-you” and added it to the pile. Very quickly, my apartment took a form that did not reflect who I was or how I wanted to use the space. So, I started thinking back to my missteps over the years. I remembered my hard-to-clean, impossible-to-organize childhood, teen, and college rooms. Those habits grew into a similarly unchecked living situation. So, determined to take ownership for my home, I began research.
The stories that impacted me most where ones that focused on the journey of the person writing the article. They imagined a specific life and sought that state of being. For example, The Minimalists lifestyle was inspired by a desire to break with the corporate world and the related consumerism. Below are ten websites that I would recommend.
- The Minimalists
- 356 Less Things
- My Unhoarded Life (archive)
- Organized Castle
- Reading My Tea Leaves
- Not My Hoarding Mother
Each of these stories contrasted my awkward, messy world. I wanted to be able to focus at the end of the day. I wanted to sit in peace on the weekends. I wanted to spend less time cleaning, and I wanted that cleaning to be quick. So, I decided to make a list to break down what could stay and what needed to go.
Make a list
My first place was very full and very dysfunctional. I had a plethora of cheap tools, knick-knacks, and bobbles with nowhere to store or display them. Buying a host of organizational systems wasn’t the solution. Figuring out exactly how much room I had in my place set the benchmark for curating my stuff.
- Consider how many things you actually own. How many boxes would you need to pack up and move? How much time do you need to spend cleaning your stuff? Find a meaningful way to measure your belongings. For me, I measured each existing surface and cabinet to estimate how much stuff the apartment could hold without buying furniture. Then, I placed the existing furniture in a pleasing arrangement, discarding anything that didn’t fit. This left me with a specific amount of space to fill, both for storage and decoration. This was my limit.
- Document your belongings in list or photo form. You’ll begin to realize there are so many things that you don’t want to acknowledge or curate. However, that is what you’re doing by owning them. You are committing to caring and keeping those items- passively every day. You’ll use these later when you decide to sell your stuff.
- Look at lists of people who live smaller lifestyles. Capsule Wardrobe and Minimalist bloggers can give some perspective on how many items you can reasonably use.
- Write down the tips that challenged you most. Post there somewhere that you’re regularly reference.
- Restrict your consumption until you understand exactly how much room you have and how much you want to one. Nothing new should come into your space until you finish the decluttering process.
Cut the Easy things
- Expired body product and makeup must go.
- Manuals and guides usually have digital versions. Bookmark those pages and recycle the paper ones.
- Bottles, jars and cans should be recycled if you aren’t using them.
- Cardboard boxes can be recycled.
- Go through your games and look for the broken or missing parts. Swap with someone who has the same game. One of you will end up with a complete set.
- Look through your Tupperware and recycle the most scraggly pieces.
- Old candles and potpourri that have lost their scent, lose a place in your home.
- Expired food should be composted or disposed.
- Samples that you’ve never used should be thrown out.
- Old medications can be turned in to an appropriate station.
- Excess wire or plastic hangers can be donated to thrift stores.
- Ditch that smelly sponge.
- Swap your old air filter.
- Trash your oldest, broken shoes.
- Donate old Halloween costumes and props.
- Trash full coloring books, after you frame your favorite pages.
- Socks that don’t have a mate, should be cut up for rags.
- Old spices that have lost their flavor must go.
- Swap your old toothbrush for a fresh one.
- Cards, mail and papers that have no meaning can be recycled with paper.
- Old calendars can be recycled.
- Sell any movies that you don’t want and don’t watch.
- Cookbooks usually contain only a few good recipes. Copy them and donate the book.
- Takeout menus are meaningless in the digital age.
- Takeout condiments fill up little nooks. Clean them out.
- Old prescription glasses can be donated and recycled
- Random business cards can be turned into digital files and tossed
- Check your cables. Recycle any that don’t match a device.
- Old paint doesn’t get better with age. Donate or recycle depending on the condition.
- Digitize and file receipts. Most paper copies aren’t needed.
- Pick through your paperbacks. You will probably find some that you don’t want to read again.
- Curtains from a previous living space can be sold or donated.
- Remove any body products that make you itch or breakout.
- Recycle any old containers for empty products.
- Infrequently-used kitchen appliances can be donated or sold.
- Clothes that are the wrong size should be donated.
- Shoes that are worn out, should be tossed.
- Pet toys that your furbaby won’t play with should be donated to a shelter.
- Magazines, all of them, should be recycled.
- Leftover supplies for craft kits and hobbies should be donated.
- Mismatched sheets and pillowcases, should be donated.
- Extra, or old blankets and pillows should be donated.
- Broken decorative items should be repaired or discarded.
- Your button collection can be donated to a sewing enthusiast or crafter.
- Old, unworn jewelry can be gifted or loaned to family members.
- CDs should be donated or recycled.
- Junk Mail should be recycled.
- Old, expired cleaning supplies should be disposed of per label directions.
- Duplicate tools should be sold or donated.
- Stained or soiled clothing should be recycled or tossed.
Take a Count
Next, you must match your belongings to your actual lifestyle. The examples below can help guide you to determine what you need for how you like to live.
- Count your seating and compare it to how much you actually host. You may find you don’t need any many chairs. If you have two people and never host large dinners, you can probably do with a small kitchen table and two chairs.
- Sort your pillowcases. You only need 2 sets for each bed. 1 on the bed and 1 in the wash.
- Sort your bedsheets. You may find you only need a warm and cool set.
- Look through your towels. 2 towels per person will work if you do your laundry every week.
- Sort your blankets. You only need 1 per person for an extra snuggle. Extra, pilled ones can go to an animal shelter.
- Consider your tablecloths. If you only pull out those linens a few times a year, you may find you need 1 nice tablecloth total.
- Look through your mugs. These collect over time from gifts and events. 1 or 2 mugs per person is plenty and will cut down on the dirty dishes.
- Think about your tableware strategically. If you aren’t much of a host, you may be better served by 1 durable, plain set of dishes than several fancy sets you don’t use.
- Make sure you don’t have duplicate utensils or unitaskers. You only have 1 kitchen and two hands. Keep that in mind while you’re sorting items.
- Make a list of your actual hobbies that you actually did this month. Sell all the supplies and tools that don’t match that list
- Check your recreational items. Whether it’s sporting equipment, outdoor furnishings, board games, or musical instruments, you may not be using every piece. These items are usually easy to sell.
- Measure your bookshelf. If the average book is about 1-2 inches thick, you can divide the length of your bookshelves by 2 to figure out how many books you can actually store.
- Measure your closet and clothing storage space. There is a finite amount of clothing that you can keep in your home. Limit your wardrobe to that number.
- Work through your wallspace. Photos or art should be displayed and will be limited by those dimensions.
- Do a time study exercise. Seeing how you spend your time reveals what kind of stuff you actually use. For example, you may not need many kitchen gadgets if you rarely cook. Or that aspirational yoga mat may actually sit in your closet for months.
- Count your collections and do the math on their value. If you enjoy collecting as a hobby, think about how you can limit the grouping to your favorite and most valuable pieces. If you are trying to collect to build a profit, make sure you turn the inventory regularly. Regardless, the amount you keep should be limited to the available space.
- Count the number of boxes that work in your deep storage spaces. Once shelving is installed, you will be able to calculate the number of bins that can fit. Heirlooms and seasonal items shouldn’t exceed these limits.
- Tally the time you spend cleaning and organizing your things. Consider how you want to spend your time and make sure your possessions remain proportional.
Then work in a circle
- Make a list of all the rooms in your space in a spreadsheet. Then, make a list of all the storage areas in each room. This will give you a list to work on weekend by weekend when you’re clearing out your space.
- As you’re working through the list, just take one storage area at a time. Pull everything out of the space. Get rid of any trash or broken items. Move anything that is out of place. Then, see if the rest will fit back in the space. If it doesn’t, challenge yourself to remove items until they fit the space in an organized manner.
- With the remaining, “Don’t fit” items, toss them all in a laundry basket. As you work, you’ll keep adding your second tier stuff to that basket.
- Second Tier items are anything you feel doesn’t quite belong in that space. You may not love it. You may have a better version worth keeping. It may just not fit and needs a new home.
- Moving from space to space and room to room, keep tossing the trash and delegating second tier items to the laundry basket.
- Once you loop through your space, make sure all the trash is tossed.
- Then, poke through the second tier stuff. For whatever reason, you felt like it didn’t belong in that space. Try selling all of it, for reasonable prices, at a yard sale. Don’t think twice- Just do it.
- With the remaining items, think about anyone less fortunate than you. If you know anyone that might be able to use that extra stuff, just give it to them. Don’t think twice- Just do it.
- Look through your space again and enjoy the openness. It’s different right?
- Make a plan to regularly go through this loop.
Plan for the Future
- Most ascribe to the “One in one out” rule. Hold yourself to this.
- Practice polite phrases for kindly rejecting new clutter. People won’t understand and you will be asked to explain often.
- Map out habits and hot spots that contribute to disorganization. Plan to tidy those regularly.
- Build new hobbies and habits to replace consumption. For example, walking in the park with a friend can replace social shopping.
- Moderate your access to new stuff. This can be anything from unsubscribing to brand emails to avoiding your favorite bargain basement.
Although the decluttering process remains highly personal, my favorite tips can shift the way you think. Ownership requires time and energy. Consider how you want to use yours before you bring something into your space.
Hello! I’m Danielle and I’m a serial renter. I’ve rented four apartments in seven years, only to move again this spring. While many people see homeownership as both a financial milestone and personal rite-of-passage, I am philosophically linked to the many millennials that reject homeownership. In fact, a segment millennials forgo ownership completely, from cars to clothes to technology. Just check out this infographic from Goldman Sachs to see what I mean. The causes are as various as the people making the choice to perpetually rent. Many can’t afford a home. Others are pursing careers and don’t want to be tied down. Whatever the reasons, there are many people who want to buy a house and simply can’t.
Initially, I saw homeownership as a hallmark of stability. After graduating from college, I worked hard to pay off my student debt and first vehicle. Working through the #adulting checklist, I planned to collect a down payment for a house next. Although it took longer than expected (life happens), I did pull together the funds. My husband and I got pre-approved for a mortgage. We visited a few open houses. But, we never took the next step. Each time we’ve selected to rent over buy, it has been the best choice for us.
That said, renting grates everyone’s nerves at times. The plentiful drawbacks leave many renters wishing they could own.
Home lust – it trips all of us apartment dwellers from time to time. It manifests as a feeling of comparison or a subtle discontentment. Below is a list of reasons you may (mistakenly) hate your apartment with their rebuttals.
1. It’s too small: People tend to expand and outgrow the space available. The trick to enjoying a small space is living with less stuff. It won’t feel small when there is a place for everything. Look through your extra stuff and decide if you want it more than the open and airy feeling.
2. It’s temporary: This mental obstruction keeps a lot of people from enjoying their apartment. They feel like it’s not a “forever home.” Therefore the effort to decorate it seems to be wasted. However, I find a freshness comes from moving around. It makes you really consider filling your home with things you like and will take with you, instead of just buying stuff to fill your current space.
3. It’s up stairs without a yard: While I love a yard, not having one doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing all the green. Ideas for porch and indoor gardens are becoming more mainstream.
4. It’s not custom: Just because you don’t have built-in shelving or a pallet accent wall doesn’t mean you can’t make your space reflect your personality. There are a lot of great temporary ideas to decorate apartments without losing your deposit. Personally, I like to line walls with shelves to create a little gallery.
5. It’s cheap-looking: I’ll admit that I’m not fond of the builder-grade fixtures or the white carpet. However, fixating on it doesn’t make it go away. Instead, I find ways to shift the focus away from the cheap elements and move it to the parts I like. For example, I center furniture around the windows as the focus point. This draws my eye to the view instead of the floor.
Fall in Love Again
In general, I believe that dissatisfaction with temporary situations like renting is the idea that you can’t take ownership of the space. Although there are rules, the environment is yours month-by-month or year-by-year. Besides those four walls, everything inside the home and the decisions about how you use it are yours.
Therefore, I find that the more that I care for my apartment, the more I fall in love with it. Cleaning the windows, wiping the counters and cleaning off scuff marks is not a waste. It’s the gift to myself right now because I live there. Below are ways that I make my rental feel like home.
1. Borrow furniture that works “right now”. When a living situation is temporary, it’s not wise to buy a lot of furniture just for the space. However, many people own more furniture than they are currently using. Ask around to see if someone has an item that will work for your space. If you don’t want to buy a small table, borrow one from a friend.
2. Use art that you like. Although the best design takes the dwelling into consideration, you don’t need to decorate around a temporary living situation. If you have art that you like, hang it up- even if it isn’t in the same style as your abode. You’ll enjoy seeing something that you find beautiful.
3. Store whatever doesn’t fit. Temporary situations are more frustrating if you are tripping over misplaced objects. Consider putting extra decor and furniture aside if it doesn’t have a home in your space. This will make you feel more at peace and settled.
4. Build memories in the space. Plan something fun and take pictures of yourself in the space. It won’t feel temporary if you make it into a home. Creating memories while you are living there will mark the apartment as your home for a season of life.
5. Write a list of what you do like. Maybe the small space is easy to keep clean. Perhaps you get good sunlight through your bedroom window. Find the features that you enjoy and elevate them to celebrate them.
Homeownership may not be one of your milestones, now or ever. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t feel at home in your rental. In fact, you may find (like me) an inspiring freedom in leasing a space. Mentally and emotionally, I’ve truly started to enjoy making little temporary homes.
Each object should deserve space it occupies in your dwelling. That’s a lofty goal, especially for those who embrace a minimalist lifestyle.
Everything in this collection is homeworthy.
This sets the standard for everything in my collection. Through careful and conscious craftsmanship, I offer art, furniture, and accessories in the greater Lynchburg, Virginia area. Everything you’ll find is a result of my desire to consume less and make more.
But you may be asking, where this goal comes from and why I came to pursue it.
I care about what comes into my home, and I’m sure you do too.
My journey in making actually started as a change in my consumer habits. For my first apartment, I mixed vintage, hand-me-down pieces with any cheap homegoods I could find on sale. I quickly noticed that the pressboard, cardboard, and temporary pieces looked cheaper with age. However, handmade goods, just looked better with time.
I learned to appreciate hand-made, and often, slow-made things.
So, I completely changed the way I consumed. I sought out older, better pieces to fill my home. I looked for real art from local artists to adorn my space. I learned to appreciate hand-made, and often, slow-made things.
But there were still a few gaps, a lot of room for creativity. So, I’ve started a collection of homegoods and accessories inspired by thoughtful consumption.
Four apartments in ten years have hosted my life and belongings. In each, I have experienced seasons of both comfort and frustration. Throughout my nomadic renting, I learned to focus on making the space work for my lifestyle and adjusting my lifestyle to the space. With this balance, a temporary living situation becomes a freeing and empowering experience.
My First Place
Do you ever get angry about something because you know a situation your fault? My first apartment revealed my gaps in life management. Everything was a mess, perpetuating my stress and discomfort. I couldn’t afford the necessary organizational items to corral my belongings, more so the large pieces of furniture like desks, dressers, and bookshelves. As I started to dumpster dive for furniture, I noticed an overwhelming imbalance of tiny junk and useful places to store it. Knick knacks, clothes, textbooks, and random gadgets littered all of my surfaces. However, I really needed a couch, some dishtowels, and a filing cabinet. Eventually, I piled everything into cardboard boxes by item type and started googling.
Frustratingly, most home keeping advice is focused on houses and families. I didn’t need to organize children’s toys in a playroom or create a bin system for Christmas decorations. I needed a plan to take the piles of stuff from college and childhood and make my apartment function for my single, working life. Projects quickly became clear as I began outlining my problems:
- Furniture arrangement for sleeping, working, and entertaining
- Clothing cycle that can be maintained
- Meal plan and regular grocery list
- Organization for existing belongings
- Filing for paperwork and a process for paying bills
Although I thought I functioned well in college, my adult life needed much more management. That meant taking ownership of my space and making my apartment work for me.
Home lust – it trips all apartment dwellers from time to time. The resentment stems from a feeling of comparison and manifests as a subtle discontentment. However, renting makes sense for a lot of people. Below is a list of reasons you may mistakenly hate your apartment.
1. It’s too small: People tend to expand and outgrow the space available. The trick to enjoying a small space is living with less stuff. It won’t feel small when there is a place for everything. Look through your extra stuff and decide if you want it more than the open and airy feeling. Then, make a plan to control how much you consume in the future.
2. It’s temporary: This mental obstruction keeps a lot of people from enjoying their apartment. They feel like it’s not a “forever home.” Therefore the effort to decorate it seems to be wasted. However, I find a freshness comes from moving around. It makes you really consider filling your home with things you like and will take with you instead of just buying stuff to fill your current space.
3. It’s up stairs or without a yard: While I love a yard, not having one doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing all the green. Ideas for porch and indoor gardens are becoming more mainstream. Also, you can spend more time outside because you have less space to maintain. Focus on the parks and green spaces around your apartment. Make those a part of your routine.
4. It’s not custom: Just because you don’t have built-in shelving or a pallet accent wall doesn’t mean you can’t make your space reflect your personality. There are a lot of great temporary ideas to decorate apartments without losing your deposit. Personally, I like to line walls with molding to create a little leaning gallery.
5. It’s cheap and ugly: I’ll admit that I’m not fond of the builder-grade fixtures or the white carpet. However, fixating on it doesn’t make it go away. Instead, I find ways to shift the focus away from the unsightly elements and move it to the parts I like. For example, I usually center furniture around the windows as the focus point. This draws my eye to the 3rd story view instead of the floor.
Love Your Space
This month, I’m moving again and my new space is actually smaller than my last two apartments. Instead, I chose this spot based off of location because I wanted walking access to certain amenities. As I’ve begun packing my belongings, I am reminded of how much my consumption habits have changed. I keep clutter to a minimum by limiting my possessions to the amount of space I have.
The process requires a total understanding of my priorities. For many people, it will require deep research if you didn’t grow up functioning in a rental situation. I needed to consider my most basic needs and focus my living situation on what I could control. Then, I prioritized the space around that.
You will find yourself challenging norms and slowly shifting your habits. With time, you may even find that you no longer own items that were previously a standard part of your routine. Also, you will remember that as seasons of life change, so do your needs. A mindful evaluation of your stuff and your space will help you maintain an apartment that works well for you.
I don’t have salt and pepper shakers. This is a shock to most people. First, they must process my presumption that I have properly seasoned your food. Then, there they consier my audacity in skipping over this mainstay of culinary tools. Why no shakers? Simply put, I haven’t found the right ones yet.
As Tyler Durden in Fight Club explains, “You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your —– khakis.” Similarly, I started a journey several years ago to question what I own and what “owns me.” So, I refuse to bring something into my home that I don’t love or need. This is one of the quirks of careful consumption, which permeates my home. In our consumerist society, I find that waiting to get the right object is considered a little bizarre. Below are some quirks of this process.
You won’t settle for “just now”. This means you refuse to bring something into your home when you feel it doesn’t belong. For example, I’m using my kitchen chairs as part-time desk chairs. I’m not sure I truly need a desk chair or that I’ll keep my current desk. So, I’m making do with double-duty furniture.
You are willing to borrow for the short term. I know this seems cheap but, I will borrow or rent things before I buy them. Trying them out to see if they work in my life is the best way to make the decision. This really helps with tools for new hobbies or furniture in a temporary space. More than once I have assumed that I was going to need tools or supplies that I never used.
You do a lot of research — online and in person. You probably think about a purchase for months before it actually ends up in your home. You ask a lot of questions, especially for current users of the product. And when you are finally sure, you buy it.
In the meantime, your life will seem a little odd — missing a few normal pieces. But, it’s a refreshing habit in our consumer culture to be a little more deliberate about purchases.
Questions to Ask
If you’re interested in a lifestyle focused on careful consumption, you will find yourself questioning every purchase. This is a journey that I started as a young adult and it is starting to shape both my consumption and creation. Below are some of the questions I use during the buying process.
Is it in my budget? If it’s not in the budget, you probably shouldn’t buy it. Obviously, you have to start by having a budget. Then, you need to get your spending on track with the budget. This helps with impulse buys that you may regret later.
Can I borrow it? This works well for tools, instruments, and large items. Often, family and friends have stuff in storage that they prefer to see used. I’ve even had people loan me art or furniture because they would prefer someone enjoy it. As long as you’re responsible, borrowing is a good way to figure out whether you want to own one for yourself.
Can I get it secondhand? Careful consumers look for ways to use items that have already been produced. This lowers the overall amount of waste in our society. If you can save something from a landfill, that is a win. Figure out if the item is something that you can get used.
Do I already have one? While it may sound obvious, many shoppers repeatedly buy items because they lose them. It’s a common problem with clutter. To avoid this issue, make sure you organize and declutter your home before shopping again.
How long will I keep it? This question speaks to the durability and sustainability of the product. For non-consumable purchases, try to buy items that you intend to keep for a while. For consumables, give some thought to how you will dispose of wrapping and waste.
Where is it made? There are several questions related to this can help with ethical consumerism. This question forces you to acknowledge the origin of the item and understand how it came into existence.
If you’re starting to think more carefully about what comes into your home, then you will find yourself asking the questions above.
Tips and Tricks
With each new month is a chance to save a little cash and look at ways to declutter our lives – like with the 30-Day Minimalism Game. After a month of conservative financial choices, most people are a burned out on frugality. So, below is a list of ways I try to feel richer without spending money.
1. Go to the library: This is one of those tired tips from frugal people that no one seems to use. Our local library is often very empty. If you feel a little deprived in the spending area, get some new media from the library. The new stories will make your world feel a little bit richer.
My tip: Start with a book of quotes. These small ideas can be digested quickly and inspire a new tone for the day.
2. Propagate a plant: Not only is it cheap, propagating a plant allows you to duplicate your possessions. The extra sprout can move to your office or make a nice future gift. Also, the process of researching and growing a new plant feels rewarding.
My tip: Work with a green-thumbed friend on this little project. They can help you make sure you maintain both plant’s health.
3. Rotate your stuff: Pack some stuff away for a few months. Whether you choose clothing, accessories, or home decor, a little free space feels good. Then, switch the items out every few months. It will make things feel fresh, like you’re shopping in your own home.
My tip: Set a personal limit on how much you’re willing to store. For example, I have limited home decor to 4 bins total, 3 for Christmas decorations and 1 for other decor. This means I have to get rid of something before I bring in a new decoration.
4. Use those supplies: Almost everyone has random leftovers from hobbies lying around their house. Pull them together and start looking for ways to use them. If they’re cooking ingredients, find a few recipes to use them. If they’re crafting supplies, create something new with them. Not only will you free up some space but, you might get something new through the creative process.
My tip: Mark Montano’s blog gives a lot of ideas for supplies that most people are trying to use up. He posts frequently so, keep your eyes on his site.
To summarize, holding back the clutter in your life starts with an intentional thought process. Each day, you will find yourself choosing between chaotic clutter and calming free space. Whether you are a creative person, Type A or super busy, you will benefit from this shift toward anti-consumerist thinking. I’d like to know, how do you get control of your environment?