It Is So Much Easier to Simplify Than Organize

I’m cleaning out my closet again.

The ideal time to clean out stuff is before and after a move. I know most people don’t expect to clean out their stuff after moving to a new place. Didn’t they just purge a bunch of stuff before moving?

But after moving is when you can really see what you have and how your stuff works in your space.

It’s been a while since I’ve looked through all my clothes, so I had more confidence in giving away the remaining things I won’t use. This time I thought about how clothes are meant to be useful. For each item, I tried it on and asked myself, “Will I use this?”

I’ve been in the process of reducing my number of clothes over the last few years. I used to feel like I needed more variety, and so I chose quantity over quality. I have a fraction of the clothes I owned seven years ago. I like my clothes so much better now.

I will never get over the amazement of how when you give away the clothes that you won’t wear, you like the clothes you keep so much more, almost like you just went and bought a new wardrobe.

I used to do the big switcheroo every summer and winter to put away the clothes from last season and make room for the next. It made me feel organized.

It was a big pain.

Now everything fits on the same bar–summer clothes to the left and winter on the right. I’m storing the maternity clothes separately. I think this is the right amount of clothes for me now. I need to replace a couple of things that I wore out last winter.

I didn’t even use the bar on the other side.

Another thing that I’ve been able to get rid of lately? Boxes.

I used to save cardboard boxes because since I lived in a small space, if I stored things in boxes then I could put everything away in closets like a game of Tetris.

I was always getting ready for the next move, but this time I’m unpacking it all. I don’t need to keep old curtains in a box in case I’ll use them at the next apartment.

I used to wonder if going through my stuff was really helping me to save time and simplify. It can take so much time; wouldn’t it be simpler not to deal with it at all?

But this. This is one reason why I clean out my junk–so other people won’t have to do it for me.

Jules at Pancakes and French Fries is doing 31 Days of William Morris to help her home reflect the quote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Let’s root for her.

Megan at Declutter Daily is getting rid of something every day so she can make a way in her garage.

When Doug and I got married, one of our early promises to each other was that if we ever had a garage, we would always be able to park our car in it. Right now the garage is staging the move and renovation, so we’re not quite there.

What have you cleaned out lately?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. I cleaned out Eleanor’s closet! And I’ve been eyeballing my craft storage area. It’s full of stuff I used to use for crafts with the 4th/5th graders at church, but since I’m not teaching that age anymore I realized I could get rid of a lot of it and make space for books.

    My goal is to get one of the 3 bookcases out of our bedroom so we have more free space in there!

    Oh, and we park TWO cars in our garage (unlike any of our neighbors) so we’re doing pretty well on the clutter front I think.
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…A Beautiful Blue Death (and a giveaway!)

  2. We just moved this summer, and I have a box of stuff that I am ready to purge (thinking of a one-time spring yard sale). It is filled with house stuff that I was always saving in case I needed it for the next house. Well, we are here now, and I don’t need it. I don’t regret saving it…how could I know that the new bedroom would have two windows and so my former panels for one window won’t work…but I am so glad to get rid of the stockpile that I have been carrying around.

  3. I so agree! If you don’t have a ton of stuff, there isn’t anything to “organize”. I love whizzing past the Container Store :-)

    A lot of bloggers are talking about their off season/hand me down clothing organization systems, and some of those are really cool if they work for your family, but I recently made the decision to get rid of ALL the kid’s clothing that wasn’t currently being worn, and I’m loving the feeling.

    I don’t have a cluttered basement full of Rubbermaid containers, and now we can actually play down there.
    Carrie´s last post…A Year Ago This Month

  4. I just did the switch of clothes from summer to fall/winter. I can’t keep them all in the closet, not that they won’t fit, but because of allergies. clothes just sitting there collect dust mites. I think this allergy helps me limit the number of pieces I have too.

    I agree with the garage. I have one at my house, and when we moved in, we moved all the boxes into the dining room as a staging area…not the garage. We didn’t have a dining room table, so this was a fine option. It also forced us to look at those boxes daily, and we had them all unpacked in under a week. There are people in my neighborhood that still can’t park in their garages!

  5. I agree 100% that simplifying beats organizing HANDS-DOWN! I’m doing 31 Days of Purging and having a BLAST!
    Marla Taviano´s last post…10 ideas to jumpstart your purging {day 4 of 31}

  6. Yes, simplifying beats organizing. The only thing I need to be careful of being unorganized because I have to wiggle-room to do so. I did some more purging today and again I was surprised that I didn’t have much to toss out. Instead, I had a few good things to keep that were just sort of stuff above the refrigerator when they could have been stored thoughtfully and respectfully.

    Thank you for mentioning my series, Rachel. It’s always a treat when one of your favorite bloggers acknowledges your work.
    Jules´s last post…Day 4: 31 Days of William Morris

  7. As usual, a wonderful post that cut right to the heart of it.

    I wanted to note that even apartment dwellers like myself shouldn’t save old curtains (or other housewares) in case they get used in future apartments. Just like with clothes*, you should own the things you’re using, not the things you think you might use.

    *Maternity clothes and little kid clothes are the clear exception to this rule. :)

  8. My walls – I’ve been purging like crazy to get rid of all the clutter that has taken over my walls in the name of decorating. I used to think I needed something on each wall in order for the room to be finished. Now, I would rather have a couple of things that I LOVE on one wall and leave the rest blank. The closet is on a continual purge as well and I currently have a large box to donate – yay for me, and yay for whomever gets to use and enjoy what I no longer want to care for! :-)
    Carrie @ Busy Nothings´s last post…Blogging 101 :: Be True To You

  9. Our rule is: one thing in, one thing out!

    Jenna
    callherhappy.com
    Jenna@CallHerHappy´s last post…Would You Do Me the Honor?

  10. I love that quote! We try to live by that philosophy at our house but I didn’t know who to attribute it to, thanks!

    Luckily, both my husband and I love to simplify so he’s always up for getting rid of stuff. However, we’ve been in the house two years and there are still many places that need simplification and organization. On my list: kitchen cabinets, hall closet, linen closet. Happy simplify-ing!

  11. LOVE THIS! I couldn’t agree more! I have a organizing business on the side and the one thing I always tell my clients is that it is WAY more about simplifying than it is about organizing. That if they focus on getting rid of all that they do not use or love, organizing will become a much simpler task. I, too, have cleared out my closet over and over the past few years. I have so much less now, but I love it. Everything in my closet I love and wear often. Great post!
    Michelle Traudt´s last post…Loving Others Radically

  12. Phyllis Bahr says:

    Oh, wow…we moved 4 times in 4 years (yes) and I am so into this. We have participated in 3 garage sales, kicked another bunch of stuff to the curb….now the 2 sisters of my daughter’s BFF are the lucky recipients of all kinds of beads, craft items that had been around forever.

    Old clothes — whoosh — gone. We have a ways to go; hubby is not on board but my daughter is. I sold/traded about $190 worth of books.

    Still — I have paper clutter: bills/random stuff to be filed, sentimental greeting cards (which I’m going to put in decorated fabric boxes, IF I get motivated to do that).

    But reading blogs, seeing organized closet pics, this really motivates me to get to the finish line!!!

  13. I am loving this post, especially everyone’s comments about the spaces they are organizing and their commitment to living with less. I want to give a big high-five to everyone who is winning the war on clutter one box, closet rod and garage bay at at time!

    Here’s a fun little trick I use with my organizing clients to help them figure out what to keep and what to toss: http://respacedpdx.blogspot.com/2010/08/try-this-quick-organizing-trick-to-make.html

    Hope you find it helpful.
    MaryJo @ reSPACEd: Budget Organizing´s last post…And the winner is …

  14. I love your quote! I organized the children’s toys about 2 months ago. They have 1/2 of them scattered about and the other 1/2 are behind the mess they have created and they don’t play with them because they can’t get to them. I have been reflecting a lot about how summer is coming to an end here in Wisconsin and how we will be cooped up for a long period of time soon. I need the mental clairty of not dealing with stuff/messes all the time. I will be donating a lot of stuff. It will be tough because most of the kids things were gifts from someone at one point or another but I have to get over that. I also have my summer/winter stuff out all the time; makes life eaiser as you have realized.

    • You might want to try putting half the toys in a storage box at a time, and then rotating them periodically. That’s what we do, and it really helps.

      • We started rotating toys as well, and it has worked wonderfully. I use a round canvas hamper with a zip top that hides right behind the glider in the corner of my daughter’s room. She enjoys playing with her toys more when she’s not overwhelmed by them. If a toy doesn’t get any use after a few rotations, we know we should pass it on.

  15. Yes to everything in this post! Sometimes organizing stuff (in the tradition sense of wrangling it all into coordinating plastic bins) is really just shifting clutter around and making it look pretty. Not interested in holding on to clutter in the least, even if it means never having a need for adorable baskets.

    We just moved too, and I still managed to donate another box of stuff afterward. It’s true that seeing your stuff in a new space makes you reevalute it.

    P.S. Love the glimpses of house we’re getting. Hope to see the rest soon.
    jennie´s last post…100 Steps from Bliss

  16. Adele Stauffer says:

    I have been reducing my wardrobe, too. What I am finding is that I am now seeing great combinations of clothing that I am now noticing because the “too much” is gone.

  17. Catherine says:

    So much easier to simplify than organize. Every item you have in your home takes management. Management takes time. Life is short enough to be sorting arranging maintaining a bunch of items. I’ve been thinking of combining my summer winter on one rod for a long time now and I think I finally have the small wardrobe to actually do it. Thanks for the post!

  18. I’m in the process of purging and packing for an upcoming move, so I’m attempting to simplify every single room. But even as I send tons of stuff to the local mission, the used bookstore and the garbage pile, I keep having these niggling feelings…like, “More could go. I should be purging even more.” So I appreciate your encouragement that continuing to simplify after the move is normal and good. :)

    I really want to feel more free from stuff in our new place. Hoping I can make that happen…
    Katrina @ Callapidder Days´s last post…It must be fall

  19. I’d like to suggest cleaning out jewelry as well.

    I spent 45 minutes last week going through mine and couldn’t believe how much of it was broken and not worth fixing, junk, gifts I never wear, or fashions I’ve moved past.

    Jewelry’s fun now because I no longer dig through an endless pile. And while it’s going to be insanely hard, I’m throwing out excess jewelry boxes today. Rachel you’re right: i don’t need them.

  20. We moved into this house in March, and I’m still going through everything – carefully and slowly. Lots of trips to the thrift store. We can’t park in our garage yet, but the time will come.

    My parents are moving across country to join us, and they are PARING down. Their goal is to leave us nothing to go through when the time comes, and I told Mom about Jules’s posts. My parents had to deal with so much crap after their parents’ deaths, and they are determined not to leave us in that position someday.
    Aimee´s last post…Day 3: At Sofa’s End

  21. To be honest, I never really understood the storing/switching clothes in and out of closets based on seasons that so many people do. Seemed like too much work and too much stuff. Just have only enough that everything for all seasons can fit accessibly in the closet without cramming, and separate them on the bar, just like you just did! I’m glad you’ve finally seen the light ;).

    • I didn’t understand either until I met someone from the east coast. I’m a pure Pac NW webfoot so I basically knew thin layers was the key to surviving our sloppy wet weather. And I do think that for the most part that is the best way to go. But the lady from the east coast clued me into the huge swing in temperature and climate you can find on the east coast which made me understand a little better.

  22. Your blog is always a welcome, refreshing sight/site! and motivating. I realized how far I had to go when we put our home up for sale. Now that we are closing on it in 3 days (wow, it’s still hard to believe), I’ve learned to love the serene, simplified look I created for the staging. I will plan carefully before placing my treasures around in our new home. Yes, much was tossed out when I packed up 1/3 of our belongings for storage. And truthfully, in the few months afterwards, I often wondered what was in storage, because I was doing quite well without it. On the other hand, when we emptied the storage unit Friday night to take its contents to our new state, I spied some very cherished items and will enjoy using them again. But, to think that I did not really miss them…. what does this tell me?

  23. When we lived in Japan, I found out they actually have a term for the seasonal clothing change: koromogae. It’s a convenient word, but I don’t need it anymore or all the extra clothes. Like you, I don’t need to change much around for the seasons–it all fits on one pole. Actually, we live in a 1926 house that only has one pole in our closet, and my husband and I share it just fine.

    After our international moves (which we did ourselves–we were not on the traditional expat lifestyle), I don’t feel as sentimental about things as I used to. It’s a great feeling!

  24. This is so true!

    I finally packed up half og Boy’s toys (and he didn’t have all that much) and it takes no time for him to straighten up- I’m getting there…..

  25. Denise C. says:

    Our garage is fairly neat, my husband cleared it out, swept the floor and painted the UGLY drywall walls. So much better. We purged a tiny bit (broken water toys, numbs of sidewalk chalk). The kid’s outside bin looks neater.

    I also cleaned out my kid’s art caddies (tossed dead markers, icky crayons etc.)

    Today I decided to retackle my 5 year old son’s room. In the 2 years we have lived in our home, our son has managed to DESTROY his bedroom. The closet doors came off and will get a fresh coat of paint, as well as the closet and walls.

    For me, sometimes its the smallest things that give me great satisfaction. :)

  26. Amen Sista’ on the garage. ;) I was just telling Scott last night “time to look at this again”. As soon as there is an open space someone tosses something in it. Far less now though than when I started. Thanks for linking to my blog. I can (and have) spent hours browsing around yours. I love it.
    Megan@declutterdaily´s last post…Days 232 – 236: She’s Crafty

  27. Well, I thought I cleaned out my closet yesterday but now realized that all I did was move things around. I need to give this process more thought and be more deliberate. To be honest, it overhwhelms me a bit!

  28. Your previous posts about decluttering and improving your wardrobe were so inspiring that I tackled that and haven’t looked back. If anything, I see more to remove each time I open a drawer or peep in the closet. The replacing with key pieces has been much more difficult than I imagined, but it is incredibly satisfying to know when I buy, I buy what I really love and what works for me, not just because the something was available at a good price.

    As for the house, I have a really hard time decluttering, I’ll admit it. We move internationally on a semi-regular basis. The company moves us, so we don’t have to box up the stuff ourselves, decreasing the likelihood of decluttering there and then. We often purge on the other end of a move, once we open the boxes and realize we didn’t need what was in it. That always seems ridiculous when we do it, so this time I’m trying to be proactive before the next move (likely within a year)…but I’m finding it hard. We never know where we’ll be going, so it’s hard to know what we need and don’t. That extra bed we’ve been toting around, meaning to get rid of? It has been really useful in our current house (especially since we have the space). Do we need so many spare linens and towels? I think not…but can we buy (or afford) decent replacements in the next country when ours wear out? Sometimes not.

    I know the sunk cost argument is supposed to be dropped, but it’s hard to get rid of perfectly good things that are in good shape when you think you might need to replace them in the future for an extortionate amount of money because they are imported from far away (like we are ourselves!).
    Of course, writing this out makes the reasoning look a bit silly. At the end of the day, too much is still too much, no matter how you look at it. Sigh.

    You’ve done it again, Rachel! Off I go!
    Jennifer´s last post…Homemade laundry detergent

    • I just cleaned out my linen closet a couple of weeks ago. It was out of control! We had way too many towels for our needs, about a million wash clothes, a set of sheets still in the package, etc. I freecycled what we didn’t need and the closet looks so much better. That first day, I must of opened the closet 50 times just to look at the neat and orderly inside. Even now, 2 weeks later, whenever I walk by, I will open the closet just to look at it! Will we need those towels, wash clothes, sheets in the future? Maybe, but having a simplified AND organized linen closet is worth the “What if”.

      • How many towels and sheets did you decide was “enough”? I am curious because it’s something I’ve never managed to work out! I sort of have three sets… so one on the bed, one in the wash and one spare (sort of = I have one set of flannels that I use in winter, and one absolutely gorgeous set of sheets/doona that I can only use in summer as I have to line dry them)

        Towels, we have three each; BUT I have a heap of really old towels (they get used), and some in between ones for when we go away etc. I keep thinking I have too many, though.
        Miss J´s last post…Week 8: What day is it again?

        • We have two full sets of towels, all white. We keep one on the racks in use, and one in the linen closet. Change out clean for dirty, wash, replace in closet. Easy. For a quick solution to getting rid of old towels, donate them to your local animal shelter. They use a lot of towels there, and never have enough. Two good things, more room in your closet with less stuff, and cared for animals!

          • It’s just two of us, and we go through 6 towels a week, changing out our towels after a few days (I use 4 of those: one for my body and one for my hair. Wasteful? Maybe, but it’s how I roll!), so I kept 9 towels. The three extra are for guests or to sop up big spills (we’ve had a few of those!). I also kept two older towels and added those to our camping gear. We also have two beach towels. Wow! That seems like a lot of towels for 2 people! I think I donated 6 or 7 towels, so we definitely had too many.

            As for sheets, I keep three sets: one on the bed, one in the wash and one in the closet.

  29. Since my oldest left for college in August, my youngest moved into her bigger room. I cleaned out both closets (about killed me!) to pare way down in order to switch. It really feels so good! Next I need to clear out my closet! :)
    Paula@Simply Sandwich´s last post…Establishing School Communication

  30. We are in a transition period right now. We moved out of our house in June, and all of our stuff is in a storage unit. We got rid of quite a bit, and I have been looking forward to weeding more out when we get settled. Six months without my stuff should definitely tell me what I need and what I don’t.

  31. Hah, we just moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City and we could not fit everything into the pod we ordered, so we ended up donating a LOT (much more than anticipated!). We’re living with my parents for a month while we get established here, and I’m amazed that I’ve already started another donate pile! Of course, I think having a baby 2 months ago has something to do with it–its hard to judge whether I should keep smaller clothes or hope to fit back in them!
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Tatum’s Eighth Week

  32. Just found your blog tonight. I’m your newest follower. I have been on a purging, simplifying kick for the last 5 years or so. I agree. It is SO MUCH easier to simplify than organize tons of stuff.

  33. Ohh… this makes me want to go through my closet. My goal this month is to wear every item of clothing once. If I don’t wear it- donate it. If I wear it and remember why I don’t like wearing it and haven’t worn it in a year- donate it.

    Why keep that stretched out shirt with the hole over the boob area? I put that one on today (in the spirit of “wear everything once”) and then remembered why I never wear it. It will be repurposed.
    Katherine´s last post…Burned Beans

  34. Yes! I cleaned out my closets just last night! We had a very bad typhoon here and there are many that need donations of old clothes, so I thought what better time…simplify and help out in the process. I felt amazing!! I ended up with less clothes in my closet than out…and yes, just as you mentioned above, it felt like I had a whole new wardrobe. Incredible! Now I am raring to go at other areas in our home. I hardly comment I know but your blog has really been an inspiration for me :)

  35. Since having a baby 8 months ago, I have been constantly going through my own stuff (clothes that no longer fit me, clothes and toys and items my baby has outgrown). My husband and I have a box by the door in our apartment to either give away on freecycle or sell, or give to someone we know who can use it. Even if something like a baby activity center or moses basket can be used for a potential future child, I’m on the lookout for someone I may be able to loan it to in the meantime. That way, our small apartment doesn’t remain filled with so much that we aren’t currently using. With unused (small) home accessories or personal accessories, I keep a small stash of things to give as gifts when an occasion sneaks up on me. It has served me well and helped me to slowly get rid of those useful (but not to me) items, too.

  36. I don’t have enough clothes to switch between seasons! Plus, where I live, we can swing through all four seasons in the space of 24 hours so hey, layers are a girl’s best friend!

    But I did do a massive cull of my wardrobe and most importantly, the bloke’s wardrobe. I let him choose about some things, but some stuff I just op shopped straight away…

    My MiL cannot throw anything away if it’s still “good” so if she doesn’t want it, we end up with it! Good thing *I* can throw stuff away, hey.

    Now I have done the cullage, though – I have had bags and bags and bags of stuff to go to the op shop for WEEKS.
    Miss J´s last post…Week 8: What day is it again?

  37. How fun! I love extra space in the closets. To be able to see what clothes to choose from without having them bunched together is a huge stress relief.

    Recently, I cleaned out the two boxes of childhood miscellaneous items my parents brought me from their house. I tossed most things, but am now working on putting the rest into a scrapbook and storing in my wicker coffee table. I’d like to look at old cards and art projects on occasion and if they are stored in a box in the closet, I can’t get any joy out of them. :)

  38. My husband is a natural at simplicity. Rarely does he have anything extra lying around. I’ve been a bit slower to the whole game plan, but am a fervent disciple now! We had major basement repairs to conquer this summer which required totally emptying our basement. We soon got used to the space and simplicity of it and vowed not to bring back ANYTHING that we absolutely didn’t need. This required a large downsize of seasonal decoration, never used children’s games, blankets and quilts stored in large tubs. Because of our new found space, I was able to streamline our laundry area and our daily entrance area from the garage. These are changes that we appreciate DAILY and DAILY make our lives smoother. The simplifying was absolutely worth the effort!
    Gretchen´s last post…Monday, Monday…

  39. You’re so right about cleaning out clothes, suddenly I love my whole wardrobe.

    I got my summer wardrobe down to just the right amount, and was thrilled with the results. I’m about to get out my fall/winter clothes as the season changes to start on them. I’m hope, too, to eliminate the switching/storing routine

  40. We went through our books. We homeschool and homeschoolers tend to covet books. We had between 900-1,100. I finally decided it did not matter how “good” a book was; if nobody wanted to read it, it was clutter. I went through them all–if I could not think of a specific point in school we would read it and none of the kids wanted to keep it, it went. We are probably down to 300 books, tops.

    I was reading a book about simplicity last month and the homeschooling author bragged her family had 5,000 books. I am glad to no longer brag about how many books fill my house, as if that somehow makes us smarter.

  41. Yahoo for you! I love the fact that you are able to identify what you want and need in your closet. I’m getting better at letting go of what I think I need because other people think it’s fashionable or necessary. The black denim jacket. Outta here. (It’s not that it’s not a great piece; it’s just that it doesn’t keep me warm and warmth is more important to me than fashion.)

  42. It’s ALMOST time to switch my summer and winter clothes, and I could ALMOST have space to keep them all in place at once. Do I dare whittle down enough to accomplish that? Hmmm. I have to think about this.

    More important: Thank you, Rachel, for your good content and writing on your blog. I referred my readers to you in my last article about life balance. Your essay about personal filters from last fall resonated with me and has become one of the tools I use in my decision making.
    Lori´s last post…Balancing Balance, Part II: Personal Filters

  43. What a coincidence, I was planning on going through my clothes today to purge, I figure now is a great time since I’m pregnant enoughbto not fit my normal clothes so it will be easier for me!

  44. I just get rid of one pile of tops of the “nice but…” variety which I hadn’t worn in years. i tried them all again and asked of each “would you like to wear it RIGHT NOW?” Yes -> keep, no -> donate. It was so liberating! I don’t miss one thing. :)

  45. I keep all seasons in ready to go too, but I live in warm climate and don’t need a lot of winter clothing. I have cleaned out a lot of things lately, and the closet was fun! I love the inspiration to clean out rather than just organize to fit in more!

  46. I have a trash bag of clothes sitting in my garage. It’s been waiting to go to Goodwill for over six months…maybe now’s the time to get it there. Or better yet, go through my side of the closet and my drawers to find it some friends…
    MK Jorgenson´s last post…A Manifesto for Christian Creatives

  47. I’ve slowly been working my way through my closets a section at a time – have done tops, skirts, and pants, still need to do dresses, shoes, coats, and bags – it is crazy how much I have. I love that William Morris quote and always try to keep it in mind – I need to stencil or tattoo it somewhere I think.
    carla´s last post…New Year’s Update

  48. You are so right!
    It *is* easier to maintain (clean, etc.) when things you simplify and have less.

    I’m so glad you just introduced me to “Pancakes and French Fries.”

    My mom was a depression-era hoarder.
    And, she left me with a 3 bedroom home stacked wall to wall – floor to ceiling.
    Ugh.

    All the best,
    Dana @ Cooking At Cafe D
    Dana @ Cooking at Cafe D´s last post…31 Days To a More Organized Life: Day 5 – Cleaning and Organizing Your Cell Phone

  49. I keep all seasons out all the time, too. I always have, I guess because I’ve never had a really big wardrobe due to budget, pickiness, etc. I find as a stay at home mom I do need more clothes, but only certain kinds (stuff that can get dirty/messy without bothering me!), but I know that as the kids get older that won’t be as much of an issue.

    We also have a garage for the first time ever and both cars are parked inside (we still have room for a workbench & storage of 4 bikes, a stroller, lawnmower, etc.). It floors me how many people in Texas do not park their cars in their garages. I’m from the east coast and parking in the garage is the norm. I try to cut them some slack because there aren’t basements here in Austin (pretty much every house has a basement back east) but honestly I think most people just have way too much crap!

  50. While not clothing based it is kindof topical…We are redoing our kitchen and today the new fridge was ready to be filled with all the food in the old fridge. Only problem is new fridge is counterdepth (which is awesome!) but smaller and shaped diferently than the old fridge. Filling the new fridge allowed me to get rid of many things that should have been tossed a while ago like salad dressings (my new rule is to only have one creamy and one oil based salad dressing) and freezer burned beyond recognition food. I will now try to label thing when bought or opened so that I know how long I’ve had it and when it should go. Also, and I wish we’d done more clearing out of stuff before we boxed up kitchen utensils, but we plan to only put back what we want and will use. We were married 3 years ago and still have a few duplicate things as well as things that we regret registering for (hello food mandolin so lovely but only used once because it is a pain to clean.) Have to say I love your blog and this is my first comment.

  51. Celeste in Dallas says:

    Been married a month and stumbled upon your website when googling “Budget Ideas” lol. Love your blog Rachel!

    I just recently finished un-packing my things and “organizing” my closet. I am slowly realizing I have way too much clothes I really don’t ever wear. But I don’t exactly know when to toss something out if it might be of good use at a later time. I know I don’t need so much clothes, but its hard to determine exactly what I DO need. Thoughts? Suggestions?

  52. We moved into our current house a year ago. It has a two car garage, but no extra room for the lawn mower, snow blower, and other tools. So, for the last year, my husband’s truck has been sitting out. This summer he built a shed in the backyard for all the tools/yard stuff and we cheered this weekend when we put both our cars in the garage. Yay!
    Bethany´s last post…Say Cheese!

  53. I work hard to keep my home clutter free simply because I know my kids only have to break out their toys and my floors will be covered in no time at all! It’s much easier to keep things simple than fight constantly to keep all the stuff and maintain it. Unfortunately, my husband isn’t on the same page. Hopefully I can maintain patience and he will see the benefit soon. Lately I’ve been adding rather than clearing out. We need warm things for winter and have been re-stocking out closets with essentials only. It’s actually a great feeling knowing I can make purchases for real necessities. The best part is because I’m not overwhelmed with things I can take the time to save a little money and do some sewing to make things do through winter like patching my son’s jeans or adjusting the neckline of a top.
    Rachel´s last post…Filling In the Wardrobe

  54. Yes, simplifying, decluttering, is an ongoing thing in my home. I’m proud of my latest accomplishment which was sorting through the kids clothes and donating 5 bags worth of clothing!-where does it all keep coming from!? It’s a good feeling!
    Christyn@StrivingforSimple´s last post…The Mouse That Made Me Clean The House

  55. 100% agreement. I’ve found that some of my casual summer dresses work great layered over leggings and under a long sleeved shirt. It makes me feel great spending good money for an item that I know fits me well and that I can wear in various ways all year. Simple and cost effective.
    Tracey´s last post…Day 6: Reuse, Repurpose, Remake

  56. Well done, Rachel. Thank you for sharing Jules’ blog — I’ve added it to my rss account, and I look forward to following her William Morris adventure.

    Cheers,
    Lissa
    Lissa´s last post…Work in Progress Wednesday #10: Oh, Addi!

  57. I am constantly on a mission to downsize all the while continuing to buy.

    So… I have a new rule.

    I have to discard before I can bring in new. I have become a frequent face at the local Salvation Army. Drop off my donation. Dash inside to their Thrift Store to see what is new. A great place to find props for photo taking.
    Donna´s last post…Heart Skippy Fabrics

  58. Rachel I just wanted to say that I enjoy your blog so much. I look forward to reading your words of wisdom and feel like I have been learning a lot from you! My fiance and I are attempting to pay off any debt that we have left, learn to leave with out things that we don’t need that just tie us down and spend our money very carefully so you have been my go to resource!

    Your newly organized closet looks wonderful. I like how you are so decisive about what it is that you need. I am currently in need of purchasing some new winter clothes due a change in size. Do you have any cold weather basics that you rely on or particularly enjoy having in your wardrobe? Also do you have stores that you prefer that you feel give you the value that you are looking for?

  59. Hi Rachel,

    A few weeks ago I cleaned out the closet in our Master Bedroom. Surprisingly, neither my husband or I have a lot of clothes but our closet was overflowing with boxes filled with books, board games, and electronics!

    On thing that I did that I just love is…I hauled an old antique wash table out of our attic and attached a strip plug where now all our electronics can “live” at night while they’re being recharged. I am so happy with this. No more stepping over cords, phones, laptops, etc. The floor is totally clear. It’s a joy to vacuum! Now that’s something I never thought I’d hear myself say! LOL!!!

    Hope you are getting settled in your new home! :-)

    Love,

    Mary

  60. Great post! While it can be a complete headache to de-clutter your closets, it is such a relief once you get around to doing it. Not only for your physical space but, more importantly, your mental space. Often when our environment is cluttered, so becomes our mind which then can lead to low productivity and anxiety. Being organized gives you breathing room. Thanks! MM

  61. I read somewhere that if you clean out your closet and only save the stuff you LOVE, then every day you will be wearing something you love! Makes sense to me! I have been in the process of paring down my clothes. As I am getting ready to switch over to more long sleeves and sweaters, I’ll be able to see which of the short sleeves and tanks I never even wore this summer, and out they will go!
    Successful Woman’s Resource Center´s last post…10 Steps to Avoid Mental Breakdown

    • Why does that seem like such a novel, brilliant idea? I have maybe five shirts that I LOVE, and the others I wear before I do laundry. And all the while I’m thinking about the shirt in the laundry, and I can’t wait to wear it again.

  62. A magazine asked to publish some pics of my studio so I was urged to tidy up everything and declutter my fabric shelves. I found a lot of pieces of fabric I think I won’t use anymore, gave it for a donation. The decluttered look was so inviting, it’s only hard to keep it this way, when you work every day with the materials.

  63. Oh my, this is really good. What a thought – it’s easier to simplify than organize.

    I have lots of clothes that I could probably get rid of but I find it so difficult because I have a hard time finding clothes that look good on me when I do shop and I rarely ever shop. I guess I’m afraid that since I have those problems I’ll need my old things if the ones I regularly wear get faded and threadbare. :) What a dilemma!

    Seriously, I’m almost ready to go clean my closet out right now and it’s 8 o’clock at night!
    Elisabeth´s last post…31 Days of Kitchen Inspiration Day 6: How to Organize Your Refrigerator

  64. I’m so inspired by this blog post! I love how you keep things so simple and practical.

  65. My partner and I officially moved in together a year ago. Two months ago now, I got back from a 3-week vacation and informed him we were going to get to work on some projects we had already agreed to do, but first: we were re-arranging our bedroom.

    Cleaning out the bedroom and storage unit resulted in him getting rid of a LOT of dust-magnet knick-knacks that he’s been carrying around. I asked him to work with me and keep me honest on why I was keeping the things I am, and I would do the same. When I moved cross-country 2 years ago, I had to do a lot of that at the time, but most just got left at my grandmother’s house. Now every time I go back to visit I freecycle or donate a couple boxes each trip. He doesn’t have the luxury of such a situation giving you the space to get rid of things when you realize you haven’t missed them, so that’s what we do with storage. Some of it is camping/survival gear that we use a few times a year, some of it is staging for donation, and some of it is material for my business. The rest is stuff that we needed to make room for but are unwilling to give up yet. Like the fact that his action figure display went from 8 shelves to 2. He got rid of half of it, but the rest will wait until we buy our house and can share them with our children.

  66. Rachel, I really love this post. I really like what you said about someone else not having to go through it. My friend’s father passed away a week before I went to stay with my Dad after a quadruple-bypass. My friend was going through the horror of cleaning out her dad’s apartment before the next rent check was due — all while in a state of shock and grieving. As I stayed with my own dad, I ticked off a mental checklist of everything my dad had — lots of stuff! I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the task later in life (hopefully much later, but we never know).

    I felt a bit guilty thinking of it, but it was such a good exercise in preparation – identifying what can be carted out without being emotionally overwhelmed, and what is going to be difficult. It helps that I have formed less of an attachment to my own belongings. Why would I be sentimental about my dad’s golf shirts, when I’m not sentimental about my own clothes? Do I really think he would want me to stress over 80 golf shirts? No, but I do with he would save me some of the trouble by whittling them down to 10. Likewise, I don’t want to leave my kids with a house of hoarding later in life.

  67. Well, I’m one of those east coasters who switches out seasonally…so that’s what I’ve been doing. My kids have in season clothes in their drawers and the off season in the closets…if we don’t switch they’ll be wearing shorts in February. Plus in the land of hand me downs I need to constantly evaluate is something can be passed along.
    And I am trying to get to the point where I am not switching…I’m down to one out of season box of sweaters and one bag of shoes.
    melanie´s last post…Spring & Summer 2011 Recap

  68. Very nice article. I was looking through your site briefly and you are doing a wonderful job sharing your experiences and offering inspiration. Encouragement and inspiration has a trickling affect and even in the smallest quantities can travel far and wide.

    Blessings – Traci Lea

  69. I stumbled upon your blog and I love it! I’m also trying to get rid of about 1/3-1/2 of my closet. I really suck at throwing clothes out because I keep saying “well I might wear it” and then I don’t. Any tips on making this easier?
    Keep writing, I love it!
    Janine´s last post…My recruiting experience — phase 2

  70. Just got back from a trip to nowhere and discover another fabulous blog post from you!!! We were taking school supplies, we collected through our blog, to a rural school in the mountains of Lesotho… they really have nothing and yet are learning at great guns… I came home inspired!!! I have just decided that instead of reorganizing our school stuff again I must just trim down to the bare essentials!!! Crayons, paper, and pencils – pretty much what we need… A whole lot of stuff can just go!!!
    se7en´s last post…Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #89 – And Super Speedy Packing for a Trip…

  71. I moved out of my Mom’ house 2 years ago, give or take a month or two. But I left a ton of stuff behind as I moved into my boyfriend’s house and it was already full of his stuff. There just wasn’t room for all of mine. About six months ago, I realized that most of the stuff I had at my Mom’s hadn’t been touched by me in almost 2 years, even though I go to her house at least 2 times a month. I got rid of 7 huge trash bags full of clothes. I got rid of bags of trash that wasn’t previously trash to me. I got rid of three huge boxes filled with books and CDs- some I sold, some I gave away. There’s still a long way to go, but its getting there.
    Debra´s last post…This Year.

  72. While it’s true that cleaning out after a death is just brutal, I have had a couple of instances now when an emergency required that someone else take over my house/life for a while. That’s another strange experience, because when they step into your role, they have a different perspective. It’s almost as refreshing as a move.

    Ten years ago, I couldn’t even pick up after myself, I just didn’t know how. Now that I’ve learned a little better, it’s clear that organizing isn’t the solution. I am learning how to trash, trash, trash the junk, give away what I won’t use, and I’m moving into that space where you only keep what you have room to store and use. That’s a challenge, for now, but practice makes perfect!

    One big problem are the toys, and while there are several good solutions, none of them work if you have too much stuff. I went without some things as a kid, and so the choice between barbies and ponies is tough, for me. Last week my husband pointed out that we could have both, but maybe not TWENTY of both! Ha! It’s a process.

  73. Oh i am about to pull out my winter clothes and was just thinking i need to drastically reduce my wadrobe. What an inspiration!

  74. I’ve been cleaning out about one “space” per week since the kids started school. It feels soooo good. Last week I took 6 trash bags of clothes and toys to the goodwill and 2 huge boxes of books to Half price books. My bookcase was a nightmare but now all the books fit neatly in an organized fashion on the shelves. I never would have guessed the relief I feel now when I look at the bookcase. I also cleaned out a cabinet and made room for small appliances so they are no longer on the kitchen counter. Next I think it will be the bathroom cabinet.

  75. I like the line… “I will never get over the amazement of how when you give away the clothes that you won’t wear, you like the clothes you keep so much more, almost like you just went and bought a new wardrobe.”

    :) so true!
    ~G´s last post…It’s a bugs life

  76. I’m doing 31 days of simplifying too. It’s been hard but great too. I love this closet post !

    Jennifer

  77. Hi Rachel
    I just cleaned out a hall closet a while back, and find it needs to be done again because I started storing sports gear in it… last weekend I went through my bookshelves and gave away a bunch of books! It feels great to get through this… and thanks for the link to 31 days! :)
    angelvalerie´s last post…stop the planet, I want to get off…

  78. I agree! We recently downsized our house to move to our farm. I got rid of so much un-needed “stuff”. But, as we are settling in here, I see so much more than I can get rid of.
    Kim @ Eat What You’ve Got´s last post…Candied Sweet Potatoes

  79. Well, you motivated me to give my own wardrobe a much needed makeover. Thank you SO much for the inspiration!

  80. I am always finding ways of organising my home specially the kids toys and always looking for storage ideas.