I live in a house that was built in 1927. Obviously not the consumers we are now, they did not build the big walk-in closets we’re used to today. Neat (and not so neat) piles started to spring up around my home until what once felt like spacious rooms were closing in on me, and threatening to eat me alive. Okay, maybe not eat me alive, but I was in danger of being mistaken for one of those hoarders you see on television. I was appalled by how much junk I’ve accumulated over the years and it was definitely time to tackle my spring clean (in August – well, it’s better late than never)!

Shelf full

Photo album shelf before & after

There was not a nook, cranny, corner or edge of any room that wasn’t a chaotic cluttered mess. I didn’t know where to start, so I procrastinated until I could bare it no longer. I knew I needed help, so I jumped on Angie’s List to find an organizer, and lucked out when Pat Caldwell came to my rescue!

Rooms before

Rooms before

I was mortified when she asked me to email her photos (convinced she would run and hide like I’d been trying). She wanted to get an idea of how involved the job would be, how much time it would take to tackle, and give me some suggested storage solutions (ie. special hangers to organize scarves, jewelry, and belts to take up less space, stacked shelving for shoes or added space on shelves, and wall hooks for the garage). It was decided we should work one day per week over a period of the next five weeks to knock it all into shape, so I could still handle my workload, without becoming overwhelmed by the massive undertaking (trying to conquer it all in one go).

Rooms after

Rooms after

Just getting started is the hardest part. First we designated where things should “live” by shifting them to the appropriate rooms even though there was not any space to put them away yet. We systematically threw ourselves into clearing out one drawer, cupboard, or closet at a time – making piles of electronics to be recycled, garbage bags filled with old documents to be safely destroyed, and piles of clothes for giveaway. Once those piles were sorted, we moved them to the garage to make space (to be disposed of in the various proper methods once the whole house had been sifted through).

Bathroom before & after

Bathroom before & after

Next we neatly put away what remained, and if it didn’t fit, I did another ruthless purge until it did. Note to self: ask yourself if you really need something before buying, and if you do, something old has to go to make space for it. You really do not need so much stuff, so stop being a mindless consumer!

Sense of accomplishment!

Such a sense of accomplishment

It was an incredibly gratifying feeling to see that first room beautifully organized and fully functional again! That in turn gave me the incentive to keep going until every room felt the same. Not only does the house look great now, I know where to find things, and I feel so much lighter. I’m no longer ashamed to entertain at home again, and I’m more productive in an environment that gives me aesthetic  pleasure again. My hope is that in sharing this it will motivate someone else (as paralyzed as I was by an out of control mess), into action. What tips do you have for getting and staying on top of your clutter?

Here’s a great way to make use up of some of those staples loitering in your pantry, while making a delicious, no fuss “dump and cook”  meal that will slow-cook while you organize your house, or to come home to a hot meal after a long day at work.

Barbecue Pork on Soft Rolls

Barbecue Pork on Soft Rolls

So tender and succulent it melts in your mouth. Fiery hot with a hint sweet and savory, your taste buds will be doing a jig with this dynamic slow-cooked barbecue pork recipe served on soft rolls.

PS. Thank you to Pat Caldwell for your patience and expertise! I still can’t believe how well you motivated and guided me through this!

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  • September 24, 2013
    11:57 am

    Wow, I can totally empathize…my house was built in 1906 and there is NEVER enough room!!! I literally lived in hoarder-ville for YEARS with stacks of items everywhere…and couldn’t understand why I was so depressed being in my own home. Thankfully, I have a friend who is obsessed with the show “Hoarders” and she kicked my butt and got me motivated to do a HUGE purge recently. The plan was to attack it as many days as we could with the “goal” being a party at my house during San Diego Gay Pride weekend. I live right on the parade route and all of my gay friends were constantly giving me a hard time that I have the perfect location to be the “hub” for parade festivities…but my house was always such a mess I was too embarrassed to play host. It was hard, hard work, and it was difficult to get rid of things because I am terribly sentimental, but my friend kept encouraging me to keep my eye on the goal and focus on how good it would feel when we were done. Mission accomplished, the party was a smashing success, and now I can’t wait for next year’s party to be even bigger (I’m even installing a paved “dance floor” on my front lawn since we all wound up outside literally Dancing in the Streets!) Thank God for my friend who motivated me, picked me up when I was crying over sentimental items I truly needed to toss, and kept me focused on the goal. She still remains my biggest motivation to KEEP my house straightened because I never know when she might drop by!!! For anyone “suffering” from this issue, my suggestion is to find a friend of yours who is always totally brutally honest with you and ask them for help. I know it can be hard to do (I’m the type who IS the helper, not the one to ASK for help) but your true friends love you for who you are, and they want what is best for you!!! They will help you without judgement and get you through this totally overwhelming task, I promise!!! And trust me, you cannot imagine how AMAZING you will feel walking into your home when it looks like it should be featured in a magazine – sheer BLISS!!! 😉

  • September 24, 2013
    3:31 pm

    I knew it was getting bad when I would be at a store and think, “I could really use This. But don’t I already have This? Where in my house did I put This?”

    The photographic evidence of your purge-and-organize effort is inspiring!

  • September 28, 2013
    5:32 am

    I can totally relate to this Jewels. I have slowly just started to clean out many items which have over time found their way in all corners of the house. I know it will take some time as there is so much to do and sort through however I am ready for it. I have thrown out so many broken toys or parts missing from them that Mia has not even noticed……..I wonder how long it will be before she does…….hopefully never!

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