It was early in the morning, after HB left for work. I poured my second cup of coffee and headed straight for the bedroom. Now, let me tell you a little bit about my bedroom. In the center of the room, under a window, sits our queen-size bed with a black wrought iron headboard and footboard. I love a light and breezy feel (think ocean cottage) so our bed is covered in white sheets, white blanket, and a white comforter. On each side of our bed are matching dressers in white with black knobs. Each dresser looks unique to the person on that side of the room. HB’s side has a large black mirror sitting on top with a lamp that has a black base. He also has a dish that holds his keys, cellphone, wrist watch, pocket change…you get the gist. It’s manly looking. My side has a large victorian-era lamp. A plant in an off-white pot sits next to it. I also have a diffuser, hand lotion and usually a book or two. My little mirror hangs from the wall, next to pictures that have encouraging sayings on them. A womanly feel.
To one side of the room are french doors with long white curtains that open up to a little private patio. I love sunshine, so the white curtains allow the daylight to break through our east facing doors. Next to the french doors is a large cabinet that my great-grandfather made. Originally it was designed to be my grandma’s canning cabinet. HB white-washed it for me a couple of years ago and I use it as my armoire. In my previous update, you saw the black shelf that sits between our entry door and master bathroom door. As well, I have pictures on the walls, all visuals of being outdoors.
Sounds kind of dreamy, doesn’t it?
What I didn’t tell you about was the closet behind the door. A closet that was so packed with mostly unused items, where dust mites go to enjoy a life of leisure. What I didn’t tell you about was the area on my side of the bed, where stacks of folded and refolded clothes sit because I have nowhere in the room to put them. What I didn’t tell you about were the dressers that were so stuffed with clothing items that the bottoms were being pushed out. What I didn’t tell you about was the armoire that bulged so much over the front of the shelves that we couldn’t even close the doors.
Yeah…I didn’t tell you about all of the clutter.
So I walked in the bedroom door that morning, with my big ol’ cup of coffee in hand and took a good look around that room that had overwhelmed me for far too long. This should go without saying, but our master bedrooms are intended to be our haven. It is a place where we go for peace, comfort and romance. This represented none of the above. It was a picture of eye-noise, discomfort and well…not one of romance.
There’s a certain way that I clean. I’ve been like this since I was a little girl. In each room I select a large surface where I can put things to sort through. It gives me a feeling of space as items go into one area and space opens up around it. For my bedroom, this is obviously our bed. So the first thing I did…I made the bed.
I grabbed a bag and decided my first go-around (yes, it’s another work in progress) would be brutal and swift. Because the closet and armoire were most overwhelming to me, I decided I’d tackle the stack of clothes on my side of the bed. I began to toss anything that I just “knew” I didn’t really love. We all have those items. We hold onto them for some strange reason, but every time we put them on, we end up changing into something else because they just don’t feel right. Yet, we fold them up and toss them back into the pile. As I went through every item of clothing on the floor, I quickly tossed anything I had to ponder and folded the items I felt I loved and put them on the bed. I organized them according to the type of item they were (ie., tank tops, short-sleeve tops, pants, etc.). Before I knew it, I had gone through all of the clothes on the floor. Not too bad.
I still felt overwhelmed by the closet, so I decided to hit the armoire next. I opened both doors and sat down to take a good look at all of those clothes. I thought to myself, “What is my true style? What items don’t fit my lifestyle anymore? What items am I holding onto to get back into, fix a button, etc.?” I felt I needed to process some deeper thoughts before moving forward. In order to be brutal, it was important to get a true focus on who I really am. I think we all have various style ideas that we like to play with, but somewhere in the mix of that is our true style. When you wear an outfit that is so comfortable that you practically forget about it…where it makes you feel good about yourself whenever you wear it…that is your true style. The armoire was going to be a bit tougher than the stack on the floor because these were items that had been shoved away for a while. It meant I was going to have to…dun, dun, dun…try them all on.
Yep. Some items I knew I could just toss, but most of what was in there, I put on. If it didn’t fit well enough, was a color that made me go, “eh…”, or was something that I knew I’d rarely or probably never wear again, it was tossed into the bag. For instance, my many pairs of slacks. I have not worn a single pair in a year and half…not even to church. With the exception of my black pair, I tossed them all in the bag. The stack of “work shirts” – meaning, those shirts that are big and comfy and have stains on them that we tend to think will be perfect if we decided to paint the house or work in the garden…yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Tossed them all! For a year and a half, I’ve worked around my home, inside and out, and I have never put on one of those shirts. I wear my normal everyday casual attire. So, this went on and on as I worked my way through four full and stuffed shelves. Between the floor clothes and armoire clothes, I filled to-the-top two large garbage bags. For the items I kept, I folded and put on the bed with the other grouped stacks of clothing I “intended” to keep.
Cleaning, organizing, uncluttering…it’s a mental thing, and as the floor cleared and the armoire emptied and the bags filled, my momentum and energy picked up. I headed for the dresser on my side of the bed.
My top drawer is filled with under garments. Let me just say this to the girls out there…throw away the stuff that needs to be thrown away! There is nothing sexy about undies with holes and bras with wires that only impale when worn. Toss them! To the guys…do the same with your under stuff. Friends, toss anything that is too big, too small, needs repair, or whatever other excuse you’re using to hold onto them. Forgo a week’s worth of coffee at your local favorite coffee shop and use the money to get some new under stuff.
My dresser has three drawers, so I made my way through the other two; one with ALL of my sleeping attire and the other with ALL of my scarves, wraps, hats, etc. I pretty much did the same with these two drawers as I had before. I had so many pj’s; many that I didn’t even really like and most that I rarely wore. Again, we have our favorites, so I got brutal and tossed them into bags. Because scarves and wraps can become such a tangled mess, I decided I would find another way to store those, so I left my bottom drawer empty for now.
So by this point, my floor was clear, my armoire was empty, and my dresser was organized and ready for a re-do. It was time to tackle the closet. …dun, dun, dun…
My closet is an odd little space behind our bedroom door. Several years ago, HB extended our master bath so I could have the tub of my dreams…a claw foot. Yeah, dreamy. (I’ll talk more about my bathroom on another day.) By extending our bathroom, that meant he had to use our old full-sized closet. When he sealed up that wall, that used to have our closet doors, we still had an area behind our door about three feet wide and deep. He hung two poles; one high, that only he could reach…and one low, for me. In between the two was a shelf that was sort of crowded all the time from his clothes above. My clothes came so close to the floor, that my shoes were kind of hidden underneath it all. We had a curtain – a bulging curtain – that hung from a spring rod in our attempt to create a door.
I honestly hated this little closet set-up and decided it needed a change. In our bathroom is a dresser that belonged to my great-grandparents. I love it but, in the bathroom, it’s became a place to collect all sorts of junk. So, I decided I wanted this dresser in my closet area. That meant I would no longer have a pole for my clothes to hang from, but I wanted something more useful where we really needed it.
I poured more coffee and went to task on our closet. I pulled each item from the pole, and went through the same motions as I did my armoire…I tried everything on and probably got rid of 3/4’s of it all.
One thing worth mentioning… There is nothing more depressing than going to your closet, dresser, armoire…whatever…and fishing through clothing that does not fit you. I had done this for far too long, and I believe it’s part of what took me down my frumpy road. It was discouraging to have so much and be able to wear so little. The dust on the shoulders of each item was a tell-tale sign of how long it had been. Take my advice and do yourself a favor, be kind to yourself and release the pull that clothing has on you. Keep what fits well and that you love. When the time comes that you take off those extra pounds or you take that cruise and can wear those fancy items…you’ll find a way to get a few more things that work perfect.
Before I knew it, the pole was empty. Just as I’ve collected jewelry, I’ve collected clothing; jackets, slacks, blouses, skirts for days, vests, sweaters….I could go on and on. I had to keep asking myself, “What is my true style and what makes me feel good about myself?” I tossed anything that didn’t fit into the answers to those questions.
I continued on like this until I had gone through every items of clothing, every shoe, and every purse I had accumulated in my bedroom. The feeling of air and space around me felt wonderful! I had filled three Hefty-sized bags with clothing, one with shoes, and a smaller bag with purses. I moved the bags out of the room so I could see and feel the space. I won’t lie…it was tough, but it was freeing!
We have hardwood floors in our room. What a pleasure to be able to see them so uncluttered. It was time to go through the mound of clothing still left on the bed. Yes…there was still a mound of items I intended to keep. Remember me mentioning my first go-around? Well…this would be my second, because as I had freed myself from all of that clothing clutter, my brain clicked into gear and I was ready to raise the bar on brutal cleaning mode. These were all items that I could wear, so now I had to go through and filter out those things that I was still kind of holding onto “just because…” but that continued to be tossed around without actually being worn. I filled half a bag with many of those items. 🙂
Now because I was putting the dresser in my closet area, I no longer had a pole to hang clothing from. I recently read this little idea of rolling certain clothing items to save on space. Yes, I know…sounds weird, but I decided I was going to give this a try. I decided I would roll my skirts and my more flowing shirts and blouses (material that doesn’t wrinkle). I filled the two empty dresser drawers with those and let me tell you…I love it! I can easily spot a skirt and blouse and they take up hardly any space at all. In fact, in my skirt drawer, I was able to add a basket that holds my belts (yes, I have a small collection of those too). I used my armoire to hold my folded items (tank tops, regular shirts, button-up shirts, pants, etc.)
Now I know our rooms are set up differently. My way of cleaning might be weird and foreign to your way. The gist in all of this is to simply…unclutter. I believe that we hang onto a lot of stuff for mental reasons. I don’t know about you, but inside of me lives this other woman who I long to be. I can’t help but wonder if a big part of my clutter is to try to get closer to her. Or maybe as a kid we didn’t have stuff that we wanted, so now we’re working jobs and living lives where we can, so we fill that old void that we had. I can only speak for myself, but I believe it causes a vicious cycle in us; like an addiction, and so we collect and collect until our precious homes are bursting at the seams and we’re left feeling miserable and overwhelmed surrounded by it all.
Even though I’ve uncluttered a lot, I already know that there’s more for me to get rid of, but just like my jewelry, I plan to let them linger for a season or two to see which ones become my favorites. By the first of the year, I should have a good sense of what else can go – that’s gone untouched.
Take out your calendar today. Where do you have space to spend an hour really looking at your home? Schedule it in, and plan to walk around…looking into drawers, closets, corners, shelves…just some time to take it all in. Then, pour yourself a cup of coffee and sit down and plan a day for a brutal cleaning. I have found it’s best to do this in stages. In fact, I’m still working through mine as I share with you.
And know…this process might feel overwhelming and it might make you cry. It did for me. I cried because it was the realization of something much deeper inside of me. I’m not a hoarder who has trails through my home, but one who has trails through my heart.
THAT’s what I want to tap into. THAT’s where I want to encourage others. To put on some fresh new eyes..clear your mind and heart and get to the root of who you are underneath all of this clutter.
*raising my coffee cup to you*
Here’s too our continued pursuit of The Uncluttered Life! Cheers!
If you have any tips to share or questions to ask, please comment below.
Coming soon: Peace and Calm| Completion of the Master Bedroom (with pictures)