Clearing out, Organizing, & Redecorating Room by Room | The Outside

June 3, 2011

We’ve made it!  Our living areas & kitchens, bedrooms & offices, utility rooms, dining rooms, & bathrooms are cleared out, organized, and redecorated–simplified, that is, and now the only thing that stands between us and completely simple homes are the outside ares–the garage and/or tool shed.

This may be a Saturday job.  This may be a weekend job.  This may even be a whole-other-week job, but it’s a job that needs to be done!  In addition, if your husband is anything like mine, he’ll probably want to be intimately involved in this project.  In fact, he’ll probably want to just DO the whole project, which is fine by me because I hardly use the stuff in there anyway! :)

For the last time, here are the General Rules We Follow for All Rooms:

Our front yard

  • We always have a trash bag with us.  That way if there’s something we want to throw away we can do it right then.  This eliminates the second-guessing and the huge trash pile in the middle of the room.
  • In addition, we always have a second trash bag, a box, or a special place in the room to put things that we want to give away.  These are things that we know a certain person or family could use or would want.  When we’re done with a room we move those items that we’ve cleared out to a central place and bag them up (we use old grocery bags).  The name of the person or family goes on the bag and those bags get put in our car.  Then the next time we see them we already have their bag in our car! The same goes for things we’ve borrowed from others that we find when clearing out.
  • If we’re planning on having a garage sale we’ll have a third trash bag, box, or special place to pile items to sell in the garage sale.  Again, when we’re finished in a certain room, we’ll move those items to a predetermined “garage sale” area (sometimes a bag or box to be put in the attic if the garage sale will be several weeks from then).
  • We always start at the door of whatever room we’re clearing out and work our way clockwise until we end up back at the door again.
  • We try to just make a decision right then and there about everything we touch.  There are really only four categories we work with: keep it, toss it, give it away, and garage sale.  If an item lands in the “keep it” category but is in the wrong room we immediately put it in the proper room.
  • If we haven’t used an item for over a year (and it’s not something that logically doesn’t need to be used in that amount of time–for instance, it makes sense to hang on to pregnancy/baby stuff if you’re planning to have more children even if you haven’t used it in over a year) then we get rid of it (throw away, give away, or save for garage sale).

One last note before we get started: You must be in the mood to do this.  If you’re not in a “clearing out” mode, it’s just not going to work and you’re going to spend all day going through a room and when you’re done it’s going to be exactly the same.  Make sure you actually want to clear out your home!

most of our backyard (from the patio, with the tool shed on my right)

Remember:  The name of the game is Simplify!

  • I think out of all the areas in our home it’s the tool shed that holds the most “what if” items.  What if we ever need this spool of chicken wire?  What if there comes a day when we just really need a broken broom handle?  What if a natural disaster hits and we need those ten gallon jugs of water?  It’s so hard to find the balance between hanging on to junk for no good reason and legitimately holding on to things that really might prove useful!  The best way we’ve found to weed out is to bend to the space we have.  Does everything we want to hang on to fit in the space in an organized and easy-to-get-to way?  No? Then certain things need to go.
  • First, try to keep almost everything off the floor.  If you have a shelf or a knob or a hanger for every single item it means less mess and less opportunity to start piling items in corners.
  • Keep the items you use on a regular basis.  This is obvious.  The lawn mower, the edger, the broom, the rake, the tool box.  Keep them.  Mount them on the wall.
  • Add a shelf and put baskets on the shelf that have smaller like items in them.
  • Why do you have two lawn mowers?  Two edgers?  Two rakes?  Two . . . almost anything?  Give away one of each thing you somehow have unnecessarily collected two or more of!  Similarly: how many ice chests do you really need?  I mean really?
  • Keep items that get used together together.
  • Wrap up hoses and cords and wire and string!
  • Consider resting some things on the top of the rafters (i.e. lawn chairs, canoes)
  • Throw away bits and pieces of string and wire that are probably too small to be used anyway.
  • And finally, make room for your cars.  A garage is for cars.  It’s good for your vehicle to be covered.

A final note about your yard: I thought this would go without saying, but maybe not.  Your yard should not be a dump.  If something needs to be taken to the dump–take it there.  That goes for side yards, too.  There should only be outside equipment outside (i.e. lawn chairs, picnic tables, swings, jungle gyms, umbrellas, trampolines, kiddie pools, pool equipment, maybe even a tub–with a lid–full of outside toys).  Here’s a good test: If the box it came in didn’t have a picture of some grass or of the sun it doesn’t belong outside.  The way we treat our belongings tells our kids how they should treat theirs.

I hope this week proved helpful.  I encourage you, if this week just wasn’t the right week for you, to come back to these posts when you do have some time to go through your home.  It’s so liberating to live simply!


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