4 Obstacles to Decluttering & How to Beat Them Part 4

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

I'm guilty of responding "in my head" and not typing, especially when I'm doing a quick catch-up. Other times, I just don't have anything to add beyond another person's comments. A recent example -- Holly said pretty much what i was thinking about your new place, and I was only able to type with one hand, so I didn't post.

I figure people mostly read my posts, although some may skim or skip over them... sometimes they post responses, other times not... but I don't take lack of responses as lack of interest.

My 2 cents, anyway!

btw, I'd probably want to keep the pinks & mauves (Joyanna would, too), but I sympathize with having to remove old wallpaper!

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

The pink was the wall to wall in the living and dining!
Emme my granddaughter would say keep it too! Her bedroom I think is pink on pink with pink touches.

Well, I feel better -- and I am thick skinned. But it is an observation I have had even when lurking in a thread full of 'regulars' -- a newbie ( not necessarily new to DG - just to the thread ) pops in and asks a question or comments in the discussion and it is like it never happened.

I think the homeowner was shooting fot the blues and mauves so popular for the country look.
Jackie got lucky because if not for those decorating challenges with wallpaper etc., I think the house would have sold and she would have missed the opportunity.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Umm... my dining room is pink. :-)

Actually, it's a pale Victorian rose shade above the deep burgundy chair rail, and the lower part of the walls is dark forest green.

The living room is 2 shades of lavender.

The rest of the downstairs has white walls, which is DH's preference. We "compromised" by putting color on half the downstairs.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

My last dining room was pink too....a sort of vining green with pink floral. The chair rail was a really pretty creamy white ...like heavy cream ....and the bottom was a pink pencil stripe with white ...it opened to the kitchen and on the one wall in the kitchen leading to that room I used the striped only. I liked it a lot. The new people evidently did not because a few years later it sold and I saw photos -- it was gone. AND we built wall to wall shelving ( open cubbies ) chair rail up and below closed cabinet shelving along one wall...painted that beautiful creamy white ...and that got gone too.

Critter...I saw that wall to wall pink carpeting....it had to go!

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

You judt reminded me...our first house....the dining room was sooooooooo tiny.but it had a bay window that made it feel larger. Back then Dorothy's Ruffled Curtains were the rage ($$$$$$). I saved and saved and had a pair installed ( they came to the house to do it - whoooooo hooooooo ) that when material laid out flat I swear had to be 25 feet long. It was a tan polished cotton with a thin deep emerald velvet trim and under one of the many top ruffles was a tiny french floral print. Trimmed in a cotton lace.

Under the chair rail was a tiny french floral dark geen and tan tiny print. ( that was an argument I won)
Over the chair rail was the match to the french floral...a tan and green stripe

I LOVED THAT ROOM. The hutch, claw footed table...6 chairs.....was all we could get in it.....

NO PEOPLE COULD FIT around the table. And we were skinny then.

I forgot that house and that room. First house. Nice memory

This message was edited Oct 25, 2015 3:24 PM

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

LOL... sometimes decluttering extends to colors, too... even where one person's trash was another person's treasure. I sure would have kept your built-ins!

I like more neutral floring colors in main living areas, easier to change it up.. I did put grass-green carpet in my teenage bedroom, though, and Joyanna is lobbying for pink in her room.

I don't want to even think about how old that mauve carpeting is...

I need to get a plantar wart frozen off the bottom of my foot. Why mention it here? Well, I think it'll be sore for a few days, and I won't want to do much out in the garden... but I can sit and sort through some boxes of clutter, put things where they go and get rid of what I can.

It would be good to get my seeds sorted out, too! That's another sitting-around project.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

A beautiful but un-usable dining room? *blinking*

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

I know! We didn't build the house! And empty it looked big enough.
I am italian....multiple courses.......squeeeeeezing in and out was something else.
Them were the days.

By the way that house had dark dark green carpeting in the living room. Red brick fireplace. I was going for country cabin I guess.

And....dark green formica counters.

Those built ins were not fly by night. We had a carpenter furniture maker friend...we bought materials and he did work as house gift. Floor to ceiling....maybe 12 feet wall to wall cabinetry. It was really beautiful. But like you said trash and treasure....

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

Hehehe, I think we all have THOSE kind of stories about the places we have lived. We love built-ins. I shudder to think about what the buyer of our house will do to all the touches we love. Not that we are selling any time soon.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

MissingRosie, I find that I read mostly everything but don't always respond. Especially if someone has made the same point that I would. But I also sometimes post something that gets little to no responses and wonder, why.

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

Same here, sounds like we all think alike.

(Susan) Xenia, OH(Zone 6a)

Hi, I'd like to join the group. Introductory info...I'm dealing with two homes, pretty successfully. I do appreciate encouragement as I near the finish of a longterm downsizing project!

For the last 20+ years in the rural PA rental home now occupied by my husband and me, my instincts have been telling me that I have actually been occupying and trying to maintain a 3-family home-- because it did, once upon a time, serve as a 3-family dwelling.

This week I did the math, after finding an old Zillow-type, buried 2004 listing of the property's particulars. At that point (2004), the landlord's family must have restructured who owns what on the total farm acreage-- with one house for each son. (I'm pretty sure which of the 4 sons got 'our' house; my favorite! He's just finishing medical school; his uncle had managed that house, in the past, also from his own medical career downstate.)

A room finished as a dorm (after a little housefire we had) would constitute a 6th bedroom if the stairway were re-positioned to make a legal bedroom (like it had been before the fire.) With it, the home's total living space is 4,144 square feet. That dorm sits over what would be either the 5th bedroom in a 1-fam dwelling, or the 3-fam configuration's 3rd living room (if the bath in that section ever got finished being plumbed in).

OK, so that's the PA rental.

Camp Ridgebury, Ohio is 1008 square feet, in a delightful mass-built, modular-construction subdivision, with an additional 576 feet possible when the garage is finished and connected via a very tight planned breezeway, for a total of 1590 square feet. This creates a music/weight room, with workshop/garden tool storage in the garage. (Adjoining the garage there is also room for a weathertight ADA-scooter/garden shed.)

At present, Camp Ridgebury is furnished mostly from the dorm's former contents, as a comfortable work camp.

Its current purpose is to serve as
... a comfortable work camp,
... home for a Liberation Library I draw upon when I am in town here to do that work, and
... host to music events and neighborhood fellowship.

Here, while pastor hubby is working in PA, I do small projects that can be done before we retire into it fulltime in a few years; at that time, we'll do a major reno. By then, spending 12 weeks in it each year, we will have a better idea of the longterm potential, and be ready to do a bunch of work all at one time, via contractor.

OK. Numbers:

Camp Ridgebury is at least twice the size of the trailer we had thought would be our retirement dwelling-- thanks to my late Mom's legacy and the low real estate values/interest rates at the time she passed.

The pop-up camper we used, most of these last 20 years for 3-4 week vacations, was about 200 square feet of indoor space, plus another 160 square feet of screened/canopied space-- the equivalent of a large, 360 square foot Tiny House.

We also spent entire summers in the PA dorm, which was 256 square feet (plus using the house shower), until we realized that the main house wiring was OK for AC. A smaller Tiny House.

So it has made sense to be able to furnish Camp Ridgebury from the furniture, etc. left in our main house when our 3 kids grew up and moved out. The big house made sense, when we were creating a blended family... and we stayed when the landlord became a friend. He never raised the rent when the fracking industry spoiled the wild county we'd grown to love during our ministry. We filled the hosue several times with folk-music weekend houseparties.

Over the years, I "traded up" as I saw better items at Goodwill, and passed the more-worn items on to people in need via FreeCycle. Because the house was so big, I was able to store things there without creating a hoard; I simply "shopped" the house for Camp items.

The first several visits to the Ohio house involved a cargo trailer. Once the bare bones of each room were here, I adopted the rule that not one single thing is loaded to come here, unless I know exactly where it will go (or what I will get rid of). So now, the items left to bring are the Liberation Library organizing racks-- making a nice, long winter project purging my former office in PA.

I leave in the AM for PA, having spent six productive weeks here on small projects and getting my first flowers into the ground. I also met the neighborhood's Awesome Crew-- a pack of 4-6-graders who work responsibly for pocket money. They'll water and weed while I'm gone... the next trip back is set for early February.

I've written elsewhere on organizing tips I can link to here, as I see interests that fit them.


Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

It sounds like you have a good well thought plan of action.
After reading, I thought "built ins." With al the people you must have crossed paths with, I bet there are lots of things you have collected and been gifted that hold mny memories. Since you have the advantage of time and a future renovation, it sounds like clutter shouldn't be an issue.

Our daughter's home in Carbondale PA. Is 1004 sq. feet. A Sears Roebuck home that traveled many miles on the rails prior to its erection. They sure don't build them like that any more! That small house had a ton of living space for her and her family of 4. Once you add your extra space, it will be wonderful.

We will look forward to hearing about the trials and tribulations, succeses, and backtracking and re-directing you wil do. I don't think we do very much instructing here but we are big on the cheerleading end of things.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Susan Welcome to the group. Sounds like you have a lot going on working back and forth between two houses. But it also sounds like you have a good plan going as well.

Baytown, TX(Zone 9a)

Susan, WELCOME to the group!! Sounds like you are very organized!! That is wonderful!!!

My youngest granddaughter is here this weekend and we got some cleaning done. She was a lot of help!!! Even so I hurt all over!!! Things do look some better.

We got a lot of rain and there were 6 tornadoes in the area, but God protected us!

My bananas I picked from my tree finally ripened.
We picked the second bunch last night.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Baytown, TX(Zone 9a)

P.S. don't forget to change your clocks back!

(Susan) Xenia, OH(Zone 6a)

Thanks for the welcome!

Tip 1: The Flow

As I complete packing for PA, I'm grateful to have figured this one out long ago.

If you think of "stuff" like running water, and your home like a vase.... it's easy to remember not to get flooded. What flows in must cause something to flow out.

For me this has a specific directionality in my home.... if it's on the way "out", it's probably flowed toward a staging spot near the front door. If I bring home two new tops, two need to flow out. Not necessarily to the trash-- do I need it for the camper? Can someone else use it? Can I use it in a different way-- maybe put a treasured but worn blouse into my always-packed overnight bag?

Flow it outward from the place it's taking up valuable space, always working it out farther and farther until one day, it's easy to take one last picture for the memory book and put the item in the trash.

Memory book? Tip 2.

This small Ohio home has limited closet space-- but a good amount of display space over the kitchen cabinets. The last batch of worn-out blouses turned into 8" x 8" squares. I don't quilt. I frame. The book is a binder full of plastic sheet protectors, holding these squares. Sometimes the squares get framed. Nowadays I don't spend my time cutting fabric squares-- I take pictures of the fabric's print, and in they go.

Memory books (or digital photo frames) are also great ways to ease the painful period around purging. Set up purged items as a photo shoot, as if you were putting a batch lot onto Ebay. Keep the picture, and donate the items.


Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

HI, Susan.
Great ideas!!!

Baytown, TX(Zone 9a)

Love tip two!! Photos take up less space, and less emotion to delete!

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Setting a new goal for myself. I don't always meet my goals. Last years finish the stairwell was a big disappointment. But I am hoping that this years will be more of a success. A big obstacle the last few years is the steps to the second floor and the second floor has become a very big dumping ground. So my goal for this winter is at least one trip upstairs for 5 days of each week.
I will post each day that I go up and what improvements I make while I am up there. Since Halloween is over I will be taking up the Halloween decorations with me on each trip up.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

That is a great idea Holly.

Susan..if you have an always packed overnightbag....and you memorialize the blouses in which memories were made.........I don't think you have a clutter issue.....I just think you have a lot of stuff - organized.

You are my ' me ' goal!!! 😊

Tesas..I can't wait for the grands to get big / old enough to help.
How did the bananas taste?
Tornados!! Let one of thosebuggers hit and I guess clutter will be gone in 30 seconds flat.😞 Glad you are safe.

Debbie -- where are you? You must be running all over the place. I hope you didn't fall again.

JanI think you and Holly get the 2015 award for most ambitious projects for sure. What did you decide about the trim ..or did you say and I missed it.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Well I did a small job upstairs. Carried up the last succulent that needed to go up stairs. Cleaned off the top of the seed growing stand and got all the succulents off the floor and up on the top of the table. Watered all the plants that have been moved up there. So that was my trip for the day.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Welcome Susan! I like your "flow" image... problem here is my stagnating pool of stuff piling up in the living room... it needs to keep flowing our the door!!

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Good, Holly!

Forced decluttering going on here today... clearing off back deck and patio areas so Charlie (fab new handyman) can power wash tomorrow. He's moving things, I'm sorting, and it's going well! His extra-hand helper will be here soon, and we'll keep going.. meanwhile, I'm taking a break & putting my arm in the machine that helps take down the swelling.

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

Yay for Charlie, the handyman!!

Way to go, Holly!

Missing, we didn't put up the quarter round near the ceiling. Details are still progressing. The shelves in the closet still need to be made. Pretty much done, though. Now on to the bathroom. That will wait for a bit. Need to save up some money first.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

It Is amazing to me that a bathroom can suck up so much money.
When the job is done and everything is fresh and new...ahhhhhh......but when you look at the materials ( not exactly exotic ) and the abundance of materials in this country ...something is amiss...

I hope when you get the first project done you will post photos

Critter you are a lucky gal with Charlie -- we all need a Charlie. You live in MD..is it cold outside clearing everything off? Why is your arm swelling? Did you injure it?

You may not have this issue but to share my experience -- we had the house pressure washed. The fellow did a great job, the house and eaves were done well. BUT the pressurized water hit the glass windows.
And I think the rattling of it somehow compromised the airspace vacuum or whatever it is that keeps the argon in there between the panes. I have these little spots of condensate between the glass panes...it appears like when mold starts on bread.

This message was edited Nov 3, 2015 12:12 PM

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Oh no, that does sound like your window seals were broken... no way to repair that, as far as I know, other than replacing the window glass. Grrrrr.

Charlie is a great find. He's been working on projects all up & down our court. We've been in the house 15 years, so there are all sorts of things that need attention. DH isn't "handy" and doesn't like doing that sort of thing, and I have a bum arm and can't get up on a ladder (I get dizzy and fall off). So we need him, for sure!

My arm swells due to a condition called lymphedema, where the lymphatic fluid doesn't drain properly from my arm. It's a result of the mastectomy and all the messing about with my lymph nodes. I do massage therapy, wear a compression sleeve and hand wrap, and have a machine that works like 10 blood pressure cuffs inflating in succession to push the fluid up and out of my arm. It take 1-2 hours each day to deal with it, and I have to be careful to limit activities that make it swell too much, so it's really annoying. But I don't lose sight of the fact that I'm 5 years out from surgery with no sign of the cancer -- I have a 6 year old Sunshine Girl, so I'd put up with a lot worse to be here!

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I haven't made my trip upstairs yet today but I will before the evening is over. I am going to go up and take one of the Halloween decorations up and bring down a pair of old pillows that I want to see if they will work to add extra bulk to Alfie's bed. I have been busy sanding and cleaning the new front door and I expect to be painting tomorrow. I ran my parents to a Dr appt. this afternoon and took advantage of the trip to drop off 2 bags at Salvation Army.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

How is your weather Holly?
We are heading to Jackie's in November -- too much to wish for no snow, right?
Want to make her a address sign with this big clay rooster plaque. Brrrrrr
Love it when I get stuff to the charity -- win/ win

Critter..I guess the machine milks the fluid back up for you. I have seen lymphedema in legs and I heard that it can be a consequence of mastectomy and harvesting of nodes for the exam.

Yes, your little girl, now I remember ....Joyanna ( perhaps spelling it wrong ) right? Well, I can tell you that if I close my eyes I can see her as an infant...up to perhaps 18 months - - two.... Pretty little girl - pretty eyes. And she did everything with you. Maybe I am wrong...but I think I am remembering correctly.

That is pretty good for me because I forget what I ate yesterday!

I remember you trying to find her a name that suited. 😊

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Beautiful and warm right now. Had the front door off all day and never even covered the opening until an hour ago. Going to be warm again tomorrow as well. Made that trip the old pillows worked just great as added filling on Alfie's dog bed. So that is one more thing out of that room.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

You are on a roll Holly

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

yep, that's Joyanna alright! we still do a lot together, less though now that she's in school of course... first grade, still can't quite believe it! I remember that precious little baby in my arms like yesterday...

She does still LOVE butterflies and flowers!

Thumbnail by critterologist Thumbnail by critterologist Thumbnail by critterologist
Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

That's her but two feet taller than I remember the last photo showing.
The last photo belongs on a garden magazine cover

(Susan) Xenia, OH(Zone 6a)

I'm back in PA now.

I DO have clutter issues.... they stem from the thyroid diagnosis that was missed from 4th grade til recently. During the 50 years in between I learned that feeling like I can't deal with things is normal, because for me-- it was. Now my spine is so fried that using my new thyroid energy hurts. The challenge is to keep moving anyway, despite the pull of the old habits and the pain that accompanies the new ones. Staying organized is motivated by knowing how much it will hurt if I don't maintain.... and the PA house in particular exacerbates all of that.

The Ohio house being all on one floor.... pain but minimal, no risk of overdoing. PA... lots of opportunities to let the stuff just sit; several staircases; big, heavy pieces to move to get at the items to pack for February's Ohio trip.

That will mean frequent trips to this thread to list baby steps and seek encouragement! I'll take some 'before' pix of the two spaces involved.


(Susan) Xenia, OH(Zone 6a)

The winter project involves boxes of archived files/work samples/program guides. That takes me to Tip 3!

Tip 3-- 'Filing'-- is it necessary?

My work has always involved generating paper. I learned long ago tell respect my style of managing it. I also learned that I will not really know what might be valuable until much later. So I adopted the following process.

I MOST often need to find things by date. So all paper piles up with most recent stuff always on top. As piles get too high for my cubbies (10 12" mdf towers from walmart), they go into a bankers' box labeled with the date range, after a very fast sort to discard junk and contacts. (Contacts live in a shoebox til they get into my database). I use the smaller sized boxes that my short arms can carry, not the super long ones that tie closed. (Those are too heavy!!!)

The archived boxes go into storage, most recent on top. When I move, THAT's when I organize, because only then will I really know what's worth keeping. Usually it's not the current projects I'm going to organize, but the un-organized archives from the previous move. The current stuff is too actively used to organize it except by date.

So in the average pre-move organizing, I might have 4-8 banker's boxes to whip though. What I keep is binderized with a 3-hole punch. I may use removable sticky tabs to create sections, and the binders are date-labeled. I go back to these quite often to pull work product forward into new opportunities.

I always keep grant requests (goals), and stats on outcomes. I usually keep one copy of any handouts generated by the program the grant funded, sometimes binderized by program. I keep annual reports, and discard meeting agendae.

The secret-- keeping an eye out for used, fat binders in between moves.

The obstacle NOW-- we didn't move 10 years ago so I have a lot archived.

Whatever is discarded frees up banker's boxes to contain the binders, and makes them easy to move. The boxes of binders of course get new date labels.

I have a similar system for digital matter, with flash keys instead of binders and ziploc bags instead of boxes.


Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Susan, I'm glad you have new energy, but how awful that your thyroid problem went undiagnosed & untreated for 50 years!

I like your filing system... similar to mine, but I need to box more often! Told my grad school adviser my system was "paleontological." He was always amazed that I could put my hands on most things in a minute or two, despite the amount of paper heaped on my desk.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

My problem with paper is that I don't want it. Period.
The documents and paper-preserved minutiae of life are duly stored and very organized.
But, I don't want it.....I cannot remember when ( if at all ) I actually went back to those files to access anything I mY have have filed because " we may need this at some point. " NOTHING ( records ) is not able to be either found somewhere else or gotten around in some fashion.

All those clipped articles from magazines...the aticles on garden/ house projects....the records of materials used in the house...the warranty books, the parts books, the instruction books....all can be had on the internet. Everything except the super-talented artistic kindergarten and grade school creations and holiday cards my children made.....

HOWEVER, I hatted having that stuff laying around and I despised sorting and filing it ....and so there is something in me that won't allow myself to pull it out of the file cabinets and folders in heaps and toss it blindly....and the only alternative is to go through it AGAIN one by miserable one and I ain't gonna do it. So, the kids will have to blindly toss or....suffer the consequences.

This message was edited Nov 6, 2015 10:53 AM

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Paper trash is a problem here. I have a big filing cabinet upstairs but things quite often don't get filed away like they should and the things that are filed away quite often are no longer of any use. I finished painting the front door. It looks very nice but the 3 days that it took me to paint it is ridiculous. Didn't make trips upstairs the last 2 days as I was hurting so bad from the painting that I just couldn't bring myself to go up. But I will today. My goal is to clean out the dresser that is up there and put my summer clothes in it. There is a large strong but unattractive dresser up there it would look good painted but I don't really have a place for it downstairs.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Holly, I was just thinking of that yesterday. Needed a light coat ( put away from last year ) and I dread the summer / winter switch. I love the seasonal change ...not a tropical gal ....but wearing same clothes all year long sounds great.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

I'm fortunate enough to have a closet big enough that most of my summer/winter stuff can switch places and still hang up... it's not huge but is still a walk-in with a bit more space than a standard wall closet. The back is awkward and hard to reach, so it's good for a couple of bins and hanging space for things that are out of season. I've got high & low hanging shelves along the "long" wall of it and a regular height short shelf on the "L" wall... that's where my (few) dresses and "formal" things go.

Joyanna looked in it the other day though and said, Mom, why do you have ALL these clothes that you NEVER wear? She has a point. I'm hanging onto some "pets" that I can't wear now, in case I ever start wearing a breast prosthesis, and a few more favorites that "should" fit "when I lose 25 pounds." I should just donate all that, or at least limit myself to 10 favorite things, and toss everything that lacks the right fit. I can't wear a bra most days (cuts off drainage from my arm enough to make a difference) and can't wear a prosthesis due to sensitivity, so my fashion options are limited. What am I doing with all this stuff, then?? Also, there are only so many "good for working in the garden" t-shirts that you can reasonably use. Toss! Next rainy day..

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