This was supposed to be a little project I shared with the Simple Saturday newsletter, but there were so many photos I had to make it a blog post.
I also wanted to share it in a blog post because something cool really happened from this simple decluttering project…. we actually are keeping our counters clean. And not ‘Instagram clean’ where we shove everything out of the photo to take a picture – but like for real clean. To the point where Conor and I just had a conversation about how strange it is that our counters are staying clear so often.
I actually don’t understand how this decluttering made such a difference because I feel the same level of lazy as every…..but here is what happened.
ALWAYS BE ASSESSING WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN’T
First, I saw an old photo a couple weeks ago where I had my fruit basket and espresso machine on different ends of the counter. I realized I liked it best the old way, so I swapped back the cupboards and counter contents (yes, we are still going into the incorrect cupboard for mugs two weeks later).
I felt like this cleared up the corner by the stove which I want to use for food prep and not coffee paraphernalia storage.
Then, I was staring at this spot of the counter by the fridge. We always keep pens and notepads there and it becomes a reckless catch-all. Confiscated toys, random coins, old papers, drill bits. Little bits of our life littered everywhere here and we call it ‘a planning station’.
I realized this counter was a TOLERATION [What Clutter Do You Tolerate?] for me. It was a low hum of stress that I hated working around…..but I just always accepted it like that because it is always how we have done it.
WHEN YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR IDEAL SOLUTION
In my ideal world, I want to build a ‘command centre’ for backpacks, calendars, notebooks, etc. all at the top of the stairs. I guess I told myself that I would just have to wait it out until I could have this ideal situation come to life.
Why? Why do I have to have the ideal or the status quo?… What about the in-between option?
I’m sure we all have homes that we don’t love everything about, but this doesn’t mean we have to hold ourselves to how things have always been done until we can get them perfect. We can get gritty and dirty and change things.
In this particular situation, I don’t think of this in-between option because it requires effort to make it happen. It requires decluttering my hutch (dah, dah, daaaaaaah)
I bought this kitchen hutch when we tore down all the walls in our kitchen and opened it up. I had visions of it being a place where I can go on my computer and work and plan, blah, blah, blah. Then I had three toddlers and the easy access to all of these things paired with the novelty of smacking the hutch door shut kiboshed my naive Pinterest plans.
So the hutch became a holding pen for random stuff I didn’t want to deal with. It became a black hole, an unusable space. It became a toleration as well.
HOW I DECLUTTERED THE HUTCH.
I feel a little weird giving you a play by play but this is a question I get asked often, ‘how do you even declutter it?’.
I took everything out of this hutch and sorted it into categories on the kitchen table. The categories I used were things like stuff to file away, stuff that goes in the bedroom, stuff that goes downstairs in the office, stuff to deal with now. I also threw out garbage and recycling as I went along. Then I washed the hutch (not that you can tell #kidswithcrayons). And I put back ONLY the stuff I wanted.
I decluttered the pile of clutter from the counter in the same way.
MAKING SPACE USEABLE AGAIN
When I had this pile of clutter on one side of the stove and all the coffee stuff on the other side I felt cramped when I was making food every day. Now that these spaces are cleared of the stuff I don’t use there it feels so much bigger.
I know this all sounds so simple and like, DUH!, but I was so stuck in how things were always done that I didn’t have a vision for how to change it.
We also have this hutch that has a new life. When we held it hostage with clutter it could serve us no purpose. When we freed it, it became a whole useable space that the kitchen had not had in years. I think a result that minimalism constantly surprises me with us how we really underutilize the space we DO have when we use it for storage.
THE CLEAR COUNTERS
And this is the part I still don’t understand (but an overanalyzing at all opportunities!). Our counters are staying clear.
Other than dishes stored in or around the sink, we are keeping things clear. It feels like we constantly are expecting fancy company who we have to pretend like we don’t actually live in our house when they come over. I feel like I’ve levelled up my housewifery in a way. Maybe this shift of how the space is used made me a little less lazy? Maybe we can finally put a kitchen routine into place now that all the space is used to its optimal potential?
I took these photos this morning. Mind you, Conor is home from work and there was no breakfast rush out the door this morning, there are usually more dishes and rogue toys on the counter.
KEEPING WHAT YOU LOVE
I was reading a facebook discussion about whether having magnets and papers on your fridge is ‘minimalist’ or not. As you can see, I kept a whole side of my fridge covered in photos and drawings. I believe that YOU are the only one who makes rules about what stays in your home.
Minimalism isn’t black and white decluttering. Minimalism is a process of decision making (which is probably why many of us dread it). It is a slow and constant process of deciding what you love best and what you use and releasing all the rest. Release what isn’t usable, release the false identity you were building, release the security of stuff [Real Reasons Why You Can’t Finish Decluttering]! Keep the best! And to me, the best is seeing my friends and family smiling all over my fridge every day.