These Three Questions Will Help You Know If Your Home Is Too Cluttered

Let’s play a quick game. I want you to scan the room you are currently reading this in, assuming you are at home, and quickly ask yourself three questions about what you see in front of you.

How long ago did you use the item in question?

If I were to give you the money you paid for it right now to trade it, would you buy it again?

How long until you think you might replace it?

Too many items in our homes are collected, cultivated and purchased without much thought. You might buy in a sale for that ‘bargain feeling’. You might splurge on the latest ‘must-have’ trend for your home, to find you actually don’t cherish it that much.

Far too often, we buy to mask other needs or emotions. That instant burst of happiness when you hand over the cash in return for a shiny new sofa/ shoes / scent, that in reality, is very short lived.

I have known people buy a trendy cookbook to show others they eat healthy, when in reality they find all their recipes online. People who have invested in a statement armchair that actually is terrible to sit in because it follows a new trend. You get my point.

It’s time to start the year right, and start buying and filling our homes mindfully and with purpose.

I am writing this post in my living room, so I have taken part in the exercise at the same time. Here’s a snapshot of my thoughts:

Grey Living Room Sofa

Sofa

Last used: Right now, and yes I would totally buy again. Fingers crossed if it has lasting power, I won’t need to replace for another ten years or so.

Books on the shelf

Last used: Varies. But reading is my release. It’s my favourite hobby. I keep books to pass them on to others to enjoy so we can share memories and thoughts about a novel. However perhaps it is time to pass some more on. How long to replace? Well as soon as I am through my latest book pile, so shall we say a month?

Grey and White Living Room

Fireplace accessories

Last used: Never used, more decorative. To be honest, I probably don’t need these, they take extra time dusting, and I would likely take my money back for them if offered today. Time to recycle, rehome or donate!

Cushions on the armchair

I am not keen on cushions for cushions sake, but these are used daily by my husband who uses this as his gaming chair. So yes, keep these. Hopefully I won’t need to replace for the next three / five years. My house is all decorated in one theme to reduce waste and allow moving of furnishings between rooms.

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Coffee Table Clutter

Last used: Today, because it contains my latest read, coasters and a candle. Time to replace, well, it moves fluidly with my day to day routine.

TV and Xbox One

Last used: Today. Personally, I would take my money back for them in a heartbeat but I share my minimal home with a lovely other, so I think this one is off the cards. Time to replace, hopefully we will get another two to three years out of them.

My living room is not ‘super minimalist’ in that I live with the bare essentials. But it does contain items which I use regularly, are useful and enrich my life. No more, and no less.

I personally think I need to review the fireplace situation following this post, and I am quite settled in that I know I don’t need to purchase anything else for the room for the foreseeable future.

I am happy with my surroundings, I am not enclosed in a small space with 60 ornaments, 5 side tables with no daily use, and curtains and cushions that need changing each time I paint a room.

If you can’t say the same, see today as the first day in a journey towards de-cluttering. Take the room you are in, and only fill it with things that enrich your life.

Then make a pact with yourself to not buy anything material for the room again once you’re happy with it.

Spend the money on experiences. Spend the time saved sorting, cleaning and dusting on you.

 

Insider: A Look Inside My ‘Minimalist’ Home

Often when people visit my home, they are a little taken aback by the décor and detail in each room. If you haven’t met anyone who has subscribed to a minimalist lifestyle before, you’d probably think that they live with the bare necessities and not much more.

For me, living minimally isn’t about ruthlessly counting the number of items I have in my home. I don’t subscribe to living with three t-shirts, one plate and one cup like a lot of people do. It might work well for them and if it does that’s great, but it wouldn’t work for me.

Instead, I live with what I see as necessary. In order for an item to remain in my house it has to be either:

  • Functional
  • Something that enriches my life
  • Sentimental (to a point)

I could easily move about my home and explain why I have each and every item. So yes, you can expect to find candles around the rooms. Not for decorative clutter, but because candles help me to unwind after a long hard day. I like to light them all, put on classical music and unwind with a book.

I have photos on the walls and in frames, because I love seeing friends and family members across my home. Making memories and spending time with loved ones is one of my top priorities in life, and seeing these reminders of good times each day makes me realise what I need to focus my time on.

If something isn’t useful, or if I feel a room is getting a little too busy, I do reassess my situation.

Around three times a year I take a box and put everything in one room into it (aside from the big pieces of furniture) and if I think about it within a month, I take it out and put it back.

If I don’t think of it, I donate it to charity or sell it online.

Additionally, my home has a colour theme, so this helps ensure everything within it can move from one room to another. Great for reducing waste.

Pink and Grey Minimal Bedroom

Does your home need decluttering? Are you accumulating so many things which just line your shelves collecting dust?

Perhaps you could firstly choose one room and box every non-functional item up. Hide it away for a month, and only take out things you miss or need.

Everything else, donate to charity or sell.

Then start theming your home using this post here.

Lastly, going forward, only buy with purpose. Do you really need that 10th scatter cushion? Think of how that £25 could be spent instead. On a meal out, on a day trip with friends.

Make more memories, invest in less stuff, and see if you become happier and live a more meaningful life.

Inside my Minimalist Home:

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Theming Your Home: Minimising Your House For Clutter Free Living

I have moved house six times in the last five years. From Nottingham to Scotland, Belgium to Scarborough, and then finally settling in York.

One of the most valuable things that I have learned which has made each of these moves as painless and fuss free as possible is that if you theme your whole house, organising, unpacking and arranging your new home comes naturally.

If you choose to centre your home on a few key elements and colours that you love, it becomes incredibly easy to rearrange rooms, move furnishings between spaces and easily adapt to the new spaces which you are given.

Even if you don’t move regularly, a themed home allows you to move items as needed from room to room, thus minimising the need for waste. You don’t need to buy new cushions for the spare room, as you can easily borrow from another space. You don’t need to worry about lampshades suddenly not matching when you redecorate, or the need for new curtains.

By theming your home, you reduce the need to buy, therefore saving you time and money to spend on experiences and moments which you will remember. New curtains as the room has been decorated, or a weekend camping with the family?

Now I am not saying you need to live in a house without character, without colour and without personality. You can theme your home using any palette you like, as long as you can move items between spaces easily. Think complementing colours, timeless rather than trend setting furniture, and neutrals for accessories which can live anywhere.

As you theme your home, you also tend to have less clutter. You don’t need to buy bedding in every shade to match each room and end up with enough to service a small hotel. As your rooms also look more ‘matching and together’, you also notice the noise from the excess much more.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have when it comes to minimising your home is that you need to remove everything from your surfaces and walls. They see it as having no photos on the fireplace, no books on the shelves. This isn’t the case.

A home which has been minimised can contain any number of items. They just need to be either:

  • Functional
  • Sentimental
  • Has a purpose

So you certainly don’t need 12 towels in a household of two. But you might want the vase full of flowers on the coffee table, because for you, it has a purpose. It brightens up that room.

My home is themed with a simple colour palette. And my rooms are filled with the things that matter to me.

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It makes moving things between spaces so easy. It also means I have less waste from things in the home as anything can go anywhere.

How to start theming your home

  • Start simple, find three things you love in each room, and use these as the basis for your theme.

Take the living room for example. It might be a painting, the sofa and your vintage footstool. What do they have in common, can you begin to start theming everything you purchase for that room around these items?

  • It takes time to properly theme your home, so don’t worry about doing it overnight. It’s taken me five years and I am almost there.
  • Choose a colour palette, and try to keep major items within this so that they have flexibility around the home.
  • Take an hour to reduce the clutter which is already taking up some of your space.

Then when you’re done, sit back and relax and enjoy your new fuss-free, limited waste environment.

Tomorrow – Tackle Your Junk Drawer

30 days minimalism

Minimalism made easy: Ways to want less

We are constantly followed by, driven by and reminded of our needs and aspirations on a daily basis. We get a brand new shiny car to drive to work, but now we need to save up for the bigger television that we also want because it will make watching shows when we get home just that little bit better.

We get promoted at work, and we need to figure out how we can display our new corporate status with an expensive laptop bag and unique ballpoint pen.

Wanting more ‘things’, which are forever being cleverly marketed to us, is always going to be a never ending cycle of lust and need. If you subscribe to having the best new clothes, you are always going to covert the newest most fashionable releases. If you desire to have a new model of car, how long is it going to be before it is not ‘new’ anymore and you need another?

It feels good for a while, maybe a few weeks or months, but then your desire will be replaced by the next item you are ‘needing’.

How then, do we go about wanting less whilst still fulfilling our aspirations and needs?

The answer is simple, we need to want things that are worthwhile. We need to go after our dreams, we need to contribute to our main priorities, and we need to help others.

Buying a new pair of shoes makes you happy for a while, but spending more time with loved ones rather than going to the shops each week will make a huge difference to your happiness over time. Going to the park to make memories, taking pictures and having fun, will stay in your mind and heart for years after the new shoes. Plus, it will save you money overall.

Spending the cost of a new gadget that you don’t actually need, you just desire, on a family holiday instead will leave you with so many important memories, that will make you feel so much better overall.

To want less and experience more you need to:

1. Have a clear vision of your goals and priorities. Find your motivation. 

It is easy to spend less on the things that don’t matter when you know if they contribute towards your overall life goals or not. Sure, you might want a new top for £50 and see it as a good purchase, if you don’t have anything to compare the expenditure to. But what if that £50 was a contribution towards that family holiday you have booked to spend time with and make memories with your loved ones. You quickly think twice about wanting more if you know where the money could be making a difference.

man looking out at beach
My priority, quality time with my husband and family.

2. Ask yourself why.

Often we buy things without a second thought. However if we took a second to actually ask ourselves why we were buying another winter coat (I have to admit I used to be terrible for collecting coats!), we might find that we come to realise how little we need that extra item.

If you have a good think and still want it, then it makes sense to buy it. But think about why you are getting it in the first place.

  • Is it to get the shopping and new purchase buzz? Because that’s only temporary.
  • Is it to have the latest shiniest model, to show off to our friends? Because there will be a newer model pretty soon, and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others.
  • Is it because you have heard it’s a must-have? Because marketing is very clever and you need to think about how you have been externally influenced before you buy.
  • Is it because you think it will make you happier, thinner, more beautiful or smarter? Think about the deeper issue and try to resolve that without several material purchases.

There are so many reasons why we buy ‘just because’. Ask yourself why and try and change that habit today.

3. Add it all up

Look at what you are spending on ‘stuff’. At the end of the day, think about how much further your money could be going if you didn’t go to the supermarket for vegetables and accidentally spend £50 on unnecessary things (come on, we’ve all done it!). Keep a journal for two weeks and see exactly where your money is going. I bet most of it isn’t contributing to your long term happiness and happy mindset, but more on premium priced coffees and clothes that will be out of season pretty soon.

‘It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely’
Bertrand Russel 

Below is a two week challenge to help you start aspiring for things that will make a difference. See if you can follow it and share your results.

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Minimalism Made Easy: Ten simple ways to declutter your home.

  1. Start with the easy wins

No matter how large or small your house is, I can guarantee you have a Monica cupboard or drawer that is home to every odd item around the house that doesn’t have a fixed home.

To start simplifying your home, tackle these areas first. You will feel the instant benefit from decluttering your spaces, and will be motivated to continue on around the house.

Continue reading Minimalism Made Easy: Ten simple ways to declutter your home.