The Golden Rule of De-Cluttering…

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Main Posts Background Image


The Golden Rule of De-Cluttering…


The  Golden Rule of De-Cluttering is…
to identify what you need and love,
Store it in the most accessible spot,
Add so-so stuff only if it fits,
and get rid of the rest!

fabric in laundry basket

One reason that we avoid and dread the de-cluttering process is that it’s such an unpleasant one. When we open a drawer or closet with the purpose of ‘getting rid of stuff’, we know that we are going to be faced with the painful task of deciding what to put in the throw away pile or the give away box.  It’s no fun saying ‘good-bye’ to things that we love, paid good money for, or that are still quite useful.

And therein lies the problem.  We are focusing on the NEGATIVE aspects of de-cluttering.  We need to focus on the bright side…

pretty fabrics in drawer
When you are getting ready to declutter anything, The question to ask yourself is NOT what should I get rid of…but
What should I KEEP? What do I LOVE?
What do I NEED? 
What can I NOT live without? 

pretty fabric 2 applique fabric

Which clothes would I hate to not have in the closet? Focus on what you truly need to keep and what you love.  Pull those favorite or absolutely essential books, records, CD’s, fabric, movies, dishes, clothes, craft supplies, toys, shoes, desk supplies, bathroom accessories, jewelry etc and put them aside.  Make a pile of your BEST stuff in whatever room you are working.
Remember the 20-80 principle? THIS stuff is the  20%
that you actually love, need, and use.  
Now, pull everything else out and set it aside. Put your treasures and/or your most useful and valuable tools in the BEST SPOTS… Give them EASY ACCESS. 


THEN…when you are ready to de-clutter, look at what’s left. Throw away the junk.  Now, IF and this is a big IF..there is extra space in the drawer or closet, you can put some of the ‘useful but not my favorite’ things in there.  But once the storage space is reasonably full, donate the rest. Stick it in garbage bags and donation boxes.

denimcostume fabric

This week, I de-cluttered my fabric stash. I gathered all of my fabric and piled it on the couch. Then I began pulling out only the fabric that I LOVED…ADORED…or knew would be extremely versatile and useful for future projects.  Rebekah, my daughter, and I made stacks of everything that was white or linen, everything that was dark blue or denim, a stack of dark colored or costume fabrics, and a stack of light colored or bright colored prints--prints we thought were just so pretty we couldn’t bear to part with them.

 dark colors

These fabrics we sorted much like we do the laundry. Three drawers now house ‘whites, lights, and bold or dark colors’. We also have one drawer in our IKEA cabinet for unfinished projects that we really do want to finish. We put all this ‘good stuff in the drawers right away.

earmarked fabric

Some fabric was already ‘ear-marked’ for special projects like a green brocade fabric destined to be made into a Victorian costume for Dicken’s on the Strand, a $30.00 piece of Old English style tapestry, the indoor-outdoor fabric for my porch swing and porch lawn chairs, and many yards of light denim won from Trudy at Sewing with Trudy. All of these large pieces of fabric went in an ‘under the bed bag’ to be pulled out when we have time to do those projects. You could also hang extra large quantities of fabric on coat hangers in the closet.

fabric stash

What about the rest of the fabric? Well, first we culled out some fabric pieces that we thought we  could use sometime in the near future. We didn’t love all of it, but there was room, so in the name of ‘frugality’ we kept and stored some of it.  Of the rest of the fabric,  half of it went into the garbage can (scraps which we refused to save due to lack of storage space) and half of it went into a giveaway bag.  Yes, we gave away some perfectly good fabric and we may possibly regret that but we really didn’t have room for it in those drawers.

The premium here is on space..and ease of living.


I also have a new rule that helps me decide when I have ‘enough’ of anything or ‘too much’.  If the supplies or tools that  I need won’t fit into the room where the activity is being held, then I have to get rid of it or make room for it in the proper room. 

Formerly fabric storage
Now..Our cubby hole shelf holds livingroom items especially our movies.
(Wicker shelf has been removed.)

cubby hole shelf and hall before Before...The wicker shelf housed our movies. The cubby hole shelf held my fabric.

In other storing fabric in the living room, tablecloths in the bathroom, appliances in the utility room, games in the bedroom, or  books in the kitchen. If there is overflow, get rid of it.  Now our 12-cubbyhole shelf houses only living room items like games, movies (organized by genre), cassette tapes, grandkids' toys, magazines, and music CD’s.  The fabric (that used to be in those cubbies)  is all gone or moved to the sewing room where it belongs.

Why De-Clutter? The less you OWN...
the less you have to put away, dig through or clean.  

When your home is streamlined, you will find you have more 'free time'..time to live, create,.and enjoy the people in your home. I am thoroughly convinced that we do have ROOM for the things we really need. We just don't have room for the excess..unless we live in a really big house. Even then, why bog your self down with more stuff to have to deal with?

When your possessions are pared down,
you will find that every job you do is easier. 

 Having only the essential cooking supplies, sewing accessories, and school supplies, books, or gardening accessories at hand will save you hours of preparation time and clean up! This is worth taking the plunge.

De Cluttered Livingroom After 
We applied this same principle to the living room with stunning results. Rebekah and I asked ourselves..
What furniture did we absolutely, without a doubt,
have to KEEP in the Living Room to survive?
We came up with this list…
  • couch
  • upholstered chair
  • coffee table
  • one end table with lamp
  • TV and stand
  • piano
  • 12 compartment storage shelf
  • 2 book cases
  • record player and stand
    Livingroom before
    Livingroom before decluttering books and furniture.

    What did we get rid of? The doggy-bed/cradle (stored until it can be returned), antique sewing machine, retro-style leather chair (moved to game room), a huge hutch (it replaced a worn wicker shelf that housed fabric in the sewing room), and one wicker shelf.

    That’s five pieces of furniture removed
    from our small living room!

    Less furniture Livingroom after…

    What did we keep beyond the essentials? The second matching end table. With everything else gone, we could afford to have two end-tables. We could have lived without it, but it didn’t hurt to keep it and was helpful on the other end of the sectional couch.

    MOre floor space

    For the first time in three years, our living room seems truly comfortable! It feels ‘right’.  It looks good--streamlined…stylish...well..more stylish-LOL!  It looks like we had all the space we needed..right from the start.  :o)

      Ahh…NOW we can breath easy!  And our home feels SPACIOUS!

    Try applying this Golden Rule in your closet, bathroom cabinet, or desk drawers…and see if it doesn’t work…beautifully!

    Linking with My Romantic Home's Show and Tell Friday

    PS. Happy Valentine's Day!!!



    Photography said...

    Oh good tips I am going to apply them myself this week :o)

    Heather said...

    Great advice Donna! My problem isn't so much choosing what to get rid of as I am not a particularly sentimental person, but actually getting to doing it. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and sometimes won't start if I don't think I can get it all done. I need to learn to set a timer and only do what I can and leave it at that for the day, with four children I rarely have more than 5 minutes for a task anyway!

    Donna said...

    Heather..just work on one little spot at a time. I pick a piece of furniture, or a drawer, or a shelf. Use this Golden Rule..but just on one drawer. I've been at this since the first of September and I'm finally really starting to 'feel' the space. Working on very small areas would probably work better for you. :o)
    Timers are just perfect! I love mine. :o)

    Trudy said...

    This is such a great way of looking at it. I never thought of doing it this way. This is a bit painful for me, too, though, because we have much overflow with things being in the wrong rooms. I'll definitely have to tackle it bit by bit because it is so painful. It's like doing surgery. On a good note, we did get rid of some furniture that we really loved because we just didn't have room: a chair, end table, coffee table, among others.

    Floss said...

    These are good priciples - they are kind of like the ones I've been applying for the past 18 months but are a neat summing-up of what I've been working on, so very helpful indeed!

    Most of my day-to day stuff is fairly well-sorted now, but after a first and rather scared sort-out of my fabric stash a year ago, I think I need to re-do it now that I feel braver and can apply your princples!

    Donna said...

    I was hoping this would help you all! :o) I actually love pretty things...which makes this hard for me sometimes. And I've also had to be very frugal so it's nerve wracking to get rid of stuff I might need.

    And I get easily sidetracked. Yipes! This idea of focusing on the necessary rather than what I needed to get rid of, has been slowly 'jelling' in my mind this last month.

    As I've applied it to different areas of the really crystalized in a way that I could explain to others.

    For me, opening a drawer full of chaos just put knots in my stomach. Now I'm having fun seeing..will it work in this drawer..or that one? Decluttering is starting to feel like a fun adventure. :o)


    Trudy said...

    Donna, thank you for your warm congratulations; and I am so sorry for your losses. I didn't know. We wanted to keep it a secret especially for the protection of our children because I've lost one before; and the children took it very hard. I am just not physically able to hide it anymore; so we thought Valentine's would be the perfect time. By the way, we announced it at the Gala. Had you already heard before my post, or had word not gotten to you yet?

    nannykim said...

    Wow, the living room is looking great! We have done the decluttering by downsizing and moving! I posted about your bag on my nannykim blog--Thanks again, I am getting a lot of use out of it!!!!!!

    Maria Killam said...

    What a great area rug, I didn't notice that before. And those hooks above that storage area look so cool, what will you hang there? Your fabrics look so beautiful all organized so nicely. I wish you lived closeby I would love to give you the remnants I get just from leftover drapery, and pillows for clients, etc.
    Happy Valentines Day Donna!

    Donna said...

    Maria..I would have fits if you lived close by...fabric or no! Ha! I'm hanging hats on the hooks. It's a hat rack and we have some pretty unusual ones. I've got some pillow ideas floating around in my head..but would love yours too. I'm sure!

    Trudy, I had heard at church yesterday about your wonderful news! I hope you let me borrow the baby..a lot. Especially since my son and daughter-in-law are moving to Washington state sometime here pretty soon if the job offer goes through.

    I'm so glad NannyKim! I'll check out that post. :o)


    Laura said...

    Wonderful job, Donna! Your living room looks terrific! I went through my material stash this week as well.
    Not an easy chore...and it seemed to take forever! I love your idea about putting what you love in an easy accessible spot...I find that is so important in my craft loft.

    Happy Valentines Day!

    GlorV1 said...

    Your decluttering tips are rubbing off on me. Thanks for all the ideas. Just popped in to say Happy Valentines Day amiga. Enjoy and take care.

    Jill said...

    Everything looks wonderful! Love the heart magazine/ bookholder by the couch! I could use one of those! LOL.

    Hope you had a great Valentine's day!


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