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The Aftermath of Organizing

The-re-sort.jpg

But after you put everything back in its place, what do you do with what doesn’t belong? Does it sit in a box until you decide? Does it get stashed in a closet or drawer until another day of organizing arrives?

If you have read an organizing book, blog, or even seen a fabulous home makeover on TV, you know the simple steps of organizing. Don’t let different names throw you off; the steps are all virtually the same:

  1. Sort
  2. Purge
  3. Containerize
  4. Stand back and reveal in all your hard work

But after you put everything back in its place, what do you do with what doesn’t belong? Does it sit in a box until you decide? Does it get stashed in a closet or drawer until its day of organizing arrives?

Take my junk drawer for example. I don’t even have a before picture because I have been on an organizing rampage and a camera just can’t keep up. Just picture a really messy drawer. Here it is mid-sort:

sort junk drawer

Once I took everything out of the drawer, I sorted it into piles. Next, I found containers to help keep the piles separated. Containerizing the piles also gives each item a home, which means the drawer has a better chance of staying neat.

Since I am using a variety of boxes, I also added a sticky drawer liner to keep the containers from sliding around in the drawer.

containerize

Finally, I refilled the drawer with items I deemed worthy of this prime real estate. This drawer is in a central, easy to reach location and needed to only contain items we use often. drawer organized

This is the only drawer in the kitchen not used for food related items. It is a lot smaller then my last kitchen all-purpose drawer so I had to choose my items wisely. We’ve been in this house for a few months (ahem, 11 months) and it helped to have that long in the new kitchen to decide how this drawer could be the most functional.

Here is a list of items that made the cut:

  • free notepad from realtors for quick list writing
  • Velcro and various adhesives (I use these all the time!)
  • Sharpies (regular pens are on the counter)
  • camera cover, charger, and camera when not in use
  • flashlights (we need these often for some reason)
  • tape measure
  • matches
  • timer

That’s great right? Easy. But wait….what about all of this stuff?

the aftermath

What do I do with all this junk? There’s more off to the side that didn’t even make it into the picture! None of these items belong in this drawer. It’s right about now that I’m often tempted to stop. I’m reveling in the beauty of my newly organized drawer and I have to work hard to muster the energy to relocate the various cast-offs.

But this is where the real work begins. Time to make the hard choices.

Take one more look at that lovely, organized drawer and dive into the leftovers. Reassess what you have before you and do a fresh sort. Ask yourself:

  • Do I use this?
  • How often do I use it?
  • When and where will I use this?
  • Do I have a place for this in the house?

The re-sort

This is when it is so important to have a place for everything in your home. If you don’t’ know where it goes, it will be thrown anywhere. If you have decided that this item is something you want/ use/ need, then it needs to have a home.
I have really learned how important that is this past year. We moved into a new home with a totally different storage setup than I was used to. I’ve moved things around and tweaked existing storage solutions as we find the flow in our new house. And don’t get too attached. If you find an organizing solution isn’t actually solving the problem, you can always try again.
Okay, here we go. I’ve re-sorted and I’m now faced with almost a dozen new to-do’s. Knock out anything you can do right away. For example, I grabbed the items that went in the trash, recycling, garage and into my purse. Since I’ve been tuning and tweaking my organizing systems for a while now, I know where the rest of the items should go.
The key is making time to take care of these to do’s. Take a moment to celebrate the victory of finally getting that drawer organized. When everything from your new piles has been relocated to their new (or temporary home) consider the job officially done. Happy sorting.

Repurposed Clutter

From-Skirt-to-pillow_thumb.jpg

I recently detailed 4 excuses that keep us holding on to clutter:  “I will use that someday” or “I love that, even if I haven’t worn it in years." And while I am a fervent believer in the power of donating items, I also love to repurpose items I already have on hand. I’ve repurposed bins and boxes, but recently I tried out a fun way to repurpose favorite clothing items.

During my most recent closet purge, I finally took a look at 2 skirts that have been a part of my wardrobe for years. It is hard for me to call these 2 skirts clutter. But as much as I love them, thanks to What Not to Wear, I discovered the length is not flattering on me. Items you haven’t used or worn in years that keep getting pushed to the back of the closet or bin… I don’t know what else you would call them except clutter. Beloved clutter.

Skirt Clutter (2)

(sidenote: I took a picture of these skirts laying out side by side, and then somehow promptly lost that picture. I had to hunt down these pictures from years and years ago. The pics of the final project will give you a good look at what the skirts looked like. And yes in the picture on the right, I am sitting in a Sea World dolphin stroller.)

What good are skirts sitting in a plastic container under my bed? It was time to either let them go or show them some real love and put them on display. Let’s make… Pillow clutter. Hmm, Skirt pillows…Repurposed Pillows. I’ll work on the name while you get your materials ready.

Materials

  • A favorite garment no longer in wardrobe rotation
  • sewing machine
  • pillow insert

Don’t get thrown off if you are not a seamstress, neither am I. In fact, I borrowed a sewing machine to make these. Even if you can’t sew a straight line you can make these (My seams are never straight).

Step 1

Cut out the existing seams in your garment to make a flat panel of fabric. For my skirts, I kept one side together so I had one long piece of fabric to wrap around the pillow. Similar to how you would begin wrapping a present.

Step 2

Jump on over to read Katie Bower’s tutorial on how to make pocket pillow covers. It would be hard from me to try and lead a sewing tutorial when I just proclaimed I can’t sew a straight line. Plus I don’t think I could explain it any clearer then she does. Thanks Katie!

Pocket pillow covers are easy to make since they don’t require a zipper or button and they are removable to wash. Three cheers for clean pillows!

You can see from the picture below I had to sew an extra panel of fabric on the back to get the embroidery centered on the front of the pillow. You can also see why I did not lead you through a tutorial but left the details to the pros.

pillow panel

The problem is I didn’t leave enough width for the pillow which is why the pocket cover is bowing. Thankfully you cannot tell from the front.

skirt pillow

For my other skirt, I couldn’t use the pocket pillow technique because of how I want to place the orange strip. However, the pillow insert happened to fit perfectly between the two seams of the skirt so I just had to sew the waist and end closed. So look for a pillow insert that is the exact width of your hips, it makes things super easy.  

Blue skirt pillow

I also had enough fabric left over from my fake roman shade to make a little matching pillow.

 

Step 3

Once your straight lines are sewn and you stuff your pillow in your new cover, step back and revel in your resourcefulness.

Pillow

Since I recovered pillows I already owned, this project was free. Resourceful and thrifty, a double whammy!

From Skirt to pillow

I have seen pillow covers made out of thrifted sweaters before. So even if you are not hoarding skirts for a decade you can still make repurposed pillow covers from whatever material catches your eye at your local thrift store. I am head over heels that my clutter beloved skirts can live another life on my couch.

Have you found a new life for your clutter? I’d love to hear about it! I even have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

4 Excuses for Keeping Clutter & What to do About It

4 excuses for keeping clutter

Can we pause for one minute and have a little heart to heart? We all have excuses. Excuses that keep clutter in our lives. I don’t know for sure why we do this. I suspect some past, primal instinct tells us we need “stuff” for our well-being and survival, or that more stuff means luxury.

Whatever the reason, there are a few common excuses that pop up and interrupt our best intentions to clear the clutter and make space for living. The excuses were practically screaming at me during a recent closet clean out.

I came across a handful of infrequently used items. Most had been passed over in previous closet purging sessions. Maybe it is our lack of closet doors, but during this purge, I was feeling particularly ruthless and ready to tackle even the most convincing excuse.

As I waded through the closet, I made quick decisions about items that needed to go. But by the end, these items were banded together at the bottom of the “get rid of” pile.

Why had I been holding on to these items for years? And more importantly why was I still struggling to let them go now?  Excuses are powerful, that’s why. Tackle them with me, won’t you?

Our excuses for clutter

 

Excuse #1: I am going to do that (project) soon…

You know what I am talking about. The project, whether it is represented by an item or paper, has been sitting there for months years.

Mine is a beloved white sweater with a stubborn stain that has been sitting there for 4 years! Yes, I said it 4 years. I have tried a handful of stain busting remedies, but all to no avail. Maybe I was waiting for new technology to develop in the stain removal department.

Solution:

Time to be honest with yourself.

  • Are you really going to do it?
  • Is it even worth your time now?

For me, it was time to admit that the stubborn stain hindering me from wearing my white sweater was just not going to budge. I am not going to attempt any more stain removal rituals. And the stain prevents it from being donate-able. The sweater has been taking up enough space in my closet and on my mental to-do list. In the trash it goes.

If you decide you are going to finally tackle that project, it is time to set a deadline. Make room for it on your calendar. Label that item with a deadline written on a post-it if you have to. If it is really that important to you, you will make time for it. If not, then it is time to give yourself permission to let it go.

 

Excuse #2: I don’t wear (use) that because…

it’s too tight, scratchy, not flattering… whatever the reason, it just doesn’t work. You put it on every now and then only to remember why you don’t wear it.

If we are not taking about clothes, then you find yourself always looking for the better one. “Where are the better scissors, better pillow, better pen…etc.? Why don’t we trash the unloved item right away? Is it because we spent good money on it? We feel guilty for being so wasteful or picky? We think that next time we put it on or use it will be different?

For me, I don’t want to admit I am actually that lazy. The blue skirt pictured above was enjoyed once, maybe twice, until I washed it. Now it needs to be ironed. Every time I go to grab it I think, “Oh, that needs to be ironed.” Then I move on to pick a new outfit.

Am I really that lazy that I have avoided ironing a skirt for 3 years? Why yes, yes I am. Even though I generally avoid buying clothes that need to be ironed, this skirt slipped by. Hello, my name is Autumn and I suffer from extreme laziness (which is really the underlying cause of my organization and efficiency enthusiasm- if I had to look too hard to find an item, I’d probably just decide it wasn’t that important anyway).

Solution:

This excuse is also disgusted as “but this is a perfectly good_____.” Insert items name. Why is it so easy to say “surround yourself with only items you love”, but so hard to put into practice?

Now I am not saying throw away all the stuff you have and go out and buy the best on the market. That totally goes against my frugal nature. But if you have duplicates of an item or you just don’t use it, let’s say goodbye and give it a better home.

If you find yourself always bypassing a pair of scissors/set of sheets/pair of jeans etc… in search of the “good pair”, budget to grab an extra of your favorite brand during a future shopping trip and say goodbye to the item you don’t love.

It might sound simple enough, but it is truly time to be honest and pass this skirt on to someone who actually will love it enough to iron it. And that means in my closet, I need it to stop taking up space. 3 years is long enough for this wrinkled fabric to highlight my laziness.

**Also falling under this category, yet not pictured, is a shirt that shrunk in the wash and another unflattering shirt that has to go no matter what price I got it for.

Excuse #3: But I love this…

There are some things that are so well-loved, we just can’t seem to part with them, even though their better days are done. My old tennis shoes fall under that category. These little beauties have been in my life longer then my man. As much as I would love to keep wearing them, it is indeed time to say good-bye.

Solution:

Create a box for special items that hold meaning (Mine is under my bed). But don’t confuse every item you love with a keepsake item to be treasured. No one wants to pull out my ratty shoes and remember the good times they had. Sometimes a pictures really is worth a thousand words. These shoes have been quite well documented in almost every photo I have from college. I can safely let these go and trust that they had a good “run”.

If your keepsakes are taking over, cull them down to really and truly treasured items. Most importantly find a home for these items, so you can keep them clean, safe and accessible for when you do want a trip down memory lane.

Items you want to look at regularly could be framed or placed on a shelf. Okay, can you imagine if I framed these shoes? Maybe I might have to try that just for the look on my hubby’s face. No, no more excuses– time to let these go!

Excuse #4: I might need this…

My framed raspberry picture, just like my shoes, has also been with me since college. I would stalk the art at Ikea to fill up the blank walls of my first apartment. This print was cheap and I liked the color. Sold. But it has long since lived out its purpose. Now, I keep thinking, “What if I need this glass frame or a print of raspberries?” You never know right?

Solution

I am an advocate for keeping things you are really going to use, but don’t try to fool me or yourself.

Remember at the beginning, I said we are having a heart to heart. It is kicking into high gear now! Are you really going to use this again?

If you really believe you are, great, make a home for it. Relegate “to use” items to that one spot. Set a “use by date” if you must. I have a spot for empty containers that I believe I might use when organizing. But the containers don’t hang out there indefinitely.

If something has been hanging out there too long without being used, it is time to let go. Good-bye raspberries.

**Also falling under this category and not pictured above (but seen on instagram @space4living) is my giant pea coat from ’97 which I haven’t worn since I lived in a place with real weather and since a 2001 trip to NYC. Move along pea coat and may you find greener pastures in your next life.

 

4 Excuses for keeping clutter & what to do about it

 

Whether these excuses are made in the closet, in the kitchen or with our kids toys; it is time to be honest with ourselves and say good-bye to the un-used, stagnant clutter.

Did I miss an excuse? What is one excuse you notice yourself repeating? Are you going to donate that ill-fitting shirt now? You can do it!

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