Adventures in Decluttering


During my recent six-week blogging break, I managed to free up a little more than nine feet of wall space in my study, just barely enough room to squeeze in a long arm quilting machine on an eight-foot frame and a few inches to spare on each side.

At the beginning of my sabbatical, one wall of my study looked like this:

Part of my messy study

There were about eleven cartons of stuff that I needed to find another location for. I made two trips to Goodwill with trunk-loads of stuff to donate; I also gave a stack of books to the neighborhood Little Free Library (and more books also went to Goodwill). I sent two needlepoints that my mother-in-law made to my brother-in-law. I gave a chest of drawers to my middle daughter Erin for baby clothes (oh, I haven’t told you: she is expecting twins, our very first grandchildren!), but first I had to find places for all the things in the dresser. (A lot went to Goodwill.) Then, with my son Matt’s help, I moved the bookcase that you can see at the right edge of the Before picture above to the spot where the chest used to be.

I replaced two two-drawer file cabinets with two four-drawer file cabinets so I would have more space to store all the paper documents I feel compelled to save and that were living in banker’s boxes.

When I’d done all that, I still had eight boxes of books and other things that I couldn’t bear to part with. But guess what—I discovered that one of our hall closets, where we keep light bulbs, was actually stuffed with boxes of things that our two older daughters had stored there when they graduated from college—sixteen and twenty-one years ago. So I asked them if they wanted that stuff, or if I could dispose of them. They both said to chuck them. Some stuff I couldn’t part with. I kept Carly’s Harvard sweatshirt that she wore in high school—it’s oversized, so it fits me. And Erin was happy to take some of Carly’s mint-condition plush toys for her babies-to-be. I still have a box and a bag of their stuff to bring to Goodwill, maybe tomorrow.

I had carefully measured the dimensions of the room and made a scale drawing on graph paper, noting the locations of the windows, the closet, and the doors. Then I cut out carefully-measured scale representations of the furniture and arranged it so that everything fit. There was just enough room along one wall for my desk and the two file cabinets. Unfortunately, when I measured, I failed to account for the molding at the bottom of the wall, and when Matt came over to help me move the desk, we discovered we were ¼ inch short of space.

Now that wall of the study looks like this:

My desk

And I have to confess that the only reason it looks this tidy is because I still have four cartons of stuff stacked in the hallway that need to go back in or on the desk.

The remaining file cabinet is in an undesirable spot; it ruins the symmetry of the window wall. Ideally, there should be just one bookshelf on each side of the window. Instead, the file cabinet is also on one side, and a CD tower is also on the other. Oh well. And I still have some art canvases, a drum, a guitar, a ukulele, a music stand, a vacuum cleaner, and some other stuff scattered around the room that I’m hoping to find a better arrangement for by the time my new machine is delivered next Thursday. If all goes well, I’ll post another photo next Saturday.

13 responses »

  1. Twins…..HOW exciting!!!! Our first grand is due in 5 weeks!! Your studio is looking great. I follow the same process to place furniture and finally learned to leave myself an inch or so to account for those baseboards!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on the coming Grands. It does look like progress in your room. BUT…When you really get down to it we all have just too much stuff. Back when all of this Hoky Pokie started I did a lot of cleaning out. Can I tell the difference now”…No.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen to the too much stuff. We raised five kids in this house, and I swear it wasn’t as cluttered when they all lived here. My husband is worse than me when it comes to acquiring things. I always tell him I already have everything I’ve ever wanted.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, that was a big job! No wonder you had to take time off. I’ve done rearranging with scaled cut-outs before too. It’s so much easier than moving big pieces over and over to find the best arrangement. Great job! Must feel good to have it done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A lot of work, but it turned out great! I’ve been on a decluttering streak myself. I’m working on my kitchen for now. I have a long way to go, but it feels good to have less!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations Grandma in waiting! Your clean up and rearrangement is looking good! We have a pallet of stuff downstairs and hope to get a girl #1 to go through hers while she is here next week. She doesn’t have much, but it will be good to have it settled.

    Liked by 1 person

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