Minimalism, decluttering and moving house

by Liz Beavis
We are nearly ready to move house, actually we are in a constant process of moving things from one house to the other, and more correctly, we are nearly ready to permanently live in our secondhand house at Cheslyn Rise.

getting used to the "no dogs inside" rule

Too things have sparked my interest in minimalism and decluttering recently:
1) we have lived here at Eight Acres for eight years now and have accumulated a lot of stuff.  Our last move from the Lockyer Valley was paid for by my company and so a team of people came to the house and packed everything.  I remember unpacking the boxes and thinking "why did we bother to move this!?".  Some of it was just silly, but as the move was paid for, we didn't rationalise what we moved.  This time we are moving ourselves, with no moving truck or people to help, just loading stuff on the ute and car trailer, so I don't want to waste effort moving anything that we are not going to use.
2) our house at Eight Acres is small.  It is two bedrooms, one bathroom and open plan everything else, about 72m2 in total, the size of an apartment.  There is very little built-in storage, some cupboards in the master bedroom and a small hall cupboard.  We have used stand-alone wardrobes and book shelves, and ended up with every surface with stacked high with boxes on top and more boxes tucked underneath.  Our second bedroom was generally piled with stuff that didn't have a place to be, and it was a big job when we had visitors to uncover the bed and make space for them to walk around.  The new house is bigger, more like 100m2, but I know how stuff can accumulate to fill a space, we are both agreed that we do not want to end up in this situation again, no more stacking of boxes!
As we are gradually packing and unpacking our stuff, we are trying very hard to declutter.  If you haven't come across the decluttering movement (you must not read the same blogs as I do!), it means to "remove unnecessary items from (an untidy or overcrowded place)".  One of the difficulties we have as natural hoarders, is that we like to keep things "just in case" and often we do end up using things, but more often they just become clutter.  Pete finds it hard to throw away a second or spare item, just in case our good one breaks, so then we have to store the spare one somewhere.  It does make sense, but it also makes clutter.
One of my favourite blogs, Root Simple, has an excellent post about decluttering for creative people (i.e. people who hoard materials just in case) and decluttering for DIY-ers, and have written extensively on their experience with the Marie Kondo method.  I haven't personally read the book (if you haven't heard of Marie Kondo, you really don't read the same blogs as I do - start here), but I have read enough blogs by people who have read the book and watched a bit on youtube, to know what its all about.  Stop keeping stuff that you don't need!  The more stuff you have the more you have to work to keep it clean and organised.  And when you put things away, you want to be able to see everything you own, so that you remember what you have.
Another one of my favourite blogs, Treading my own path, has written about how you can declutter without just making a heap of rubbish.  This is always a concern when you're hoarded things intending to use them for something and then end up having to throw them out, it feels like a waste.  But Lindsay explains that it was a waste the minute you brought the item into your house, so all you can do now is try to give it away or repurpose it somehow, but in future, think about your choices and try not to end up with so much stuff in the first place!  I am really enjoying her more specific posts about decluttering your wardrobe.  I have too many clothes, most from the op-shop, and I'm keen to reduce numbers to something sensible where I can see everything and wear everything.  While Lindsay suggests giving away what you don't wear, I am happy to put it away and get more items out as clothes in my wardrobe wear out, rather than buying new things.  Its kind of exciting going through a box of clothes that you haven't seen for a few months and rediscovering them!  The key here is not buying anything new though and remembering what you already have.
Have you seen the whole capsule wardrobe thing?  This youtube video explains a 10-item wardrobe philosophy - I'm not going to get down to ten items by the time I factor in work uniforms, farm clothes, business wear for my occasional trips to corporate office and casual clothes for the weekend!  However, I did take from that talk the idea of not hanging on to really daggy clothing.  Even once it gets to farm wear status, it doesn't have to be covered in paint and full of holes, those shirts can become rags at some stage!  Its ok to wear something nice!  I also am in the habit of wearing an apron in the kitchen, as this helps keep clothes clean (and I remember my high school home-ec teacher explaining that it also keeps dirt from your clothes out of your food, a comforting thought when I've just come in from the garden!).
I think we now have a semi-minimalist vision for the new house.  Minimalism as a philosophy is about only having the things we need.  In a design sense this manifests as very simple clean spaces with little clutter.  The obvious advantage to me is the ease of cleaning!  I hate dusting or having to move things around to clean behind them, the less clutter the better.  We have tried to facilitate this by including a lot of storage space in our new house.  The true minimalist would not need so much storage as they would have actually reduced the amount of things to be stored, but we are building up to that point!  I will be happy to see the cupboards only partially used, its much easier to find things when the cupboard is not jammed full.

Another favourite blog, Gully Grove, details her decluttering efforts and I really love how she explains her thinking behind each decision and the weird attachments we can have to certain items.  Her tidy cupboards are a nice reminder that of what can be achieved by dedicated decluttering!
There are many other advantages of minimalism, explained in this post from Becoming Minimalist.  As we start to clear out the things from the house at Eight Acres, and put them away in the new house, I am enjoying this house more.  It feels calmer, less cluttered and more comfortable.  I find clutter very stressful, I need to clean the kitchen before I cook, or clear my desk before I start work, so a minimalist house, along with continued decluttering, will be a nice change.  It does take discipline to put things away instead of leaving them out on surfaces, but with fewer possessions this should get easier.

What do you think?  Have you tried decluttering and/or minimalism?  Does it work for you?

More posts about our house, from moving it to the property through to moving into the house (roughly in order):

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