February 9, 2021

Simplify: One Room At a Time



I am one of those lucky retirees who has accumulated enough savings to feel pretty safe financially but still hesitates to spend much of it on extras, or non-essentials. Our ten-year-old car had $2,000 worth of repairs done last week; a new car seems like such a waste of money when the 2011 version is performing well, even with occasional expensive repair bills. 

One benefit of our perpetual lockdown has been a refocus on our living space and a new-found easing of the purse strings. Before we move sometime in the next seven or eight years to a retirement community the late 80's-early 90's decor of several rooms will need freshening. Oak cabinets were quite the fashion thirty years ago. White Formica countertops in bathrooms were chic. But, I am sure a real estate agent would strongly urge some updating if we want the maximum bid on our home.

So, I swallowed hard and agreed with Betty to have some work done in the kitchen. A new sink, refinished cabinets, the painting of two accent walls, added sliding drawers and other fixups having been OK'd. The fellow doing the work comes with very high marks; maybe that is why he is unavailable for several months. We are willing to wait to have the job done well and for an acceptable cost. Assuming he performs as promised, the two bathrooms will come next.

In the meantime, we have begun to slowly declutter, modestly redecorate and simplify our home, one space at a time. An example is the guest room. It is bland and not especially inviting. Betty has ideas for painting the walls and furniture, rearranging things, and adding our artwork to make it a more welcoming space. 

Her office and closet are home to a woman with more projects, creativity, ideas, old photographs, and scraps of paper than any human should have to juggle at once. A bomb couldn't create a bigger jumble than what is in there now. It is also the room where I paint, so the clutter and storage needs have only increased. 

Just to use the computer mouse one must navigate around a few dozen sticky notes,  some yellow legal pads, stacks of papers, opened mail, and a few catalogs. The closet has more art supplies, paints, papers, pens, clipboards, and bits of this and that than a well-equipped hobby store. 

My simple male brain concludes: what a perfect place to simplify and declutter. Well, no. Thinning out an artist's space is a bit like asking the Sistine Chapel to consider a new coat of paint on the ceiling; it is not going to happen. 

She did agree to move several boxes of old medical files into the garage, and then to the attic. Her new endeavor, flow art, has been set up in one part of the garage instead of the dining room or her office. Baby steps. 

Across the hall, I must admit my office is almost as bad. At last count, there were eleven vintage radios on wall shelving, a guitar and associated supplies, ham radio equipment, a large, wooden file cabinet, two desks, and a bookshelf.  I have thrown out old paperwork and made minor attempts to tame the stuff, but so far to little avail.

Both of us are going through every cabinet and storage space in the house and finding six years' worth of stuff that needs to make its case to stay or go. Clothes that haven't been worn often enough to keep, 15-year-old sweaters and T-shirts, shoes with worn-down heels...isn't it amazing what we find when we are motivated to look. Goodwill is very happy.

The items in the hall cabinet that held our dog's belongings have sadly been removed. Some books for the grandkids that were favorites when they were 4 or 5 don't make much sense now that two of them are teenagers...to the library donation pile they go. Likewise, some young children's games, like Shoots & Ladders, have also left the building. 

We have freshened the various knickknacks and photographs in our bedroom with things that had been languishing in the attic. I am urging Betty to create a large piece of abstract flow art for one wall that needs brightening. Overall, though, we have not let our end-of-the-day space get cluttered. Sometimes, simply swapping out belongings brings a sense of freshness that helps the stay-at-home blues.

I have left the biggest hurdle for last: the garage. We have a house with a three-car garage. With only one car, that creates tremendous opportunities for clutter and chaos. I proudly state that we have maximized that potential. Part of Betty's art setup takes over one car space. Tools, woodworking machines, and file boxes fill up a second part. The car just fits in between.

There are all sorts of cans of leftover paint from other houses and long-delayed projects. Tools, fertilizers and weed killer spray, a lawnmower and leaf blower, several ladders, extra folding chairs...heavens, this is just a partial inventory.

We have promised each other that this space will be tackled when the weather warms up a bit. Excuse me, but we've made this vow before.  Well, Covid has taken away some of our excuses, so this time around I am hopeful.


How about you? Have you ever taken each room in your home, condo, or apartment and made everything justify its continued existence? If your possessions could speak would they be able to convince you they deserve space of their own? 

54 comments:

  1. I am talking to myself saying yep, been there and done that. When we retired and moved from Houston to Asheville and downsized, we painstakingly made those decisions that you and Betty are now. But I must say, it felt good to let go of so much useless stuff. We are at that stage of life where we have no desire to accumulate stuff and make and effort that if we buy something, we get rid of something, plus, we just don't have the space. We remodeled our new home and it has current finishes, but your post made me think that in 15 years or so, it will be time to update it all again.

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    1. I am the type of person that doesn't really pay much attention to trends or what is appropriate as the finish for kitchen cabinets. If they work and look nice, I am happy. Plus, chasing the latest trend can get very expensive.

      That said, we have owned and sold enough houses in our time to know what shows best is something that is at least in the same century. I galls me to spend a lot of money just before selling and then leaving a house. So, this time around, I have agreed to brighten things up and enjoy the fresh look for several years.

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  2. This past year of being home so very much certainly has us all looking at our surroundings even more! I am a big believer in having a very comfy cozy and inviting home.Color,sound, less clutter, the right furnishings, all contribute to mental and spiritual health, in my opinion! That said, I looked around this year to see what needed “upgrading” and really couldn’t come up with much. Over th past 2 or 3 years we did things on our list of improvements, one by one. A new mattress was a must and should have done it sooner!! A Casper mattress has changed my life! We like it so much we got another one for the guest room! I wanted a refrig with wide shelves and freezer on the bottom..I cook a lot and coveted a refrig with wide shelves on top and freezer on the bottom so we replaced our old one about 2 years ago. In April, after Covid hit home, we got a small freezer so I can stockpile my favorite Trader Joe frozen, and extra veggies,meats,etc. so we could shop less often. MUSIC is essential to me and I have got to have good sound.I bought myself a BOSE wireless speaker at Costco a year ago so I can stream my Spotify through and have good music. Guest room needed a new carpet. The old one was 17 years old! So we did that last year before a house guest arrived..my last house guest pre Covid. Our old leather furniture still looks pretty good and is comfortable.We did upgrade our TV set last year too. In my dream world I have wonderfully upgraded bathrooms with stone walk in showers,etc but that is just too pricey for me to be comfortable with in this house. Our bathrooms are safe and simple, I’m ok with that. The biggest area I need to redo is my art studio— like Betty’s it’s a mess .. and I need to reorganize it and move the furniture around.,It’s such a small room I am frustrated but I have to make do with the space.. Overall, I feel at our age, a home that REALLY WORKSfor our needs, our hobbies, and is beautiful to look at, is essential! Even more than travel HOME in where my HEART is. As soon as I can shop at Trader Joe again, FRESH FLOWERS are a must,too!!

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    1. Have you ever thought of becoming a spokesperson for Trader Joe's? You will be shocked to know I have been inside a TJ store maybe twice in my life!

      Our refrigerator is a side-by-side and has small freezer-side shelving. It would never do for a serious cook. Betty and I think of food more as fuel, so we are OK with it, though even we have to occasionally ask ourselves if we have room for something before we buy it.

      We should replace all the carpeting. It is old and even with regular cleaning is no longer its original light beige color. But, that means moving all the furniture out of several rooms. So, we will attempt to make it last and then offer a buyer a carpet allowance to put in the color and amount they want. So much easier.

      New mattress? Absolutely. We replaced our 12 year old king last year when we started waking up stiff from the various peaks and valleys in the old one.

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    2. Yes,I’d LOVE to be a spokesperson for Trader Joe, or even one of their food demonstrators,although I doubt that will come back,ever after Covid.Sharing food? Buffets? I am not sure about that. I also can’t recall for certain, but am pretty sure thatHome Depot and Lowes move your furniture to install carpet. Changing out the floors in our last couple fo houses made such a huge difference! I love tile now and could not go back to carpet .Only have it in the guest bedroom. A 1 story house makes it much easier to replace when it’s time!

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    3. Betty dislikes tile. She tolerates it in the obvious places (kitchen, bathrooms, entry hallway), but would never eliminate carpeting completely.

      I think you are right about Lowes or Home Depot, though there is probably a weight limit and some of our pieces are heavy.

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  3. Three years ago, I sold our family home of over 3,000 square feet and bought a condo, just over 1,000 square feet. The downsizing task at the time seemed impossible, but it had to be done. I sold some large furniture items, gave away to family and friends a lot of things, and then gave the rest to a local organization that helps new refugees settle.

    While it was emotionally hard at times, the reality of the task at hand kept me focused. Now living in my much smaller home, it is deeply satisfying to be free of clutter and "stuff". I don't miss a single thing that I gave away. A smaller footprint requires careful consideration of what you allow in your home.

    I have a rule; no new hangers! If I buy an item of clothing, at least one item must be donated.

    When I look around my living space now, it is peaceful, restful, and aesthetically brings me happiness. Kind of a "feng shui".

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    1. I like your hanger idea. Unfortunately, I bought 9 new ones last week! But, moving forward we will follow the Carole rule.

      3,000 down to 1,000 sq. ft...yes, that is serious downsizing.

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  4. Downsizing and de-cluttering is hard enough doing it alone, I can't imagine doing it as a couple where both parties have to agree on what goes and what stays. It can be an emotional roller coaster at times by yourself.

    I've had two realtor couples (4 agents) in the house in the past few months and none of them suggested I'd need to do any updating with cabinets and counter tops (I've got the same oak and white that you have). I did attend a group class put on by a real estate company a year or two ago and the leader said, "Once you list with me, we do everything my way and if I say your golden oak cabinets get painted, my team will do it. Your opinion no matter counts. I'm there to get the house sold." Twenty-five years ago when we had a rental house to sell and a realtor came in and told us if we listed with him he'd put in new kitchen cabinets and he just happened to know a guy who'd give us a good deal. We didn't list him him and the house sold just fine with outdated cabinets. I don't trust realtors at all not to be self-serving with some of their upgrades. All three of the houses we sold and a four family apartment building we sold with just deep cleaning and a few freshly painted walls here and there. Clean and de-cluttered and broken things fixed is my goal and let the new owners decide the decor they want.

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    1. "My way or the highway" guy wouldn't get very far with us, either. Some of these folks forget they are working for us.

      Betty has wanted a new sink and a brighter kitchen for the past two houses. Whether it is necessary to sell, it is important to keep her smiling. I think the cabinet changes and accent walls will brighten things up quite a bit. Plus, the accent walls will tie in with the drapes in that part of the house and compliment the lighter green on some of the walls. So, I am all in.

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  5. Oh boy. We hit the five year mark in our house and I made a list of everything we need to tackle when it comes to decluttering. But I also have a list in my head of the upgrades we might want to make in 3-5 years. In 10 years, we’ll have to start thinking about our future housing plans. Betty sounds like me. How can I downsize when everything I love to do requires space and supplies? Good luck. I’m not doing so well with my decluttering!!

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    1. I will repeat the line from above: "Baby Steps."

      We have a box full of comics cut out of the paper from 10-20 years ago. Where does that go? In the trash is not one of the choices, apparently!

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    2. Why are you keeping comics cut from the paper?

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  6. We have been in our house almost 34 years. We are relatively organized people but 34 years is a lot of time to accumulate those items that are still good but not useful. Our biggest issue is our 4 foot high crawl space under half of our side-split house. It's big enough to put stuff in but awkward enough that taking it out again is a pain. You can see the problem, things go in and never come out again.

    About 7-8 years ago we decided we really had to do something about it but we could never find the right time to do it. One day I took the initiative booked a junk removal service to show up in 2 weeks. That focused us on truly deciding what we needed to keep and what should go. There were a lot of items from our kid's childhood's that my wife said "The kids will want that" however when we asked them said they didn't want it in every case. Anyway, we threw all the "to go" stuff (about 80% of what was in there) into a big pile in the crawl space and the junk removal guys did the hard-on-your-back work of carrying it out to their trash truck. Of course 7-8 years later we are getting a bit of build up so it may be worth going through the exercise again.

    Renovating or updating the house is always a big project. When we bought our house it was 25 years old and truthfully it needed updating then. Being in our early 30s with small kids and a big mortgage we didn't have the money to do much so we just lived in it. We decorated ourselves with a bit of paint and paper, and spent money on keeping the house livable (new furnace, roof, things like that) but otherwise we just lived there for the next 25 years. At that point we did a full house renovation which was an expensive and lengthy project but at 50 years old the house really needed it. The bedrooms were treated to an update but the rest of the house was a gut and rebuild. Eleven years later we are still happy that we did it and hopefully it will last the rest of our time in the house.

    A 3 car garage sounds nice Bob. Our house has only a single car garage and until I retired I felt it was all I ever needed (though we do have an 8 by 10 shed in the backyard for lawnmowers and other garden stuff). The garage held our car and had some shelves for various tools, paint cans and so on but it was fine - just right. Now that I am retired I find I could use a much bigger space for various hobbies and other projects, the things I never had time for when I was working. There's no room on our lot for any additional outbuildings and we aren't going to move so that larger garage will never happen but it would be nice.

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    1. I should add there is a storage shed the same size as yours in the backyard. It is full of Christmas stuff and some paintings by my father. So, add that to a three car garage and an attic and you understand our problem.

      Betty had saved every single T-shirt the girls ever had as youngsters, as well as all their jeans. She has made most of them into quilts that the girls do use, and we had one in the RV. Frankly, I was amazed at what she did with them.

      But, as you note, much of the scuff saved "for the kids" is nothing they want. They have made it quite clear they don't want to be faced with a mountain of unneeded stuff when we both pass on.

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  7. Best pandemic meme - I thought I would do a deep clean in the house when I had more time; apparently that wasn't the reason. Pandemic could be replaced by retirement. I consider accessibility and safety issues as I age in my 20yr old house when I look at the bathroom and landscaping. I agree with Jean - let the new owners decide the decor they want. Of course the market will dictate some of that.

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    1. We are adding a grab bar in the guest bathroom, the one with a tub/shower combo. Otherwise upgrades will be considered, but not a full gut and replace. What is hot today (granite shower with monster heads) may look silly in 8 years and not worth tends of thousands of our hard-saved money.

      Curb appeal is important. Some additional front landscaping will need to happen at some point. But, since Phoenix residents almost never use the front yard so that will strictly be a sales-driven decision when the time comes.

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    2. Have you seen the great grab bars out there???? Check out Wayfair BAR-WL24-TW-125-PO Stainless Steel 24” Grab Bar. I found one that looked like a mustache and didn't "grab" it soon enough. Really, I never thought these could be fun!

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  8. And you've lived there how long?
    We've clocked over 30 years in this house. For people who used to move by loading the car and truck, we've come a long way. Our own natural clutter is compounded by stuff left behind by the former owner and contributions from family, who see us as a safe storage space and/or dumping ground for things they think are "sentimental" but don't want--or cannot possess where they live. There's no place for half our things, let alone these contributions.
    I have started with common areas, giving unused items to fundraisers, throwing out obvious trash, emptying cabinets of saved plastic. I loaded the truck with junk in the basement and took it to the dump, followed by trips to get rid of cardboard and glass from down there. I moved my dyeing to the basement so I don't have to wait for summer to shlep it out on the deck and back in by sundown. But this isn't even a down payment on what has to be done.
    One thing that slows me down is that I feel strongly the "family heirlooms" should be gone over with my brother before I toss most of them. (My husband notes the can't-keep-in-NYC stuff could be handily sold for big bucks but it isn't my call.) And my husband keeps things in case he needs them, or when he's unsure what the dump will take for free.
    Enter the pandemic, and the fact that the consignment shop is over an hour away. Very few closets got hoed out, though I did manage to give some stuff to the collection box three hours away on a grave decoration trip Memorial Day.
    On the fence about spending money on a cabinet or shelf on which to put music and movies, which necessitates a small rearrangement in the living room, or just finding a place that takes those and go exclusively to streaming.
    If I ever get the stuff under control it'll be a miracle!

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    1. Our previous house was home for 10 years before we moved to be a bit closer to the rest of the family. For some reason, it didn't seem as cluttered as our current abode. We were both retired while living in that house, so I can't blame it on not working.

      Right now, we are in the midst of converting stacks of old audio cassette and VHS tapes to a better format for storage and preservation. There is even a stack of 8 mm movies that hold who knows what. And, don't even ask about the 40 photo albums that need to be scanned.

      Our mole hill is clearly a large, rocky mountain.

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  9. Our home is clutter free, but not without ongoing effort that is for sure. Clutter makes me feel itchy, whereas lack of it makes me feel serene and calm. I am pleased to be able to say that there are empty shelves and drawers in every room in our home, and I intend to keep it that way.

    One thing that has helped me with keeping the clutter at bay is, believe it or not, our housecleaning service. I refuse to waste the money getting our home professionally cleaned costs by cluttering up our counters, meaning the team can't then thoroughly clean. So I declutter every counter before they come, including picking up all of the area rugs so the wood floors can be thoroughly cleaned. And each time I do so, less and less makes its way back onto our counters because I'm forced to handle it, and evaluate it's value in our lives.

    In over twenty years of doing this I can count on one hand the regrets I've had about letting things go.

    And a point of pride for both my husband and myself is that our three car garages houses two cars plus our travel trailer.

    Yes, I'm available for higher, LOL.

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    1. Betty always cleans and straightens before the housecleaners come. I have never quite grasped the concept, but pitch in as needed.

      I like that description: clutter makes you feel itchy. Me, too. I am much calmer when counters are bare and part of Sunday's paper doesn't linger until Wednesday.

      A three car garage used for vehicle storage? Never heard of such a thing!

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    2. I don’t clean before the housecleaning team arrives. I declutter. Big difference!

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  10. Hi Bob! I know you and Betty regularly practice your version of what I call "rightsizing" so I'm not surprised you have decided to clear away some of the accumulated clutter and "freshen up" some of your home details. I am strongly in favor of doing some of those renovations now rather than right before you move so you can enjoy them yourselves...It's like putting off using the good china only on special occasions. Right now is occasion enough. And isn't it true that we tend to hang on to the things we value most? Betty with her art supplies and you with your "equipment/tools?" What we hold on to can tell us a lot about ourselves if we are willing to go there. Good luck! ~Kathy

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    1. Actually, the equipment and tools are Betty's! She has so many creative interests we could fill a barn just with stuff she wants to try or learn. My art supplies take up a little space, the guitar hangs on the wall, and my tools are for fixing a drip system or trimming some bushes.

      I agree about renovating before walking out the door. We have done that before and always ask ourselves why didn't we do something that we could enjoy? This time, we are breaking our habit.

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  11. I am an organizing and decluttering fanatic. All my adult life I have had a bag sitting in a room to toss unwanted clothes and stuff into and then drop off at a thrift store. I married a man who comes from a family of collectors, one was even a TV-worthy hoarder. Mostly his junk, I mean stuff, is in the garage. We lovingly limp along, but I long to really get into his garage and scrub and toss.

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    1. Occasionally, we will watch some of the hoarder tv shows just to remind ourselves we are actually very neat people. Betty has some OCD tendencies, so for her it is an ongoing battle to not collect or keep something that has limited value.

      As I get older I realize how little stuff I need to be happy. That alone makes decluttering a bit easier.

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  12. Timely subject, Bob. We decided to downsize our 3000+ sqft two-story to a more manageable 2450 sqft one-story and that entailed giving up lots of stuff. Decisions...decisions... It was made a bit easier by the fact that we had to give up the living room, so that was one entire set of formal furniture that went to Habitat. Next up was one of the "kids'" bedrooms. We figured that at ages 38 and 35, they were not in imminent need of moving back home :-). Finally, we sifted through stuff that had been tucked away in the attic and in closets. We decided that things we had not unpacked since we left Houston in 1990 via Charleston, SC to Plano TX, would be excellent candidates for Goodwill. That is how we got the pile down inside the house. The garage was another matter. I take full responsibility for the accumulated clutter and I also take pride in going minimal for the now house. My rule was similar to what I use with clothes: if untouched the prior two years, we will part ways. We made one more pact: since we are now in a three bedroom plus office, we decided to leave one guest bedroom for the times post-Covid when family may visit again, and to divide the other two rooms into man cave and she shed where the "owner" is allowed a great deal of discretion as to decoration and clutter. 2.5 months post move: so far so good.

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    1. If possible, having separate spaces for him and her stuff makes things go a lot smoother. Even so, there is enough "spillover" to create some problems.

      I must say that the world of streaming entertainment has been a blessing. Hundreds of DVDs, at least 700 music CDs, and the random VHS tape are completely unnecessary,

      We did keep a few dozen DVDs for "emergencies:" when the Internet is out. How silly is that? Attention Bob: read a book, sketch or paint, play the guitar!!!! Yeah, I know. But, still they sit in a cabinet in the living room, just in case.

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    2. I kept a few dozen old 33's (and a tuner/turntable) from my days in Europe because that type of music simply isn't available streaming on Spotify or Alexa. My wife didn't want to part with her Neil Diamond collection.....

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  13. I've learned the hard way: One person's junk is another person's priceless possession. But Formica countertops?!? I thought they were banned years ago by OSHA or HUD or the CDC or the FDA ... or at least by Martha Stewart.

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    1. Maybe it isn't Formica, but I don't know. I am certain it is not linoleum.

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  14. We actually did this 25? years ago when we decided all the cheap builder carpet needed replacing. We asked the installer to divide the house in half. We emptied half of the house into the garage over a weekend. They installed carpet. We touched every single item and it either went into the garbage, the trunk for donation or back in the house IMMEDIATELY into it's permanent home. We took 3 days to do this. We then emptied the other half of the house into the garage. They installed the carpet. Repeat steps. We both worked full-time plus so it was some long evenings to meet the installer's schedule.

    It was a terrific lesson in mindfulness. And it changed us forever not to mention the money we saved without really considering that.

    We are 30 years in this home come Monday. Still there is empty space in cupboards and closets. Still everything has a permanent home. My art is quilting and I'm contained in my space we remodeled in 2003 (tore down walls between 2 small bedrooms and a hallway). Hubster's art is woodworking and is contained in his shop we added-on back in 2003.

    No regrets! Great habits are made not born :-)

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    1. I failed to mention the other changes. 1. Our kitchen/baths have solid Alder cabinets which we love to this day. They had terrible surfacing though and it always looked filthy no matter what I used to clean them. So, we went a grey fleck Corian with integrated sinks. LOVE THEM STILL! 2. Light fixture in our bedroom many years ago. 3. Light fixture in our dining room finally replaced last fall. We never like the original but literally took 29 years to find one we were willing to spend $ on. 4. We have a south facing family room that had a cheap aluminum slider and a large long plate glass window on either side. We had all this removed and replaced with a beautiful Pella slider/window combo-single installation. It's 138" wide and we love it. The slider opens from the center which is something we really wanted. 5. We discovered water issues in the walls of our bathroom. So commenced demolition to find black mold. The builder had not properly installed vapor barrier. It was 12 inches up from base and 12 inches down from the top. All the sheetrock was wet and rotted. So that was a whole lotta fun :-( We ordered Corian walls and a Corian basin and had those installed. We also did a 36" wide glass door for ease of wheelchair transfer should we ever need it.

      We have everything here just the way we want it for our remaining days (we'll be 60 in May). Grab bars as we age and we're set.

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    2. I think you have just scared me!

      Actually, doing half the rooms at a time when we replace the carpeting is what we figured was the only logical way to approach the problem. We will hire younger, stronger men to do the actual furniture moving of the furniture. Plus, we will buy enough carpeting for the full job so the rug color will match since it will be from the same roll.

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    3. LOL. Honestly, I encourage you to do it this way. I would do it again even though we are older. It's a great way to really slash through. We did "the worst" half first so no mercy and bound to the clock.

      We stuffed our bathrooms and the tub (left our shower and 1 sink accessible) with all the smaller items. Our carpet layers were willing to shuffle large furniture pieces as long as each was completely empty. Mind you, that includes my upright grand piano :-)

      You won't be sorry :-)

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  15. I flex my decluttering muscle at the start of every year, but invariably run out of steam as life gets in the way. This year, however, with a bit of help from lockdown restrictions the momentum is continuing, mainly I think because I am enjoying the benefits of uncluttered space and not forever wasting oodles of time searching for something that has become buried under yet another pile of stuff!

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    1. I am motivated by the dream of some empty shelves and closets.

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  16. One box pack, one box thrown, one box donated. Since I began in November, this has kept me on track instead of overwhelmed. Our "stuff" has traveled with us for many years. I just unpacked a box that was from the kids in Kindergarten (1989-90). I learned from Laura to take a picture and toss what no one really wanted- except for the memories. Why am I keeping it? Who am I keeping it for? Who is this in this picture? Good questions.
    Picking colors for this house and the next one. Which pieces of art will be used? What furniture will be taken? Pots and pans? tools? Clothes? knick nacks? Pens? Paints? Books? The list is endless. Still, we choose to go through everything here instead of our children having to go through it when we are downsized into our last place in 10 or 25 or 25 years.
    It is a chore and a pleasure.
    I hope your updating brings you joy.

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    1. I don't ask if every piece of clothing brings me joy, or thank something I am throwing away. But, I get your drift. We really don't want our kids to go through what Betty did when her dad died. Dozens of large, black trash bags were required just to empty out the garage.

      Ha!! We have a a few boxes from the early to mid 80's of our kid's stuff. They don't want it, yet it is still here.

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  17. The early days of the pandemic gave us a time of focus. Our empty tourist town brought home how much we missed the small quiet town our home was when we moved back home after my husband's military career over 25 years ago. Our youngest grandson finished high school in 2020. We loved our backyard marsh view, but after multiple hurricanes the last few years we began to dread the start of hurricane season. Our daughter and SIL had recently bought a house inland. We looked at our house: freshly painted, 15 years still left on a 30 year roof, new flooring, yard green and lush from a wet spring and decided NOW is the time to sell. So we rented a storage unit, decluttered (daughter buying her house allowed a lot to go to her), became very popular with the thrift store that benefits a local home for mothers in need, and called our realtor. We sold our house in 4 weeks. We put everything in storage (sorting and discarding as we went) and moved inland to our little vacation getaway (14x42 MH with garage) on 11 acres in the woods that we have owned for 10 years. We now have plenty of time to decide our next step with no pressure. The best thing of all is not how we shed years of accumulated things, but how our minds were freed of worry and aggravation!! No more worrying about increases in flood insurance, regular house insurance (our house was over 50 years old & we were starting to get "age" surcharges, and hurricane preparation and evacuation (at 71 and 67 we simply could not pick up sand bags and make preparations about the house as in times past). Our neighborhood had changed with AB&B.We are now 21 miles from our daughter, 32 miles from our grandsons, and 33 miles inland. We have not had to change doctors or hospitals. We have ridden out the pandemic with ease with plenty to in the yard and nature. We are now in a less crowded and hectic little town that is a joy to live in. We have traded the Atlantic Ocean for the St. John's River as our recreational body of water. We are being very deliberate in what we want for our next home - trying to be more practical and realistic than heart driven ( although it is hard when you see an old farmhouse and you say oh I could fix that up, but you know at a certain age you shouldn't be up a ladder and on a roof!! This pandemic has been bad, but for us was a time of reflection and allowed us to see that we were staying where we were because of memories and ties with the past. Our old home town had changed and not for the better. We said good bye, took our memories, and are ready to start a new chapter!!





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    1. I lived in Jacksonville for a year, so I am familiar with the St. John's River. That part of Florida is lovely, very different from the flat southern part of the state.

      I like your walking us through the steps of your decision and move. Trying to be "more practical and realistic" is so important at our age. Yes, we could have fixed things up 10-15 years ago, but not now. This is our time to not worry so much about all the repairs and insurance issues.

      And, I understand how important it is to keep relationships with doctors you trust. I am getting too old to keeping training new ones to understand me and my history!

      Delete
  18. By the way, I forgot to mention I think your blog is one of the most interesting and thought provoking retirement blogs available. You are never preachy, but get your readers to look at things from a different perspective with your thoughtful comments. Keep up the good work

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  19. I am dealing with not only my accumulated clutter, but that of my parents as well, as I recently purchased my childhood home in order to secure some resources for my father.

    It has been overwhelming, the task of decluttering seemingly too large to handle. Many friends have suggested some techniques-- a lot of enthusiasm for Marie Kondo's "Tidying Up" Konmari method. She advocates decluttering by categories, rather than rooms (clothes, books, etc..) I was having a bit of trouble getting motivated by her approach, although she has quite a following on YouTube and a Netflix television series. Nearly all of her devoted fans seemed to be women, and I was afraid my reluctance was a result of some deep "guy thing" issue. Then I stumbled over this YouTube post:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5qyHe5YAhY&ab_channel=NickPelletier

    He convinced me, and I am now underway. Seems to be working, but a lot remaining to be accomplished. Best of luck to all with this undertaking.

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. I read Ms. Kondo's book but balked at rolling my underwear and thanking my old sweatshirt for its years of service.

      Cut to the chase, though, and she has the right idea about the destructive effect of clutter and lack of order.

      Your story is the one too many of us leave for our children or relatives to deal with. It is a rare offspring that wants even 10% of what is left behind.

      Delete
    2. I read her book. It was as much about selling her container system as decluttering. The irony was not lost on me. "You need more stuff to get rid of stuff". ;-)

      Underwear and t shirts are not rolled up and independently visible here LOL.

      Delete
    3. For someone who wants us to get rid of stuff, selling a storage system does seem a bit ironic.

      Delete
  20. I took from her method the idea of category purging. I went from 4 full dresser drawers to just 2. From 3 full clothes closets to 1. Still moving forward with the project. It worked for me. I did not purchase anything from her or anyone else. And like you, Bob... I did not have conversations with my clothes.

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. Actually, I enjoyed her short-lived show on Netflix (or one of the streaming channels). The homes she visited were in much worse shape then mine ever was, so I felt better.

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  21. I declutter regularly and hate a messy home, but moving this year caused me to take it to a new level. We built our condo to accommodate our current furniture and taste, and it's amazing how well that has worked out. But of course there were many trips to Good Will and the dumpster. And we still have more things than we need. I continue to purge but for now, we are set on upgrades. :-) However, I admit to thinking of a new paint color in the bathroom eventually and wish I had put one more light over the island, etc. Nothing I'm willing to get into anytime soon though. I need a slow year.

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    1. Decluttering is a constant battle, but upgrades are our new push, too. Nothing overly elaborate, but enough to increase convenience, safety, and brighten the kitchen.

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  22. I've been decluttering my entire married life. Hubby had a house full of 'stuff' when we married, mostly sporting stuff. I need things to be clean, neat and organized so I organized and decluttered things he said he didn't want to keep.

    Decluttering kicked into high gear after helping clean out my grandparents house. We looked at each other and decided then that no one was going to have to go through our house like that.

    The sorting and cleaning out of parents homes confirmed the need to simplify and declutter. We are childfree by choice so couldn't leave it to the kids even if we wanted to, and we wouldn't.

    After I retired 10 years ago we really started streamlining everything. We both took a long look at our hobbies and crafts and evaluated if they still brought joy and realistically how much could we do. Much went out the door, including my stained glass equipment and supplies and hubby's leather working tools and supplies.

    All the decluttering paid off when last year we decided to downsize from a 2 story house to an apartment. No more stairs for us. An apartment opened up in the building we wanted to live in so we put the house on the market in January and signed the lease starting February. The house sold in 4 days with a March close. We could act that fast because the house was clean, neat and organized with plenty of empty cabinets and even empty rooms.

    We made lots of nieces and nephews happy with the donations of yard equipment and furniture. Some would question why we donated rather than sell, but we were happy to help out younger people. It also meant they moved they moved the stuff out, better to have younger people doing that lifting.

    Now we have everything we need and nothing we don't in the 1,086 square foot apartment. It is an ongoing habit to evaluate stuff and if it is not useful or loved it is gone.

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    1. One common feature of decluttering I really dislike: garage sales. All that organizing, arranging everything on tables, spending a morning waiting for other people to buy my junk, and then taking all the unsold stuff to Goodwill, all for maybe a few hundred dollars. Not worth it to me.

      That was a very quick turnaround on your home, but the market is hot in several parts of the country right now. A house just down the street from us sold in less than a week for higher than list price.

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