The other day when I gave a small tour of our home on Facebook Live many of you commented on your love of our intentional and “minimalistic” living spaces. (Thank you!) In fact, I don’t quite identify myself as a minimalist simply because I feel we do have quite a few material things. However I do absolutely identify with the word “intentional”, in fact I am quite passionate about it.
We strive to live as much of our lives as we can intentionally: conscientiously including our Family Values in our daily rhythm, intentionally attuning with and connecting with our children each day or intentionally creating a simple, clean living space that contains items which are both practical and aesthetically pleasing.
For me, the key to a simplified home is making sure that each and every item has it’s place. That nothing is put down and left unintentionally.
Of course living in the Western world many “things” come streaming in each day and need to be put away, sorted or filed so that the clutter does not begin to build again.
Today I’ll briefly outline some techniques I used to create a more intentional clutter-free home and in a future post I’ll share how I try to maintain a clutter-free home.
Guide to Simplifying and Creating an Intentional Home
You’ll need Garbage Bags, Carboard Boxes and Storage Tubs
- When you start decluttering you’ll find yourself separating things into four categories: Keep, Give Away, Throw Away, Store Away. Make sure you have appropriate containers for each of these categories as you’re going through a room.
- You should also have in mind to whom and where you’re going to donate unwanted items.
Start One Room at a Time
- You could schedule out a whole weekend or couple weekends and work through a few rooms each day, or you could make this an ongoing project and work on a room each month.
- But you need to make sure that once a room is de-cluttered you maintain this balance- don’t let this room fill up again when you’re focused on another space.
- Start on one side of the room and begin sifting through each and every item in the room (as if you were going to pack to move house) and ask yourself: How do I feel when I see and hold this item and think about keeping it? Eg. happy, sad, guilty, annoyed, obligated. Does that emotion contribute to your overall well-being?
- If the item is being kept out of guilt or obligation because it was a gift or because you know you invested money on it, recognize the emotion and then let the item go.
Removing Anything that is Excessive, Ugly and/or Unfunctional, Broken or Incomplete
- Excessive: How many throws do you need? How many mixing bowls do you need? How many pens do you need? How many “free” notepads do you need? How many pairs of jeans do you need? How many magnets on your fridge do you need? How many sheet sets do you need? How many stuffed bears does your child need? We often accumulate extra sets of new things and don’t bother to give or throw away the older versions.
- Ugly: If you have something that has very little function and is also aesthetically unattractive then why have it at all? Big plastic toys, multiple dishrags and sponges out on the sink, an old rug that you hate- be ruthless and take everything and anything away that doesn’t warm your aesthetics sense.
- Unfunctional: Decorative pieces are all unfunctional in the sense that their only role is to provide beauty to your home. This is absolutely fine if you love the piece. But if you have an old painting, or an antique watering can on display or a big vase at the entrance of your home that you don’t love and you’re not even really sure why it’s there- get rid of it.
- Broken or Incomplete: Chipped plates, pens and markers that don’t work, broken toys, torn clothing, lunch containers with missing lids, cracked frames, broken appliances, incomplete sets of towels or plates or games that are missing pieces.
Give a Home to Everything
- Find a home for each and every thing in a room.
- Consider accessibility and presentation. I put almost all of our kitchen appliances away when they’re not in use. This includes the toaster and the blender which we use almost daily! Clear clutter-free counters are easier to clean and gentler on the eye.
- Create reminder systems and filing systems: Have a small basket on your desk to place bills that need to be paid in and switch to digital filing system (I use Evernote).
- Even small items should have proper homes: keys in a “key basket”, coins in a jar or bowl, wires and camera attachments in a box within a desk etc.
- Only keep out what is in use: For example, don’t pile books up beside your bed- keep only the book you are currently reading out.
Refine, Refine, Refine
- After you’ve decluttered and removed everything and rearranged the room to your liking, give it all one last scrutinous look. If there is anything else there that just doesn’t feel right, remove it and perhaps put it in storage if you feel uneasy about giving it up completely.
If you’re interested in reading specifically about creating an Intentional and Beautiful Playspace for your children please you’ll love this post. If you’d like to remind yourself of what the benefits are to living in a clutter-free environment (for both children and adults) head to my post summarizing Chapter Two and Three of Kim John Payne’s Simplicity Parenting.
In the next part of this series I’ll share how to regularly maintain a clutter-free home.