Using House Projects to help Declutter your Life

In our journey of living a more intentional life by decluttering our belongings and owning less. We have recently found out that house projects have helped us make larger strides in this overall journey.

Owning an older house provides you with lots of fun opportunities to work on projects that might include: updating rooms by painting or carpeting; discovering issues or fixing leaks that need a professional or home handyman; or even just finding a room that needs a full remodel like an outdated kitchen.

My wife and I have done all of the above over the last 9 years we have lived in our house. The worst part of any housing project is that you have to move all of your belongings from the area the project is taking place to another area. For most of our house projects up till a couple years ago, we would move everything from one place to another and then move it ALL back once we were done.

However, in the past couple of years, my wife and I have realized that we need to use those disruptions in our normal space and be very mindful of what we put back once it is all done. In looking back, we have probably moved every piece of furniture, toys, books, boxes, pictures, or other items from one room to another as kids changed rooms and home projects happened. It would have made too much sense during those moves to time to take the extra couple of minutes to set things aside and only slowly add back what is truly needed.

It probably wasn’t until this latest project of our Kitchen remodel that we really took hold of this idea. We moved everything out of our Kitchen, Dining Room, and Living room as we had the wall separating all of those removed. It was a messy process that allows our family of 5 to get really cozy in the basement that only has 2 bedrooms.

Ultimately, the process by which we packed everything away but the couple single sets of kitchen stuff we needed follows that of what Ryan from The Minimalists described as a packing party. However, I am always under the mindset that you don’t really need a term or reason, you just need to figure out what works well for you. We are still on this long journey of slowly decluttering room by room and figuring out what makes sense for our family of 5 as we cannot take on too much at once or it would be utter chaos in our life.

Once our kitchen was finished and it was time to move everything back in we only moved in things we needed and made sure it had a purpose. For the kitchen, this was really easy as everything was in boxes we only brought stuff out that we used for cooking on a daily or weekly basis. A couple things we noticed during this process were:

  • Coffee Cups (or drinkware) – I love coffee but really who needs to have around 30 coffee cups. I am not sure who we were planning on inviting over for coffee or hot chocolate but we realized that was way too many.
  • Tupperware – How can we have so much of this and nothing matches. Where did all the lids to the small-sized containers go and why am I stuck with so many large lids with no containers. Let’s just say we didn’t keep a lot and have paired this down so we can always find a lid and dish.
  • Cooking Utensils – Don’t get me wrong it is always great to have a spare but I am not sure we needed 10 spatulas. It was more than likely we only needed 2-3 as we used the same one most of the time.
  • Mismatched stuff – During our cleaning out we found lots of plates, cups, and other items that were not a full set even though we had one full nice set already. These were perfect candidates to not work back into the cycle as one cup isn’t as good as a nice set of 12.

There were lots of other examples of that were we just had lots or multiples of items that we didn’t need to continue to keep around cluttering up shelves or drawers.

In the living and dining rooms, our goal was to remove excess furniture and things on the wall to get a more minimalistic look. By removing excess furniture and having floor space, it allows us to now clean up more quickly. Not only is it a new space, where I enjoy the open floor plan, but I really enjoy having less stuff in the room. I feel like a burden has been lifted off us and it seems much more peaceful to enjoy. As I look around there is less to clean around and more space to just have fun with the kids and not have it feel so cramped because of the stuff we owned. One of the bigger changes we made during this time was to not keep any toys in the upstairs living room. That doesn’t mean the kids don’t bring their toys there to play or use the dining room table to draw, color, or play with play-doh on. It really just meant that we didn’t want that stuff to be stored in the living room as we found before that led to creating more mess. To accomplish this, we made sure those items previously stored in the living room that the kids wanted to keep had a place in their bedrooms or the toy room downstairs.

Before:

After:ef804ede-7bb3-4972-9a4c-b56487073f9b

As you can tell we couldn’t be happier with the space and are looking forward to enjoying it for years to come. Even though the remodel was a big project in itself, I feel a great side effect of it was that we were able to pack everything away and then Intentionally choose what to bring back into our living space.

Once we had our living space set up as we liked it and brought back the items we felt were a good fit in our life, we donated the rest. This is another crucial step as you don’t want to be hanging on to boxes or stuff in another place of the house. I understand that you might not want to get rid of those items right away and if that is you, I would suggest you set a calendar reminder to find that box(es) buried in the garage that you need to donate at a specific date in the future.

Have you had a housing remodel or project in the past and found it a good time to declutter items? If so I would love to hear how it went for you and if you think it was successful. If not and you have a project on the horizon let me know about it and share your success after it is all done.