Getting Rid of STUFF: My Final Report

Get rid of stuff and get happy! Okay, so, getting rid of stuff is hard. Very hard.

To recap, here was my challenge: Rid my home of 1,000 unnecessary objects in a single month. And here were my (self-imposed) rules:

  • Sets count as one “belonging”
  • Getting rid of extraneous bath/toiletry/kitchen products counts — as long as they’re not merely empty containers of something that I plan to replace
  • Items already set aside for selling or thrifting don’t count…
  • … and moving things to off-site storage doesn’t count, either

If you count foodstuffs (like long-expired jars of who-knows-what lurking at the back of our cupboards and the endless bottles of spices we've apparently had for close to a decade), then we were resoundingly successful.

In doing so, I broke two of my rules. Just chucked 'em out the window. First, a set of six wine glasses counted as six things. To do otherwise I realized (and as one reader-friend pointed out to me) would be silly and self-defeating. If I can go into a store and buy one of something, then a set of those somethings should count as many somethings. Clearly I did not apply this to shoes (and oh how I got rid of shoes, with gusto and determination and a willpower I didn't know I had). But it did apply to pretty much everything else (and let me tell you, those sets of plates and towels and champagne flutes added up!).

Second, items already set aside for selling or thrifting absolutely counted. Because, I realized, as long as I haven't sold or thrifted them, they're still taking up space. That's space I could for stuff I actually want to own and use. Or space that can simply be space, without being filled up with anything. A garage I can fit my car in, without running into a bunch of furniture I've been meaning to get rid of? That sounds awfully nice. So yep, that stuff counted, you bet it did.

I started this experiment by spending an hour here, an hour there, cherry-picking my way through a closet or a bookshelf at a time. And that works, especially if you only have an hour here and there to spare. And especially if, say, your goal is to get rid of 10 things, or even 100. But with my aims set so high, I realized I needed to get serious about this. And so the best way I found to systematically and efficiently rid my home of as much unwanted stuff as possible was to do whole-room purges.

Over the course of two weekends, plus some evenings during the week in between, my husband and I emptied the contents of three rooms in our house -- the three worst offenders. In order: our kitchen, our bedroom, and our dining room. We looked at every single item in each of these rooms, from every nook, cranny, cupboard, and drawer. And we were ruthless. In the end, we have spaces that feel twice as big, spaces that are easier to keep clean and organized, spaces we enjoy being in. I actually enjoyed emptying the dishwasher the other day, because the insides of our cupboards were just so dang beautiful.

Though we may feel back-slappin' successful, we're not quite finished. We still have a garage to finish and a second bedroom to organize... I don't think I'll be taking on a 1,000-thing challenge this time around -- but I promise to post before and after shots, so you can revel in my glory.