Thursday, September 1, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing - #34 Setting boundaries and limits

As I alluded to last month, I've been working on decluttering and organizing an area of my home that has presented a real problem for me.  It is a space that has basically never been picked up and organized in the 8 1/2 years of living in this house.  It is the space into which I have habitually dumped all the stuff I didn't have a specific place for.  It is the space that I would dump my favorite clutter companion - bags full of crap random things (many of these from frantic clean ups before someone came over the house or when I would get 95% of the way through organizing something and then give up, dumping the last 5% of randomness into a bag).  It is what I called my "hoarder" room.  While we certainly have never found anything as horrifying as a dead animal in there - something that is not uncommon on the hoarding TV shows - I have to admit to the fact that IronMan once found a burrito in one of my bags (shame!).

The space in question is the finished attic area of my home.  It is large and, honestly, it was poorly finished by the previous owners.  With its low sloping ceilings we are somewhat limited by the furniture that we can place up there.  An out-of-the-way space in the house that didn't have a clear purpose - along with my propensity to accumulate and not manage clutter - provide the perfect storm for completely trashing the room (and, not surprisingly when one person is responsible for making an area unusable and the other is very neat, it also serves as a source of domestic disharmony).

Without further ado - and more than a little embarrassment - here are a handful of before photos.  Some of these pictures were taken earlier this summer and some were taken last September.

Stuff sitting the base of the stairs - sometimes for months - waiting to be taken up and dumped with everything else...the stairs had stuff trailing up them as well.

Inside the small attached room that was unfinished when we moved in, but plumbed for a bathroom.  About seven years ago we put up drywall, added carpet, and I had big plans for this to be my scrapbook/crafting room.

Laura over at Org Junkie talks about setting boundaries and limits in this week's post for her 52 Weeks of Organizing challenge.  Specifically she says - "So often people don't pay attention to the space they really have available.  They figure if their space is full, then they must just need more space.  And yes, sometimes this is true.  However, more often than not, what we should be thinking (and what would be painfully clear if we had established limits and boundaries), is that we just need less stuff."  What is painfully clear to me - and to all of you seeing these photos - is that I have not set appropriate boundaries and limits and that I need a whole lot less stuff.

As you might guess - and anyone who has ever had to share living space with me can attest to - I have struggled with clutter for my entire life.  From my bedroom growing up, to my dorm room at college, to each room I called my own in the days of apartment living (I'll dig up some old photos to share with you sometime) - my personal space has always been beyond messy.  It has been an exhausting way to live and it has been very difficult to overcome.  With the energy that I have focused on this issue lately, am I all the way there yet?  Probably not. Am I closer to overcoming my clutter issues and regaining control of my home than I've ever been?  Absolutely.  There have been some exciting and hard earned changes around my house during the last few months that I am happy to be able to share here.  I'm particularly excited to share the steps that I've taken and what has inspired me to achieve success on this journey.  That is all for another post - or series of posts - though.  For today, I will simply leave you with some "after" pictures of the hitherto ignored space that you can now find IronMan, all three kids, and me spending time in on a daily basis.

I'm linking up to this week's post for the 52 Week's of Organizing Challenge. Come on over and find some inspiration for dealing with those little, and not-so-little, home management issues that may be hanging over your head.  In the meantime...happy Thursday, friends!

"You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you'll get to tomorrow.  Intention without action is useless."  ~Caroline Myss


  1. Wow! You made amazing progress in this room! It looks fabulous! This must have taken hours of work! I think we all have spaces where we 'dump' things...for me it is the basement. I just spend some time there yesterday organizing and de-cluttering. With a family, it is a never ending process because clothing gets outgrown, toys don't get played with, etc. etc. Have a wonderful weekend with your family Britanny! Angie xo

  2. Um WOW, Brittany! I'm so impressed! Nice work!!

  3. Brittany - You have inspired me over the summer to tackle the ugliest parts of my household, the piles of stuff everywhere. I've cleaned out cabinets, organized drawers, donated, given away, tossed and more importantly purged... a lot! In this case, having less means having so much more... time with my family and a peaceful setting here at home. Much love to you!

  4. This is awesome. Sometimes, I find that if I am photographing part of my house, I suddenly notice all the crap that has accumulated. It's easy for it to become invisible.

  5. Congratulations! I also have a problem holding onto things, but thanks to the Mr., I've been working on it. And I have to say--when all that clutter is gone and/or organized, life somehow feels better and easier. We got rid of a ton of stuff before we put our condo on the market, and it felt so restful to come home everyday to a minimalized house. Now I just home I can retain that feeling in our new place.