A Lifetime of Storage

No object should be condemned to a lifetime in storage.  Our homes are filled with closets, attics, basements, and cupboards, and those spaces get filled up with objects.  Sooner or later we stop looking at the back of the closet or that top shelf.  The less you see something, the less likely you are to use it, and then it becomes clutter, and before you know it, you’re drowning in your own home.  You may find you’re unhappy, but guess what?  Your things aren’t happy either.

Objects exist for our use and our pleasure.  They’re here to cook us delicious meals, help us throw parties, sleep at night, relax after a day at the office, clothe us, fill our homes with beauty and happiness, and endless other things.  But if we let them get shoved to the backs of closets or placed in boxes never to be opened again, we’re doing a disservice to both our objects and ourselves.

I recently went through my shoes and my beautiful red heels, once my favorite pair, were at the bottom of the shoe cubby.  Over the years I had been able to fill in scuffs with a matching red nail polish, get new tips on countless times, but they were coming apart in places that I knew meant it was finally time for the trash bin.  But I couldn’t let them go.  I loved those heels.  So how did I come to terms with finally saying goodbye?

A lot of people think Marie Kondo is a little nutty for suggesting people talk to their belongings, but that was honestly the only way I could let go of those shoes.  I thanked them for making me look and feel beautiful.  I thanked them for coming to me at a killer sales price.  I thanked them for all the compliments we received when I wore them.  I thanked them for their many years of service, and I gently placed them in the trash can.  And you know what?  I don’t miss them.  They’re not hanging over my head, and I don’t feel that tinge of guilt every time I see them, knowing that I should try and take them to the cobbler, to do something so they don’t just sit there.  But sometimes I do think of them.  And I smile at their memory.  Objects are meant to be used, and it’s not fair to take their purpose away from them.

Sometimes the things we love happen to be used less and less.  Using your finest dishes stops when you have children and have to start using plastic, we outgrow toys, clothes go out of style, we upgrade to a nicer version, etc.  Sometimes it’s easy to get rid of an item that’s broken or a gift we never liked, but other times it’s impossibly hard to let something go.  In these instances it’s important to differentiate between true joy and the joys of a memory.  Maybe you have an old prom dress sitting in your closet.  I imagine holding it might bring back wonderful memories, but the object itself isn’t bringing you joy.  Feel free to say thank you and discard it.  The memories will still be there after the objects are long gone.

If you do truly love something, but it’s somehow fallen into disuse, use it!  Make a point of pulling out the china for Sunday night dinners, use your grandmother’s silver collection once in a while, and make a point of having a fondue party every year!  Place these things in a space in your home where they are more easily accessed so it doesn’t become such a chore to get it out and enjoy it.

We all have things tucked away in closets or attics that once served a purpose, that once brought immense joy, but maybe it’s served its purpose or inevitably, you’ve changed and things that once brought you joy are reminders of the past and don’t fit in with who you are now.  So clean out your closets, your old toys, baby clothes, dvd collections, everything!  Decide what you love and make a point to use it, display it, love it.  And then?  Get rid of the rest.  Give a thanks and send them on their way.  Let it go on its path in peace whether it be to the trash bin or finding a new life for itself in a new home.  Don’t condemn your belongings, once loved or not, to a lifetime in the dark corners and storage spaces of your home.

10 Tips on Packing & Organizing for a Move

Are you one of the many individuals who will pack up their entire lives this summer to begin a new adventure in a new space, maybe even in a new city?  Well then, you've come to the right place because I just did that!  And although I haven't unpacked yet (post to come!), you can learn from some of what I did wrong and some of what I did right so that you can have a more organized, non-stressful, smooth sailing, move.  Here we go!

1. Start Early!  Hopefully you're not reading this two days before you have to be out of your house because I cannot emphasize this enough.  This was one of my mistakes.  I just moved out of my home of fifteen years.  That's a lot of stuff to go through and pack.  I wish I'd started months ago.  This was a thought I had often the few days before I had to be out of my house.  I was stressed and working double time because I had greatly underestimated the amount of stuff I had and the amount of time it would take.  So, if it's not too late for you, begin now!  Invest in some paper plates and plastic cups and utensils so that you can pack up all your glasses and dishes.  And start going through storage spaces and your least-used, nonessential items that you can live without for a while so that you're not scrambling at the last second. 

2. Invest in Good Packing Supplies.  Back in the college days people would get produce and food boxes from grocery stores and masterly squeeze as much into a box as possible, wrapping plates with T-shirts and hoping for the best.  But now, hopefully you've upgraded from your college cookware and have accumulated some home goods that you truly love (and spark joy!), and we want to take care of those things!  So buy the heavy duty boxes for your plates and collectibles.  Buy bubble wrap and packing paper to protect your glassware.  And it is expensive, but the rolls of perforated foam you can buy will protect your china and precious figurines.  I wrapped all my plate sets in it and I swear that stuff is so cushy I could drop a box and it would be fine (although I'm not going to actually try that experiment). 

3. Declutter As You Pack.  If you take tip #2 to heart this will give you plenty of time to go through each item and ask yourself, "Does this _____ bring me joy?"  If it doesn't it gets trashed, recycled, or donated.  I did my best to discard while packing but it was just getting so down to the wire that I started throwing everything into boxes.  So guess what I get to do when I finally unpack?  Ask myself if each item sparks joy and look at the momentous amount of stuff that I packed, carried, and wasted precious moving van space on.  This tip is an all around win.  The more you are able to discard means you'll have to spend less on packing supplies because you'll have less to pack!  You'll also have less to unpack.  See?  Wins all around.

4. Pack Vertically.  Everything is happier when it's vertical.  No thing wants to be at the bottom of the box holding the weight of not only the things within the box, but the weight of all the contents of all of the boxes you stack on top of it.  I firmly believe that vertical packing allows more space than horizontal packing and therefore you can fit more items per box.  If you fold your clothing items the KonMari way and put them in a box as you would a drawer, you would not believe how many more items you can fit than if you just did a quick in-half fold and dropped it in.  I was able to fit more board games per box once I tipped them upwards, and plates are less likely to break if they're packed vertically.  I found it was helpful to tip the box on its side with a pillow or something underneath so that it was angled and I could put items in vertically without them falling over.  Vertical all the way!

5. Wardrobe Boxes For More Than Clothes.  I have some odd-shaped items, and I'm sure you do as well.  Wall hangings, holiday decorations in odd box sizes or no boxes at all, baskets, tents, sleeping bags, bulletin boards and large umbrellas.  These are a few of the things that would either not fit in any standard size moving boxes or would be a waste, as one item would take up an entire box.  Here to save the day is the wardrobe box.  Yes, the closet box with the little metal hanging rod.  Fold away your clothes in a regular box and pack all your large odds and ends in one of these babies.  I promise you won't regret it.  You'll be amazed at what can't even fit in an extra large moving box, but the wardrobe takes it like a champ.  Just be sure to watch the weight with these!  The pounds add up quickly in these large boxes so if it's getting too heavy fill the extra space with something light like decorative pillows.

6. Make Two Piles of Boxes.  One pile can go in the front room or the garage.  These are the nonessentials, the things you can live without for a while.  It doesn't matter if you've been in your new home for two months and haven't yet come across the box holding you Christmas china (unless it's Christmastime-then it's urgent you find it as soon as possible!)  But a lot of more decorative pieces aren't necessary for everyday life.  The second pile of boxes can be kept in an office or bedroom.  These are your essentials.  Food, shower curtain, some clothes, toiletries.  These are the things you need every day to function and you're going to want to unpack these first.  When the time comes, load the nonessential boxes into the van first and have the essentials loaded last so they'll be the first to come out.

7. Go Room By Room.  It's overwhelming to look at your home as a whole knowing you've got to pack and move its entire contents.  So just take it a room at a time.  I decided that I would work on my house from top to bottom.  I started in the attic (where it was mostly boxes anyway) and brought everything down to the dining room.  I packed loose items, took apart the shelving, and vacuumed.  Then I mentally checked that one room off my list.  It was a huge weight removed knowing I wouldn't have to go up to the attic ever again.  It was empty and clean and I could move on to the next room.  I would also add you should clean the room after it's all emptied so you're not stuck cleaning the entire house all in one go at the end of your packing marathon.  Get the room packed, cleaned, and close the door not only so you know it's done but also so no one sticks anything in there as a temporary holding place.

8. Have A Designated Packing Supplies Area.  The headline speaks for itself, but choose a corner of the house or a kitchen table and make it your designated packing supplies area.  Stock it with packing tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, boxes, and Sharpies.  Make sure everyone involved knows that everything must be returned to that area!  The tape and Sharpies go missing easily when everyone is working in a different room.

9. Get Boxes Out of the House ASAP.  Having piles of boxes (even if it's just the two piles!) creates visual clutter that will make you feel like you're farther behind than you are.  Stack boxes in the garage if you can, and as soon as you have the moving van or trailer start getting them in there.  If you are in an apartment and don't have a garage, make neat stacks in the front room.  Seeing your home become emptier and emptier will help you to feel less stressed and more accomplished.

10. Get Help From Family & Friends.  We could not have been out of the house in time if it weren't for my aunt and uncle.  They saved us.  Every day, all day, Friday through Sunday, they were there, helping to pack boxes, clean rooms, and load the truck.  We really lucked out because now they even want to come out and help us unload the truck!  If you have family in the area, that's great, but hopefully you have some amazing friends as well who will take some time to show their love for you by helping you pack, clean, and move.  Don't forget to repay them with Starbucks and Chinese takeout breaks!  Taking a food break with your crew will give you that second burst of energy you need to get it all done.  You got this!

How's your packing & moving coming?  What tips and tricks have worked for you? Please share and help us all during this stressful time!


The Little Blue Book that Started it All

Okay, so it's not all blue.  It's got some white in there too, but as the title states, it really did change my life.  I, of course, am referring to Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I read it in a matter of days and then I read it over and over again, highlighting my favorite passages and making notes.   The only thing about the book that didn't make sense was why no one else thought of it first. Why not fill our homes and spaces with the things that bring us joy?  It was so simple.  And so life changing.

I saw myself in Marie Kondo.  I wasn't as obsessed with organization and I wouldn't dare get rid of things that belonged to my family, especially my parents!  But the parallels were there.  I was the weird kid in Target that spent time not looking at the toys inside the boxes, but how the boxes looked on the shelves.  I would sit there and make sure every toy was in its place on its correct sku and in the proper bin.  To this day my siblings are quick to give me a "No!" every time I offer to help them clean their spaces.  I'm not sure why--it might have something to do with the fact that I can't shove something under a bed or my thinking that messes hidden behind closets still means the room is messy even though it appears spotless.  I'm quick to suggest getting rid of unused things and organizing down to every last piece of paper and trinket.  My parents were always shocked that cleaning my room took hours when in their minds it was a quick, thirty-minute clean up.  But I know that it's not clean and tidy until you can open up every drawer and every cupboard and nothing is out of place.

I don't know where this love of order and organization comes from, but it's a part of me.  Through her words, KonMari has inspired me to start this blog where I can share my visions, ideas, and passion for organizing as well as designing and entertaining.  Follow along so we can design, organize, and party together!