clearing out the clutter

ClearingOutTheClutterDuring transition times, I get the urge to purge my possessions along with the other changes taking place.

And with the recent shift in my content creation, I found myself itching to tackle the guest room closet – otherwise called “the attic.”

Little did you know that lurking behind the pretty gallery wall, there is a deep, dark cave we use for extra storage.


Because we don’t have a garage or storage unit, this closet holds many, many things.



I always allowed it to be crowded because I didn’t have an external storage unit.

Yet I used to get stressed just looking at it – let alone when actually trying to get something. I hated going in there to get special occasion dresses, With Intention workbooks, luggage, bedding, and my writing pillow.

So a few weeks ago, I decided that instead of living with this homemade “storage unit,” I could exfoliate to the point where the closet could simply be a closet. Filled with useful things, but without the added frustration inducing clutter.

I thought about doing a Throw Out 100 Things challenge (exfoliate/donate/sell/throw out a total of 100 items I don’t need/use/love), but I decided instead to simply go through the closet and just exfoliate what was necessary.

Here’s what got exfoliated (excluding the brass trunk).

ExfoliatedClutterThough I don’t have an exact total, I’m guessing this exfoliation batch included about 70-100 items. But more importantly, it included all the things we really didn’t need, use, or love as much as I previously thought we did.

Once I had this mega pile, I separated out the donations, recycling, and trash. I was also able to give a batch of these items to our friends, Meg and Joe (which is always the most fulfilling part of an exfoliation).

And most importantly, what is remaining in our closet is actually manageable!


It took a bit of organizing and included the upper shelves, too.


Now, I don’t feel that anxious feeling when I open the door. I actually look forward to going in there just to admire the progress.

If anyone else has a similar “attic” in their home or apartment that is causing similar stress, I hope this little before and after can help get you pumped to exfoliate and enjoy your storage space, too!


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  1. Ashlee Thurlow

    We did a huge redo of our apartment this weekend too! SO many things got tossed/donated and things that were normally just stored in the corner of my office or in the closet are finally in the basement in real storage until we move in December! Feels so good!

      1. Ashlee Thurlow

        Oh dear….that’s the question isn’t it!? Ha! Perks of marrying and engineer! Hopefully the Portland area (Maine not Oregon.) But there are a few other offers as well that are in more rural areas around Maine.

  2. Julie Kapaska

    Ahhh, I love a good declutter! I need to get on that with my tiny one car garage.

    Have you read the Zen Habits blog? He is a minimalist and many of his posts are about clearing out the unnecessary, in all aspects of life, to better focus on what we find most important. It inspires me to do the same (although not quite as extreme).

  3. EmSewCrazy

    Looks great. Anticipating the cleaning out is the worst part for me but I love how neat and organized everything is when it is done.

    1. I can understand that!

      Maybe you can take some time to think clearly about the vision you have for the space – for me, that was thinking about how I wanted to *enjoy* going into that closet to get things. I wanted to see a clearly organized space with enough room for only the things I actually use on a regular basis (as much as possible). That vision was so much better than my current reality I was actually itching to get started just so I wouldn’t have to feel stressed anymore when opening the closet door.

      Then, turn on your favorite music or Ted talk and get to work. : )

  4. Sara

    I love organization so much! I get a rush looking at a freshly de-cluttered space. Bravo, Jess! Looks great! (But I do love that brass trunk!! Hope it finds a good home!)

    1. No worries! As mentioned in the parenthesis, the brass trunk was not included in the exfoliation – it simply lives in the hallway. : )

  5. Lol! Well, I can only tell you …. I AM SO HAPPY I FINALLY DID IT. The idea of thinking back to how frustrating it was before is crazy to me. I should have done that a long time ago and saved myself the annoyance and stress.

    I highly encourage you to put on some fun music, find a good vision/motivating reason to tackle it, and as for help if you need to! You deserve a home that supports your wellbeing and is enjoyable to be in.

  6. Organizing my home makes my brain, my business, and my relationship (with my husband) feel organized. I know that they are not directly connected, but it really does help me think clearer in all of the other somewhat-related aspects of my life. I’m also finding it necessary now that I go out and find my own big brass trunk – that thing is a beauty!

    1. I totally think they are related, so you are dead on!

      Our physical environment affects our mental environment. So it makes complete sense that you would feel that way. I have a verrrry hard time working until everything in the home is clean since that is the space that I do my work in. Otherwise, I cannot concentrate because of the mental+physical clutter.

  7. What a difference it makes! I have been doing the 100 things a month.

    I feel lighter and excited to be in my space. This month I got to donate old arts and craft supply to my friend’s non-profit which made me feel good. I got to sell a chair on craigslist which brought me some extra cash. The gift of all is that it makes me excited to see the possibilities of making my space my own.

    Thank you for inspiring my journey!

    1. That is so awesome! I totally know what you mean – the less we have, the more possibilities we see. I just paired back my closet a lot more (using the protein powder / ice cube analogy from a video a while back) and now that I have really exfoliated some things that were nice, but not necessary it is amazing!

  8. Well done Jess! I always feel so much lighter after a good closet purge. Its amazing how much stuff accumulates and then when we go through it we realise ‘hey I don’t need you anymore’!

    1. Great point.

      I did a challenge a few summers back about losing “weight” in terms of how much we could exfoliate from our homes. Rather than focus on a bikini diet or something like that, we can choose to lighten up our load on the home front. It kinda reminds me of what you just shared, too. : )

  9. Kate Nolan

    I am due for a good, over-all purge. Things have just collected and I’m not using them. Either because they’re difficult to access/put-away or because I just don’t need them. Thanks for the push!

    1. You are most welcome! You might really like that Throw out 100 things challenge. When I find that I have that overall clutter feeling you describe, it helps me stretch myself across the home to pull what is unnecessary in a more systematic way than just wandering from room to room. So it might be something to consider, if you like!

  10. I don’t think it’s sick at all (or if it is, I’m sick, too).

    I actually have a bag that I want to sell on Ebay. It’s nice to hear that you had success there, thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Minimal Girl

    This is so cool! Who wouldn’t rather have a functioning closet than a storage unit?

  12. gabiimaine

    e07Z – The Last years i was down on $$ and debits were eating me from everywhere!! that was Until i learned to make money.. on the INTERNET. I went to surveymoneymaker point net, and started filling in surveys for straight cash, and YES, i’ve been great amounts more able to do my things!! I am happy that I did this!!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. zMhU

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