Last week I revealed our basement clutter and I really appreciated the supportive feedback from readers. I was not planning on writing about the basement so soon, but my husband was ready to tackle it – he had decluttering momentum, and as anyone knows who is decluttering, you go with decluttering momentum.
Know your “why”
When decluttering, it is often advised to figure out your “why”. Why are you downsizing? What are you hoping for after you declutter? It can jumpstart your decluttering and give it purpose.
My husband has always wanted our basement to be a family space – space to paint or build things with the kids; space to talk and relax. At various times in the past it has been a place that we have used for making things. But the eventual clutter would creep in and we didn’t maintain the uncluttered spaces we had created down there.
Our current “why” regarding our basement is to have a space for exercising, making and recording music, creating smaller things, and organized storage.
A few months ago I said to my husband that it would be nice to use the basement for exercising instead of our dining room area. I said it in passing, thinking out loud mostly. It must have resonated with him though. Without any prompting, he started decluttering with intention on his birthday. Yes, his birthday.
Where do we start?
When my husband went down into the basement on his birthday and didn’t come back up, we knew he was serious about cleaning up – so we made it a family affair.
Here is how we made it through the first big push of decluttering in our basement:
- We started making piles of trash and recycling. We went through the main area of the basement and looked for obvious trash to fill our large trash bags. We also went through and looked for obvious papers for recycling. My husband at one point wanted to save all of our children’s artwork. He has come to realize that the papers are damaged and most are not worth saving.
- We worked in tandem. Most of the stuff down there he has to make decisions about. I held things up for him to see and asked, “Trash or Keep?” and he would tell me which one. The Keep items were set aside for him to look through later.
- We were not addressing sentimental items, but neutral things that a decision just needed to be made on. We worked quickly without much pausing.
- Our children helped too. We piled recycling in boxes and the trash bags at the bottom of the stairs and had the children move the boxes and bags out to the porch for trash day.
We spent several hours together in the basement for that first strike of decluttering momentum. My husband continued on his own for a few hours the next day. Here are the results:
Progress, not Perfection
There is definitely progress being made in our basement. It was really wonderful to work together with my husband and children and see such a drastic change in the space.
You may not have several hours to work on your “area of shame” but I encourage you to spend at least 5 minutes on it. 5 minute increments add up, and you too might gather decluttering momentum.
Where have you started when you were overwhelmed by an area that needed decluttering?
Daisy @ Simplicity Relished says
This is fantastic! I’m so glad that you’ve shared your process– so many of us *want* to declutter but the thought of actually attacking our stuff is overwhelming.
Thanks Daisy! We have definitely gone through times where we have ignored the clutter, but it feels good to face it together.
What a great way to start and build on the momentum you have! I feel like when I’m organizing or decluttering there is a lot of “It gets a whole lot worse before it gets better” for me. But on a large project, making things better first is probably a really good idea. Know that I’m cheering you guys on, even if our nomadic existence is not leading to very much commenting!
Thanks Susannah! We contemplated emptying everything out of the basement, but I don’t think our neighbors would appreciate that!
Good for you and for your husband! Most of the clutter in our home is mutual clutter, so it is rare that we are both in the mood to work on it. However, your post has inspired me. With the super-hot summer weather we have been having, this weekend might be the perfect time to get in an hour or so of decluttering.
Great idea Jill! Let me know how it goes!
Just checked out the “before” post, and you guys did an incredible job! 🙂
Thanks Dee – I know, our after photos look like some people’s before photos!
Christina @ Embracing Simple says
I love it when I get decluttering momentum!! And it’s so true, even 5 minutes can make a difference. Once you get going, it tends to be easier to keep up with it. It’s just starting that’s the hard part!
Yes Christina! I’m a big fan of 5 minute increments. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Pamela Smith says
HI Angela! I am visiting from Home On The Corner (you invited me, remember?!) :). It does look like you have your work cut out for you, but I think your ‘why’ question is a good way to start. It helps to keep you focused. Also, one cupboard at a time, like your corner kitchen cabinet turntable thingy! Keep up the good work!
Thanks Pamela! We have made some good progress and will continue to update on the blog! Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! I truly appreciate it!
Stella Lee@ Purfylle says
I know there’s some stuff in the shed that is mine and I would like to declutter, but I couldn’t even get to it right now. I’m still waiting for my hubby to get on board with the decluttering, he seems to be starting to catch on. You and your family have made amazing headway! I’m really excited for you. I look forward to the day when I’m not embarrassed by home.
Stella Lee, thanks for sharing. You are definitely not alone – and I’m glad I’m not either. My husband is definitely catching the bug. He’s been steadily working down there. We’ll keep updating! Thanks so much for following along.
Seana Turner says
SOOO great that you took these photos. I find it so rewarding to look back and see the progress. I like tackling a big project just so I can have a big “wow” at the end. I love when clients feel this exhilaration at finally having order in a place that has been a burden. Personally, my attic is probably next on my list.
Oh Seana, I personally cannot wait to look back! Progress, progress…thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Wow! Definitely a difference! You guys deserve a round of applause!
mandy cat says
The Fly Lady (look her up) is the goddess of decluttering and household organization. One of her best tips is to set a timer for, say, 15 minutes. Tackle a rough job and work at top speed. When the timer goes off, stop and live to fight another day.
Hi Mandy! I do love the Fly Lady – and have her famous purple rags and a few other products! I actually got overwhelmed by her daily emails and just wasn’t ready at the time for her tips. I may be ready eventually – with routines, but I’m not quite there yet. Decluttering for 15 minutes is a wonderful thing that I try to do daily as well!