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Decluttering: Studio Progress

Through this whole decluttering process, my beautiful studio became a dumping ground for all things that fell into the “art supplies” category. In my house, that’s a large category: candle-making supplies, misc. soap stuff, yarn, looms, wool, markers, fabric, paint. Anything that didn’t go in the kid’s art supplies got tossed in my studio to be sorted all at the same time.

Getting through it all was a huge job. It has taken multiple passes through my little 8 x 15 sun room, but over the last few days, I have made major progress.

Here’s the Before:

The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.
The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.

One whole side of the room was covered in boxes and the bike trainer was set up in here, taking up the rest of the floor space. I couldn’t get to my sewing table because of the bike, and my desk got so covered up in stuff that didn’t belong anywhere else, that there was no using that either.

Here’s what it looks like now:

From the doorway, a place to spin
From the doorway, a place to spin (and mint from the garden tied to the ceiling fan to dry)

How I Cut My Art Supplies in Half

  • Paired down my yarn so it would fit into my large set of rubbermaid drawers and put that in the closet. This still leaves me with TONS of yarn. I’m a little afraid I’ll never knit it all.
  • Paired down knitting needles, sewing notions, weaving supplies and shipping materials so that they fit in one of the smaller set of rubbermaid drawers. That fit in the closet also.
  • Also in the closet are my Ashford SampleIt! loom and my homemade Inkle loom, my Foldio.
  • Sorted through all of my WIPs and frogged the ones I was never going to complete and rewound the yarn
  • Organized my spinning fiber and accessories into two baskets. If I can see it, I am more likely to spin it.
  • There is a third set of small rubbermaid drawers in the corner where the iron is living. Inside are candle making supplies and a few misc. packaging and shipping supplies like raffia and tissue paper that didn’t really fit anywhere else.
  • Threw out any paints, ink, or markers that were old and dried out.

Getting rid of any art supplies is an emotional journey. To admit that I was never going to use some old, crusty fabric paint again was a hard decision. And trying to part with spinning fiber? Gut-wrenching. But in the end, I only kept the things I really loved and actually saw myself using in the near future.

 

The Sewing and Art Table
The Sewing and Art Table

I contemplated putting the sewing machine away and making this into a soaping table, but I came to the conclusion that this room is too small to house everything, though that would be fun to do someday! There are a few projects that could contribute to my soap business where I could take advantage of the sewing machine and the printing supplies. Little draw string bags with my logo on them maybe?

The desk
The desk

I’m still using my old Luke’s Diner table as my desk. I love the clean white work space. It’s perfect for spreading out with notebooks and devices, and when I keep it clean, it’s easy to clear off and use as a daytime photo backdrop. In fact, the green bowl in the lower right hand corner of the has a pile of stuff waiting for me to photograph.

Not pictured is a wire wrack next to the desk stuffed with notebooks and business guides and my file folders. I’d like to get a bookshelf for that eventually, but right now we’re working with what we’ve got.

I’m so excited to have this room in working order again. It’s lined on three side with windows, and has beautiful natural light. I hope to spend plenty of time in here over the next few months as I get my soap business off the ground and continue writing.

My next project for this room is decorate it. I found a photographer on etsy, and I’d love to cover my walls with her work.

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Decluttering: Paper

Before I started going through all of my papers, I never would have claimed to be a paper hoarder. I thought I was pretty good at throwing old junk mail out a couple times a week and filing things that are important…and forgetting that a lot of time I tend to shove paper in file just to get it out of my sight. Now that I’ve been through it, I have to admit that I had a problem.

Case in point:
awful paper

Did I even know what I kept in this file? Not at all. It was just junk that had probably accumulated on my desk. I think I found one useful file in all of this. Same for my other three file boxes. I found some business receipts, some old W-2s, and other once useful documents, but mostly, I found junk. Wadded post-its, old syllabi, the orientation folder from when I worked at Target from approxiamately 5 minutes back in 2008… Readers, I found Japanese homework. I haven’t studied Japanese since 2005. I don’t even know how that got filed since I didn’t buy that folder until I started Tiny Dino Studios in 2011.

And my file folders weren’t even the worst part. Check out my craft drawer:

messy paper in messy drawers

1. The drawers are just plain messy, but I’m not organizing yet, I’m still in the decluttering stage.
2. What even is that jumble? I don’t even know.

I think things like this are a symptom of not spending enough time in my studio. I give myself just long enough to complete my project, but not enough time for clean up, so when I go in to start something new, I just shove the leftover stuff from last time out of sight. Also, I don’t have a trash can in my studio. I really should remedy that.

I don’t have any pretty pictures to show you, because even though my files boxes are functional and I know where all my important stuff is, the rest of my studio is still a disaster. The files boxes and binders are waiting patiently on my desk for their turn to find a home.

What was important in this project was gather all of the paper into one place and sorting it one piece at a time. Like the books, it was a bigger job than I expected. It took me a few hours to find and rifle through all that. In the end, I threw away four bags of what was essentially trash that I had been carrying around for years, which was extremely satisfying.

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Decluttering: Books

Books are the number one hardest thing for me to get rid of. I thought it would be yarn or fiber arts related goods, but selling my drum carder taught me that I’m just fine without it. Books though. For more than half my life books have been my identity–I was a reader, a writer– it was mandataory that I have a large book collection.

Our bookshelves were messy
Our bookshelves were messy

Because of that, it took me a few weeks after purging my clothes to make it over to my bookshelves. That’s right, shelves. I have one in the bedroom, two in the living room, and my husband has three in his office. (I didn’t touch his books, and he flat out refused to get rid of them on his own. He even rescued a few volumes from my discard pile.)

Yes, that is a doorknob and a half-knit sock you see.
And the tall one had become a place to keep things out of toddler’s reach.

I had two rules. in discarding.
1. I had to really love the book, and want to reread it and / or use it in future in order to keep it.
2. If I loved it, but had the eBook, I had to get rid of the paper copy.

For whatever reason, I didn't think this would be such a huge job when I started...
All of my books sorted into piles

Out of about 300 books, I only ended up keeping 100, most of which fit on the one bookshelf in the bedroom. The rest are all art/business related books, so they will live in the studio, and even then, there are only about a dozen. Most of the books I am gettind rid of are old books I either couldn’t or didn’t want to sell back to the college bookstore. For some reason, when I was in college, I wanted to keep all of my English-major related books.

He's been very helpful through this whole clutter culling process, so much so that I've accidentally thrown away some important thing Felix decided we didn't need anymore.
Felix is helping sort books.

I haven’t cracked a single one of them in the five years since I graduated. Obviously, I’m over it.

Not surprisingly, the books I kept were by the authors I love the most, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Thomas Hardy, The Brontes, etc. The rest are about gardening and farming–all of the things that make me dream and give me joy.

Secret, most of the discards are still in boxes on my back porch as I slowly find places to donate them.
The Final Sort. The keepers in the front, the discards in the back

One surprise was that I kept only two knitting books. I am discarding some gorgeous pattern books (interested in snatching one up? Stay tuned, I’ll have them up for grabs in a few days), because I almost always knit from indie patterns on ravelry. Downloading patterns takes up so much less space.

Now I have all of my books in one place, organized by author and subject, and easy to find.

There are roughly 60 books here. Most of the young adult books and the Harry Potter books went to live in the kids' room.
The end product

I expected to me be sad to see so many volumes go, but I feel lighter for having pared down my collection to only my favorite books. And, next time we move, we’ll have 200 fewer books to haul.

What are the books you can’t live without?

PS, You might have noticed that I didn’t blog about purging my closet. It’s always been easy for me to get rid of clothes, I have little emotional attachment to most garments, and generally only buy what I need to get by for awhile. I would like to be more intentional about what I bring into my collection in the future, but being in the middle of a pregnancy, clothes only cross my mind when I complain about how all my maternity pants are still too big, and all of my regular pants are way too small.

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Mission: Tidy & Organize

When we moved into our house a little over two ears ago, we thought we were going to have to much open space. We were moving from a 900 sq ft apartment to a 1900 sq ft house. There was no way our stuff would fill it up, and I was worried about the house feeling empty.

dinning room before
our dining room the first morning we had the keys

We were so dead wrong.

Turns out, we had our apartment so jam packed that we should not have worried.

dinningroom after
our dining room on our first weekend in the house

One mistake I made when moving in was to not take any time off work to get the house unpacked and put away. I wanted to, but I was pregnant. Any days I took off would count against my paid maternity leave, so I hoarded those days. That means I put our stuff away here and there, not really finding a permanent spot for anything, because I was cutting in to my usual clean up and maintenance time, but we were making it work.

new studio wide
my studio the first month we lived here

Fast forward two years, a few holidays, and one toddler later, and our place is a never ending mess. The clutter has taken over. Between toys, coats, bags, books, hobbies, etc, I feel like I will never get the place under control. I never feel like my house is clean, because I have to organize and tidy before I can clean.

I don’t mind cleaning. I loathe tidying. I like everything to have a place, or to get the hell out of my way. I have better things to do than constantly be spit shining my home. I would like to live, thank you very much.

Sometime a year or more ago, I found Mari KondoThe Life Changing Art of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I bought it and didn’t read it because I wanted an excuse to not put in the work. Then I kept seeing it pop on various blogs, and the little bits I saw about it reminded me why I bought it. So I cracked it open, finally. The book is all about getting rid of all the things that clutter your house and your life and finding places for all of he things that matter most.

Kondo encourages the reader to recognize when an object has fulfilled its purpose in their life, even if that purpose was to only give joy when they bought it. Then thank it for that joy, and get rid of it. I love the idea of acknowledging the emotions inanimate objects invoke in us. Emotion and potential are why I hold on to things I am never going to use, and saying it aloud is an affirmation of those feelings that lead me to hang on.

I want to purge this house of all of our clutter and find a place for everything before this baby gets here. Since we’ll be moving bedrooms around in preparation, the KonMari method feels like it makes sense for us and our house.

current state of my studio work table
current state of my studio work table

I’ve already started on the clothes, and am mentally preparing myself for the books. I probably spend more money on books than anything else. These days they are mostly eBooks, but I still collect my fair share of paper books, and they have accumulated.

The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.
The other side of my studio, filled with badly stacked boxes, leaving just enough room for my bike and indoor trainer.

I’ll be sharing my progress every Monday to help keep myself accountable. Wish me luck!