home + garden · lifestyle

Our Year Long Home Organization Project and Having Less Stuff

Home Organization project is done Go GinghamThe results are in from last year’s home organization project and our goal to have less stuff. The verdict? I’m thrilled. The space is glorious. Drawers are opening and closing without bursting. Much like space in the margins of a book – or a website not being too cluttered – that’s what it looks like.

My family’s verdict? Nobody wants to discuss cleaning out, sorting, organizing, or moving anything around for a long time. I like order and sometimes families aren’t very orderly. There are more important things in life for me to make a big deal about and order doesn’t register. It can wait. My attitude: keep the door closed and back away from the teens’ bedrooms!

What have we been doing since the project ended? Still getting rid of stuff. If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, you can – Instagram), you know we borrowed our neighbor’s truck and went to the wood recycling place. Yes, that wood had been sitting in our driveway since we did the garage – last summer.

Wood Recycling Go Gingham

(Oh, and yes, there’s my cute Scamper behind me! Now I can get to work on that project…)

We’ve dropped carloads (19 donation slips to Goodwill alone!) and we’ve found other spots, too, for our no longer needed stuff. In Portland, we have so many options – Community Warehouse, ReBuilding Center, SCRAP, and PTA Clothing Center to name a few. Our goal was to find places to donate our stuff and not toss it into the trash. That has made the project take longer.

While we’ve tried selling some items, we haven’t had much success – at least not with used women’s clothing. We’ll need to talk more about that later….

We’re also still sorting through files – and since we’re both entrepreneurs and work from home, it’s work files, too. We’ve been whittling down the stack of stuff that’s accumulated in our dining room the past 12-months. It’s been slow going.

Home Organization Go Gingham
It’s hard for me NOT to clutter up in here!

Here’s what I did not organize but will when the time is right…

  1. Fine china – OK, in 20-years of living in our home, we’ve used it twice. Maybe. It’s not how we entertain or live but when we got married, everyone registered for good china.
  2. Camping gear – While we’ve pared down on camping supplies (yes, we camped for 3-weeks and used these cooking supplies), there’s more that could go. Because we’re redoing our vintage travel trailer, I don’t want to get rid of anything until I see what we need.
  3. Pots, pans, and kitchen cabinets – I still want to take stuff out of the rest of the cabinets – once the pantry was done (the pantry was home organization project #7) I thought we’d get back in there but haven’t. Maybe this summer….
  4. Underneath the sofa – This may surprise you but I do have several large items under the sofa in our living room. When Yahoo Finance was here to film and moved the sofa, everyone laughed at my stash. Hey, it’s got to go somewhere, right?

Fridays are no longer dreaded by my husband who thought this plan was crazy from the beginning. We are both much more picky about what we bring into the house – even if it’s free. There is a cost to having ‘stuff’ in life and it’s high. There is something to having less. Less is best. Less is more. I’ll stop now.

What’s a big project you were glad to finish? Any big projects you’re starting?

Go Gingham related links:

Our home office is called the “Lincoln Bedroom” – find out why!
Our basement chalkboard – it’s an old classroom chalkboard and finished in wood trim
The “weekly home organization projects” – if you’ve missed a week…
Making a house a home – it’s easy and starts with love

17 thoughts on “Our Year Long Home Organization Project and Having Less Stuff

  1. Hi Sarah, Thanks for the report. When we sold our house of 27 years 4 years ago, we did major cleaning out and shedding of stuff. Then our stuff went into storage while we figured things out. 2 ½ years later, it all came out of storage and into a small rental. The only things I really miss are my art/design books and cookbooks that I gave away and maybe a couple of kitchen utensils. We still have the smallest size storage locker you can get, but that is because much of the stuff will get used within a year or two. At that point whatever is left will get donated.


    1. Wow! That is inspiring, Carroll! I like that you put things in storage – small size – to then sort through in a set period of time. I like the guidelines/deadlines attached. Very smart! 27 years is a long time to be in the same house. I can imagine the clean out… 🙂
      Do you think you’ll buy a house again or will you continue to rent?
      Thanks for sharing ~


      1. Definitely want to buy again. Life has been pretty crazy the last few years. Lots of changes. Our house was about 3400 sf. I want something much smaller and efficient. Definitely 3 bedrooms, nice kitchen, lots of sunshine 🙂


  2. I have slightly more “stuff” at the beginning of this year. I helped clean out the house of a loved one a few months ago; I took lots of pictures, shipped out lots of stuff, but still have a few things to deal with.

    A few things I will try selling at one of the “we Buy Gold” places, they also buy other precious metals. I did keep some china and glass, which I really did not want to ship across the country.

    Right now I am working on my paper files. This is just for household, but there are more papers to deal with now, as well.

    Sara, you do get a pass on any more organizing for a while. Your year’s journey has been a great inspiration for me.


    1. Karen,
      You might also want to try jewelry stores for selling your jewelry. I think they sometimes give better prices than the other places. It’s worth keeping in mind.


    2. Karen, you are so sweet to say that our year has been an inspiration – and I’m so glad! Doing little chunks – much like you’re doing now – was the key. Yes, we still have some leftover stuff to deal with but it’s slowly getting tackled.
      Helping family members and loved ones deal with their stuff takes a lot of patience – and it sounds like you’re being thoughtful. 🙂
      Thanks for writing in, Karen!


  3. The china we received from our wedding registry 20 plus years ago, is sitting in the basement in the original boxes, one still covered in wrapping paper!


    1. Oh, Robin, that made me laugh! Well, you can always re-gift it!! 😉
      I agree with Kris’s comment below – it’s a scam by the wedding industry. I also think we get tricked into registering because it’s what everyone does. I was going to write that there’s a checklist for everything but the last time I registered for wedding gifts was 25-years ago so I’m sure there’s a computer screen/scanner, etc. nowadays!
      Sometimes I think we should just used our good china for everyday and stick it in the dishwasher. We’ve broken several dinner plates this year so maybe we’ll go that route ~
      Thanks for sharing, Robin!!


  4. I had both a niece and a nephew get married last year. My niece inherited a set of china and my nephew and his wife registered for china … so apparently it’s still in vogue to do that. I think it’s a scam by the wedding industry to make money. Most of us don’t entertain that way. We pull out our china a few times a year–if ya have it, you should use it, is my theory–but I think I’ve only done two formal dinners with people outside of our immediate family since we got married almost 14 years ago.

    Sorry, I got on a tangent there. You get kudos for your cleaning and organizing year. On different note, I love your fabric window shades–did you make them?


    1. Kris, I totally agree with you – it is a scam! We’ve probably used our china 9 times in 25-years and one dinner plate broke when I put it in the sink full water to wash it. Evidently the water was too hot….
      I hope the newlyweds entertain lots with all those dishes! That’s a lot of hand-washing.
      And, thank you for the kind words on the project. I’m glad it’s done so I can get to my other ‘projects’ – like my “Scamper” !!
      Yes, I sewed the fabric shades. They’re Roman shades and are lined with a stripe fabric – since you can see it from the front porch. 🙂


  5. This sure makes me glad I didn’t register for wedding china! ha ha. However, my dad gave us a set of china several years ago (which he bought in Japan in the 60’s) and we’ve used it about 5 times. I love it and plan to use it for every future dinner party.

    This year I am attempting to declutter also, using the mantra “If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it.” My current hurdle is my dad’s belongings (he passed in 2014). What do I do with his high school & college yearbooks and Air Force awards? It’s a dilemma, but I have to get it sorted and out of my dining room so I can host the aforementioned dinner parties. If I simply put it in the storage closet as is, I won’t look at it again for years.


    1. Liana, yes, use the china! Good plan!!
      Yearbooks – I’d ask at the high school and college he attended. They may not have his year in their archives and it saves you from donating or whatever other thoughts you have.
      Air Force awards I would arrange in a frame with a photo of your dad and hang it in your home. It would be a nice way to honor him and get the awards out of the boxes they’re stored in.
      Our friend’s mom donated a bunch of nautical knots and ties that her dad had made years ago to a museum. When we were in Massachusetts visiting, we saw the items at the museum. It was such a wonderful way to share the family legacy and yet not keep the stuff in a dusty attic.
      Good luck ~ Can’t wait to hear about what you come up with! 🙂


  6. Just yesterday I told my boyfriend we spent entirely too much time shuffling around our stuff. I’m ready to get rid of all this stuff we don’t need and start enjoying my home instead of always trying to find a place for it. You really are an inspiration, Sara!


    1. Vanessa, you are smart to get a handle on it early! It only gets worse…
      Years ago I decided to not buy anything to put stuff in – and that works for the most part – except for what we store in our basement. Our house is old and the basement has leaked over the years. After helping a neighbor clean up after her basement flooded, I did commit to plastic tubs instead of cardboard boxes. It just seemed like the smart thing to do.
      Thanks for sharing, Vanessa, and your kind words ~


  7. You SHOULD come over for a tour of your inspirations – there’s the file cabinet, the freezer are, now the basement storage area (where admittedly we still need to move out more, but at least it’s more organized now) and the newly cleared out spot where we can (theoretically) ride our stationary bikes. Lots of plastic tubs in our sometimes flooded basement, too. It really is the smart way to go.

    I think next up is the tool bench area, but that’s a bit of a frightening prospect.

    Saw the scamper when I drove by your house the other – can’t wait to see what you do with that project this year!


  8. So glad to hear the recap, Sara. I find that actually getting the stuff out the door is the hardest part of getting rid of things. I have bags of clothes in my living room to take ot the consignment shop (they will only take 20 items at a time) and bags in the basement next to the dryer for clothes that my kids have outgrown. You have such a pretty home – I am glad you are enjoying it and living large in it!


    1. Thank you, Annie! And, I think you’re right – getting items out the door is hard. It’s why when we have a garage sale (which I always swear NOT to do again!), I say, “None of this stuff is coming back into the house – it’s going directly to Goodwill.” It’s out the door already so into the car it goes. I am much more picky about what I bring home now – and finding still that we really need less. 🙂


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