We moved to Santa Barbara 12 years ago and bought a home. We paid three times as much for a house the was half the size of our Texas house. Location, location, location. We are living in paradise. It’s usually 72 and sunny with ocean views and mountain views. Unfortunately, we moved EVERYTHING to California. Our current garage was always too full for a car. Every time the house’s 1960 kitchen was redecorated, the garage got the old cabinets so we had plenty of room to store lots of stuff. After 45 years of marriage, keepsakes, favorite treasures, and artifacts of the past filled the garage. I had heirlooms, antiques, and collectibles that were never going to fit in this house. Unfortunately, very little of it was necessary for our daily life. We had cabinets full of dead stuff. Everything we used was kept on a ping pong table or on top of any other flat surface and we never knew where anything was. Calling it a disaster area would be accurate. The best we could do was stack things and move the stacks when necessary. The before pictures are true.
I stumbled on Clutter Diet as I was looking for help in letting go of too much stuff. I joined immediately. I watched Lorie’s progress as she downsized to a smaller home with great interest. The short videos made perfect sense. I’m actually good at organizing. Purging was my biggest problem. Delayed decisions filled the garage. As I started letting things go, I found a great deal of support on the message boards. Each small step was celebrated with these new friends who understood what I was doing and cheered my progress. Instead of thinking about how much something cost originally, I started thinking about the benefits each donation provided Goodwill. Each video was an inspiration to make Goodwill a weekly errand. With every donation, I thought about how much space I gained both in the garage and in my house. In Santa Barbara, that’s expensive square feet!
My goal was to clean out the garage before I bought a new car. Lorie hit the nail on the head with her idea that we don’t maintain an area that’s ugly. I wanted the garage to look good. I started in November and worked on this project for 4 months. Slow but steady. I made weekly trips to the Assistance League and Goodwill, found homes with young friends for bikes, vintage clothing, and a massage table among other goodies. As I grouped like with like, I made decisions: trash, donate, or keep. As the trash went out, I kept track.
I planned where things would go based on the A, B, C, and D method for every space in the garage. I found clear containers of the right size and labeled, labeled, labeled. My organizing kit was always with me. When I needed a special size container, I checked Michael’s for sales and Bed Bath and Beyond with great success. I hired help when I needed it. At my age, I can’t do as much as I once could but I’m fortunate to have the financial resources to get help. There’s nothing like a strong, young person when you need heavy lifting done. We had a home service come and shred 15 boxes of files that were no longer needed but couldn’t be thrown away. I also hired a cleaning crew to tackle the layers of dirt once the floor was cleared. I hired female painters to paint the cabinets with three coats of chalkboard paint in graduated shades of blue, I looked for women who would understand what I was trying to do. I didn’t want to try and explain this to a man. It wasn’t necessary but it was what I wanted. Now everything is labeled on the doors and drawers as to contents. We can actually find things! Inside the cabinets, like is with like and it’s contained.
We could use the ping pong table when our grandson came to visit and find the ping pong balls! My new car spent the first night in the garage. I’m more excited about the garage than the car. I have room for projects and the supplies are easy to use. It’s a joy to put things back! My husband offered help and support along the way but it was my project. He is very proud of my success and enjoys the easy access to his exercise bike. Besides getting the car in the garage, I now have access to hobbies that have been buried for years under clutter.
Clutter is not just stuff. Our emotional attachment to things has to change in order to live the life we want. Clutter Diet helped me make that change. As Texan Delbert McClinton sings in his song, Too Much Stuff, “You know, you can’t get a grip when you’re slipping in all that stuff. .”