My Decluttering Story


Dearest Sultana,

While I had to wait for my perfect computer/tv cabinet to become available on trademe, I was preoccupied with all the possibilities. I looked daily on pinterest for inspiration, surprisingly, there were not that many pins on computer/tv cabinets turned into sewing cabinets. So I started looking at books from the library catalogue to order some and frankly there were even less, but I got some books ordered anyway, hoping to get ideas on storage solutions and just general inspiration. I also got a few books on organising, thinking that they would help me start off on the right foot with my cabinet.


One of these books is “The 8-Minute Organizer” by Regina Leeds. While waiting for May’s ballet lesson to finish, and I started to browse through it and then, liking what I was reading, began to read in earnest. She had a nice way of writing, very unintimidating and empowering.

My biggest downfall when trying to organise my home is that I always think that I have to get everything out on the floor so that I know where to put everything, but by the time I have everything out, I am tired already and discouraged by how much work there is still to do. What the book made me realise is that I can take small manageable steps when I can spare the time and overtime I would achieve my goal.

In the book, Regina Leeds encourages doing things mainly in 8 minute segments, which was such a relief to read about, and made the whole process doable, even for someone like me, who gets a headache just thinking about getting organised.

After reading parts of her book, I felt brave enough to give it a go. I decided to tackle June’s clothes which were still located on the shelves below her change table. June is not even in nappies anymore, and yet her change table is sitting in a corner of our room, it really was high time to do something about it. So I pulled the clothes of her first shelf and put away all the ones that were too small, and the rest into a dresser (which I also reorganised), soon I was working on the second shelf and was almost done! All in less than an hour! It was more than what I had intended to do, I was really only going to do a little bit of sorting and tidying (for 8 minutes) but ended up putting away all of her clothes, emptying the change table completely and making some much needed space in our bedroom. It felt so good to have it done and all without any of the normal stress involved in such a project.

I put the too small clothes into the charity bin, put up the change table on trademe (as well as the high chair) and felt such a sense of accomplishment. It gave me enough confidence to work on my kitchen.

My kitchen is not very big, and used to be the centre of chaos in our home, all working surfaces was covered with stuff, and I generally don’t tidy after myself (I’m not proud of it) because it felt like it was not going to make any difference to the untidiness, the kitchen will still look like a tornado had whipped through it. I felt like I was powerless in there and going into the kitchen was purely out of necessity.

So, with my new found confidence, I decided to tackle the very untidy open shelves. I think open shelves can be beautiful but they are a lot of work, having things out in the open really restricts what can be put up there, just one thing out of place makes it all look so untidy! And I simply did not have enough space in my kitchen to be so selective over what I can put on those shelves, so getting them covered was the only solution I could think of. I didn’t want to spend much money on this though, luckily for me, my clever husband is a sheetmetal engineer and he agreed to make some metal drawers for me.

new shelves

I’m not so sure about the smiley faces, I asked for the two holes and he added the smile… he said I can turn them around to hide the smiley face, but I just couldn’t, it may not look elegant, but it does look like home.

Even though it doesn’t look like a pinterest picture, I feel so happy with these drawers, they allow so much storage, look so much tidier than before and were made by my DH.

Next I worked on my pantry, then the cupboards under the kitchen bench. DH built a shelf for those cupboards so that there are now three levels instead of two, it makes such a huge difference, I also got rid of a lot of junk!

Under Bench

Since I tidied up my kitchen about 4 weeks ago, my benches have been cleared off stuff, I always put away things after I’ve used them because it does make a huge difference to the way the kitchen feels to me and to my sense of satisfaction when I enter it.

Some things I’ve learned from my decluttering

  • It’s not as hard as I thought it would be, if I just take it one manageable step at a time
  • I don’t have as much stuff as I feared, my years of being messy and disorganised has helped me not bring into the house too many unnecessary things. Before I let anything into the house I would think about where it would go, and if it’s just going to end up as junk, I wouldn’t let it in. I didn’t own as much junk as I used to!
  • Maintaining order is easier than being messy, this was surprising to me, but it really is easier to put away things than leave it all over the place. In terms of peace of mind, time spend to find things, doing a big clean up (and having that thought clouding everything  I do).

Even now I am still slowly working on my house, I just finished the master bedroom wardrobe, and next on the list will be May’s wardrobe.

In her other book, “One Year to an Organised Life”, Regina Leeds stressed the importance of not letting organising take over your life, it’s supposed to be supporting us, not be the end all. And before I read that, organising was beginning to take over my life a little, the good feeling after I’m done was beginning to get addictive!

So lately I’ve been working on the house a little. Because it’s always been so messy, I never really bothered before, but now, it’s become quite rewarding to dress it up a little. To me, this is a pretty low key endeavour, I don’t want to spend a lot and neither do I have a lot of time to spare, but even something as simple as bringing in some cheap plants gives the house such a lovely calm.

Greens for the house

I also decided to change the covers of our dining chairs. The last time I did this was when I was pregnant with May, while we were living in a different house with a very different decor. In those days I used some cheap curtain fabric with thermal lining for the job. This proved to be the ideal fabric for a family with young kids, the fabric was very easy to clean. Even so, there are paint spatters and dirt and it is time for a change!

Dining Chair re do

I love how the fabric ties in with the sofa in our dining room and there is a fresh splash of green on it.

8 responses »

  1. Thank you for this blog. As a messy person I am feeling very overwhelmed at the huge task ahead of me. I love the eight minute idea. I can do that. Think I will get this book. 🙂

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