It’s Stuffy in Here

A month ago my sister and mom and I decided to have a yard sale this October.  I’ve been slow with getting stuff together.  I just had a big sale last year, I probably didn’t have much to sell.

But suddenly I’ve been bombarded with reading poignet blog posts about stuff and then there was that Hoarder’s marathon that come on Monday. Tomorrow I’ll show you my garage full of excess stuff that you can’t even tell I removed from my house.  But, today I’m still in deep thought about the stuff.

Last week, Thrifty Decor Chick  wrote a post entitled “STUFF”.  It’s a great read and prompted me to think about why I keep stuff around.  One of my biggest issues is that we have moved so often recently, I’m afraid to get rid of something we might need in our next house.  I always feel like I can’t be one of those people who says ” we don’t have a place for that” because we don’t even really have a place.  Therefore, if I see something I can afford and I like, I tend to buy it.  And I’m pretty good at working stuff in.  However, the result is a really full house of items bought for $3 each that I’m not wanting to get rid of because I might use it when we move.  Not my goal.

Another one of my issues is that when a person like me, who loves and appreciates beautiful spaces, rents a plain, run of the mill ordinary home with no special features, I tend to compensate with accessories.

Pretties and Posies

I look at photos like this of Melanie’s beautiful, welcoming home and I long for the simple uncluttered, purposeful look.  And I know one of the reasons I think I can’t get that is because my rental house lacks character.  I have scant mouldings, an incompetent fireplace, my windows don’t even have casing around them, and I’m tethered to the fact that we don’t own the house so big changes are out of the question.  So instead of going after my style, I sometimes wreck it up with too many accessories.  I know my weaknesses.

Then, I read a post that  Sherry from Young House Love wrote about their tiny closet. After living in tiny spaces in NYC, she has learned the fine art of only surrounding herself with things she really needs and loves.  I marveled at this quote that Sherry included from The Lucky Shopping Manual:

Don’t buy anything on sale that you wouldn’t consider at full price.

Um, I think that might have just changed my life. Seriously, I’ve never even thought of it that way.

It’s not noble to purchase 10 things for a steal for $10 {that you kind of needed or thought you might use} compared to buying one thing for $100 that you really needed.  It’s just poor stewardship.

I think my lean to thriftyness has been skewed so far that I have forgotten that the best purchase we’ve made is our sofa.  We paid full price for a small scale sectional from a lower high end or {higher low end?} maker and it’s still the most comfy sofa I’ve ever laid my tush on.  It’s lasted 7 years and has held up to 3 boys.  So worth the money upfront.   And the thrifty police have yet to arrest me to invest in a piece of furniture we use every day.

On my journey of thinking about stuff and its impact I have decided to pretend like we are staying at this house for a long time.  If we don’t have a place for something now, it’s gone.  If I’m so great a finding a deal, I’ll find it again later, right?  Unless I find a clawfoot tub for $5 or something.

Erin from Rare and Beautiful Treasures sold their dream house that they built so that they could begin their journey to their dream life.

A family that we are close friends with recently sold most of their belongings, bought an RV and are getting ready to pursue their dream of traveling around with their children.  They were brave souls who didn’t let stuff get in the way of their goals. It’s not always easy for them but, they are certainly enjoying their new way of life.  I so admire that.  I’m not at all saying that everyone should sell their stuff in and move into an RV but, I don’t want to let stuff get in the way of our family’s own goals and dreams.

Erin’s family and the Mattern family both found freedom in knowing what they don’t want to do.

I want to be aware that the stuff I am accumulating can easily hinder me and clog up my home, time and being.  Because we all know, it can be gone in an instant. So, I’m getting rid of the excess while reminding myself that I love handmade, I love trash to treasure, I love items from nature, I value meaningful beauty.  I still love and want and have a decorated house, but I want  it to serve me and my family, not the other way around.

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  1. Excellent! I’m totally into getting rid of stuff! We have a freecycle group for my church and people are much more willing to get rid of their stuff if they know someone else will use it! I have recently gone through my house “hunting” for things to get rid of and put on there because I know that I don’t need twelve vases – when is the last time I had twelve bouquets of flowers at once?? It’s OUT!

  2. lez from houston says:

    I didn’t read the comments but I am assuming they are ‘wowing’ like I am.. you sure make a lot of sense Nester!
    But I sure wish Houston Tx wasn’t so far away from your garage sale . . . . . .

  3. best blog post ever. thank you! I needed that

  4. well….all I have to say is I CAN”T WAIT TO GO TO YOUR YARD SALE! Okay – I will be putting myself on a budget – and make sure I REALLY need it before I buy it – and keep this post in the back of my mind when I see all of your items for sale! :-)

  5. I know how you feel (or perhaps a little more so), the home I want and teh home I have are two entirely different things. One is peaceful and calm adn soothing while the real one is cluttered and “stuffy” and suffocating. I decided to join a few bloggers in a challenge to rid my home of 2,010 items in 2010. I’ve managed to get rid of over 500 items in just over a month. It’s liberating and invigorating and wonderful and well, i just had to tell you. I blog about it every 100 items or so.

  6. I read that YHL post, and the very same piece of advice stood out for me. It really does force you to think about those “great deals” differently. If I wouldn’t consider paying full price for something, I must not like it all that much, right? And I can probably survive without it. I’m pretty sure having that little qualifier in the back of my mind saved me at least $32 today at an “end of summer sale” at one of my favorite stores. Your post, and your friends’ stories, have left me wanting to simplify by making my home less “stuffy”. And you can bet I’ll be thinking twice (or thrice) about buying more of those supposed great deals. Thanks!

  7. I think your house looks gorgeous!!

    • Love this post! Where did you get that couch? And how do you keep an all white couch clean with kids and just day to day living?

  8. I just found you threw another blog and you may now consider me one of your biggest fans. Really. That post was a game changer for me- I’m now torn: do I go clean out my closet or read all your other posts… I’m sure I will be doing lots of both tonight! Wonderful blog!!

  9. so So SO true! i loved sarah’s post about all the clutter, and i too was inspired to start looking at my stuff in a different light. kudos to you for actually going through with the decluttering!

  10. Oh how funny! I just posted about something similar today, although not as eloquently. The process of letting things go was difficult at first, but the more I get rid of the more free I feel.

  11. Jennifer S. says:

    Thank you so much for writing that you watch Hoarders! ;) Seriously, I have watched every.single.episode and in secret at that! lol My husband saw part of one episode and ask me what type of “trash” I was watching? (kinda funny if you think about it.. hoarders and trash tv) He acted like I was so insane for watching it that I recorded the entire series and watched them at night after he went to sleep. It honestly made me want to get rid of everything I own! I’m not a hoarder by any means (unless you count stashing candles by the dozens in closets) but I could see how some of those people get into the positions they are in and it makes me want to cleanse my already pretty clean home even more! Great therapy tv if you ask me! I’m glad that I’m not the only “normal” one who watches it. =)

  12. Just wondering where you got those beautiful curtains?

  13. The “be still” necklace – exactly what I need…..please. Thank you!

  14. Even though you are renting and it’s not your dream house nester….it is still a very nice house! May not be the dream home or have loads of character but hey it’s very nice. I say this having come back yesterday from visiting my harp teacher who’s home was severely damaged in a May tornado and she is still trying to get it finished so she can move back in. She’s lived in a hotel since May and would love to just have her home back. And it was nothing special but it was her home. As my financial advisor said to me the other day “we can learn to be content with what we have”.
    Good post…food for thought.

  15. Heather Spencer says:

    Can you do a post on where to buy nice sofas?? I’m at a loss other then Pottery Barn!

  16. Nester in Australia a lot of us live in houses that most would call a cottage….you can’t help but have to cull on a regular bases. I mainly op shop or we make some of our furniture, but i would have paid full price had i had the money…most of my furniture purchases have been wish listed for years… my husband ‘s idea is once the house is purged of the excess then no more can come in unless you are willing to get rid of the same amount you bring in…meaning i need to love the new item more than something i have at home…great post.

  17. Bless your heart.. and your nest! Thank you so much for the sweet words about my home. I think your home is beautiful!! Sometimes I feel as if mine needs … more. But I just haven’t found out what that is quite yet! :D

  18. Ha! I am so addicted to the show Hoarders. It’s fascinating and has ddefinitely helped me with letting my stuff go. Kids have also helped me pair down, as any accessory I puton a low table ends up being a toy, anyway.

  19. Gina Boswell says:

    Great post!

  20. I, too, am reading Radical by David Platt. It really puts life into perspective. As a home organizer/home stager, I’m always encouraging (and sometimes nagging) my clients to get rid of “stuff”. For many clients, their stuff is their comfort zone. Many have had life altering events recently and “stuff” is their way of controlling their life. My favorite part of my job is to show my clients the before and after photos of their home after the decluttering process. They are amazed at the difference. We are not “stuff” and our “stuff” shouldn’t define us.

  21. Wonderful post & well said! As I look around me, I have wayyyyy too much stuff. Thanks for putting it in perspective!

  22. Proverbs 31 Ministries devotion seemed to speak to me in a similar way yesterday.
    You posted some great things to think about here and I agree 100%!

  23. We have just recently gone through a HUGE change in our life…one of the most aggressive decuttering times I’ve ever had.

    We moved from a 2400 sf. house to a 1300 sf. rental. My husband has been commuting for over 10 years. Driving over 7.5 hours a week. His job is rewarding, but very demanding, so we weren’t getting to spend very much time together as a family.

    This is our first time renting. Nester you have given me such confidence to not be afraid to rent and to truly LIVE where we are.

    We moved to a nice house that’s 10 minutes away from his work and we are loving the family time. And surprisingly, I’m really enjoying the smaller house too. It’s so freeing to only keep what you love and use. We are so glad to be focusing on what’s really important.

    (Nester, now you know what I’ve been up to and why there have been no new paintings! Hoping to get some new ones done soon.)

  24. Watching Hoarders, I swear, will change your life! We used to watch it religiously until we cut our cable. ( all part of the “simplify your life” we went through )

    It really hit home when my husband saw someone he knew from college being spotlighted with his wife. It made us think how easily we could be walking in their shoes. We live in a small-ish home esp for the 5 of us. But I honestly think I could make it work, but my husband wants to expand it.

    It’s a struggle we go through, wanting more but knowing we need less than we think. Not that I want to live starkly, that’s just not me. :)

  25. Many years ago, my Mom and I spent the better part of a week cleaning out my great-aunt’s tiny two-bedroom home after she passed away. It was literally packed to the ceiling with stuff–old name tags from meetings 50 years ago, gigantic piles of clothing, expired food, you name it. The bathtub was filled to the ceiling with old newspapers and utility bills. We didn’t know to call it “hoarding” back then, but we felt horrible when we realized that the real reason she had never let us past the front porch was the condition of the house. She had lived that way for at least 50 years (the oldest papers dated back to the 1920’s). To this day, when I am tempted to keep something “just in case” I flash back to that week and I usually decide to give the object up.

  26. I know this is random, but do know what color Erin at Rare & Beautiful Treasures painted her master bedroom? Her blog wasn’t allowing me to post and I really want to know. And as always, I LOVE your home and I would die to be at your garage sale! I would be checking ticket prices from St. Louis to North Carolina if we didn’t have a wedding to go to. I really need to visit my dear friend in Raleigh. :)

  27. I watched too much of the Hoarders marathon on Monday. It just gave me a sinking feeling – if you really listen to the people and why this happens, it usually is to fill an empty space (heart) or to insulate oneself from the world (hurt). Sometimes I buy things so that people will think I am clever, stylish and smart – but they usually end up in the back of the closet with the tags still on (maybe because I don’t feel like I am any of those things). I have spent this week just going through “stuff” trying to declutter but mostly agonizing over while I feel like I have to keep it. What if I need it? While most of us are not “hoarders” in the extreme sense, I think it is a slippery slope we walk in our world of fast and easy retail therapy.

  28. Karen Tass says:

    oh my head… the guy with the glasses in that video lives in my town!

  29. So many good links, I will be on the internet for the next hour.

    I used to think of debt being the only thing holding us back from our dreams. Now that we are debt free it’s the clutter.

    I’m asking Alan tonight if we can sell most of it and buy an RV.

  30. This is such a great post. I’m having a garage sale soon, but I’m in a little different position. This IS my forever house, whether I like it or not. Because of our farm, I will most likely be here forever, or at least 20 years until we can afford to build. So, if it doesn’t work perfectly in this house, I need to just get rid of it.

    And I clutter with both accessories AND FURNITURE! And my house has character. 100 year old wood trim and floors to be precise.

    This is my first time commenting, but I am a long time reader. I would LOVE if you would come check out my house.

    Now I’m off to read all the links I clicked on during your post.

  31. What a great post. We are in the midst of selling our house so we can be debt free sooner. Thanks for the reminders. It’s so easy for me to get focused on all the stuff I see, which isn’t the important stuff at all.

  32. Well said! Truly a wonderful and thoughtful post.

    We’ve been slowly trying to decide whether we need to keep certain items. I think we have some issues with stuffitis. It’s tricky because some/most of the items are things from my Papa (he died about 25 years ago). Fortunately, not of that stuff takes up much space. Except for the mounted Dall sheep head that completely icks me out but i don’t have the heart to get rid of. I do *not* like stuffed, mounted animals! Thanks to you and other bloggers, I finally started reading Dave Ramsey….which coincided perfectly with us getting rid of an annoying car with a big car payment. Now we’re on the look-out for a cheap car but at least it’ll be paid for! ((((happy dance)))))

    Good luck with your garage sale! I think you should list your mistreatments on e-bay. I bet you could get enough $$$ from them to fund your bedroom re-do project. ;-)

  33. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your style. I am currently trying to redo my front room and your ‘dwell’ living area is my inspiration. I was wondering if you could share with me where you purchased your striped drape fabric. Love it!

  34. This is a GREAT post! We’re moving in a few weeks to a much smaller house and this post helps make it that much easier to let go of things.

    Along with moving, however, we’re in search for a chandelier for our new dining room. Where is the one pictured above from? (I know, I know, the irony of discussing de-cluttering and asking about more stuff at the same time!)

  35. I am posting your room as an inspiration room on my blog tomorrow (Sept 10). There is a link back to this blog, Your rooms are amazing, Thanks for sharing

  36. Thank you so much for this post. I will be helping a family member in a couple of weeks who is a hoarder clean out her house. Your words of “Don’t buy anything on sale that you wouldn’t consider at full price. ” are a great message for me to pass along to her. I love your blog, you have inspired me to clean out my crawl space of all my decorating things I may use someday if I move. yard sale for me is in a week. Thank you for the inspiration and advice.

  37. I always feel like I can relate when you talk about compensating for lack of detailing on a house with accessories. I am always like, how many side tables can I fit in a room just to fill up the empty corners. I have a large wall in our living room that is filled with frames and plates. It looks nice but it really is too much for me. I wish I could simplify but there is just so much darn open space. I am in the process of decluttering right now as well…and we all ready had a garage sale this summer! It’s like I got one layer of stuff I knew I didn’t like and now it is stuff I like but really don’t need…it is a long process. but I am finding the more comfortable I am in my house and better figure out what I really want it to look like and how it is to be used, I am able to weed out that other stuff keeping us from living a simpler life. This was a great post and things I have been thinking of myself. Thanks Nester! :)

  38. Oh, moved by this post! You speak what has been on my heart. I had a habit of going to the thrift store and garage sales and bringing home thrifty pieces and clothes all of the time. I stockpiled what I thought we might need someday even though we didn’t really need it. The deals were cramping our space. I think it is just coming to a different level of frugality when you can recognize that it is far more frugal to invest wisely even in the cheap things in life and find contentment in what you already own. GREAT POST

  39. Wonderful article!!! I am in the middle of “de-cluttering” my tiny apartment, and also blogging about it. You’ve given me the inspiration and new ideas I really needed today – thanks! I will definitely be checking back here regularly!

  40. Thanks for sharing those words…I think everyone can learn from them (or maybe it was just me…I’m ok with that!!!) :)

    A quick side note: Where can I find that AWESOME black, square coffee table? THAT is something I would pay full-price for! :)

    Thanks again…

  41. Rebecca Foxworth says:

    You said, “It’s not noble to purchase 10 things for a steal for $10 {that you kind of needed or thought you might use} compared to buying one thing for $100 that you really needed. It’s just poor stewardship.”
    I loved this quote. Especially since my mom has been yard sale-ing for years longer than I and has lost a bit of her perspective. Case in point: for my birthday a few years ago, I wanted a sweet little red $50 ottoman from Target. Cute. Functional. And just what I wanted.
    Instead I got: an ugly olive green wicker sofa table (I didn’t know about spray paint then), a cream and dusty brown comforter (!?! a match to the one I had given away about 12 years earlier, literally), and three other similar items. She had paid $10 each for them at yard sales and was SO EXCITED because they were SUCH A DEAL and she knew they would be JUST FINE in my house, since they were PERFECTLY GOOD.
    They were neither fine, nor good. I usually accomodate my mother by smiling, nodding, and disposing of the stuff later. But this time, I refused each piece outright. I had her take it all back home. And when she left, it dawned on me that she was overjoyed by the opportunity to buy me five $10 items I did not love or want ($50 worth of ugly stuff), but didn’t or wouldn’t buy me the one $50 I did want. I hope that doesn’t make me sound spoiled. It’s just…if you’re gonna spend $50 anyway…
    My point isn’t that my mom has turned into a total cheapo (she’s warm and funny and loves us to death, despite the cheapness factor). My point is that we all have to have perspective. My friends thrift shop and coupon. And when one looks weary of “saving” (gotta save! gotta save!), I usually just ask them what they are saving FOR. Saving for savings’ sake is silly. Saving so you can have an emergency fund, or buy that lovely leather sofa you want, or take your family to Hawaii next summer, or purchase season tickets, or run the air conditioning more in the 100 degree summer heat, or keep Mommy home while Daddy works, or donate to your favorite charity is smart. Saving just for the sake of not spending, isn’t. If you’re purchasing ten $3 items you kinda like, instead of the one $30 you like, is that smart? Enjoy your thrifting, but every once in a while ask yourself, “What are we saving FOR?” It gives you a bit more perspective.

  42. What a beautiful, inspiring post! It is just the reminder that I needed. I don’t want my stuff, or the lack of, to get in the way of mine and my husband’s dreams and goals. If that means living in our 1970’s wood paneled house for the rest of our life, so be it. We are working at making it what we want. It is easy to see all of the beautiful homes online and on tv and feel discontent with what you have. I am going to be more thankful for what I do have and remember that my dreams and goals are what is important. Thanks for the reminder!

  43. stephanie H says:

    I think recognizing that we will ALWAYS be discontent with our space, our stuff, our decor is a good place to start. Those things can’t bring contentment, no matter the price be cheap or expensive. We were created for a different place, a heavenly, PERFECT home that we are always internally longing for, and thus will on some level be discontent with our place and stuff here.

    Reminding myself that buying that $10 “what-cha-ma-call-it” will not truly improve my life, but that those $10 spent on something worthy might just enhance someone else’s life has been crucial to me. Each purchase requires a choice: a choice for my desire or a choice to apply that money (albeit small) to something worthy, noble, honoring, glorifying to the Giver of all things. I think God is that serious and specific about His commands….. I need to remind myself more often.

    I think stuff inevitably births more stuff; simple leads to space for listening and seeing God’s vision, not ours. I pray to long for God’s dreams and goals for my family, not mine.

  44. Olá Giovana.Com ceezrta existem muitas mudanças a serem implementadas, mas acredito que estas que listei seriam as mais urgentes…. as mudanças internas, de pensamento e que ajudam a formar o caráter das pessoas.Um abraço

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