Well-Planned Hoarding

I read minimalist blogs.  I have for a long time.

One of the many reasons I love writing Topiwo is because it gives me perspective.   It’s the same with reading about minimalism, it reminds me to be intentional with what I have. There’s a post by The Minimalists that I haven’t been able to get out of my head.

Organizing is Often Well-Planned Hoarding.

It reminds me of something Fly-lady says, “You can’t organize clutter.”  I know I’ve been guilty of trying to organize clutter, thinking that if I were just more organized, then it would all work out, when a big part of my issue was that I just had a bunch of junk I needed to get rid of, and I needed to evaluate my job as a stuff manager.

What about you, has there been a time that your well-intentioned organizing has really been a ploy to avoid getting rid of things? 


  1. I always think ” I can use this someday” and keep way too much stuff in my small house. Today heading to goodwill to donate some valuable goodies I’ve held on to too long! I want peace more than stuff. Ten years ago, I googled (did we have google then?) “peace in my home” and fly lady’s site came up…Why has it taken soooo long. Too small baby steps! Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. I went to the web site and read about their journey in a minimal life style but what I read about were people who don’t love nesting, who don’t have that feeling of needing a cozy spot to be with their family. I have paintings that my Mother painted that I need to see, I have tools of my Father’s that I need to know where they are….I have made things to make our home a warm, cozy welcoming place to be. So when friends and family come they feel like they are home. I do not apologize for longing to want to be home in Heaven and trying to make my home an example of love with the items I cherish. I say live and let live. Happiness is in the heart of each person and I could never be happy without pieces of the past that surround me…so I can look to the future in confidence!

    • The question is, do you love and appreciate your holiday decorating? If so, that would fit in with pursuing your passion. In my house, those decorations would not see the light of day. I also have 2 drawers of knives in my kitchen, which are all neatly fitted into slots so they, and my fingers, are not damaged. I have 3 bread knives. This would probably be excessive to a lot of people, especially to those who do not cook, but they are all used every day, and I bake bread every week. There is a fine line between having stuff you use and care for (which would be organized in my opinion, otherwise it is not really cared for) and having stuff that is just piled up, unused or unable to be found.

    • oh yes Dianntha, just like with everything, it’s about balance and you can apply it to you in your season of life. I read minimalists blogs but it doesn’t mean I’m a minimalist or think everyone should get rid of everything. But I do learn from them. That’s the point of this post.

      It sounds like you are intentional with what you are keeping and I think that’s important.

  3. I literally have an entire bedroom of plastic bins neatly labeled with all of my seasonal decorations. Everyone I love appreciates the time I put into making my home look beautiful, however, it takes a whole lotta stuff to make my house look like a winter wonderland. Cause I live in Florida. It really is a mind-numbing amount of “stuff.” So I am busted Nester, it’s super organized so I can keep fitting more in there. ;)

    • Melissa, I DO love all of my decorations!!! I decorate for me as much as for my family. Still, ask anyone who has ever been in my “decor den” and they will tell ya it’s alot of stuff! And I am defintiely guilty of buying “just 2 more” of something when I already have like, 10.

  4. Perfect timing Nester! I blogged about MY hoarding yesterday (Day 12 of Finding Home).

  5. I think there’s a huge difference between ‘clutter stuff’ and ‘treasured stuff’. Does that make sense? Well, what I mean is I do love my stuff. In fact, I’m trying to add more accessories to my home, to make it feel more cozy, interesting and fun. However, I do NOT buy accessories just to accessorize. I must love them, or I must find them interesting or useful. I always ask myself, Do I love it? Is it necessary that I own this item? If not, I either purge it or don’t buy it. Ironically, I finally just printed off all 103 pages of your tassel e book which I bought a few years ago. I plan to make many a tassel, so I can add to my stuff. Those tassels, though, fall into the category of ‘love them’, so I’m going to rock it out, old school Nester and tassel my heart out =)

  6. I’ve been found out. We’re getting ready for a yard sale here. Trying to part with items that I’ve moved from spot to spot for years is difficult for me. Why? I’m trying so hard to let go of the clutter. Thanks for the links and the perspective. I have a feeling there will be more than I imagined in this yard sale.

  7. So true! I never feel more organizedand free than when just get rid of things I don’t need or love!

  8. I am of the opinion that minimalist are basically extreme organizers. They have pared down to the least needed and then have it organized to the nth degree. “Organizing” does not denote an amount but rather the state an amount is in. You could have a cluttered minimalist if their few items are not put away mindfully!

  9. I had not heard of The Minimalists blog – wow. Thank you for passing the link on!
    This series feels like Christmas for my soul!

  10. I had to comment on this. I grew up in a home that was not a hoard but very cluttered and always messy and even just plain dirty. My parents were very young parents and just didn’t have much of a nesting instinct. I grew up embarrassed to have friends over. My home was a constant source of sadness for me because as a normal kid/teenager the home is where you can connect with friends, be comfortable and feel safe. All this is to say that as an adult, this has informed every decision I make about what comes into my home. It also led me to my field of Interior Design. I fiercly believe that an object must have a function for it to even cross over my threshold. My relatives and friends constantly comment on how open and clean my house feels. As for “decorating” my home, once again if it doesn’t serve a purpose it isn’t going to see the inside of my four walls even if it is the cutest chatky ever. I will leave a wall blank for months until the right piece of art comes along that speaks to me and my family. Every choice is intentional. When I see an overly “decorated” home it makes me twinge. Its like a woman with too much make-up on, you always wonder what is lurking beneath. But to satisfy my appreciation of beautiful objects I indulge in Pinterest and Blogs. I mean I AM human :) and I still think all the objects/trends are beautiful and fun, I just keep my indulgence in them to window shopping :)

    Just my 2 cents!

    • I love how you used your growing up house experience for good and not for evil :) you broke the chain and it’s killing me not to have a link to a blog where I can see your lovely home!!! Thanks for the great reminder about function.

  11. I have found it really helpful to read blogs about minimalism mostly because it helps with my perspective. I like to read about people who live with hardly anything to help me determine needs vs wants. I used to focus on organizing my stuff, until I came across the article you mentioned some months ago. I have spent the past 6 months clearing away the unnecessaries in my house more to make my mind and heart more free to love my family and others around me. Being more naturally task orientated, I can easily get caught up in the decorating, organizing, cleaning, crafting etc but so often it takes me away from spending time with people. Now my home is so much more simple, so much easier to clean, and I am learning to be content with what I have and wait on God for everything else. And the best thing is that I have so much more time physically and emotionally to spend with people.

  12. Yes! That is me! Shuffling things here and there and everywhere else. ugh. And this makes so much sense. I think I’ve been coming to this realization that I can’t get my house organized and staying semi-clean at all times is because there’s just too much *stuff* in the way. Once I pry myself from the junk in an area and only have things we use and like, then those spots become really easy to keep clean and organized! The hard part is making myself get rid of things I think will be useful later on…whenever that later on will be.

  13. Oh, this post is so good, Nester! After my 31 day series last year, I was inspired to organize my decluttered home and started reading organization blogs. It’s lasted a month. Not because I wasn’t still interested in organizing, but because most of the organization blogs were selling the idea that we need one more bin, one more pencil caddy, one more label maker to keep everything blog perfect.

    What we need is to get rid of the stuff that requires “one more” bin. (Stuff, not treasured possessions that reflect an intentional home.)

    One blog really made my eyebrows shoot up. The house is pristine and organized like nothing I’ve ever seen. (I wouldn’t be surprised to see rolls of toilet paper labeled!) But you will never, ever convince me that two children need two large IKEA Expedits full of toys and a separate cabinet devoted solely to Legos.

    • that’s a great point, Jules, I’ve learned so much from you and your perspective. you know something else I’ve noticed? Almost all the hoarder shows have about a bagillion plastic bins in the rooms. They had such great intentions to organize it all. We tend to lean heavy on the wrong tools. And I’ve been the worst offender. Last Christmas it killed me to donate 4 good plastic bins to goodwill “what if I need them”. but then I realized that I didn’t want to need them.

  14. Oh yes, I’ve tried to organize my way out of clutter! But, once i figured out that people are more important than things, it became easier to let stuff go. I stopped going to thrift stores to buy things I really didn’t need – even if the price was a steal. And, I started letting go of holiday stuff that was stored for most of the year only to be focused for a week or month. I started focusing on more natural decor that could be used year-round. And, Nester, part of that inspiration came from you :)

    I also think that doing mast year’s series, “31 Days – 31 Minutes to a More Organized Life” helped me a lot. It became obvious as I was writing it that having a system where I can find 10 different widgets was cool…but only having to store 2 or 3 widgets was easier AND BETTER!

  15. Wow. Mind. Blown. You know, this is sort of like something I knew but couldn’t articulate. Like when I go to a certain home and there is a TON of stuff in that house. It’s all decorative and organized and clean. But it’s just a bunch of STUFF. It’s like there no where for your eyes to rest because every little inch has some sort of vignette. And I kept thinking “All of this stuff is organized and you know where everything is, but why do you have so much? It’s a lot.” My friend told me that some people feel better with a lot of stuff around them. It makes them feel cozy. But for others it makes them feel agitated. I think I’m the latter and what I need to organize is my approach to purging my house!

  16. I love the link to the “Just in case” post on the minamalist blog. I need to read that over and over and over again. I am in a way an organized hoarder. We live on a very limited budget right now so I am always saving stuff “just in case” someone needs something. I hold onto shoe boxes “just in case” my kids have a school project. I save empty tin foil tubes ‘just in case” someone needs them for an art project. I hold onto old family things because I cannot part with them. How do you let go of things that you think your heart needs? Love this post.

  17. Oh, my. 21 years old, married 2 1/2 years, pregnant with my first baby — moved into a 416 sq. ft. apartment. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get everything put away and I was so disorganized. Just didn’t get it. I was SO depressed. Later I figured out it may have had something to do with the stuff that could have furnished 3 full-sized houses.

  18. ugh how do you balance it? I don’t want to spend money on something someday that I already had!

  19. An interesting post. I feel as though I’m swimming against the current when I shop though as there is so much temptation to buy the style dream when you see something you like. Most of the time though, buying that particular temptation is really superfluous to the house and the goods I already have. I guess that’s what a consumer society is all about.

  20. You are my hero – referencing Fly Lady and The Minimalists in the same blog post!

    Love what you said about the storage bins, “but then I realized that I didn’t want to need them.”

    I went on an extreme minimalist journey for about 18 months last year and blogged about it. I got rid of a lot of stuff. I was one of those people who counted their items. You know, 10 t-shirts, 4 jeans, only 5 pair of shoes. I got my clothes, jewelry, shoes, jackets, underwear, books, etc under 100 items and was very proud. But I didn’t have any balance. I was a little nutso about the whole thing and found myself sitting in my living room with all clear surfaces with no pillows or pictures or drapes or plants or anything feeling cold and sterile. I actually enjoyed it for several months telling myself that it was calming and freeing.

    Now I seek balance. 2 pillows on the couch not 5. 2 picture frames on the credenza not a gallery wall. Some smaller decorative items but contained in the china cabinet.

    Life is all about the balance.

  21. I’m calling hooey on the 20 bucks / 20 minutes theory.
    My weakness is clothes. I have had the pleasure of having say… a sweater for years. Then suddenly, I get this cute top and guess what, the sweater goes with it perfectly and if I had gotten rid of it, I’d never have found a cardigan that exact shade of blue…. never.

    In fact, I have a darling dress I bought this summer knowing that it would work into fall with boots, tights and a brown sweater. Guess what. Got rid of both of those brown sweaters in a purging incident. Woe is me.

    I will admit though that my worst compulsion is the stuff I have for the my life that hasn’t happened yet. Years ago I saw a darling wooden toy – knowing I would want my kids to have beautiful handmade toys like I had growing up. Now I’m 42 – no husband and no kids, but I still have that darling alligator pull toy. It’s been just too hard to give up the hope of having a family. even if I’ve moved that stupid alligator 7 times.
    I’m going to give it to my friend who just had a baby – knowing she’s dear enough to re-gift it to me if I ever have a baby of my own.

    • I second your hooey. From their website, it appears the Minimalists have no families, and at the time of the 20/20 post, were urbanites. Certainly makes for fewer emergencies and closer stores. A well-stocked linen closet, pantry, and cleaning cupboard are priceless when two children are suffering from a vicious stomach bug at 3 AM during an ice storm.

      As far as decorating goes, reading the Minimalists is the equivalent of splashing cold water on my face. Very refreshing, lending a clear eye to my space, and forcing me to consider why I have the stuff I do.

  22. I found myself at TJMAXX this week for the first time in a long while. I approached my shopping totally differently, thinking of what my word was. It made a big difference.

  23. I am laughing about you and minimalism. I thought that you were always buying things to decorate with, but maybe it was for your blog. When you are running a house, you should have certain things on hand, because you are responsible for the social fabric of your family. I have never had a big TV or a lawn mower, and only had one TV until the late 80’s. But, last night I had a sit down dinner for 32 people with dishes and silverplate silverware that I had bought on eBay over the years. Used drop cloths for table cloths because I got tired of ironing sheets. I had acquired wine (or water) glasses over the years from linens and things at $10 a dozen. To run a family you have to have certain things. You may not need tons of expensive candles and the latest wall art. But you need a stash of good towels and sheets bought on sale, and garage sale platters. Maybe we just need more of a few items and less of many different kinds of items. I have so many unique things I have picked up at garage sales for pennies. I’m not quite ready to part with all of them yet. I’d rather give up part of my fabric stash. I am finding new homes for items that I don’t need, or have too many of. Ann

    • AnnW,
      You are so right about having what you need to run a house. My wife and I are the ones who throw the family parties. We like using (almost) everything in the house. We have old TVs, furniture and dishes that we have had for many years and still used. Some things have moved with us many times and are just as nice in the new place. They are long term investments and mostly at estate sales and resale (charity) stores. We don’t keep replacing good usable items just to get new. You don’t use a punchbowl or 24 cup coffee urn often but it is nice to have when you or others need them. rick

  24. I think the trick, when you edit your stuff/clutter, is to make it look intentional and not empty or bare. Open spaces are beautiful when planned.

  25. We are hoarders! I have so many things that I just don’t want to part with. I have found that these things are keeping me from enjoying life like I should. Parting will be sorrowful for a while, but will give me more space for organization of the things we use daily as opposed to storing things I use rarely or not at all. Thanks for this post!

  26. Stacy Grogan says

    where to begin… :( feeling quite overwhelmed! Praying for contentment and patience to get through.

  27. Cindy Lynn says

    Loved this post; however I have a question others may also be wondering. When selling our beautiful items, such as you have done in the past, how do you go about pricing for those of us who don’t have a blog & have hoards of followers flock to purchase? The items are so much nicer than ‘yard sale’ pieces. How do you sell these nicer items for more than .25 or $1.00? Thanks so much Nester! Cindy Lynn

    • From my experience, I sell most larger and nicer items on Craigslist. Books worth anything get sold on Amazon. The rest is sold at a yard sale. You don’t get much from the yard sales but when sold in bulk you can do pretty well in one day. I also offer things like kitchen items to friends who could use them. I figure I need to get rid of it one way or another, so getting 50 cents is still more than nothing!

  28. I appreciate that you love stuff, have a beautifully decorated home, but still desire a minimalist life. It’s like you are in the same boat with us all. It is a balance of figuring out how much is enough to make our home the way we want it and then having the discipline to get rid of the rest. You truly are an inspiration at this. I give much of my minimalist desire credits to you and your posts. You have brought great light into a home decor blogging world that is obsessed with stuff. I love that post by the Minimalists about organizing and hoarding. I am always reorganizing. When in fact I just need to get rid of the stuff.

  29. This really has been such a great series for me. I’m learning to let go more and be ok with it. WOW, I never thought to call it “organized hoarding”, but it really makes sense. Going to check out your link now and read more. Thanks. :)

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