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Let’s Purge!: Love your home by being intentional with what you keep in your home

July 5, 2021  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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Today kicks off our CLJ Summer School where we’re focusing on How to Fall in Love with Your home in 30 days! (see the full calendar right here!) This first week we’ll be talking about purging, cleaning and organizing because loving your home starts with being intentional with what you allow and keep in your home.

Lately, I’ve had to make so many decisions about what furniture and things we’re bringing into our new home. I’ve found myself asking the same question over and over again. “Would I buy this couch again for the new house or did I just love it because it worked in our last house or did I just like it because it took up space?” In other words: Did I love it because I LOVED it, or did I just like it because it worked? I’m in a fairly new relationship with this house, and it’s been a tad rocky so far with the floors being ripped up, the kitchen demo-ed, walls and tray ceilings removed, SNAKES in the crawl space. So to nurture the relationship early on, I’m being really intentional about bringing in things that are beautiful, essential, but ideally both. We’re consciously choosing everything from the stain-in-place floors we had installed, down to the color of the kitchen scrubber we will wash our dishes with (once we finally have a kitchen to do dishes in).

In any relationship, it’s important to let go of things that are no longer serving you and the relationship. Maybe you’ve been in your home for just a short while, or maybe you’ve lived in your home for years, but let’s decide today to treat it like it’s the beginning of something new. With that being said, it’s time to address the physical baggage in your home. You know what I’m talking about–all the clutter that’s been getting in the way of enjoying your home, things that no longer work or things that you have been holding on to as place holders.

It’s easier said than done, and I’m in no way a decluttering guru like Marie Kondo, but I have a few little practices in my life that are worth sharing:

When it comes to Purging…

1. Keep what is beautiful to you.

I’ll share it every time, but I think William Morris had it right when he said…

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

After all, who wouldn’t want to be surrounded only by the things they love the very most? Such a good thought, and I really try to keep this in mind when I’m making decisions. But in all honesty, I’ve been guilty of hanging onto things I don’t love. A lamp that’s not quite right for an end table because I don’t have another. Curtains that are just meh. Even art that feels “just okay.” It’s time to be a bit ruthless though. If it doesn’t make me swoon, then it’s not coming into my new house. In relationship terms, this is about respecting your home by not overcrowding it or filling its empty corners with just stuff.

2. No more placeholders. 

I used to hold onto things as place holders (okay, I still do this sometimes haha) — almost-there substitutions to hold me over while I hunt for the PERFECT frame/vase/plant/chair. In my last house I had these golden vases sitting on the shelving in the office. They were taking up space, collecting dust, and I feel like moving really gave me the permission to let them go since they didn’t make my heart sing. Think of the space in your home as precious real estate. You’re going to be leasing out space in your home to rugs, furniture, lighting, art, not to mention all the non-decor items, and you should think of that space as precious. Your home already serves you so much by providing you with comfort and a place to live your life; Don’t overburden it more than it has capacity for.

3. Give yourself permission.

Sometimes you feel like you need permission to get rid of something you’ve been holding onto. Moving really did that for me, but I realized I had the permission all along. If you’re worried about being wasteful, remember, the waste was made when you bought something you didn’t love, NOT when you decided to get rid of it. Regardless, you have permission to pass on something that you don’t love–even if it’s was a gift or an heirloom (in the case of an heirloom, reach out to family to see if someone else would like it “Hey! Grandma’s dresser isn’t working in our house anymore, would anyone else like it?”) If it’s not enhancing your life or serving a purpose then it’s time to toss, sell, or donate. And you know what they say… “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” or as I like to say, “one woman’s ‘trash’ is another woman’s Facebook Marketplace treasure hunt!”

Keeping things because you don’t want the money you spent to go to waste, shouldn’t be a reason to keep them around. Especially these days where selling things has never been easier, but for as long as we’ve been married, I’ve been selling things we no longer love, want or need to help fund our next purchase.

Here are a few things that you can rapid-fire purge

(I have found these are quick and satisfying and really gets the ball rolling on other purge-fests!)

  1. Soaps, shampoos, lotions you tried a couple times and probably won’t use again
  2. Old makeup (it’s not even sanitary to use any more)
  3. Expired or unwanted food
  4. Condiments
  5. Medication
  6. Nail polish you don’t love
  7. Clothes you haven’t worn in 6 months (if you went a whole winter without wearing that sweater, you probably won’t wear it next winter either)
  8. Clothes that no longer fit. (If you expect to fit into them again, at least store them.)
  9. Gift bags and wrap
  10. Markers – Have your kids test all the markers that no longer work!
  11. Tupperware that’s missing its match
  12. Cords you NEVER use
  13. Toys your kids don’t touch

Organizing

Organizing is the thing that if you do it once effectively, then it’s going to make cleaning a breeze every time. It’s, honestly, the gateway to a clean house. I get asked all the time how we keep things so tidy all the time. Well first of all, we do this for a living, but second, everything in our house has its’ own home. I can tidy a room in 5 minutes because I know where everything goes, give it a little surface clean and it’s photo-ready. Junk drawers and catch-alls might feel unavoidable, but make a routine of going through those things.

Another word of advice I’ll give is to rethink where things typically go. Your life and home is different than anyone else’s, so customize where things go, based on how you live your life. I have a whole skincare regimen and I actually keep my facial cloths in the drawer with all my product, NOT in the towel drawer 5 steps away. It’s a simple re-think of putting like-things together, and storing things together based on purpose and routine.

I also revolutionized cleaning the bathrooms in our home with a simple adjustment. I’m obviously being a little dramatic, but I put a caddy of cleaning supplies in each bathroom so when it was time to clean the bathrooms, I didn’t have to walk downstairs, grab the supplies, carry them upstairs and shuffle them from bathroom to bathroom. Boom. Changed everything. I realized I was more willing to spot-clean throughout the day as well because the bathrooms all had what they needed within arms reach.

Set some clear expectations with yourself and your family about putting things back when you’re finished with it so it doesn’t become clutter.

Cleaning

Cleaning is the physical touch in the relationship. It’s not everybody’s favorite, but it’s essential in building a strong connection with your home. There’s typically two types of cleaners: surface cleaners and deep cleaners. I’m more of a surface cleaner so I hire out the deep cleaning, and focus more on the every day wiping. You don’t have to do it all! It’s okay to delegate things you don’t want to do, or don’t have time to do. Hire it out, or teach your kids how to pitch in.

Once you have a home for everything, cleaning becomes easier when you do a little bit every day and have rules and systems around it–dishes need to be washed and loaded every night before you enjoy a show and a snack, or bathroom sink gets wiped down every night after you brush your teeth.

Everything’s better when you make it fun too, am I right? Light a candle, put in your airpods and listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook to keep your mind occupied.

Honestly, you might not ever enjoy cleaning, but maybe you might try to shift your perspective a bit. Your home deserves some tender love and affection, so grab a toilet scrubber and show some appreciation to your home for all its’ hard work.

 

What do you think?

  1. Jennifer says:

    Loved this post! Going through this myself as I type. It’s so liberating and I honestly feel lighter with every object removed. But, thanks for the confirmation it always makes you feel a little better to commiserate.

  2. Abby says:

    Just loaded up my car with crap I don’t need to take it to Goodwill! This feels good.

  3. Nissa says:

    Absolutely loved this post! The way you spoke about the topic comparing it to the stages of a relationship was genius. I took a screen shot of your purge list and am so inspired ❤️

  4. Joy says:

    Such great ideas .. thank you.

  5. Lynell Jones says:

    I love your ideas!!!!!! They are so doable…even with my “borderline hoarder disorder” husband.

  6. Jennifer Boyer says:

    I love this perspective and could help me like cleaning a bit better. I really need to work on getting a place for everything. It feels so overwhelming in this house and I get stuck.

  7. Beth Hood says:

    Loved the article! Starting tomorrow with one of the items. Master bath area!!

  8. Lee Ann says:

    One of the best parts of purging your home of all that “stuff” is that straightening up and cleaning is MUCH easier if the drawers and closets aren’t packed with so much that you can’t put anything away!

  9. Donna says:

    As trivial as it sounds, I finally spent a few minutes purging my clothing drawers! By tossing old bras and panties, socks, last year’s bathing suits, and worn out tshirts, I gained so much space for a few new purchases and was able to organize everything! Purging feel like I lost a few pounds!

  10. Melanie says:

    Wonderful ideas!! I’m headed home to begin organizing and cleaning!

  11. Ellen says:

    I would love to have the space in my 1930’s Dutch Colonial to store cleaning supplies
    in the bathrooms, or even anywhere CLOSE to the bathrooms.
    Older homes are a completely different project. Typically lacking in closet and storage space,
    and usually much smaller square footage overall than large modern homes = VERY challenging!

    • Mary says:

      I can relate! I just keep a thing of cleaning wipes in my bathroom so I at least have that. These older homes just don’t have the storage space so only having what you need is really the only way!

  12. Becky K says:

    Some kind words for those who may be struggling with the idea that that let should be purging everything in their homes that they don’t absolutely love. We’re in the process of moving from a small rental to our new home. Of course we’re purging what no longer serves us, but we’re also keeping a lot of “good enough” items with the idea that they’ll be replaced as budget and time allows…like within the next decade. (I hope!) This is the reality, I believe, for the majority…at least the majority of people I know in real life. We can still love our home and the way it serves and protects us, even when it isn’t exactly as we want it to be. (Much like the way we love ourselves and those closest to us.) It’s a work in progress. ❤️

    Looking forward to the rest of this series!

  13. Sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing! Today is my first day of maternity leave and I’ve been so busy working hard to finish strong at work, my husband did the basics to manage our home and care for our kids. Now I’m ready for us to start the nesting process of getting things ready for baby’s arrival, and cleaning & resetting our home!

  14. Sherry says:

    Though I can appreciate your point about not just hanging on to the old things but getting new things which fit or you like better for a new space…for most people it is unaffordable to flip through furniture at the rate of every few years. My sofa is 25 years old. It was a one-time (after 20 years of marriage finally a new sofa) splurge I saved for over many years and was quality-made so as to be a good investment. I cannot afford to buy another one. I had it customer slipcovered a few years ago in an effort to make do with what I had. Sometimes affordability is the top priority.

    • Lee Ann says:

      Sherry, this is a perfect example of the importance of buying quality, taking care of what you have, and using it with love. This is exactly what everyone needs to think about when buying “fast fashion” (clothes or home). The better investment is exactly what you describe. Well done!

  15. Kimberly says:

    I always remind myself that organized clutter is still clutter. Love your little suggestion list for purging! Heading to the markers/pens right now!

  16. Jennifer says:

    Great post. It reminds me of my favorite post/video of all time that you did which showed how you organized your kitchen drawer by drawer. You have great ideas on how to keep a house running not just smoothly but optimally. I look forward to seeing more organization posts here and on insta too. Thanks again!

  17. Amy C says:

    It took me a long time to adhere to not keeping things just because we spent the money on it. This past year I bought a hand knotted rug for our dining room. It is a beautiful rug, but somehow felt off in the space (couldn’t return because we had it made) and doesn’t seem to work with the rest of the house. I was completely torn as the thing was pricey. We actually ended up putting your Jules Brick/Lagoon rug in the space and it looks wonderful now! Sure, had to let go of the fact we basically wasted the money on the other rug, but had I not, the space would have never felt right.

    • Christina says:

      I’ve been through this exact same scenario.Rugs are a problem..😉I get why designers always start with a rug to jump off of.When you just want a new rug though.I have been known to waste money and travel time to a donation center.

  18. Jessica freda says:

    Wonderful article! Loved it and here for everything you are about to post in this fun “summer school” series! Question for you- what about the gifts you receive from others? Like the pitcher from your mom (who will be looking for it at the next family gathering) or the artwork you wouldn’t have picked for yourself, but your kid’s regular babysitter bought it for you and you know she’ll be looking to see where you put it up in your home? Any suggestions?

  19. Thank you! I found this the perfect time to start a purge…whether it will be possible it entire home or one room, I am excited. Let’s do this 🎉

  20. We just moved to a slightly larger but still smaller than ideal space: we both work frim home and have a baby and a toddler that doesn’t go to preschool until the autumn. It’s a 2-bed apartment (we live in NYC).

    Im good giving things away or tossing them, but finding a GOOD way to give them away is emotionally draining. My husband and I are successful now, but I lived in my car as a young adult so putting something useful in the trash makes me want to barf. The cost of it cluttering my tiny home is STEEP though!

    All this to say, I’m going to try this!

    • Leslie says:

      You should look for your local Buy Nothing group. I was part of one when I lived in NYC. They’re all over the U. S. Google “buy nothing project”.

  21. marie BRADLEY says:

    i have to disagree on throwing out the gift bags. They are usually in great shape once you take a present out of them and soooo overly expensive to buy, so its one thing I def keep and reuse to gift someone a present in. I do only keep the ones I would actually buy myself though

    • Julia says:

      That’s really what I mean. Also, how many do you really need to hold onto?? Every gift bag? Certainly not

  22. Connie Jolay says:

    Loved this post Julia! Although o already do most of these best practices, I am reminded again that if I don’t love it, it has no business being in my home! Wish I’d known that years ago. I would’ve saved so much money buying things just to complete a room. I’ve learned my lesson and now I am much more particular about what comes in, and have no regret about what goes out. Out of sight, out of mind!

  23. Meredith says:

    Love this! My mother-in/law said something the other day about cleaning and it’s so true. Clean when you are in the mood. When I am in the mood, I clean at turbo speed and somewhat enjoy it. For me, a Saturday morning when my daughter is playing with her toys and we are all still in our pajamas, is a great time to clean.

    • Lacy Ellsworth says:

      I’m trying to clean when I’m stressed instead of eat, or just clean when I want to snack. Plus with three littles, half the time I’m stressed the clutter and mess just makes it worse so picking up and getting my tasks done can only help my spirits.

  24. Veronica says:

    Thank you for this amazing post. Reading this made me realize that I don’t have to go crazy with keeping our home clean. I’m already organized (and I’m sure that can use some tweaking) but I always feel overwhelmed with the deep cleaning part. It’s ok to let go and delegate it to others. 😉

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