Thursday, February 16, 2012

Abracadabra and Alakazam! - Two Magic Words to Clear Out Clutter

Clutter busting is hard to do this time of year in northern Illinois.  I'm relying on money from the sale of our clutter to help fix things up, so just dropping stuff off at Goodwill is not an option.  Enter my two magic words for clutter removal: consignment and Craigslist.  (I totally avoid eBay unless it's something I know will sell much higher there - I hate to deal with shipping.)

I already consign my better quality kids clothes as they are outgrown, and that helps soften the blow of buying new clothes for three.  This is a topic I will cover further in a future post: due to the nature of clothing consignment (seasonal), it creates a bit of its own clutter while I'm waiting to take it in.  For today, I will focus on the area of hobby hijinks.  Whether you're a quilter with a fabric stash, or a sports lover with an ever-growing collection of your favorite team's memorabilia, it's not quite so fun anymore when it starts outgrowing your space.

For those of you who don't know me, I am a heavy-duty paper crafter and a direct sales consultant for Close To My Heart (a scrapbooking and stamping company).  As such, there is always something new I "have to have", but even with a separate room for my craftiness, things tend to get out of control.  Lucky for me, there is a craft consignment sale in the area a couple of times a year where I can clear out the old to make more room.  No matter what your hobby, if you live in a more heavily populated area, there is probably a consignment sale or group "garage sale" where you can sell a few things.  Google is your best friend when trying to find a consignment store or sale organizer - start searching!

If you can't find a consignment option, my favorite "wider net" is Craigslist.  It's regional, free to list items, and no shipping required!  There is one caveat when selling through Craigslist though.  If you are not comfortable having buyers come to your residence, you will need to arrange to meet somewhere.  I suggest a highly trafficked location where there will be plenty of people able to see you.  I personally think a McDonald's parking lot is a good option: there are always people there, and there are lots of windows where people inside can see out.

So, here's my current problem: I've spread out so much in the craft room, that it's nearly impossible to get into the closet.  The closet is a bit weird, as it's narrow and deep, so you have to walk in to get to anything.  I've had this tall drawer storage for a while, but when I moved things around it wound up almost blocking the door.  And since I had a hanging organizer thing hanging on the door, it was really hard to get in & out.  So my goal was to get rid of both the drawers and the hanging storage.

I cleared out a bunch of crafty stuff, plus some sewing things from upstairs, and got it priced & tagged for the consignment sale.  I reorganized, consolidated, and eliminated, and happily have both items out of the craft room now for a much cleaner space. There's always a little more to do in here, since I regularly USE things in here, they always have to be put away & kept organized!  But at least now I can get in the closet where I keep the yarn, cross stitch stuff, and miscellaneous craft supplies.  Look how nice & organized it is in there!  And the way is clear to get in.

I also made a visit to Ikea and spent about $13.  I needed to get my paper punches out of their drawers, because I had to dig through piles to find the one I wanted, and it was a pain to get them all back in again.  I've seen many people post about storing their punches on the Bygel towel rails from Ikea, so I went the same route and bought 2.  I also bought 2 of the wire baskets that hang from the rails, and a pack of the hooks to hang random things.  That punch assist tool on the far right end always took up a lot of room in a drawer, but it takes up a narrow space on the wall hanging from a hook.

OK, now I'm all ready to drop off my stuff to that consignment sale!  Here's my pile, waiting to be loaded in the van:
Wish me luck!!

Shopping List for Ikea:
  • Bygel Rail, 2 @ $2.99 - $5.98
  • Bygel Wire Basket, 2 @ $1.99 - $3.98
  • Bygel S-hook, $.99
Total Expense: $10.95 (plus tax), about $13

Total income?  We'll find out soon!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Our Story

We are the parents of three kids with lots of clutter, and we've had enough. Inspired by the original Clean House series from The Style Network, we are taking back our clean house one room at a time! Like most people, we can't have a crew come in and help us finish this enormous project in a week, so we are on our own. I plan to document all of this foolishness removal in the hopes of 1)keeping us accountable and invested in this project and 2)helping others wanting to conquer this same problem without going broke in the process.

So, here's a little about us and what causes our clutter:
  • Lori - I work part-time outside the home, run a business from home, do work as a craft designer, and am a professional crafter (I sell stuff I make - well, I'm supposed to anyway).  The Husband and I share household duties depending on who is home, but I tend to get stuck with bathrooms and any kid-related laundry most of the time.   My contribution to the madness is that what happens in the craft room doesn't always stay in the craft room, and I tend to forgo things like unloading the dishwasher in favor of crafting.
  • The Husband - TH works full-time outside of the home, coaches soccer Spring & Fall, and helps out with Scouts.  He's a pretty handy guy to have around, as he has tools and knows how to use them, and he tends to get stuck with yucky stuff like replacing garbage disposals and sump pumps, and outside stuff like mowing the lawn.  (I think I need to start helping with that last item this year - time to get a little more exercise!)  His contribution to the madness is huge collections of Matchbox cars and train cars, feeding the kiddos' addictions to Lego and video games, and being less than willing to get rid of things like books.
  • Big Sister - Currently a 5th-grader with a unique but picky sense of style, a huge artistic streak, and involvement in Girl Scouts.  Currently responsible for cleaning her own room, two days a week cat duty, and other jobs as assigned - generally things like unloading dishwasher, picking up kid bathroom, cleaning up the book area, etc.  No major duties yet.  Her contribution to the madness is art supplies & finished projects, random papers left wherever they fall, and the apparent inability to ever put away a bag or box of food.  And an attitude.
  • Little Sister - Currently a 3rd-grader with a voice as big as her personality, the desire to have it ALL, and involvement in Girl Scouts.  Currently responsible for cleaning her own room, two days a week cat duty, and other duties as assigned (see above).  Her contribution to the madness is the fact that she is a clothes horse - she may change her clothes 3 or 4 times a day, and every item she takes off winds up on the floor.  Somewhere.  It is also like pulling teeth to get her to pick up in her room.
  • The Boy - Currently a first-grader with an attitude and a big mouth, a love of cooking & baking, and involvement in Tiger Scouts.  If the weather is decent he will be found outside with friends; if not, he's playing video games, building Lego creations, or helping make chocolate chip cookies.  Currently responsible for cleaning his own room (his is pretty clean most of the time), two days a week cat duty, and other duties as assigned (see above).  His contribution to the madness is the aforementioned Legos (definitely not his alone), the inability to hang up a wet towel to dry, and the inability to pick up a dirty dish or empty juice box without being told. 
While we are generally not as bad as the people you have seen on TV, I am currently unable to walk across the floor in our loft/playroom because it is wall-to-wall Legos and Little Pet Shop.  We have some big problem areas, and it's not due to lack of space - we do have 3500 sq. feet finished - it's partially due to poor design and bad organization.  Of course it's also due in some part to laziness on all of our parts; who wants to put away laundry or dishes when you could be scrapbooking?!  (Or whatever that hobby is...)  So my main goal in this big project is to make things easier to take care of by getting rid of things we don't need or use, and to better organize what we have.

I hope you'll follow along as I share my plans and actual results from this project!  Since we live in the Chicago area, a yard sale is impossible until Spring, so many projects will have to wait for that warmer weather.  But I can't wait to start sharing my plans and some before/after results.  Stick around and see what happens!