Settling In

Settling In

by Sheila Schofer

I moved into a new old house recently. It feels good to settle further into my chosen home town of Ames in a more permanent way, after years of NYC apartment living. I bought an older home, an aesthetic that speaks to me; I was recalling to a colleague recently that I’d had a clawfoot bathtub in nearly every place I’d lived since graduating from college.

Older homes come with interesting layouts, smaller closets and storage challenges though. Plus, moving homes forces you to confront your stuff.  I had parted ways with many items when I moved across county almost 3 years ago, but as I settle in, I realize I have continued to acquire more clothes, jewelry and “stuff”. While I enjoy having fashion options and bling to accessorize, at this point in my life having a clean space that flows and is not crowded means more to me than having too many material things.

Decluttering and organizing can be daunting, so I arm myself with research. Queue the websites, YouTube videos and of course library books.

Here is what has been helping me right-size my belongings and set up an organization system I can maintain:

Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”: An international bestseller, this book focuses on organizing things by category—clothing, books, paper, sentimental items, and komono or miscellaneous items. The key to this method is pulling all like items out into one sorting space, going through and touching each item and deciding what to keep based on what items spark joy. The idea of keeping joyful items is an appealing approach and seeing piles of your items can be the reality check you need to take action. The book and related Netflix series has given me inspiration and helped me develop some impressive clothes folding techniques while I continue to explore a more curated approach to my belongings.

If pulling all of your items out into one space feels daunting, and you’re worried that you may create more of a mess than you can tackle in a realistic time frame, then Dana White’s “Decluttering at the Speed of Life” may be a better fit. This bestselling book brings humor and realism into helping readers find practical solutions. This may be a good choice if you have a pattern of keeping items “just in case” and can help you build declutter momentum by starting with the easy stuff first.

Cassandra Aarssen’s “Clutterbug” YouTube channel was a revelation too.  Cas maintains that organizing is not one size fits all. Some folks prefer details while others are big-picture thinkers.  Some like to see their things displayed while others want them tucked neatly away. You can find out what kind of Clutterbug you are by taking her quiz, listening to her podcast or watching her videos.

In taking the quiz, I realize that I am a Butterfly, a macro, visual organizer. Which helped me understand why some more detailed and out-of-sight organization methods don’t work as well for me personally. 

More of a visual person? Consider this charming and inspiring book “Keep What You Love: A Visual Decluttering Guide” by Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst and illustrated by Lottie Dirks. Illustrations of everyday clutter culprits are presented with simple yes or no check boxes to help motivate you in a subtle way to stick to your decluttering goals.

These are just few of the many items on decluttering available at the library.   I encourage you to come browse our collection to find more books that speak to you. 

If visualizing your home in new ways is the inspiration you need, grab some colorful options like “Dwell” or “House Beautiful” from our ample print magazine collection and check out the online magazines too. I browsed the home decorating collection area for “Better Homes and Gardens New Cottage Style” and “Country Living Salvage Style” by Lesley Linsley for ideas for an older home, and “Soul Space: Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life: by Xorin Balbes to pull it all together.

Check them out and get your spring cleaning and decluttering plan prepared!