I did a major KonMari declutter over a year ago, which I regret only because before-and-after photos of the process would have been so great for this blog! Aside from that detail, it was a great experience and I got rid of a ton of things that I didn't really use or need, including my entire DVD and book collections (and associated shelving); a totally superfluous desk; a huge portion of my wardrobe (though I've built up a lot since then); and some hobby supplies that I, admittedly, regret, but don't mind the opportunity to build from scratch. While my current room doesn't exactly match my big dreams about the ideal furniture layout in my ideal (small) home, it's definitely much nicer than it was before: big and light and airy, where it used to feel dark and cramped and cavelike.
Most of my subsequent decluttering has been at a maintenance level: getting rid of things I've since acquired, or which I wasn't ready to part with at the time, which I don't use as often as I thought I would, or which simply escaped my notice the first time around. Last weekend I did my first mini-round since starting the blog. It only took a few minutes.
My eye fell, for some reason, on the space above the cabinets where we've been keeping extra jars and things. They'd long since become part of the landscape, but I decided it was time to question these things.
The white box at the far right was full of cookie cutters. Most of these were acquired just before Christmas two years ago, when I decided I'd make a ton of gingerbread cookies. Between gifts and impulse purchases at the local kitchen store--which has a very tempting selection of supercute cookie cutters--I suddenly went from owning one cookie cutter (an octopus I'd gotten as a gift-with-donation from an ocean charity) to owning seventeen.
I didn't even remember I had many of these, and I'm sure I never used them all. Last Christmas, I didn't even make any gingerbread cookies. It turns out I don't really like the kind of cookie you cut into shapes. I prefer ugly, lumpy cookies packed with nuts and fruit and chunks of chocolate. I feel like when you make dough for its appearance and structural properties, the taste suffers. As cute and joy-inspiring as my cookie cutter collection was, it was time to admit that it wasn't practical for me to own seventeen cookie cutters when I never want to eat that kind of cookie. I decided to give these to a family that has children.
Next, it was time to make a decision on the red teacups.
My parents gave us four place settings of these cheerful red dishes as our housewarming present when we moved into our current house, and it was none too soon because at my old apartment, my wife and I had been eating off the same plate. These eight-ounce teacups and saucers were the only part of the set that we didn't really use. We drink tea a lot, but we tend to make one cup at a time in our larger mugs. We did occasionally use these cups as tiny bowls for small snacks like nuts and raisins, but it was mostly because they were there. We put them up above the cabinet as part of an experiment to see if we missed them, and we apparently didn't. They're moving onto to their new home today.
Next, we considered our mason jars.
It goes without saying that we love mason jars. We're crunchy granola types; of course we love mason jars, often as storage for our crunchy granola. But we had an awful lot of them. Even while using a number of mason jars already all over the house, we had a dozen empty jars in assorted sizes just sitting above the cabinets. We've decluttered mason jars before and wound up disgruntled because we subsequently needed them to store new foods and DIY projects. The collection of pantry items we have now is by no means the end-all be-all of what we'll always need, especially considering we're still learning how to cook and make our own personal care supplies. But, we decided to go down to no more than two of each size (and no, wide-mouth quart and regular mouth quart don't count as two different sizes!)
Amongst the jars, we had a pair of red metal canisters. These matched a larger pair which we were using to store dry beans and rice. We really like them, since they're reasonably airtight but easy to open, close, and get stuff in and out of. Croissant's brilliant idea was to take some of the dry goods we were currently storing in mason jars and move them into the empty canisters. That way we'd be using them instead of storing them empty on top of the cabinet "in case we ever needed them." We needed them already!
It's one of those ideas you don't know why you didn't have before. I guess because the canisters, along with everything else on top of the cabinets, had become part of the landscape: dormant, inert objects, not items to be potentially used. But they're much happier, I think, being used.
This is one of the brilliant surprises of decluttering: you don't have to get rid of everything. Just moving things around can help you come up with more sensible, joy-sparking configurations. When you force yourself to stop just storing things and either use them or get rid of them, sometimes you actually do use them!
I was going to wrap up here, but at the last moment, I decided to declutter one last thing. Right up until the writing of this post, I'd decided to keep a glass vase which we once hastily got at Goodwill to accommodate the impulse purchase of a bouquet of spring flowers. Even though we haven't used the vase in awhile, spring is coming! What if we got more spring flowers? I don't want to discourage that! It wasn't until I was reviewing the photos of mason jars that I suddenly realized that, duh, we could use mason jars as vases. We both would prefer it, actually. Gotta love that millennial DIY look!
In the end, we didn't totally clear our above-cabinet space, but it went from "unruly storage jumble" to "manageable jar collection."
I hope this post has inspired your next mini-declutter. Or put you gently to sleep. Or made your head tingle pleasantly, like the silent reading equivalent of ASMR. Either way, I've done my job.