Elana Safronsky, Managing Editor
Thursday, October 27, 2011 11:26 AM EDT
There are hoarders and then there are the rest of us. Fact is, there are many, many, many of us -- myself included -- who are simply drowning in clutter. When you really dissect a common clutter-clogged household, what you'll probably find is a trifecta of typical causes: we're busy, we're cost conscious and certain kinds of stuff appeals to us -- this sounds like many of us, am I right?
'Before' photos of Christine K.'s home (haha! Ikea baskets! Such a common organizing misconception...)
Though certainly not evil in and of themselves, an unbalanced mixture of these three factors often results in the kind of situation Jill Pollack, host of HGTV's hit show Consumed, is called upon to deal with. And what does Jill do, aside from a lot of proverbial wrist-slapping? Basically get out her HGTV wand: she brings on a massive purge, starts the family on a strict clutter diet by designing an organizing system for their needs, and off they go to the rest of their life with a sparkling-new clean slate.
Problem is, only 12 lucky families get Jill to wield her HGTV magic to help them get back on track. What, I ask again, about the rest of us?
I guess we get off our butts, like Christine K. of 100 things 100 days project. This very tidy looking, attractive wife and mother living on the West Coast, was being consumed by clutter. We found Christine through her blog, which documents her valiant crusade against unnecessary stuff by getting rid of 100 things in 100 days.
Christine K. (left)
That's 10,000 things. Who even has 10,000 things??? Do a box of paper clips count for 80? Where does all the stuff go? While it may sound extreme (trust me, we shared quite a few emails at the office, trying to make the numbers add up), after getting in touch with Christine, she seemed anything but.
This is Christine's story...
"One day about six months ago I realized that I was losing the war on clutter. I was fed up with the hours I spent looking for my keys, stray socks, pickles, toy parts, you name it. I would exhaust myself organizing a room or two every three months but the clutter never seemed to stay put. Because we live in a large house It didn't occur to me that too much stuff could be our problem.
About six months ago I was on holiday with my family, when I realized how great it was to live with a tiny fraction of our stuff. We did less searching, less laundry, less tidying, less cleaning, even less fighting! When we returned I let go of my ideas about organizing and just start getting rid of things. I slung three bags over my arm -- toss, donate and recycle -- and simply cruised around the house looking for things to purge.
Christine K.'s home
It was surprisingly easy. That first day I filled those bags, plus armfuls more, collecting about one hundred things. It felt amazing. I felt like a homeowner again rather than the housemaid of clutter.
I wondered what it would be like if I collected 100 things everyday until the house was clutter free, and so I started my blog, 100 things 100 days, to track my progress.
I'm three quarters of the way through now and I've touched on things I never anticipated, such as how to eradicating mould, how long to keep financial records and how to deal with family members who are clutterers too. I've found a place for more than 7,500 things, learned about recycling beyond the blue bin, and discovered a whole community of like-minded declutterers.
With 2,500 things to go, it's getting harder to find 100 things to get rid of each day, but the rewards are not diminishing. Whether I'll run out of things before the 100 days is up is yet to be determined, but should I fall short, my neighbours have all graciously offered up their storage closets and basements! "
Interested to find out more? Stay tuned for an interview with Christine tomorrow on Style Sheet, in which we try to get to the bottom of how the clutter got the better of her, and get a few war stories of some of her more unsavoury finds!