Wellbeing

The art of clearing your home | Advice from an Artist

April 9, 2016

There is so much irony in this post I barely know where to start.

Firstly, if you haven’t already gathered from the blog, I like to think of myself as a free bird despite the fact that I have a mortgage, a business, two children with another on the way and I own a car.

Look at my pinterest boards and see my ever longing desire to travel.

I love to see the world and I love to bring my husband and kids along for the ride.

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My son walking to work jobs at camp in upstate New York last Summer where I was the head of the horse riding programme.

 

So, my sudden urge to settle into home life (at the grand age of 32 – 33 in two weeks for those that care) albeit fuelled I am sure by the impending baby in my swollen belly, is something out of the ordinary .

I have always been a fan of interior design and enjoy how my home looks,

(I have been known to clear or tidy a room and then simply walk in and out of it unnecessarily over the next lot of days, just to embrace the feel of the place.)

Our hallway with my Dad’s old stereo and the only pair of curtains I have ever made.

So it isn’t *entirely* surprising that I have got the bit between my teeth

and wanted to fall in love with my home all over again- but you see my point about the travelling and the itchy feet and the unsettled vibes? Sorry If I lost you along the way.

The other ironic side to this post is that I am an artist who sells art to decorate walls,

YOUR walls to be exact yet here I am telling you to cut back and strip back your life for clear space.

I can argue quickly against this point though by telling you that I still decorate walls myself.

Just with less stuff.

And I heavily encourage you to do the same.

Side note- Why not enjoy the colours and unique prints I have on offer IN MY PRINT SHOP that would go BEAUTIFULLY with your walls a week from now after you read below and get gutting. *wink wink*

Lastly and not majorly relevant is

that as a painter it has never been my instinctive style to keep things minimalist. As you are well aware minimalism is quite literally an art form.

I love to layer and even during study I quickly learned that I was more collage (which means to glue) than I was minimalist.

Saying that I have become more refined with my layering

and often find works like my pheasant print made with a palette, a mixing board and my own mixed paints are enough without the usual scribbles I put on top of them.

My special edition pheasant print can be bought here

My special edition pheasant print can be bought here

 

Nonetheless I will revel in the irony for now and stand by my love for placing importance on the everyday which inevitably crosses into the realm of making sure the things you have in your everyday vision inspire you.

So, let’s get started.

I have mentioned Joshua Becker before and his book “The more of less” which is good place to start.

Johsua Becker is a one of  a “loosely speaking” team of guys who are the minimalists . These guys believe you can strive forward with your success in all areas of your life – work, family, etc by stripping back the materialism in your life.

Their website even says

“Minimalism simply allows you to make these decisions more consciously, more deliberately.”

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Our downstairs toilet with cheap but beaut vinyl floor and ikea storage top of the picture which houses stray toothbrushes and spare bog rolls

I love this idea and I totally believe it.

The less I have to overcrowd me, the better I am at making decisions on everyday things. Right down to what I pack my kids for lunch.

If my shopping list (see my whole food list here ) is clean and simple

then I know what to put my hands to – fruit, veg, a sandwich or wrap and a dairy product. No fuss.

Think about when you land on a website for the first time. If it is bombarding you with flashing lights, words and content and you don’t know where to navigate. Then you’ll bounce right off that site and head to another simpler one- I’m working on my own homepage so stay tuned for the new slicker look launching next week.

My friend Rebekah who I mention here oftenOn Trekking Towards Minimalism (1)

because she is a pretty inspiring soul, says about wardrobe dieting which in my opinion is another form of clearing out and embracing minimalism ;

“…from my experience of tipping my toes into my version of minimalism or simplicity, I’ve found it frees up some soul space. When we strip it down to the basics, we become more aware of what’s important to us, what our true preferences are…whereas, when we’re bogged down with loads of clutter, stuff or choices we often don’t have the eyes to see these things or the energy to pursue what we love. It’s like it magically releases this sense of… now it’s play-time! “

See Rebekah’s gorgeous statement jewellery and everyday accessories  here

So where do we start  to clear out spaces?

My feelings on this rest between Marie Kondo of The life changing method of tidying up and Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness project (which my photographer friend Janine Boyd gave me four years ago) ;

If it doesn’t bring you joy throw it away / pass it on and don’t keep it unless you actually need it.

Basically, start with the obvious objects right in front of your eyes that don’t serve you any longer.

If you really don’t know where to start at all, why not go top to bottom.

Maybe a one room clear out is enough for your personality type.

I reckon a garage or a roof space is a great place to see the things that you don’t use often stare at you with an unwanted vibe hanging about them.

An over crowded “busy” space like the garage or top bedroom in the house will naturally help you as

there will be SO many ‘things’ in your face loaded with material crap that you’ll be pushed to act.

This is a super easy way to get you into the rhythm of it.

We lived at my Mum’s for twenty months after we sold our home and renovated our current one. A few weeks ago I was in her huge roofspace (she lives in a bungalow but the roof is all open with rooms that never quite made renovation status before dad died. As a result there is a HUGE walk in space.)

I felt ill when I waddled up that ladder and saw bags of shoes we never moved across to our house hanging about up there.

SHOES!! Actual shoes that I spent money on and fell in love with at some stage but TOTALLY FORGOT about- sinful.

I think we tend to believe that we know exactly what we buy, when we bought it and how it goes with other items of our wardrobe. BUT that box of heels and trainers I found alarmed me with the reminder that it is possible that

“out of sight means out of mind”.

A sideboard given to us by my husband's family. I painted it four years ago and it lived in the bathroom housing towels. Now it houses books and paperwork and lives on the landing.

A sideboard given to us by my husband’s family. I painted it four years ago and it lived in the bathroom housing towels. Now it houses books and paperwork and lives on the landing, adding colour.

Ok, now you’ve got your room or visualised your space of attack, envision the appearance it will take after you have completed the task.

I remember years ago my friend Tori saying “you have to break an egg to make an omelette“. In other words you won’t see the fruits of your labour until you drudge through the mess. But having a rough idea of how you will strip that room back will keep you motivated.

Be realistic about your choices

though bearing in mind that the rummage you get to do through the bags or the cupboard, the hall, stairs and landing is an opportunity to revive golden nuggets that served you once before and can do so again.

I love nothing more than a good find amidst the junk.

HOWEVER do NOT spend all day there!

I know you all too well- you will sit with that bin liner open and all the photos around you with the candle stick holder that the kids chipped and the fourteen pairs of dirty cheap flip flops you’ve collected over the years stacked in a pile instead of in the bin bag.

You’re STALLING! Sorry for shouting, but in order to get this stuff cleared you must keep yourself hydrated, take breaks, put food in your tummy then approach with a clear mind and a realistic heart.

Being sentimental is perfectly fine and encouraged but don’t dwell.

If you do dwell and that is just your nature – have good boxes to hand that can organise and hold the shizzle that you simply cannot part with.

Savour the moment.

Like the hippy visualistaion of your chosen room above (it can be seconds if you wish) , take a moment to admire the fruits of your labour as you are doing the clear out.

Following on from my point about those birthday cards from 1993 that you just can’t quite let go of –

Use storage more efficiently

I have a thing for pretty cardboard or wooden boxes. You will find them scattered throughout my house and often with very little in them. Same thing with notebooks. I love decorative notebooks yet there is little to nothing written in them.

Last year I bought a filo fax which, cost me a fortune. Looked great at meetings with clients and prospective companies. But there was frig all in it!

What a waste!

Don’t be like me.

The recent clear out in our house showed me that if I just used furniture more efficiently after I clear out the unused books or paperwork , I had little to no need for floating boxes.

Apart from using them to segregate areas inside of shelved units, to house (organised) paperwork and memories.

Please don’t think that my house is a well oiled machine of minimalism.

The unfinished front room with industrial shelves to store my kids toys and allow easy access. the sofas my Mum's friend kindly gave us, and the plant that reminds me of my Granny.

The unfinished but less cluttered front room with industrial shelves to store my kids’ toys and allow easy access. The two sofas my Mum’s friend kindly gave us, and the plant by the fireside that reminds me of my Granny.

As you can see from the photo above, I have kids and their toys get shoved in the shelves. Plus I have a baby on the way so we all know that cribs, buggies, bouncy chairs, dirty nappy bags and breast pumps will clutter the bare areas real soon.

So here’s the thing,

Go easy on yourself.

Like playing a new sport or learning a craft , clearing out successfully doesn’t always come with the first attempt.

Let it seep into your veins and work its magic as a work in progress.

You won’t regret allowing yourself to go down this path for a clearer mind.

Eventually when you have space for everything and when you know what you have, then life is just a bit simpler and not as overwhelming.

To end the whole discussion,

when really I ought to have started with this-

Another element to my clearing out constantly and trying to utilise all the furniture I have acquired from skips or family members , is because

nothing says “first world problems” like sitting around thinking “I NEED this for my house “

or the simple act of having too much “stuff”.

As referred to before, I have volunteered in third world countries and nothing brings you down to earth more than the reminder people have one room for their six kids. Nothing else.

So, you/we should question if we really need that third bedroom for a third child.

Be charitable.

Use the charity shops rather than trying like a demon to make twenty quid at the clothes for cash store. Send sweatshirts and shoes and football kits to the clothes bins so they can go to people who actually need them for their bare skin.

Happy House clearing!

Please let me know how you get on. I am in heaven right now as my house is freshly gutted. I even attacked my studio space just in time for maternity leave.

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My studio donated three car loads of “stuff” to the recycling centre. It now has more space for me to move in and easily accessible work and postage items for print orders.

Don’t forget to sign up to my website alyharte.com

(top right if on a laptop, scroll to the bottom if on a mobile device) and get my FREE ebook recipe.

It has had hundreds of downloads since Monday which makes me so happy.

There is a smoothie, granola, lunch idea (with vegan/veggie alternative) and juice in the ebook.

 

8 Comments

  • Reply creative pixie April 9, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Great work. I really need to clear out my house…we have too much stuff.

    • Reply Aly April 10, 2016 at 9:06 am

      thanks so much for your comment! Also, are you a member of DL? I noticed in your post yesterday. I had just left yoga class there! Maybe see you around. Shamefully love that place

      • Reply creative pixie April 10, 2016 at 9:17 am

        Yes we’re members of DL, trying to get fitter (slowly but getting there). My girls love it there, they would spend every day in the swimming pool if they were allowed. What’s the yoga class like, I’ve thought about going but am a total beginner so maybe it’s too advanced for me.

        • Reply Aly April 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm

          That’s super! I am in love with the place and totally get our moneys worth. Kids also adore the pool and my hubby doesn’t mind spending hours throwing a ball back and forth to them!! Let me know what having the party i there is like, money wise etc. As far as the kids clubs etc go they are on point. That yoga class I went to was more flow and was tough but I used to practice it before pregnancy. All of the teachers are so good at giving different variations though so definitely sign up!

  • Reply Lesley Robinson April 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Very timely post Aly. Have been cleaning out the kitchen cupboards – how many Pyrex bowls does a girl need? Charity shops of Bangor restocked. Kids toys here I come…

    • Reply Aly April 12, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      Sorry for the delay. Brilliant! As you can see from the photos I still need to gutt the lads toys but bless them, I am always throwing away or giving to charity thrones they never look at. By the way, had I known you had pyrex bowls I would have been all over those!! I only have one and would love another! Thanks for read and comment

  • Reply Janet April 26, 2017 at 3:25 am

    Great piece Aly. The last number of months in work have been crazy busy & coming home to a jam packed house made life overwhelming. Easter holidays saw a huge operation of clearing out. Not done yet but almost feel cleansed. Although with 4 boys, the fight against stuff is never ending. But you have to start somewhere. Mine has begun, yeah!

    • Reply Aly May 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Yes! It can be such a juggle and we are so hard on ourselves. Sorry for the delay on replying. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! Happy Sunday x

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