Friday, June 20, 2014

Nuts and Bolts of decluttering (plus Nails and Screws, too)

It has long been my theory that what makes our homes so messy and cluttered is not all the stuff we see lying around; it's the stuff we don't see.  The dirty socks on the floor are on the floor because we actually wore those socks.  The laundry basket of clean laundry is an homage to a wardrobe that is well appreciated.

No, it's the rest of the clothes, the ones crammed into the back of our closets and dressers, that are the hidden problem.  It's the t-shirts we don't wear that make it hard for us to find the blouse we do like; the mis-matched socks and not-quite-right bras that take up all the space in our drawers (so to speak).  The mess that we can't see is not only what makes it hard to find the things we actually like, but it is also what makes it hard to find the space to put away the stuff we often use.

And so, now that summer gives me a bit of breathing room, I've spent a bunch of this week working with N-son to perform the magic trick of making the evil invisible objects appear before our very eyes, in hopes of making them disappear for good.

One major task was a cabinet that held assorted hardware pieces.  Ooof.  I don't have "before" picture to show you; you can use your imagination.  (I googled "messy hardware shelf" and didn't see anything as bad as mine!)   The work-bench area of my garage was such a mess of dirt and dangerous objects (nails and sawdust and random tools), that instead of working there in the garage, I boxed up all the hardware supplies from the cabinet and brought them into the dining room for sorting.
I set N-son to the task of sorting the hardware.  To make it easier to see what was going into each pile, I used pre-cycled paper (the back of flyers, etc) to write a description and picture of each category of thing.  This allowed us to spread things out in visible, well-labeled piles over a large open space.
We had a special bin for "Rusted, Bent, and Broken" nails and screws -- those will go to a guy I know who recycles scrap metal for money.  I also tried hard to cull excess hardware; I'll donate it to Habitat Re-Store, which is like Goodwill or Salvation Army, except for building supplies.
 As for the rest of it, the stuff I actually want to keep for future use, I took a tip from Erica of NorthWest Edible -- she organizes her spices in canning jars in a drawer.  Spices and hardware are sort of the same, right?  So I put my nails, etc in canning jars . . .
 . . . but instead of canning lids, I used paper.  It's easy to draw on, so I could label the contents of each jar easily.  Some objects (like "toggle bolts") have such weird names I just drew pictures.
 And here are the jars in a drawer right next to my hardware shelf.  MUCH MUCH neater.

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