Readers Stories – Decluttering

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Do a quick count of how many PORTIONS you have of various foodstuffs – I think you’ll be shocked. I just did a count of protein portions in my small freezer compartment on top of my fridge (fridge is 5′ high by 28″ wide so considered to be an apt. sized unit here) – I had 120 portions! I do use bins to help organize even in there.
I may only have 25 cans of fruit but each can represents at least 4 portions so 100 in total. I think doing this first may help. I know that Patrick sometimes eats with you and sometimes your daughter is there so perhaps you would want to think of a portion as two servings.

Group like with like – using a few plastic baskets or just carboard boxes to steady things a bit more on your metal shelves. I had a look at you tour video and I was just itching to get in there and organize it! No offense meant as I know you work FT (I’m now semi-retired so only work PT) and you’ve been ill. But it will really take away a lot of the stress when you can see at a glance what you actually have in each category.

I have one hall closet that was meant for coats plus a bit of storage – it is only 2 feet deep but about 5 feet wide. To the left are the built in shelves – about 15″ deep where I keep all the canned goods. I fit in an old Billy Bookcase – just 21″ wide and only half height but this holds all my condiments + pickles etc., milks (canned and UHT), salts & peppers, plus packs of jello and puddings in a plastic basket. Some small bins go on top holding odds & ends.

Underneath the shelving and in between the shelves and the bookcase there is just enough space for a stack of plastic bins of various sizes. Two large ones hold long term (past 2023) cans of everything – this way I know that what is out on the shelves is what needs to be used first. Then the ones stacked on top hold things like rice, pasta, grains, sugars and packaged goods. I may live in a huge city but I back onto a conservation area full of little critters and we do have to be aware of mice coming in especially in the cold weather. I know that you have a cat but a few traps wouldn’t hurt.

On the very top shelves – either side – I store things like paper towels, lightbulbs, paper plates etc.

I then have a metal “trolley” on wheels – 2.5′ long by about 8′ wide – 3 shelves that hold the large glass jars of what I’m currently using for rice, pasta, grains. Just trying to give you an idea of how much you can actually get in to a not so large space – perhaps your closet of doom could be better utilized?

I am lucky to have a large linen closet – so on the floor I can store a laundry hamper along with liquid detergent and bleach – I have enough of both for nearly a year – again, think about how much you will use. My sheets and towels take up two shelves and then toiletries, loo roll and kleenex take up the rest – with the paper items up top so even if they fall on me it’s not going to hurt!
The toiletries are in small lidded bins that stack and then plastic baskets that go on top. Again, think about use – I may only have 4 bottles of shampoo on the shelf (1 in the bathroom) but that amount will do me for at least 6 or 7 months – you have to prioritize your space.

My kitchen lower cabinets hold my dish detergent, cleaning items, garbage bags etc. – in boxes with lids and open bins stacked on top – label them if you need to.

I have an old fashioned kitchen but it does have a tall narrow cupboard – that holds oils, jars of mayo and salad dressings, oxo cubes etc. – all things that I cycle through a lot in cooking and that I want to have on hand. I have a small – 2 foot wide metal shelving unit that just fits between my fridge and stove (I have an 8′ x 8′ galley kitchen) and this holds all my pots & pans, mixing bowls, a lazy Susan with all my herbs & spices that I currently use and kitchen utensils – you can use metal S hooks to hold things like strainers and frying pans – if you can fit one of these into your kitchen that might free up some cupboard space – I would then stock the cupboards with items you will use over the next couple of months.

In my dining room I have one of the 3′ wide metal shelving units like you have in the bedroom but I have it covered with a set of curtains – matching pair on my kitchen window – and this keeps things tidy. I keep my toaster oven and most of my other small appliances and baking utensils on this unit. Things I want close to hand but don’t necessarily want to look at every day. The curtains just go on a tension rod and hook onto the top – top shelf is still open for use. I use this curtain:

I use the top of my bookcases in the dining room to hold decorative tins. These hold things like candles, ziploc bags, rolls of plastic wrap and foil, all my extra herbs and spice packets. I then have a cabinet in the dining room – dark wood like the bookcases – and this is my baking cupboard. Flours, dried fruit, HM vanilla, mixes, cupcake paper, parchment paper etc. Again, close to hand but no one knows by looking at it.

In my living room I have a dresser – perhaps something from your parents’ home would be available – and the top drawer holds all my kitchen and dining linens. Second drawer holds scarves, gloves, mitts, sun glasses etc. plus vitamins, vaccine certificate duplicates, rapid tests etc. Bottom drawer holds extra blankets, throws, covers. But again, no one else needs to know this.

By my front door is a small cupboard – it used to be open to the apt. hallway and it was where the milkman dropped off your order – when they used to deliver. The hallway side is bricked up now but it’s a handy little space where I store hand sanitizer, masks, flashlights, battery powered radio – all those emergency supplies that you want on hand and don’t want to have to search for!

I am thinking about buying some bed risers to give me more space under my bed so that I can buy some flat bins for storage – maybe not food but things like out of season clothes, hot water bottles, non food items etc. Perhaps moving those sorts of things from their current spaces would free up space for more food in your home?

Everyone organizes differently – I like to have things tucked out of sight but you might be a more visual person. I have helped a number of friends to declutter and get organized so I have noticed that you really do have to adapt to the person. I don’t need labels – but you might. I don’t mind stacked bins but you might prefer more open shelves. Try to take this into consideration as you work on your decluttering. And don’t try to do it all at once – you’ll be exhausted. Oh, and don’t go out and buy a ton of organizing items until you see what you really have – a lot of times once you move or get rid of certain things you will find that this will then free up baskets or boxes etc. that you can now put to good use.
Sorry, to be so long winded but this is really my area of expertise – as I said – friends have me come over to redo their places and they (only half jokingly) ask to check out my closets when they come over. Good luck!  Love your channel – down to earth, practical and with a dry sense of humour!

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