paring down

Marian ParsonsDecorating, Organizing26 Comments

It’s that time of year again when I get the itch to purge and organize.  I worked through my cabinets, closets, drawers, and storage spaces the past couple of years and have gotten rid of a ton of stuff, but there is always the accumulation of new stuff that needs to be dealt with.  The fact that I have done some thorough decluttering already is making the process easier this time around, but I find more stuff with each pass that I can let go.  I do find the more I get rid of, the more I can get rid of.  And I’ve come to really like empty or sparsely filled storage space.

I also notice that through the year, some of my open shelving gets a little cluttered.  Between using the pieces, adding some, and taking away others, what was once a tidy cabinet starts to look a little haphazard.


The stuff that’s hardest for me to pare down is my ironstone, dishes, and antique flatware.  It’s also what I like to keep the most after shopping trips!  I have never actually counted the collection, because it would probably be embarrassing and I would have to admit I have a problem.

It helps for me to pull everything out of the cabinets, so I can see the sheer volume of the items I own.

mms-5530 mms-5569 mms-5528

Not surprisingly the Bakelite and French ivory flatware and the ironstone were out of control.  I bet I had over 100 pieces of flatware that were just decorative…sitting in a jar.

Pulling it all out also helps me group like items together, so the pieces that are displayed have great impact.

My rule for getting rid of a piece is – if it’s been sitting in a cabinet, unused and unseen, for more than a year, then it needed to go.  If I didn’t have a perfect place to display it, it needed to go.  The exceptions were my great-grandmother’s hand-painted china (dated 1924) and my mom’s china.  Neither set is huge and I think I would regret getting rid of them.  Especially my great-grandmother’s china, since it’s so unique.

As I worked through the cabinets, I filled one large contractor bag with trash, mostly from the craft cabinet, pantry, etc., and have a nice pile of stuff to take to the studio to price for the online shop or Lucketts and another pile started for a yard sale.


I’m going to try to take one day a week for the next few weeks to tackle closets and cabinets until every space has been purged and organized.

If you’re trying to declutter and need some inspiration, check out my posts on organizing HERE.

paring down

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26 Comments on “paring down”

  1. I love your blogs and they inspire me daily to be more organized. Can you share with us how you organize your bills and daily paperwork, please? Do you use baskets, bins, a filing system, what? I have tried many organizational tools and I still have paperwork spread around my laptop workspace area!! Arghhh! HELP!! Thanks!

  2. I own my own business….I have found that the easiest way to get paper organized is to REALLY come to terms with what you HAVE to have…and what you are required to keep in the event of an audit…. the “have to have” at your finger tips (house/car insurance info, tax returns, bank statements, mortgage docs, appliance receipts and warranty info, etc) are three-hole punched and kept in plain ole’ three ring binders…the rest (invoices, paid receipts, utility bills) are put in a cardboard filing box (kept in the garage) each month as they are paid, then I label the box and put in the attic at the end of the year…toss after 7 years. Yes, I have needed to dig out a few from time to time, but it isn’t hard to find since I know they were put in there every month…so I just dig until I get to that month. But that is rare. At the end of the year, I toss all the old bank statements and expired warranty stuff in those boxes as well before it is stored! And EVERYTHING is posted in my Quickbooks…set up all your bills to be paid between the 1-10th of the month and sit down at your desk ONE TIME a month. Use direct draft when possible just in case. Trying to keep up with and pay bills throughout the month is frustrating and stressful!

    1. OH You are my Godess!!! I have been trying to get a handle on this very thing for some time now.
      There is a roadblock in my mind that has me paralyzed as the papers keep piling up around me. Don’t get me wrong, I have a filing cabinet (that I haven’t used in years). I have boxes and baskets filled with papers. I just don’t have a system. Yours sounds perfect and I think maintainable. Thank you Thank you!!!

      Miriam you too are an inspiration to clean out the storage spaces of all the pretties i have been collecting but haven’t used in Oh So Long. If you don’t use it, loose it. There is always someone else who would love to have it.

      Have a good Day Cleaning Ladies!

  3. Have you shown us your Grandmother’s hand painted china? I don’t remember it and I am sure it is beautiful!

  4. I have the same issue with flatware! How do you price and display flatware for a sale? I’d like to sell most of my flatware but I’m not sure how to price-individually, sets of 4 by type -fork, spoon, etc- sell as an entire set I also wonder how to best display it.

  5. What pattern is the square blue and white canister set with the windmill on it called? I have a
    whole set of that including the small spice canisters.

  6. YOU are living dangerous! You will be too neat and clean.
    We like you just the way you are!

  7. As I read the blog, I was staring at my incredibly cluttered desk. Papers out of control. manicure items, an old calendar with pix of my grandson for each month, books, journals, old medical records! Holy Cow! Let me get started.

  8. I am almost 76 and have gotten rid of many things. My kids have all they need from my collections. About 2 years ago I was “purging” and saw my cache of stencils. Since they were not very popular back then, off they went to the thrift store. Well of course I wish I had them now!! I go through boxes, drawers,etc. while watching TV. I do this every 3 months things get purged. However, there are still things I cannot bear to get rid of. At my age, I really keep things that speak to me and are family oriented. Love your site!

  9. Yes! The more that I declutter, the more I find myself willing to part with. With the exception of China and dishware sets and pieces. I’m going to embarrass myself and admit to having seven sets and some partial sets. I have seven sets of mixing bowls, lol! But only two sets of flatware so I do have some restraint!

    But, as far as other things go, the more I let go of, the easier it is during the next fit of purging to let go of even more!

  10. Please don’t throw away/trash ANY of your craft cabinet or pantry goodies/items!

    “I filled one large contractor bag with trash, mostly from the craft cabinet, pantry, etc.”

    Your local Senior Center, Community Center, After-School Program, School Arts & Crafts Program, Daycare, Big Sister Program, YWCA, etc. will be thrilled to receive your craft donations for their people to use! You’ll feel twice as good getting rid of it, knowing you are helping others! Plus ~ it’s a tax-deductible donation for you!

    Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle 🙂

    1. Oh, these weren’t supplies that could be used. They were things like paper airplanes, used coloring & sticker books, markers that were dried out, etc.

  11. I love your ‘purged’ items, especially the small cake stand (Fenton milk glass?) in the picture above! 🙂 If that is going to your online shop, let me now! Thank you! xoxo

  12. This may not be true for all women but my daughter has asked that I do not get rid of anything I like or am keeping for my own self. She told me, that after I am gone, it will be a sad but happy time to see my treasurers and all will have a chance to save anything for themselves. I thought this might help others that want to be rid of things because they do not want to have their families have the chore of cleaning up after a family member is gone. I treasure that daughter for telling me that…

  13. Last year we built a SMALL , beautiful house….I sold,donated and gave away so much…I kept only what I absolutely loved and needed….I am enjoying not having ‘stuff’ so much that I have learned the art of restraint and do not buy anything unless it is necessary or a wonderful find. I now have more time to enjoy my treasures and pursue hobbies…when I use anything in the house …after I’m done using it I put it back where it belongs….I love keeping the house clutter free!

  14. I love decluttering and purging too!!! I am trying to do both…..However, I have to say that if any of that ironstone is leaving your house I will gratefully welcome it into my home!!!!!

  15. Oh dear! I’m getting a case of hives just contemplating the amount of de-cluttering and purging I need to do! I’ll think about it tomorrow!

  16. I enjoy that part of purging when you gather your collection and maybe discover a piece again or a new spot to display it.

  17. LOL – and I see what I would like to purchase!!!! The Dutch canisters for flour, sugar and coffee! I am your Dutch friend in St. Joseph, MI……..would love it if you kept me in mind!!! Thanks, Diane (Vruwink) Carlson!!!

  18. Cleaning out stuff is the least of my problems. It’s what to do with it after I decide to get rid of it that is my stumbling block. I have many wonderful things that I know other people would be delighted to have -for a price. How to sell these things is a big problem for those of us who do not own an antiques business. ebay and other online venues are a major time suck and a mine field of what ifs. I have tried yard sales- huge waste of time. I usually just end up donating most of it and taking the tax write off, and keeping anything truly valuable for a future when I have time to sell it.

    When I make the decision to get rid of it, at that point I just want it out of my life. Organizing would be so much easier and doable if someone came to your door, picked up the stuff and paid you a fair price. Lol, a girl can dream, right?

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