When it comes to cleaning, there always seems to be a bit of a hassle involved. Cleaning out a shed is no exception. For when a shed is really messy, it can not only be difficult to decide the best way to organize your space, but may over time, infringe on your ability to complete projects, quickly attend to household emergency repairs, put up holiday decor, or to seasonally garden and landscape your home’s outdoor property.
Even as a minimalist, my home’s shed was one of the hardest spaces in my home to organize. You see, by nature, I’m a saver, and my shed is where I logically thought to store all of the items I envisioned needing to keep our home in good repair. I felt that every extra hose, cable, bolt, nut, and screw, while not being used presently, would be used in the near future. In the attempt to be become a good steward of my home, I abused the purpose of my shed, a building intended to store only what my home needed at present, into an out of sight, out of mind wasteland for holiday decor, gardening gadgets, and building materials far past their prime.
Though there were many times I walked into the shed and put it into my good intentions memory bank to clean and organize this space, rarely did this manifest into action. While I could easily blame time, circumstance, and familiar obligations for my lack of shed cleanliness, the truth remains: I did not clean out my shed because I was okay with allowing this area of my home to become a catchall for items and projects that no longer reflected my family’s lifestyle or added value to my life. That I didn’t want to be confronted by all of the items I had accumulated over the past six years, in hopes of impressing others or to emulate the talents and aspirations of others successes on Pinterest I had once admired.
But the issues of my shed grew much deeper than simply a messy shed. I knew that my examining my shed, I would have to examine myself as well. That I didn’t want to delve deeper into understanding why I would spend thousands of dollars on countless gadgets and cords each year when my shed was already overrun with a myriad of these same unused items already. I didn’t want to reflect on the fact that for every misstep in my life, business, and marriage, I bought new, unused holiday decor to mask my unhappiness in other areas of my life. Why would have known that such a small space could contain so much, figuratively or otherwise? This past weekend I finally dug deep and spent two days peeling back the layers of my shed’s overgrowth, in more ways than one.
So, here are a few things I learned while cleaning out my shed, as a minimalist:
Start with a resolution of change: When I made this seasonal resolution earlier last week to clean out my shed, it was initially processed as a way to expand my minimalism post on my blog. Another check on the old editorial calendar, if you will. But the closer the day came to actually cleaning out my shed, the more excuses as to not completing this task began to creep up. I had to make a resolution to not simply organize my space this year, in hopes of just making it through another holiday season, but to create long-lasting progress for everyone in my family. This wasn’t simply a Halloween through Christmas decluttering project, this needed to be a dedicated block of time for reducing the items we owned as a family, just like the de-owning we completed on the inside rooms of our home.
Create boundaries: I married my best friend. A man who takes pleasure in providing not just my needs, but my overall wants as well. And it is because of his desire to be a giver, that my husband has never liked to say no to any requests I made for holiday decor, gardening tools, and even for power tools I suggested he buy not only for his own projects but for my collective inspiration du jour. Your’s truly, on the other hand, was never willing to put a spending or spatial limit on my whimsical wants lists and often went to the store with the knowledge that no matter what new fangled item I could amass, my shed could accommodate it’s long-term storage needs.
So for this reason in year’s past, my husband and I would purchase new storage bins to accommodate all of my growing collections of holiday decor each and every Black Friday. The downside? Not only was this a passive-aggressive was for me to spend frivolously and emotionally manipulate my husband into buying me expensive craft store finds while I professed the need to daily live on a budget, but our shed contained dozens of tubs of plastic, overpriced holiday decor, of which most never saw the light of day. This was simply wasteful consumption, and we were not happier by any means as a result.
So, this past weekend my husband and I went through our holiday decor. I made a lot of due apologies to my husband, and my husband vowed to financially keep me more accountable for my holiday decor accumulation and spending. We each then made a pact to keep only the items that truly sparked joy, could not be replaced, and helped us celebrate the holidays each year. We also made a rule to only decorate for Harvest and Holiday moving forward. No longer would decorate for Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s day, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, Spring, Thanksgiving, and the like. Decor would be limited the holidays that brought us the most joy as a family. Decor would be limited to the places that its presence would bring us the most enjoyment, on our mantle, entry area, and front porch.
Another new change? No longer would we place holiday lights along the length of our roof this December, in hopes of mimicking our neighbors, or to be featured in our local newspaper. Instead, our lights will reflect a more simple, more dignified porch-scape. This change will help us to lower our power consumption, be more tailored to our tastes, and would not express the desires of our neighbors and passersby, but what we as a family wanted to see during this and future holiday seasons. This small change will help us to be able to take minutes rather than hours to put up, take down, and store holiday decor this coming season.
My husband and I also made a pact to keep all of these items confined to four large, sustainable bamboo wooden trunks, and to not purchase any new holiday decor, even if it is on sale after the holidays, for three years. We hope that this time will help us truly dig deeper and see with each passing season what items we treasure and what items we can donate to others. We created holiday spending and accumulation boundaries. We believe that this boundary will help us economically, emotionally, and environmentally more conscious as well.
Understanding that organizing my shed only caused more clutter: Normally when doing a massive cleaning of a shed, the first thing you would typically do is to find all the things you can throw away, and then reorganizing the remaining items. The idea that future cleaning and organizing endeavors will go more smoothly if you’ve gotten rid of a few things you don’t need today. This past weekend we decided to take clearing out our shed t the next level.
In hopes of creating a more minimal and cathartic shed space, we removed every item from our shed. Each item was placed in out carport, and all organizational items, bins, totes, and baskets were removed and immediately taken to donation. Without the crutch of plastic totes to help us organize our belongings, we could no longer shuffle items, or organize them. e painstakingly went through each and every item, and within a few hours over half was taken away to donations as well. All remaining items were placed on hooks on the walls, placed in the four wooden trunks, separated by holiday, or openly stored for immediate use. Items that needed repair were repaired and made ready for use as well. It was so freeing to no longer see walls upon walls of plastic storage bins. I also gained another bit of perspective, organizing, especially with
As we painstakingly went through each and every item, we began to see how by removing the access we could clearly start to see all of the better more lasting investments we had purchased for our home. We were more prepared for home ownership than we had previously thought. At this point, all remaining items were placed on hooks on the walls, placed in the four wooden trunks, separated by holiday, or openly stored for immediate use. Items that needed repair were repaired and made ready for use as well. It was so freeing to no longer see walls upon walls of plastic storage bins. I also gained another bit of perspective, organizing, especially with plastic totes and bins, is simply a fancier term for hoarding.
Safety should be maintained: When we started sorting through our shed we started to notice how many chemicals we owned as a family. From spray paints to varnishes, our shed has slowly over time turned into a nuclear power station. So one of the first things we did was figure out what chemicals we no longer needed, pulled them to the side, boxed them up, and went online to see what agencies would help us properly dispose of these unneeded and dangerous agents in our shed. Everything from expired cleaners, old paint, and dried up liquid items were removed. Cleaning out our shed made our home a lot safer for this coming season and on.
Recycle first: In many homes, sheds are where recyclables that may have piled up. From newspapers kept for painting projects and fire pit starters, to plastic bins and jugs, all of these items should be recycled when no longer in usage.
Make everything within reach: One of our big projects this past weekend was to make everything within our shed accessible for immediate use. So once everything that needed to be discarded was removed, we started to place items we knew we needed to keep back into our shed in an orderly manner. We placed items we needed for this coming season on lower shelves, and items from the next gardening season on higher shelves. We made sure to only use shelves my husband could reach without having to access a ladder. Accessibility also meant ease of use, so these same shelves new mason jars for housing bird seed, grass seed, and plant food. And when it came time to place our tools back in our shed, we placed small, galvanized metal hooks all along a single wall and hung each tool. Hidden tools are unused tools. We sought to create more usefulness in our shed. Each tool in our shed is now used or is a necessity item in our home shed. Should we need a specialty tool for a future project, we will borrow or rent tools instead.
So, in just nine and a half short hours later, our shed was transformed from an emotional and economic deluge into a minimal, useful space. I can only imagine how much nicer the holiday season will feel when we will no longer face tripping over anything in the shed. But what I know to be true right now is that cleaning our my shed helped me grow as a person and be a more responsible steward to our home, a better wife, a strong person, and a more savvy saver in the process.
But with all of this said, what does this mean for you? With the gardening season soon at an end and the holiday season being just around the corner, this is a great time to not only clean out your shed before the chaos of the holiday’s but to help bless other families with as well. And the best part? By minimizing your shed’s possessions, come next spring, you won’t have any excuses to get your gardening and Spring cleaning started early. You’ll be more than ready. You can create a more prepared home today, cost-free.
So, savvy savers? Do you have any plans for decluttering projects this coming season? I’d love to hear about it below.
Here’s to more minimal sheds,