Ask the Organizer – Decluttering

This month’s question is from a reader named Stacey:

Question: Dear Jessica,

No matter how clean I keep the house, there’s always the clutter that I can never seem to get a handle on.

Some of it is just laziness but most of it is not having a designated place for MOST of our things. We have SUCH limited storage space, yet with 3 kids (one still a baby) we have TONS of ‘stuff’.

And the kitchen is one of the most cluttered places in the house. Seconds: kids rooms and living room (and we have no play room.)

To get to the point (lol!) my question is: How can I carve out places to hold stuff in a house that has no already-carved-out spaces, very little counter top, and when we can’t hang things on the walls because the old horse-hair plaster falls out in chunks if we try to hammer in a nail?

You can see, I am desperate here! lol.

Jessica Duquette - Professional OrganizerJessica says:
Thanks, Stacey, what a great way of describing your situation, I could see it perfectly!

I know it must seem frustrating to be crowded into a not-very-accommodating place. Sometimes it’s difficult to answer this type of question because there is always too much to the situation that is not right on the surface.

For instance, is the “stuff” that you talked about clutter, or is it just the things you use in your day to day life? Is there any way to cut down on the amount of stuff you have? Usually, when there is a stoppage in the flow (clutter), it’s a reflection of something going on that is stuck on the inside.

Often, when the kitchen is cluttered, it means that you are not nurturing and feeding yourself enough. Does this resonate with you? If so, one thing you can do is start to become more conscious, more prayerful around the ritual of feeding your family. Once you put your intention in that room, it will become clear right away which items are serving you and which are not. Becoming present makes it very easy, not only to find the time to declutter, but also to let go easily because you will want to create the space that energizes you and the food you are eating. The reason we clutter is because we only do what we are committed to doing. If you are committed to feeding and nurturing yourself as well as your family, then the momentum and motivation will be there. When you are not, the stagnant, sticky, energy-zapping clutter shows up in that space. Like attracts like.

My sister once told me, “Jessica, people do what they want to do.” Nothing could be truer. If your kids’ life depended on having a clean and orderly house, with everything in its place, you would find time and the way. What if you tapped into that passion and drive now? What would your best idea be for your situation?

I don’t think it’s laziness that prevents us from acting. Ever. I think that what holds us back is fear and the feeling that we don’t deserve to be happy. To feel joy. To live in full surrender. We are controlled by the fear and it paralyzes us. When you connect your intention (or God’s) with your situation, it’s like a gentle wind at your back. Things flow smoothly. What would it be like if your life flowed smoothly? Paint a picture and it will be easier to realize.

On the very practical level, there are some inexpensive and attractive storage solutions available now like baskets, wicker dressers, chests, and plastic drawers that work wonders for holding the stuff of life. If you don’t have built in storage, and you can’t hang anything on the wall, look for pieces of furniture that are double-duty, such as coffee tables with drawers, bed frames in the kids’ room that have underbed storage, end tables with pull out shelves and small drawers, etc.

The decluttering part is more difficult, but imagine what your home would feel like if everything was in it’s place.

Just remember, clutter shouts and harmony sings.

Remember, I am on your team!

..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ ..·´ Jessica -:¦:-
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´*

Jessica Duquette from
It’s Not About Your Stuff


  1. says

    We lived in a one bedroom apartment for seven years before we had kids, and by the end we would only buy a piece of furniture if it had storage space. Even our couch was raised enough to slip things under it. Our best trick was baskets on our bookshelves that held all the many papers that accumulate in life that you can’t throw away.

  2. says

    We have a small, 1940’s bungalow much like what was described. I have to say the plastic rolling 3-drawer and 5-drawers have been a Godsend to me! Especially in the kitchen — there was only one -1- drawer in the entire kitchen!!! One of these days we’ll remodel and put in cabinets with drawers, but until then, I’m so glad for those inexpensive chests of drawers!

  3. says

    thanks for answering my question, Jessica! And to Veronica and Gem, for sharing their tips too.

    Your right about me putting attacking the clutter
    ( something that really bothers me) last.
    But today I asked for a few hours to attack at least one area, and the time was graciously given to me- my hubby took the kids out of the house! 😉
    So I got one area all cleaned out and re-organized to be efficient and I am so pleased!
    The area I attacked was the desk, but that opened drawers that can hold those paper and misc. items that have collected on the one functional little kitchen shelf :)
    I can’t wait to move all that stuff into the drawers next, that’s my next thing:)
    Thanks so much 5 minutes for mom and Jessica for the inspiration to commit to attacking the ‘ messy areas.’
    I didn’t think of how much ‘space’ I actually already have, and wasn’t using efficiently, until I read all of your ideas. I plan on getting rid of some stuff but definately organizing what we have to have in the house better, using your and the other girls ideas. Thanks again ladies! The house feels better already :)

  4. says

    We moved from 2400 square feet in Texas to 1200 square feet in France (family of five). The 1200 square foot villa had one HALF a closet. The kitchen was tiny. I’m a an anti-clutter person, so having no storage made me a bit nutty.

    The only solution was to give tons of things away. You know what? Our one closet wasn’t too cluttered. Friends who visited remarked at how uncluttered our home was. It’s a matter of priority.

    Even our kids helped. They’re well trained, now, to give things away, though it wasn’t always the case.

    We’re back in Texas now and live in nearly 3000 square feet. And our closets are half empty. I like it that way. I’m fighting to keep it that way.

  5. says

    Flexible storage solutions are great. Depending on your clutter problem, you can buy low cost, practical storage solutions to suit your needs from some excellent organizing stores these days.

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