Spring Cleaning/Decluttering Challenge, Day 1: The living room!


Sigh. WordPress ate my post.

We started the first day of our two week spring break/spring clean. I’m also planning on helping Daniel learn to use the potty over these next two weeks. I’m just a crazy multitasker.

We’re challenging ourselves to see how much we can throw out, donate, or sell over the next two weeks. The guestimates are as follows:

Daddy: 1600

Mom: 250

Michael: 175

Katie Grace: 200

Nicholas: 550

The totals so far? 23 items thrown out (I counted one area, like the computer desk, as one item), 59 items to give away, and 6 items to sell.

Daniel in the giveaway box

We put in some big band music and everyone got to work on their tasks. Daddy was in charge of all the high stuff– dusting the ceiling and corners, cleaning any marks on the walls, taking down the curtains to be washed, and cleaning the high up woodwork. Katie Grace got a bucket of warm soapy water and tackled the baseboards. Michael was in charge of completely clearing out the coat closet. I wish I had before pictures, because it was a mess. Nicholas was in charge of taking all the fireplace tools, the screen, etc. down to the basement. Daniel was in charge of looking cute (see above) and I was in charge of everything else.

We completely cleaned out and reorganized the computer armoire, play area, entertainment center, and closet. I used nasty chemical cleaners to clean the furniture and not-so-nasty cleaners to clean everything else and I washed all the pillows, cushions, blankets, and curtains. We scrubbed down the natural wood with lemon beeswax cleaner and took down all the pictures and knickknacks and dusted those.

We live in a tiny 1920s foursquare that may or may not have been built from a kit bought from Sears. There really are too many of us for this tiny house and I often feel like the woman who lived in a shoe. We do the best we can, though, and sometimes have to make unconventional choices and compromises.

Here’s a tour of our living room.

Entrance and our computer armoire. The thing hanging on the wall holds the bills and we try to take care of things as soon as they come so the paper doesn’t pile up. I also open envelopes and get rid of any extra trash right away because we just don’t have the space for it. This also ends up being a landing spot for Chip’s church bags and papers, which I’m not too crazy about. I’ve thought about looking for a little table for the corner. Next to the computer is a toybox we bought at Ikea 9 years ago. It holds our building blocks, mostly tree blocks and a wonderful set of unit blocks that were my husbands when he was little.

The computer desk, opened up. The door is all boogered up because we had some corkboard gorilla glued to it and Michael picked it all off. *grumps* Putting another bulletin board on there is one of my goals. Each kid has a small disc holder for their CD-ROMS. One shelf holds paper, another our Financial Peace University stuff. The little bin on the bottom holds various and sundry USB cords, chargers, etc. It’s seen better days, but it serves our purpose. We’re also working on organizing the computer itself so that each child has their own profile.

Here’s the little play area I made in the living room. The baskets on top get filled daily with three things for Daniel to do. It might be a toy, crayons and paper, a puzzle. The suitcase holds all the playsilks and dress ups and the playfood and dishes are in the cupboard. Yes, we only have one playstand, but it works for us. Under the playstand is a double bin. One side holds babies and the other holds balls. The shelf on the wall often holds figures to match whatever story we’re telling. For the most part, we keep toys stored in the basement, rotating them each week. We store stacking toys on the windowsill and that window is a great place to hang handmade suncatchers.

Here’s a peek into the whole living room. You can see how we divided off the play area. Again, not ideal, but we’re dealing with pretty limited space.

Looking over at towards the fireplace, you can see the playstand. On this side, next to the sofa, you might notice a basket peeking out. That’s where we keep the library books. I love our fireplace. It does nothing to heat the house and I feel like we don’t get nearly enough use from it, but it makes me happy. We still have the Lent stuff on the mantle, and I can’t wait to change it to a spring theme next weekend!

Here’s our keyboard. The piano bench is in awful shape and we’ve covered it as best we can. It doesn’t open, so we store music in a basket on top. Rhythm instruments are underneath.

Our tiny closet looks messy even when it’s not. The shoe caddy on the door, from Target, is a huge organizational help. It holds umbrellas, swim caps, sunblock and glasses, vacuum cleaner attachments and, of course, shoes. There’s a yoga mat and weights on bottom, and baby carriers hung in the back. Wii stuff is on the first shelf and scrapbooks on the top.

Our sad little chair that has no other place to go, and a basket of magazines. We used to have an end table there as well, but it was broken beyond repair and made the area look even more cluttered. That’s Chip’s laptop and stuff on the chair.

Picture books and children’s illustrated classics are stored on this shelf, as well as our stereo and fish tank. Family pictures are on the sill above. I need to do something about the cords though. Sigh.

One last storage area! We have “germie gel” (hand sanitizer) because Pastor Daddy shakes lots of hands and this way he can clean up as soon as he walks in the door. We use cloth diapers mostly, but the basket has a few disposable diapers and tushie cream. One bin holds cloth hankies– we don’t keep tissues. Another holds soft sole shoes and booties. One is for my husband’s clergy shirt tabs and the last holds brushes and nail clippers. Most coats are kept in the closet or in the hall landing, but we let the littlest ones hang their coats here where they can reach.

So that’s a tour of our living room. I still have a to-do list– I have three bags to go through and I want to use brass cleaner on the fireplace screen– as well as a honey-do list– we have a programmable thermostat to be installed, and I’d like him to steam the carpet and clean out the fireplace. I also have a more longterm list of improvements I’d like to see made in the room. The woodwork needs painting, as I’m sure you can see, and we still need to replace the two-prong outlets with the three-prong kind. Really longterm, I’d like to have the door, windows, carpet, and fireplace tiles replaced. I could probably also do a little more decluttering on the kids’ bookshelves and organizing in the closet.

Still, not a bad day’s work.


  1. //

    Annette, for various charger cords(ipods, camera), I bought one of those 3m hooks and stuck it on the side of a book case next to our computer in the study. They all hang from that hook. It might not look very pretty, but at least they are neat and accessible. Maybe you could do something like that on the inside of your computer armoire. For us it keeps them from getting tangled up with each other also. With teenagers in the house, I’ve had to start taking a piece of tape and labling some of the various cords with names also.


  2. //

    Annette, I love your house! Especially the color on the walls and the shape of the windows. Too cute!

  3. //

    Cherie, that’s a great idea! Unfortunately, I’m not even sure what most of the cords are for. I tried to convince Chip we should toss whatever we didn’t recognized, but he couldn’t be swayed. Ah well.

  4. //

    Thanks, Lauri! When we moved in, the living room was a weird peachy pink color. Unfortunately, it probably needs painted again. At the very least I am going to get to the trim painted this summer, I think. I love the little sidelights as well. It’s actually one of the few things I like about this house.

  5. //

    Joy isn’t a word I would have used to describe potty learning, but we’ll see how it goes!

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