Well, I did it. I succeeded and completed the 40 bags in 40 days Challenge. Over the course of 40 days, starting on March 5, 2014, I removed 40 large kitchen trash bags worth of stuff from my apartment. In hindsight, I really should have taken before and after photographs. The change is surreal. I'll try my best to paint a picture with words of what life was like before and what it is like now.
The Inside Storage Closet:
Before - The door opens into the closet. At least, that is what is meant to happen. Instead, the door opens with barely enough room for an adult to inhale deeply in order to snake their way into the closet, and pray they don't end up buried under an avalanche of the random odds and ends that have been chucked into this closet over the past two years. One has a good idea that the object they are looking for is somewhere, buried in this closet. But in order to even try to look for it, the entire closet has to be emptied out, small items by small items leading to enough room to open the door more to allow the large items to also be removed. Plan to spend at minimum an hour to two hours dealing with the inside storage closet trying to find whatever it is you can't find.
Now. The door opens into the closet. The entire swing space needed for the closet door to open into the closet is clear now. Once the door is open, one can clearly see all that is kept in this closet. Blankets too warm for spring are packaged up in Ikea zipper storage bags. Winter coats and tidied giant Ziploc bags that hold too small baby clothing. A set of golf clubs. A step stool. A steam iron. Things we want. but don't want on display in the rest of the apartment.
The Laundry Room
Before - Technically it is more of a closet that is large enough to house a washing machine and a dryer that also happens to have shelves built into the wall above such space. The "room" is a bit of a hot mess. Random crap is shoved into every nook on the shelves. Random stuff is sitting atop the washing machine and dryer. We convince ourselves this is fine because we are able to close the doors to this "room" with no trouble, while doing our best to ignore the hodge podge of junk that sits atop the shelves.
After - The shelves are cleared off. On the top shelf sit pots and pans. On the second shelf bed linens, table cloths, wash cloths, kitchen towels and bath towels reside. The washing machine has laundry soap and a basket for collecting wet dirties, such as dirty cloth diapers and soiled towels of the bath and kitchen variety. On the dryer, a laundry basket resides.
The Spice Rack
Before - The spice rack is a set of shelves that has a double hook, one at each end, allowing it to hang on the inside of the pantry door. It has become a catch all. There are bottles of spices under bottles of oil under various and sundry pantry related items. It is overwhelming to look at.
After - The spice rack is now organized, alphabetically. I know where the marjoram is. I know where the cumin is. I can find the almond oil. It is a thing of beauty. Since organizing the spice rack, I have noticed we are preparing a lot more meals with a nice variety of spices added. Also, making more stove top popcorn for snacks that involve spice mixtures being mixed in. Very lovely.
Before - Every single linen we owned is crammed into this dresser. Originally part of a duo we picked up at Ikea for our personal use, after Tesla's birth she inherited one for her clothing and the other became the linen dresser.
After - Completely empty. There was so much stuff crammed in there, we hit a point of just washing drying and reusing whatever we already had out, instead of ever folding up and replacing the linens back in the dresser. Now, the linens have been sorted out. We got rid of a lot and now only have enough for us and a guest or two to use. The linens now reside in the laundry room. This is useful, especially after Tesla goes to sleep. Before, if we needed a towel, or a pillow case or a wash cloth after her bedtime, we were out of luck. We didn't want to risk waking her up by blindly pawing through the linen dresser in search of a clean towel. Plus, odds were good we would wake her up, since a lot of effort was needed to open the drawers in order to find something. Now, with the linens out in the laundry room, if we need a clean towel, no problem.
Under the Bed
Before - Yet another place to store stuff we thought we wanted at some point in the future. When that point in the future would be, no clue. But we might want that stuff, even though we can't tell you off the top of our heads what said stuff is.
After - We can tell you what is under the bed now. Extra board games, Extra dice. Folders of DVDS. A complete set of every single Star trek film on VHS. (I still use a VCR.) and a box of business envelopes. This was an embarassing clean out, because as we pulled stuff out, we were baffled as to why we were keeping said item in the first place.
Office supply Desk
Before - Hot mess is putting it nicely. Every drawer is just crammed with stuff that may or may not be an office supply. Fairly certain majority of items in this dresser slash desk have been chucked in here to be out of sight out of mind.
After - Clean and organized. Desk slash dresser now only hold office supplies that we need and use on a regular basis. Drawers are easy to open. Supplies are easy to find.
Kitchen - Mugs cabinet
Before - Way too many mugs. Some mugs have been in their same spot in the cabinet since being put in there when we moved in.
After - Got rid of majority of mugs that aren't used and haven't been used. Down to a set of white normal sized mugs, a set of rainbow oversized mugs and a couple of mugs that are sentimental and actually get used on a regular basis. (You can have my Charlie the Mexican Art Unicorn mug when you pry it from my cold, dead hand, thank you very much.)
Before - A little dangerous to navigate , be you toddler or grown ass adult. If you squinted, you could kind of see that one half was suppose to be a work area and the other half a place to relax while your baby plays at your feet.
After - No need to squint, the back porch is clearly a place now where one can hang out and enjoy the weather while a baby or toddler plays at your feet.
The Master Bedroom Closet
Before - Like the inside storage closet, the master bedroom closet had a similar set up, with the door swinging in. Only in this situation, the door is forever open, held open by a four foot tall pile of shoes, bags, shoe boxes and what not. You could step into the closet, but only half of your foot would be in the closet. Good luck at getting your clothing or anything off the top shelf. Closet is packed with stuff, packed.
After - If nothing else was accomplished during these 40 days, this after would be worth it all. The door closes now because there is nothing on the closet floor in it's way now. shelving has been cleared. You can step into the closet and close the door behind you, in case you need a private moment to appreciate the space you now have. Clothing is easy to retrieve now. Out of all the afters, this is the most satisfying one. Also, because there is now a clear floor space in the closet, there was room to move our dirty laundry basket into the closet. This cleared up a huge amount of space in the master bathroom.
When I first began this challenge, I really thought I would be hard pressed to find enough stuff to fill 40 small bags, let alone 40 kitchen trash bags. But I did. Items that were still usable were donated to local thrift stores. Items that were trashy or trash were thrown away. There is still a lot of work yet to be done, but this challenge took out a great chunk of the clutter, helping our home to become more cozy and a place we want to spend time in.
Now that the challenge is over, what is next? Well, I'm still continuing the decluttering of our home. Getting rid of items that have merely traveled from move to move. It would be nice to live in a house someday, but I don't want our move to a house to be due to having way too much stuff to make apartment living comfortable. I want our time in this apartment to be a comfortable time, and not one that feels like we are living in a storage unit until we can afford a bigger place.