Archive for Wednesday, December 29, 2004

New year is prime time to take stock of what matters

Tonganoxie woman advocates: Clear the clutter

December 29, 2004

Trish Finch says enough is enough.

Three years ago, Finch decided it was time to de-clutter her house.

Trish Finch, and her husband, Kevin Finch, have been on a
three-year house de-cluttering project. Trish started by offering
unneeded items to friends. The rest she's sold on E-Bay, at garage
sales or donated to charity. The couple, who live in a roomy home
north of Tonganoxie, say the clearing out of unwanted items has
simplified their lives.

Trish Finch, and her husband, Kevin Finch, have been on a three-year house de-cluttering project. Trish started by offering unneeded items to friends. The rest she's sold on E-Bay, at garage sales or donated to charity. The couple, who live in a roomy home north of Tonganoxie, say the clearing out of unwanted items has simplified their lives.

"I really used to collect so much junk," Finch said. "I really don't know why. ... I started looking around at it, thinking there was so much junk -- this is ridiculous."

Trish and her husband, Kevin Finch, live in a hilltop house north of Tonganoxie.

Once she made up her mind, the rest came easily.

She gave first choice to family and friends, offering to give or sell them pieces they wanted. Some of her collectibles she sold on E-Bay or at garage sales, and some of the items went to the thrift shop.

She's thought about the difference between needs and wants.

"You need a light, you need a nice couch and a television," Finch said. "Even those are still wants."

Her house, which includes a spacious great room with windows that overlook Tonganoxie, is tastefully decorated.

"I have a few pieces of pottery, my kids' pictures, things that are family stuff," Finch said.

The transition has been gradual.

"People walk into my house and say this looks nice," Finch said, noting they don't know what specifically looks different, just that it's changed.

The transition from much to less has paid off. It takes less time now to clean her house.

"It makes your life easier," Finch said. "It makes it easier for you to live."

There's another bonus, said Finch, who recently brought a newspaper clipping titled "De-clutter your way to spiritual growth" to The Mirror.

"It does make your life more financially stable when you do that," Finch said. "I don't really need to go shopping because there's not much to shop for."

And when she does shop, Finch is likely to head to garage sales, or the thrift shop.

Finch points to a buffet that came from a garage sale, a woodburning stove that came from another, a dresser that came from an estate sale, a Christmas tree that came from the thrift shop -- even the clothes she wears.

"I just kind of recycle my clothes and my household goods and everything," Finch said.

Think before buying

The Rev. Dirk Scates, senior pastor at Tonganoxie Christian Church, said it's important to simplify our lives. "Certainly there's some real truth to what she says," Scates said. "I would say in terms of simplifying, we are so caught up in the latest gadgets and things that I would ask the question before I purchase something -- is it essential? Is there something I already have that is duplicated by the purchase of this item?

"Think less is more."

Ron Bottorff, who lives in Tonganoxie and sees clients at Bottorff Christian Counseling in Lawrence, agrees less is more.

"I think it's a great principle for those that can go down that path," Bottorff said, chuckling. "I'm not saying that I'm on that path -- I can't get my car in my garage. I've only had it in the garage once since I've lived there."

But ideally, de-cluttering is a great goal, he said.

"We can clutter our lives with too many things and possessions take our time -- time you have to store them, clean them move them, and insure them," Bottorff said.

Bottorff advises de-cluttering one step at a time.

"Tackle small bits -- a closet here and there -- and get rid of things that you're not going to be using."

Bottorff said it's not always the case that we need what we think we need.

"We need food, shelter and some clothing," Bottorff said. "Think about all the Christmas gifts you received and how much of it was a necessity and how much of it was just more stuff."

Helping hand

Jane Bateman, who has owned The Interiors Store in Lawrence since 1977, said it's not uncommon to receive calls from people who want to de-clutter their homes.

Families who move frequently tend to have less clutter, Bateman said. And, she said, some people just feel more comfortable with clutter.

"When you get married and stay in your house for 50 years, you have no reason to get rid of things, so it collects easily," Bateman said.

And like Finch, Bateman said, de-cluttering winds up giving you more time.

"It takes time to dust and move the things around and make sure everything goes together," Bateman said.

The best way to start, Bateman said, is to take everything out of the room.

"We have gone in and taken everything out of the room -- maybe not the sofa or big cabinets that are too heavy to move," Bateman said. "And then you slowly bring back the things that look good in the room and are important to the owners."

An item's "important" rating generally depends on its monetary or sentimental value.

And, as a decorator, Bateman said it's also important to consider how the items look in the room.

"You look for the special things so that you can create a focal point and hopefully they are color coordinated in some way, so your color scheme can continue," Bateman said.

It's easier, she said, to take all the items out at once and then put them back in, one at a time, than to take the items out of a room one at a time.

And for the items that don't make it back into the room, Bateman has a simple solution:

"Box the stuff up and if you haven't looked at that boxed up stuff for six months, get rid of it."

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