My Sunday Afternoon Decluttering Project

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Home Elements/Decorating

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s clutter. It’s not only unsightly but also stressful. I guess I like to imagine myself moving through life with as little physical baggage as possible.

Much of my home meets my stringent rule of less is more. But one area has been gnawing at my peace of mind for too long. It’s time to rework the shelving unit in my office/guest room. And today’s the day I’m going to tackle that project.

Here’s the before picture.

bookshelves before


The problem is, I like everything on the shelves. But a couple of days ago, I finally realized that some of these items could be moved elsewhere in my home, donated, or even (gasp) discarded.

All ready to tackle the make-over, I looked for inspiration. This quote has been on my computer for several months.



I like the philosophy, but I need more specific guidelines. So I consulted my favorite designer/decorator—Joanna Gaines, from HGTV’s Fixer-Upper. On the show’s website, she has posted advice and photos for what she calls shelfie makeovers. I found these tips the most helpful for my situation:


edit, edit


If you’re interested in seeing the entire article, you’ll find it here.

Finally, I will pick up every object and ask myself, If I were moving next month, would I pack this and take it with me?

Now it’s decision time. What stays? What goes? And if it stays, where does it go? Decisions, decisions.


 More than two hours later, the shelves look quite different.

bookshelves after

No one is going to confuse this arrangement with one of Joanna’s. But the clutter is gone, and I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it several times over the next few days.

It turned out there wasn’t much that I am going to donate, gift, or toss out. The extra photos are now grouped on a table. The missing books are stored in a walk-in closet. Mom’s quilt now covers an office chair, creating a new sleeping spot that the cats have already tried out. So almost everything stays, minus the clutter.

Editor’s note: If you’re curious about the items I’ve kept for display, here are the details. Top shelf: photos of my brother and sister-in-law and parents. Second shelf: a hardback and a paperback copy of my novel; the school bell I received from my  district when I retired; an old copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls (my silly sense of humor). Third row: my collection of mini-books sitting on an old, very big book, Gone With the Wind; my recycled monogram book; my cat books. Fourth shelf: old family books and vintage textbooks, and a kerosene lamp from Mom’s house. Bottom row: my favorite teddy bear and Mom’s antique toy typewriter.


  1. Looks great! Every time I look at my book shelves with so many books I haven’t read in ages I say to myself, “I should take these to McKay’s Used Books so someone else can enjoy them.” But once I start sorting through them, I just can’t bring myself to decide which ones to part with. It’s not like clothes where if you haven’t worn them in a couple years you give them away. I always tell myself, “I might want to read that again someday,” even if I haven’t touched it in years!!


  2. Sue kazlusky says

    I love how it looks and thanks for the link and the quote. I’m working on my kitchen cabinets right now. Anyone say, punchbowl?


  3. Great job on your bookcase! Love your treasures! You’ve inspired me to tackle mine as well! Wish I would have known about the punch bowls. Got rid of mine before we moved here and had an occasion to use one again over the holidays. They don’t sell them anymore so I had to improvise.


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