Things I learned from Clean House

Recently, I’ve been catching this show on The Lifestyle Channel called Clean House featuring Niecy Nash and her team of home makeover experts Mark (design wizard), Trish (yard sale diva), Matt Iseman (go-to guy, and handyman extraordinaire). I know this show’s been around for a while now but I just recently caught the bug. The show kind of inspires me to treat my own home and stuff with a bit more practical perspective.

See, we moved from a three storey home in Manila in 1996, to a one-storey 120 sq meter bungalow home in Cavite. We had a lot of stuff, mostly merchandise from our old establishment which was what made up the first floor of our former residence. The following year, we decided to start a hardware business but it didn’t pan out so now, on top of the stuff that we took with us in ’96, we had merchandise from the hardware to deal with.

But I think the main thing now is that the pile of stuff just keeps on growing, mainly because (I recognize this now), my family has a tendency to hoard stuff, like buy a ton of stuff that we don’t really need because its on sale, or buy stuff that we think we will need in the future, but later on just gets lost amid a sea of other things we bought. My mom and dad are the same, and I too, have my own stuff to deal with. My guilty pleasure, books. And books take up a lot of space. I have never taken to e-books because I like the smell of books better, plus the experience of turning the pages old school is how I get my kicks. My brother, on the other hand, is a collector who collects a bunch of stuff, but unlike us, he is more practical and knows how to let go of the stuff he doesn’t need anymore.

Anyhow, I guess why I love the show so much is that I see so much of ourselves in the people who are on the show, asking for help in dealing with the clutter in their houses. I can relate to them because there is something to be said of coming home to a place where you can relax and enjoy your surroundings. That being said, I think I’m slowly gaining headway in the attitude adjustment arena so here’s a few tips that I learned from watching the show.

1. Let Go. I am a very sentimental person and I truly appreciate the stuff that people give me. I treasure the thought behind the gifts that they pick for me and I have stuffed toys that have been with me the better part of 15 years because of this. As a result, half of my bed is occupied by said stuffed animals. So much that I am forced to not move while I sleep lest I fall off the bed. Another thing? Books! I still have tons of books on my TBR pile but I find it hard to let go of the stuff that I read when I was just a kid or a teenager because they come with so many great memories.

I learned from Clean House that if you want to make space to get some breathing room, you have to let go of stuff that you don’t really use anymore and are just taking up room in your house. It is not really disregarding the sentiment behind the gifts but rather making sure that they get a new lease on life which leads me to the next lesson. Same goes with literary material that you grew up with.

2. Sell your old stuff. I have a friend who just loves to read as much as I do and she purchases the same type of books that I do almost on a regular basis. What I have chosen to do is sell some of my old books to her at a wholesale price which is like only 10 percent of what she regularly pays for a single book at the store. As a result, I’m doing us both a favor. She is saving money, and I am also getting some money back for the books that I haven’t touched in years. What I do with the money is I save them up to buy toys for poor kids on Christmas, or school stuff for charity missions before class opening. So some good comes out of my old stuff. Not a bad deal, huh?

3. Give to charity. OK, some stuff can’t be sold. We have a lot of clothes that we have outgrown that are just lying around in the bottom of the closet, waiting to see the light of day. During the long holiday, I sat down and started dealing with them, stocking them in bags and bags full of donations to typhoon victims. See, at least the clothes are going to be used by families who have lost a lot in the disaster. I have also sorted through some children’s and teen books and will donate them to a library soon.

4. Clean as you go. When we have a lot of stuff and a messy home, we usually take leaving stuff anywhere a given so long as we remember where we left it. I have been a victim of this mindset and have spent hours looking for stuff because I can’t remember where I left them. The best way to stop the clutter from accumulating is perhaps not to pile them on and leave them to clean for later. Be better organized and have a place for everything because believe me, based on experience, cleaning up years worth of clutter is no picnic. I recently spent a whole day just trying to make a dent in one section of our house. One day! No kidding, so I strongly recommend against this practice.

5. Repurpose, dump old stuff. Rather than buy new stuff, old stuff can be repurposed, especially furniture, which can be done on your own (if you are handy with a hammer and a saw). You can also have these commissioned (reupholstery or redesigning) but they’re bound to be cheaper than buying brand new stuff. This way, you still get the feeling of newness with less cost for stuff that has been around for decades. But for stuff that no longer function, don’t think twice. Take it to the recycle bin or sell it to the local junk shop rather than leave it at home to gather dust and take up space.

And lastly, 

6. STOP BUYING STUFF YOU DON’T NEED! Mainly, this is the culprit in this entire mess. No matter how much temptation it is to buy stuff on sale, if there’s no need for it, don’t go for it. I watched one episode where Lisa (back up host) suggested to one mom that she could just save the money that she would have spent bringing home toys for her kids and use it for a family bonding vacation. Not a bad idea, right? I might take a page from that book. 🙂

So, I realize that I still have a long way to go before I finally achieve the clean house transformation that I dream of but at least I’m making a start and am willing to change my ways to reach that goal. That should count for something, right? RIGHT?