Minimalism + De-cluttering- What I’ve Learned

What I've Learned from Minimalism and De-cluttering

Minimalism + De-cluttering- What I’ve Learned

As the girly-girl, makeup obsessed, fashion lover, today’s post might be a little different from what you expect on my blog, but it’s something I’ve really wanted to share for a while now in the hopes that it might be able to help someone else out there who is struggling. Today I want to talk all about de-cluttering and how focusing on a more minimalist lifestyle has actually helped me become a happier person over the last 4 months.

First, let me give you a little back story on myself. I’ve always been a very organized person, and not necessarily one of those who feels the need to hold onto everything. But when we first moved into our new home 3 years ago, I couldn’t believe how much “stuff” we had accumulated through all of our moves and travels. In addition, there was also many new purchases that had to be made to fill and finish our new home, which yet again added to the endless amount of “stuff”.

While I’m thankful for all of the things that we have, about 6 months ago I began getting super frustrated when I found myself spending the majority of my evenings and weekends cleaning up clutter. Even worse, after spending hours cleaning up areas in the home, I disappointingly figured out all I was really doing was moving clutter from one area to another, which wasn’t really progress in my book.

Minimalism & De-Cluttering

That’s when I started doing a lot of research on the whole minimalism trend and even looked into Marie Kondo’s “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” In case you haven’t heard of the book, the principles are to basically go through all of your items, and if it doesn’t bring you joy, then you are encouraged to toss it. What I learned in doing a lot of research is that there are a lot of different levels of minimalism out there, but ultimately you have to do what works for you.

In the end I made a vow to myself that above all I would focus on simplifying my home to eliminate unnecessary stress. I didn’t really want to live in a house with nothing in it, but at the same time I didn’t want to be left feeling overwhelmed from the amount of clutter in my home. So I figured out a happy medium for myself and our family and made a plan of action.

Following my good friend Erin’s tips (she has an awesome de-cluttering challenge over here), I started tackling one area of the home at a time and tried to stay proactive in removing items that were no longer needed or used. On top of that, I ended up donating duplicate items and items that I had held onto from years ago that I knew would probably never see the light of day.

Long story short, I ended up getting rid of A LOT of stuff! Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of this process because it was so spread out, but if I had to guess, I probably got rid of 10 trash bags or more and several boxes full of stuff. With the exception of a tool area in my garage, I have officially tackled every room and area of the home, and it’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment. My home stays a lot cleaner now, it’s easier to stay on top of tasks, and I don’t get that overwhelmed feeling every time I walk through the door after work.

What I Learned

So what did I learn from all of this? To be honest, I previously always thought the Marie Kondo book was a little far-fetched and unattainable, but in the end it really helped guide me through the process and helped me understand the value in only having things in the home that make you happy. When you shift your mindset to these principles, it truly makes you become more mindful about not buying things out of impulse or want, and really asking yourself whether or not you need it, and whether or not it will bring you joy. While I do love shopping for clothes and makeup, I have truly become more mindful about not purchasing items that I don’t really need.

I also learned that just because you love something doesn’t mean you need to have 5 of them. I’ve always been really bad about buying multiple items, and it just isn’t necessary. I mean, do you really need 8 spatulas? (The answer is no, by the way lol) The same rule applied for my children’s items as well. Their play room literally was bursting at the seams full of toys and they had so much stuff they rarely even played with anything because it was too overwhelming even for them. Again, just because they love toy cars doesn’t mean they need 300 of them. (And trust me when I say that’s not an exaggeration).

Breaking Free

Lastly and most importantly, I learned what an amazing feeling it was to break free from the weight of clutter. A lot of times we think that stress only comes from people, relationships, work, and finances, but in reality a huge part of stress in our lives can come from the environment we’re living in. Too much stuff can literally weigh you down and leave you feeling overwhelmed, and it just isn’t good for any of us. Throughout the process when I started coming home to a cleaner, more simplified home, I immediately noticed a shift in my entire attitude. Less clutter equaled less stress, which meant more time and energy to do the things I love, allowing me to better focus on spending quality time with my family.

At the end of the day would I consider myself a hardcore minimalist? No, not at all- but that’s okay. For me and my current lifestyle, I’m just focused on simplifying and not filling my life with unnecessary baggage and clutter (in all realms). Taking the time to really stop and evaluate my life and surroundings and simplifying is the best decision I could ever make, and it’s truly changing my entire mindset towards life and living in general.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if you’re currently dealing with similar struggles in your own home, I hope you find this encouraging to stop and evaluate ways to simplify. At the end of the day, you don’t have to live in clutter and there’s no reason to stress over or keep “things” in your life that don’t bring you joy.

What do you think about the minimalist lifestyle? Have you read the Marie Kondo book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by!-Cara


  1. To be completely honest, decluttering and minimalism is something I desperately need in my life… I’m just bad at it.

    Also, I bought that book. It’s lost in my clutter somewhere… lol

    1. Lol, Angie you cracked me up with the last comment. Hopefully you can find it girl, but if not head to Erin’s site and check out all her helpful tips! πŸ™‚

  2. Cara!!!! I had to read through this post twice, because I was so excited! haha! I love that you are simplifying your life and really adjusting the way you think about the things you have. I am blown away that you were able to let go of 10 trash bags and boxes full of things! That is amazing! You go girl! I cannot wait to read more about your journey in the future!

    1. Thanks Erin! I’m so glad we met through this blogging journey because it really has helped me become more mindful about the things in my home and life that were just cluttering it up. Though it’s a constant journey, I’m a lot happier now with less. πŸ™‚

  3. I really like this, and it’s funny, but I think it also applies to adding things to our life. I’ve notice, the older I get, the less I really want. I’m much more happy with an experience, a tradition or family time then I am with a new purse, new sunglasses or a new outfit (although I’m still a fan of a new outfit every once in awhile, haha)!

    1. Exactly! Experiences with family are so much more important than materialistic things. πŸ™‚

  4. It takes me a long time to get rid of things sometimes but I am with you, it always feels so freeing!!!

    1. I think a lot of my issues with getting rid of things stemmed from my parents always teaching me to take care of my stuff for longevity- which is a great lesson don’t get me wrong, but I’m now 27 and probably don’t still need my high school clothes, regardless of whether or not I can still wear them lol.

  5. Girl I just watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix this week! While I haven’t read the book, I know generally studies have found clutter to contribute to feelings of sadness and depression. Further, studies about happiness show that it’s completely unrelated to materials items. That leads me to believe this whole idea is on point.

    I decided at the beginning of the year to stop buying new beauty products unless I run out of something and it’s really helped. I’m also getting certified as a professional makeup artists and my teacher is showing us how little you really need in your kit. If you have the right tools, you can mix certain things to create infinite colors. She only carries 3 shades of foundations in her kit! she just mixes colors to create any shade she needs. Crazy right?

    Anyways, long comment haha, but this is a great topic. I’ve thought about exploring it on the blog myself!

    – Claudia

    1. I need to watch that documentary everyone’s talking about! I think once you’re able to realize that materialistic items are just things, it changes your entire mentality towards life in general. And how awesome that you’re getting certified! Yay! πŸ™‚

  6. Great lessons and tips! I’m currently working my way through the house de-cluttering and reorganizing, and the spaces I’ve done are so much better than they were before! I never realized how much stuff I have laying around that I either don’t need or don’t use, so it’s been very helpful in terms of buying new stuff!

    1. That’s awesome Cameron! I think once you go through a de-cluttering process you’re SO much more mindful of what you bring into your home afterwards. Like when I go shopping now I really ask myself whether or not I need it before purchasing.

  7. Love this post! How much stuff you have really IS very personal. No one thing works for everyone! But I do like reading about everyone’s process.

    I love a lot of stuff on my walls. I like stuff on shelves. I don’t like bareness in my home – it feels too cold to me. So I have to balance that with what I store elsewhere, and it’s a process. A continual one…what’s coming in? What’s going out? What do we need now? What haven’t we used in a while?

    I rarely have photos of this stuff either unless I snap a shot right before donations are getting picked up. LOL

    1. Thanks! I 100% agree that it’s a personal thing and what works for one person may not work for someone else. For instance, tiny homes fascinate me, but do I think I could ever live in one? Probably not lol. You have to do what’s realistic for you and your lifestyle and it’s definitely an ongoing process.

  8. I really needed this post today. I have been feeling the same as you, I keep moving clutter from one spot of my house to the other. And spending endless amounts of time “cleaning”, and not really enjoying my free time. I might have to read this book and be inspired like you πŸ™‚

    1. Yes moving clutter from place to place is so daunting. It’s like if you can’t find a permanent home for something, do I really need it? The book really is a good read too!

  9. I read the book and need to re-read it to get re-motivated. I truly believe in the concept, but the task can be so daunting to tackle. And, waiting and waiting only makes it worse. Thank you for re-motivating me and your honesty…glad to hear you aren’t hard core, but how it’s changed you for the positive!!


    1. It does! Minimalism kind of fascinates me currently lol, I don’t think I’ll ever be hardcore, but I definitely appreciate it.

  10. there is a sense of breaking free in de-cluttering. when i free up my space i feel like i free up my brain…three cheers for no clutter (:

  11. Love love love this post! It hits home right now so much. We are currently in the process of putting our house on the market and I REALLY need to de-clutter. Thank you for your post! It really put things in perspective for me!

    1. You’re so welcome! Now would be a great time to evaluate items that way you don’t have to move as much! πŸ˜‰

  12. I love how you worked through this! I thought the whole thing was pretty far fetched too…but I have started to work through it too and it’s made SUCH a difference. So lovely to hear your account πŸ™‚ Cheers, Mary Jane

    1. Thanks Mary Jane! It pushed me out of my comfort zone a little, but I’m so glad it did! πŸ™‚

  13. I feel the same as you when it comes to not wanting to be super minimalistic, but definitely wanting to simplify. I’ve found that my biggest challenge is feeling like I don’t have the time to go through everything as thoroughly as I’d like. I’ve seen the declutter challenge on Erin’s blog and think that would be a good place to start because it gives a little direction.

    1. Yes, I definitely would encourage you to give that challenge a try! It’s a lot easier when you break it down by tasks (like a drawer or closet at a time). It might take you longer, but you will really be more thorough that way. I’ve even ended up going back a second round lately and still found items that I could get rid of lol.

  14. I love that you posted this! We moved into one of our investment properties several months ago (house search is still on) with half of our stuff being stored. It’s surprising how much you accumulate and when you don’t have it how much you realize you really don’t need it. Now I’m big into selling things we don’t need and focusing on more purposeful shopping. Beautifully Candid

    1. Yep! When we moved in, there were still several boxes that stayed unpacked for a good year (like kitchen items etc.) By the time we found it, we realized that if we had managed to live without it that long we didn’t need it now and ended up selling and donating.

  15. Thank for this post!! I needed the encouragement to declutter as well. I have heard about this book and my husband watched a documentary the other night on a minimalist lifestyle. I think it is the direction we are headed. Because of this post, I will be reading the book this weekend!!

  16. Props to you girl for de-cluttering!! I honestly need to do more. I wanted to start with my makeup but have not gotten to it yet. I have gotten rid of some clothing items here and there every month though. Still have a long way to go though! I remember when I moved almost 4 years ago….the amount of stuff I had! My word. I got rid of so much! I agree that having too much clutter in your house can be very stressful.

    1. Thank-you! Hope you’re able to tackle spring cleaning soon. It really is so rewarding! πŸ™‚

  17. Thank you for this! I’ve been prepping to buy my first house and move and i’ve just felt so overwhelmed by all of the crap that i’ve accumulated over the years hopping from various apartments. I’ve been trying to downsize and this is really given me the motivation I need!

    1. That’s honestly the best time to go through stuff is right before you move. That way you’re only filling your home with items you love! πŸ™‚

  18. I try to have a balance. I don’t like having much more than I need, but I’m not doing to deprive myself either. I think the right amount of stuff is different for everyone.

    1. I agree! I’ll never be a hardcore minimalist (or at least I don’t foresee it in my near future), but I’m glad that I’ve learned to simplify things to lessen the chaos in my life. It definitely is all about balance. πŸ™‚

  19. I have let go of many things over the years, and need to again. Unfortunately, I sometimes go a little too crazy, and I have let go of some things that I regret. Now I am more careful when I figure out what to get rid of.

    1. Yes, having mindfulness when you go through things is very important that way you’re only keeping things you truly love, and sometimes keepsakes are completely okay to keep. πŸ™‚

  20. I read the book too, and it was very motivating for me. My life has changed so much, and it was a great catalyst for it. I’m so much more content with less and being surrounded only with the things I love. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  21. So True! I try to go through a de-clutter every spring (i guess people call it “Spring Cleaning” but really it’s Spring-Clear-All-The-Junk-Out haha it accumulates fast in our household of 5!

    1. Yes it is so easy to accumulate “stuff” and you don’t even realize how much stress it can cause too. Hope your “Clear all the Junk Out!” goes well. lol

  22. Love everything you mentioned here as it reminds me and inspires me to continue to go through my home and only keep what I love and what is practical. Happy to hear this worked out well for you, Cara!

  23. Great post! I have the book but have yet to read it. But I need to and soon. I got spring cleaning on my mind and wouldn’t mind getting rid quite a few things I have collected over the years.

  24. My husband and I are working on this. To the outside, it looks like we have already mastered it, but our closets are full. It takes time, but it is so rewarding. i love the empty spaces. πŸ™‚ Great post!Love that you were able to break free.

    1. Thank-you! I think it’s an ongoing process, but you’re so right it’s definitely rewarding! πŸ™‚

  25. I completely agree. I was moving between countries a few years ago and for a while I was basically ‘camping out’ at one house (with my three children) while our possessions were being shipped. The lack of clutter was so freeing and we all really embraced minimalist living. It was easier to clean, easier to keep tidy and the children had to become more inventive with their games.

    1. Exactly! Kids can use their imagination more and families can focus on spending more quality time together when there’s less “stuff” in the way.

  26. I feel like I’m pretty good at de-cluttering… until it’s actually time to do it, then I feel like maybe I’m a hoarder (a little, anyway). I’m going to check out that book! Thanks!

    1. I can completely understand! My husband is that way. He holds onto things thinking he’ll eventually use it or need it, but then a year goes by and during another cleaning process he realizes that he never did end up using it. I think when you get really open and honest with yourself de-cluttering is easier, because you realize you don’t need as much as you think you need. (If that makes sense?) Hope you like the book!

  27. I’ve never heard of that book, but I agree with tossing things that don’t bring your joy. The problem is so many things I should toss do bring me joy! But clutter does stress me out, and after a good spring cleaning I always feel so free <3
    Green Fashionista

    1. The book is really good- and I learned a lot of valuable lessons from it. For me happiness outweighs clutter, so simplifying has become a big priority of mine.

  28. Good for you girlfriend! I’ve been reading that book but have yet to actually do it the EXACT way she suggests, which I think would obviously be the most productive + helpful…time to get cranking on it!

    Coming Up Roses

    1. Thanks! I think it’s good to take the concepts and apply it to your own lifestyle accordingly. Although I respect them fully I could never be a full-blown, hardcore minimalist, but learning to simplify has been a big lesson for me. Best of luck! πŸ™‚

  29. When I first read Marie’s book I thought it was too rigid and directive for me. But, I went back and read it again later and felt differently. I have long been a lover of simplicity, even was involved in the 1980’s simple living movement, and love how good it feels.

    I recently moved to a small house, gave away over 1/2 of my stuff, and appreciate the sense of quiet and order it brings to my life.

    1. I can relate! I felt the same initially but it has such great concepts on life in general. Learning to not place so much value on inanimate objects was a biggie for me. Glad to hear it’s helped you as well!

  30. I loved reading this. I declutter often as I’m such a hoarder (and don’t even realise that i’m doing it!) It’s such a release when it goes!

  31. I’m writing this comment at my dining room table and thinking – “Gee, when was the last time I actually used this room”. Apparently I’ve found a ROOM I could do without! πŸ˜‰

  32. I’ve always been a pretty organized person but Marie’s book just took it to the next level for me. And so cool Erin got a shout out! πŸ™‚

  33. 100% agree that too much (physical) crap in your environment adds to internal chaos of the mind and body. That’s what feng shui – which has been around for years – is all about: changing your surroundings to achieve optimal peace..this includes decluttering and certain placement of your furniture that brings harmony to yourself and your environment.

    1. I’ve inadvertently been doing feng shui then! lol I always move around furniture when I’m bored, so I guess that’s why haha!

  34. “I also learned that just because you love something doesn’t mean you need to have 5 of them. ” Oh my gosh, YES! Haha I’m so bad about this! This whole post was fantastic!

  35. I did a 100 item de-clutter challenge last year and I’ve done it several times since and I’m constantly amazed at the things I find to get rid of out of my home. I’m definitely not a hoarder but I think each time I do it, I realise that possessions don’t very often make my life better. It does give you a great sense of freedom.

  36. I just had this conversation with the hubs last night about all the STUFFFFF we have in our house – how if you have less, how much easier it is to take care of things & keep up with it. HAPPINESS ENSUES! I need to get that book.

    1. It really is true! If you think about it, people always just want to get a bigger home but in reality it’s so much easier to just downsize your “stuff” and before you know it you realize your home is plenty big enough. πŸ˜‰

  37. Yay! I loved reading your experience. I’d love to give minimalism a try…it’s been on my bucket list for so long! I’m just so fascinated by it. Also, I’m always trying to declutter. Can’t believe you got rid of 10 trash bags….that is a successful declutter sesh!! πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks! I was shocked that we had that much stuff lol but it’s definitely nice to live with less now πŸ™‚

  38. I spend so much time “cleaning” but I think you’re right in that all that’s really happening is moving clutter from one place to the next. I just saw that book available online from our library, I might have to check it out!

  39. I love that book!! There are some things I have really enforced and some that I need to put into play again!

    1. It really makes you re-evaluate your thinking on what you feel your home with! Glad you enjoyed it too!

  40. It’s crazy how much stuff we accumulate. This year is the year of my declutter, and so far it’s slow going. I was traveling 3 weeks in February, so that didn’t help. I’m hoping to finish up my craft room this weekend. I had taken everything out and slowly over the past few weekends I’m finding new permanent homes for everything, instead of just shoving it somewhere so it’s out of the way. I’m liking it so far. Thanks for the advice. I can’t do this too!

    1. Best of luck Sarah, I know you can do it! Try breaking it down into even smaller tasks if that helps. Like a drawer or a closet at at time. πŸ™‚

  41. I completely agree with this! It is truly such a relief to get out from under the weight of clutter, and to release yourself from feeling like you need several things like spatulas haha.

  42. This post was made for me – the beauty of letting go (easier said than done for this girl) Thanks for sharing! xo

    1. Join the club, Stephanie! Haha there’s literally 2 totes full of my husband’s “junk” in the garage right now, because he wants to hold onto stuff. But at least it’s in a box lol.

  43. I love how you broke this post down into your goal for de-cluttering and what you learned from it. It’s great to hear that the “one room at a time” approach is what you did! I feel I put unnecessary stress on myself while trying to de-clutter by telling myself, “at the end of the weekend, I’ll be completely finished with this task”! I don’t know if that makes sense, but nonetheless, I really appreciate this post!!

    – Kaitlin

    1. I found myself breaking it down even further, by drawer and cabinet, and that was a good feeling of accomplishment as well. Glad you enjoyed the post and best of luck throughout your own process! πŸ™‚

  44. That book is on my list to read because I’ve actually been doing the same thing. I’ve gone through my closets twice this year and last weekend tackled dressers. I got rid of like 6 bags- some stuff still had tags and it made me sick. Such a waste of money! I am doing the whole purging process throughout our entire home and it feels really good. I love this post Cara and am even more excited to read the book now. Good work!

    1. It’s a great book, that really inspired me to re-evaluate the way I think of material items. Glad to hear you’re making progress in your own home. Doesn’t it feel amazing to de-clutter? Happy Friday!

  45. What a wonderful post! Isn’t it amazing how much stuff you can accumulate and then it falls in every crack and crevice until it’s just too much! I think one of the best feelings in the world is to Declutter and minimalize and I absolutely love the story, your ideas and your advice! Have a wonderful Wednesday beautiful girl!

    1. Thanks Andrea! I feel like everybody can relate to this at least on some level. Clutter can really weigh you down, and it’s good to evaluate it from time to time so that we don’t get overwhelmed. Have a great weekend! πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *