Clearing the Dining Room Table I

Clearing the Dining Room Table I
Originally uploaded by anselm23.

This is the first photo in a series of five about cleaning the mess from the dining room table in my apartment. It had gotten really bad, and the worst parts of it had been this way since September or even August. It was time. My goal was to leave a completely clear surface, and either to throw things away or move them to a place where they could be properly dealt with. Each photo has roll-over notes (thank you Flickr) that explains what the item is, and in some cases where it got moved to in the apartment.

I think it’s an interesting series, because it shows just how busy and chaotic my life had become. The photos also show how I went about excavating the layers to uncover a table where it might be nice to sit, eat, drink, and work from time to time.

Is there such a space in your house that needs cleaning and clearing? Have at it: set aside some time in your week, and figure out how to clear space and throw stuff away. For the record, I filled three (small plastic grocery bags, not kitchen) trash bags with garbage from this table, and got rid of the junk forever.

There are at least three more such spaces in my house right now — my office desk is absolutely appalling, for example. The kitchen needs a lot of work too. Just having done this much, though, feels like a huge weight off my chest, and I’m really happy to have gotten it done.

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  1. Great quote!

    The longest place I ever lived was my last apartment in Somerville. I was there for 4 years, and I probably donated or threw out about half the stuff that had collected over the years when I moved. I can’t even imagine how much stuff you’ve collected over the years! 🙂

    It will feel sooooo good to clear out the stuff you don’t need though. It was a little bit scary to let it all go, but minimizing and simplifying created space. Space has so much potential! 🙂

  2. I’ve lived in the same place for a long time, for one. For another, I lead a very complicated life — I learn how to do things, and then teach others to do those things…. fencing, drawing, writing, reading, thinking, research, outdoor education. Also, I’m a gamer and a geek and an art collector, which all wind up pulling stuff into my apartment which I don’t really need.

    William Morris said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” I think it’s a lovely ideal to shoot for.

  3. The thing that was hard about the dining room table was that I dreaded it for so long, that it took me longer to dig it out than I expected. Once it was done, though, it was a rush to get started on the desk, and an even bigger rush to finish what was on the desk. Now my house feels great.

  4. Mom says that ‘hot spots’ erupt because we’re not regular users of this space. I don’t eat dinner at my table, usually. so I don’t have to clear the table once a day or more to make room for dinner. Neither the bed nor the living room couches become overloaded with stuff, but the big arm chair does, because I don’t find it comfortable. Hence it and these other spots become overloaded.

    When the dining room table becomes overloaded, though, my desk begins to become a dumping ground, and that’s when bad juju starts taking over. If I don’t have a hot spot to leave things as I come into the house, they tend to accumulate in the wrong places: the kitchen counter, the desk, the dining room table… and soon it’s impossible to sit and work anywhere.

    The trick is to use your horizontal areas regularly for their intended purposes.

  5. Ooo, I got a vicarious organization rush.

    What makes spots like this erupt? From the way you describe it, these are specific areas that build up. You’ aren’t a messy person overall.

  6. my dining room table often looks like the first photo. Did recently clean it. There are a couple of just returned books, new book and a couple of other things from the boys, right now. Could have it cleared off in 5 minutes.
    My desk, on the other hand, is way worse! I’m afraid of what I may find under all this stuff on my desk. Too overwhelming, for now.
    Did recently work on my workroom. Rearranged and cleaned up quite a bit. But not suite finished, yet.

  7. A new year and new life – great time for decluttering! I was on a EFT teleclass phone call this evening, and we talked about how clutter might be filling up a sense of emptiness or discomfort with “stuff”.

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