Thursday, August 5, 2010

I Am A Recovering Hoarder

This is the area I've recently spent the most time on in my home. I've been, quite frankly, dreading showing these pictures to the world at large. It's no secret to my family and friends, and while everyone chides me from time to time about being messy (except for my brethren-in-chaos, who sympathize with my plight), it's just sort of an accepted fact.

When I'm showing the world at large though, or even when I'm sitting privately in a room talking to my new therapist about some of the possible OCD tendencies I have, and I'm trying to describe my problems and really face up to them so I can fix them and move past, it sort of stares me right in the face: I have hoarding tendencies. I may, in fact, be a hoarder.

I might be something of a hoarder in recovery, because getting rid of most things has become much, MUCH easier for me over the years, BUT it's an overwhelming task to accomplish on my own. It's an overwhelming task to accomplish while struggling to learn how to organize things that I keep, balance housework, tending to a family, working (in whatever form it may appear in my life; nowadays that's primarily writing), having hobbies, having a social life, and just generally feeling overwhelmed and anxious almost all of the time. I'm trying to take it day by day and do my best.

I was, am, horribly embarrassed to share the before pictures with the world. This was my dining room. This is the room people see when they come to my house. This is what greeted anyone that happened to look through my GIANT GLASS FRONT DOOR. This is one of the rooms we tended to use the most. How did we ever function around all of this?

This isn't even the worst of it. That's the part that really embarrasses me. Just one room, eh, everyone's life can get a little out of control from time to time. But this was our most LIVABLE room. So, yes, there's more to come.

But for now, I will revel in the accomplishment I have achieved over the past week, and enjoy my peaceful, organized, clean dining room.

This is directly across from the front door; that's our dining room table, piled high with god-knows-what. We generally just ate all our meals on my bed, in front of the TV.

Now, a peaceful oasis! The file cabinet will not be living there permanently; I just happened to acquire it from a friend moments before these pictures were taken. Its new home isn't quite ready for it yet. Also, I need to pretty it up a little bit.

I couldn't get the exact angle at my computer desk corner because there was too much stuff in the way.

Now, it's like my own little office in the corner! All of the boxes / bags to the right are where the file cabinet is living now; they were full of paper. Now the file cabinet is full of paper! It still needs to be sorted through and organized but I kind of need more therapy for that. I have a real big problem with paper.

Facing the front door. I didn't take a before shot UP the wall because there was no real reason to; the focus was the floor. All that laundry! You might think I sorted it all out there to make it look worse, but in actuality I had sorted it out there a week or so prior, and the dogs went tearing through and mixed it all up, and feeling defeated, I just... left it there. For a week or so.

But it's gone now! Sorted in the basement and DONE, even. In its place is that great entryway organizer from IKEA. We'll be bringing it a little lower on the wall; it's a bit awkward in its current placement. Eventually the cedar chest will be going where the kids' desk is, but that won't be until we finish the basement, allowing us to move down there and give the kids their own bedrooms (they currently share one now).

More of Mount Laundry. All of those boxes, they're mostly empty in that picture; they were full of things I had packed when I thought my husband and I were getting divorced and I was going to move out (that kind of throws a big wrench into life plans and 'getting things done' too, let me tell you). They ended up turning into 'purging and garage sale' boxes. The cedar chest, which you can barely see there, is where it actually BELONGS, but we moved it to the other wall temporarily to make space for the kids' desk.

The currently-finished area with the kids' desk and art supply box. Yes, it's the first thing you see when you walk in the door, but it's a heck of a lot better than Laundry Hill and Box Mountain! It will eventually live in one of the kids' rooms, once we're able to GIVE them separate bedrooms, but for now I can live with this arrangement.

It can be really hard to get a feel for a room based on pictures. What I love most about this current arrangement is that it feels like the room is divided into sections. We have a small two-bedroom ranch house with four people, two dogs and a cat; we really need every room to be efficient and, often, multipurpose. This way, it feels like the room has a separate entryway, a dining area, and a small office / social area. (My desk cabinet can easily be closed to look like a nice piece of furniture, and the chair turned to make this area a small seating nook when friends visit.) It's clean, it's attractive, it's welcoming and it's PEACEFUL.

It gives me hope for the rest of my house.


  1. you're doing great, kristi. the IKEA thing looks GREAT, i'm wicked jealous! you can totally do this, i have faith in you. <3

  2. That's a tremendous amount of work done. Good job! I suggest family dinners at least a few times a week to help you keep the table clear. Then it can't pile up. I have to do that myself, because it often ends up an extension of the desk and a snack buffet for the kiddos.

  3. Keeping a house clean is a constant battle. Keep up the good fight!

  4. Have you been able to maintain this decluttered status? I'm starting on my journey to beat this. Sections of my house are like yours in the before pictures and I am determined to get to the "after" stage, slowly but surely.

    How do you balance the clutter with the stockpiling of groceries?



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