Artist + Pattern Designer
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Combining Households + Purging

Every time the seasons change, I have the urge to clean my home, simplify and purge anything I don't need.  Living in a smaller apartment with limited storage seems to feed this desire as well.  If ten things are out of place, we feel like we're living in squalor. I was discussing this with someone who was having trouble combining her home with her new husband, and created a semi-flow chart to work out my thoughts.  However, I feel that it can also apply to anyone combining styles or looking to trash and donate belongings.


Here are my five rules for combining and purging:

1. Don't force another member of your household to get rid of something that they truly love.

They'll end up resenting you.  Instead, see if you can find a way to incorporate it into your merged styles.  Can it be reupholstered, painted, slipcovered, etc?  Play nice with each other! And who knows, they may change their mind later on, or it could be your ugly-beloved piece you get to keep!

Conversely, if you both have equal items that each other cannot stand, you could both agree to get rid of both of your items.

2. If you have multiples of the same item, keep the most valuable and donate the rest.

However, if it is something that is very valuable, may break or require replacement, feel free to keep it if you have the storage space.  Backup items may be good, as Mike points out when he used one of our 9 million towels during a recent flood in our apartment.


3. If you're not sure about getting rid of something, put it aside to decide later.

Sometimes I'll put things that I'm undecided about donating in a box.  I'll let it sit in my house, and after a few weeks, I've made up my mind.  If I feel anxious that it's even in that box, it's probably something I should keep for now.

4. Try not to get too sentimental about your belongings.

Belongings certainly have sentimental value and memories with them.  The best combination is loving the item and the sentiment behind it.  But if you don't like the item but love the sentiment, what do you do?

I've heard of people taking pictures of the belonging and that can let them release it. Another idea is to gift it to someone who will truly love the belonging, and the story behind it.


5. If the item is still in a box that has moved one or more times without being opened, you can probably get rid of the item!

This is a tough one, but everyone seems to have one of these boxes.  It's usually filled with old computer parts that nobody knows what they even do.  But you're scared to throw them out since the second you do, you'll need it.

Now I hope to follow my own advice and edit ruthlessly while I work on my apartment this weekend. It needs it!  Any tips that help you to clear out your house?