About the Author

Melissa Michaels is the NY Times Bestselling author of Love The Home You Have and The Inspired Room book. Her blog, The Inspired Room, was voted Better Homes & Gardens Readers' Favorite decorating blog in 2014 and 2015. Melissa is a church planter's wife and a mom to three human kids and...

Related Resources & Gifts
Find more at DaySpring.com
Related
Resources
& Gifts
Find more at
DaySpring.com
Recent Posts

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Melissa,
    I am a clutter-bug. Sometimes I feel like the character “Pigpen” out of the Peanuts cartoon. Wherever I go, I just seem to leave this trail of clutter behind. You are right…it’s indecision and procrastination that keeps me from letting the piles get out of control. Then, if I leave it go long enough, I get overwhelmed as to where to begin to declutter. Being married to a man who is neat and organized has helped me. I now go through the mail with a determination to pitch most of what comes in. I used to hold onto catalogs thinking I’d like to browse through for the latest fashions or decorating ideas. Not any more…truly I don’t need more “stuff” so I am better able to say, “Our you go” to all the advertising. Also, taking things one bite at a time. Instead of saying I need to clean up the downstairs…I say, “This day I will clean off the pile on ___________________. ” Or, I will be determined to clean out one drawer that has been stuffed with stuff I thought I might need at some point. Baby steps. When my home is less cluttered, I AM able to focus more clearly on what is most important because I’m not distracted by all the worldly clutter around me. Thanks for the encouragement to keep tackling the piles…my goal is to live humbly and simply.
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Most of my clutter comes from reams and reams of letters from charities. I have a couple charities that I give to but many more I’d LIKE to give to. So I save them, thinking I’ll have extra money soon. But I never do. My giving spirit is so much more than my actual amount I can give. I need to toughen up and pitch those letters.

      • Maybe you can pray for each of those charities as you let the letters go, knowing that when you have money to give there will be no shortage of places to give it to! 🙂 May God bless your generous heart, Kathleen!

    • I find those “baby steps” very helpful. Cleaning up the downstairs is a giant task. But if you break it up in a number of small doable tasks, eventually it’ll get done. That’s what I’m telling myself now 🙂

    • How timely this is for me. I arrived back from vacation and found that the bathroom upstairs flooded the bedroom next to it, the bedroom and bathroom downstairs and a part of my bedroom closet. Some “treasures ” we’re so wet they just needed to be thrown out. You’re so right about how all this stuff just clutters up our lives. God is obviously working with me too. So I’ll have more room for Him

  2. I consider myself to be a rabid “thrower-outer,” but I do see that the areas where I’m lax can be traced back to procrastination and indecision. Thanks for the shining arrow that points to the root of the problem!

  3. Melissa, I started adult life without a lot of “things” clutter because I didn’t want to dust all that stuff. My nemesis, however, is printed material. Not only do I have stuff in print that other’s have written, I have boxes/files of things I have written, including lyrics complete with music. Here it sits, gathered over the entire span of my life, and continuing to grow as more ideas grab my attention so I sit and write them out as they form. It’s to the point now that I don’t want to write any more, no matter how inspired it seems to be, but if I don’t write in that moment, I feel a sense of loss. Not only lost thoughts that I cannot recover, but loss of self. So, yes, I can easily relate to your clutter comments. Since I am not a published writer, there’s really no reason to hold on to these spontaneous writings, except perhaps to keep me company in my old age. In the meantime, stuff on paper has become a huge quantity, nagging at me because I cannot sort through it to determine what to keep and what to toss. It feels worse than having a house full of “Things” clutter. Any suggestions for managing this sort of “clutter”?

    • One possibility is to turn the paper into digital files. You still have it but in a much smaller footprint. You can either scan or take photos. My sister takes photos of items that she wants to remember but doesn’t have any need for. Takes time but then you get to remember all the things again. As you make it digitally you might even find the courage to actually pitch some of the stuff

      I found another idea from the book “the magic of decluttering”, or something like that :P, is you say thank you to the item or piece of writing for giving what you needed at that time and then let it go. I found that freeing and able to part with a lot of gifts from others that I never liked but didnt’ dare let go of so as not to hurt the giver, or for purchases that I shouldn’t have made.

      Hope that helps.

  4. I was just thinking this week that I feel the need for more “space” in my life, physical space. The clutter in our home, b/c it’s small, makes me feel contained.

  5. Oh, yes, Melissa, I certainly can relate. To everything you say here. Indecision, procrastination, the difference between our daily mess and the clutter beast. And the inability to live the life we want when we’re overwhelmed by clutter.

    In Anne Tyler’s novel “Saint Maybe” after bags and bags of all sorts of “stuff” have been set on the curb, a character says that the house feels lighter.

    Clutter weighs you down. Get rid of it, and you fly 🙂

  6. I am so on board with this that I just actually bought your book “Make Room for What You Love” a few weeks ago! My twenty something year old daughter is like me – she still has clothes she wore in middle school, because they still fit! (That is SO not my problem! LoL) We are frugal folks who don’t like waste, hang on to stuff because it’s still “good”, are very sentimental (I still have pictures she drew me in Kindergarten!), have an attic full of every Christmas ornament I’ve ever bought, Barbies & all their friends & stuff, and on and on… We talked one day about why we are the way we are – I guess she got it from me, but where did I get it? Thinking back on my childhood, one thing I know is that my daddy threw away everything! I clearly remember looking for a certain doll that I had not played with in a little while. I asked my mother where it was and she said my daddy have given it away! He never saw me play with it! (That’s the difference in the generations – parents did stuff and never “consulted” with the child, never asked permission – just did it!) It was that way my whole life – my parents were very frugal, did not keep stuff around after it was useful, were not sentimental, etc….maybe I have been compensating for that – who knows? Other than that, I am fairly normal – wait, I do love to keep my Southern Living magazines FOREVER…..ANY way, thank your for your encouraging devotion today! You are proof there is life – a more happy, abundant life – after CLUTTER! Be blessed!

  7. I used to have clutter, but an encounter with God over it changed my heart….and healed my marriage! There is SO much freedom in letting go and giving away! The best Christmas present I ever gave myself was to rent a a dumpster and off load the attic accumulation. A literal weight was lifted…… The message of de-cluttering is one I preach often because it literally changed my life!

  8. I fall into the same problem of wanting to decorate and have this picture perfect home so I buy things that I think will look great. Then I buy flowers and plants for my garden. I see a perfect gift for a friend or family member for Christmas or a birthday. But then I forget where I put them all or that I bought them at all. At the end of the day when working full time I have no energy left to decorate or gardening. So projects and crafts pile up along with a book or magazine with great articles that I want to read. It becomes overwhelming. And then the stress from work and my elderly father who needs checking on seems to paralyze me from doing anything. I look to the Lord for guidance and he tells me to let go, take one thing at a time, just work at one area, accomplish one thing and it won’t seem so overwhelming. He supplies all we need. A perfect home isn’t so important when God supplies us with all we need in his love. I also find comfort in knowing so many of my friends and family fall into the same problems and patterns, I am not alone! And what’s more the homes of many of my friends are even more cluttered than mine and my neighbor’s garages are a lot worse than mine too!! So then I don’t feel so bad! Just look to the Lord and take one day at a time, one project at a time.

  9. Kathleen C,

    Yes! I’ve found that those folks must all share addresses when you give. I can’t give to more than I’m doing right now but to have to shred letters days after day with pictures of children, or old people, or “feed one elderly lady for a week” just wrenches my heart. I pray for them and then I spend more time trying to get to the bare table tops in my study. I am richly blessed by my grown children who care for me so I keep doing what I can and feeling sad for what I can’t.

    And “MOM” oh boy is that me! I have three ring binders filled with stuff that was just such good reading (at the time, however long ago that was) that I had to save it. Only a few times have my files of information been helpful to someone else. That is where I am now, in my study. I try to ask, “how relevant is this today?” Part of me says “ditch it so my family won’t have to wade through it” and another part of me recalls a friend telling me how she had decided not to dump a box of things she’d saved because if they’d go through that her sons would finally get to know who she was. I finally gave my mother’s “day books” as she called them to my oldest son and he writes that history is fascinating when you know the people. My prayer journals will help my “kids” learn who I was in my walk with God, and maybe I really don’t need to keep all those binders any longer.

    Thankfully this is the area where clutter gets to me. Clothing I can give away; books (some) I can give to the Friends of the Library; it’s the writings and hopes and cares of others like-minded that are taking up space.

  10. This is so me. But it’s not just physical clutter. It’s also cluttered time and commitments and clutter in my brain and heart. Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps ❤️

  11. This makes me ache because what if it’s your husband who is the cluterrer? He chronically fills our front room where we and everyone else enter the house. One whole room of our home is stuffed — you can’t even walk in it. The garage, which is his domain, is similarly stuffed. After a couple of my surprise cleanings that ended in him getting supremely angry with me rather than grateful, I gave up. Over the years, I have offered to help him clean and organize and even purchased shelving systems, thinking maybe he just needs storage. No dice. I am not a neat freak and can tolerate some clutter, but it’s hard to live with especially because I am a stay-at-home mom and see the mess all day. I want to have a nice home, but I don’t think I ever will. I feel judged because people assume a SAHM would be responsible for keeping up the house, and I do what I can, but it’s not my fault. I know some people’s advice would be “Pray for your husband,” and of course I do — and not just about this issue. I’m commenting because I don’t know if anyone has practical advice, and because I want other women to realize messy homes are not only due to the main house cleaner of the family.

    • I can feel the pain in your writing and can see how hard this must be. I’ve heard from many others who suffer with their spouse being the main clutterer so you are definitely not alone. I believe you deserve to have a less cluttered home and that it matters to you, yet it’s so hard when you can’t get a spouse on board. Don’t give up, I would just do as much as you can to keep up your home in the way you want it to be, without provoking him.

      Sometimes in our home my side of the bedroom is tidy and my husband’s is not (sometimes both sides are in chaos, but I do try to keep up my own side for my own sanity, even if his is cluttered). I make the bed in the mornings and then he lets the dogs jump up and then they pull all the covers off and knocks the pillow on the floor! Ack! He doesn’t appreciate the bed I just made (even though I try to explain it!), but he does feed the dogs and cleans the kitchen so I just try to accept what he does do and then I remake the bed for my sanity. That’s sometimes the best you can do, just do what you can for your own sanity! My husband also loves to put stuff in our attic. It drives me crazy because I don’t want to put “stuff” anywhere anymore, so I don’t want stuff stuffed in an attic. But, he lives here, too and I just have to let him put his things up there even though if I lived here alone the attic would be empty. But an empty attic isn’t worth the fight for me, I guess I just have to choose my battles! 🙂

      Pray not just for your husband to change his ways, but for your marriage… that God would open the door to communication so you can share your heart and soften his towards your needs in this area and why decluttering would mean so much to you. I know none of this advice will solve everything and maybe none of it is useful in your situation, but I’ll pray for YOU! Hang in there.

  12. I swear lately these posts have been ON POINT!!!

    Actually its simply scary how recently every post feels like I could have written it because it happens to be exactly what I am going through at the moment. Clutter, chaos, “what was sentimental is now just a pile”, when to let it go now that he has hung on to it for so long, etc……hubby and I just had a conversation about his basement clutter…..I told him how it gives me anxiety to go down there because there are so many piles of his stuff and it seems he adds to it daily; his response was: “Well, now I am feeling anxiety over you sharing your anxiety”.

    UGH. Back to square one.

  13. I love the clutter free life, once you start getting rid of stuff it is so freeing. I love the room it makes for what is important, such a great point!

  14. Hello, my name is Pearl and I’m a clutteraholic. But a recovering one! I started my decluttering journey 4 years ago. It was the first time I’d heard the correlation you beautifully wrote about, Melissa, between less stuff and more room in your heart. With two toddlers and not much energy I just told myself, “Do one thing a day, even if it’s just a drawer.” A year later I was thankful much of the clutter was gone when God directed our family to move! But seeing all those boxes…still had much room for improvement. Staging our home flipped a switch in my head: Why did I wait until we were leaving?! Why couldn’t my house always look this nice? That became my goal. Still is. Definitely a work in progress! There are still some places to reclaim, but I’m not embarrassed when people visit anymore! Melissa, THANK YOU for refocusing me on continuing the journey; it’s reminded me I don’t have to settle for clutter, I can have more room for what matters most!

  15. Melissa, you’re so right! Most of my clutter has come from procrastination, and from not knowing what to do with stuff. Earlier this year, I began to think about how to transform my project/catchall/junk room into my “white space/creativity” room. A few weeks ago, I began purging, and honestly, I am AMAZED at how many bags of trash and boxes of stuff to give away I’ve filled. From just ONE room and closet. Over 100 gift bags . . . I won’t continue to list.

    When I began to think of my limited flat surface space in this room as prime real estate, it became easier to begin getting rid of stuff. The thing I’m having the hardest time letting go of are pictures, especially of my boys. I want to scrapbook them, but my time is also at a premium. So . . . I am beginning to pray for God’s guidance on this. Purging has become almost addictive because it feels good to see space opening up in this room. 🙂

    Now to continue to open up space in my heart and my time to add in more white space.

    LOVED your post.

  16. I have been a sentimental saver for years. Now at 65, I realize that I have more projects than my lifetime could finish. I also realized that there is no Presidential library in my future, no grandchildren to save for. I still fight the urge to save travel brochures and receipts, old addresses and emails of people I have not seen in years, old patterns I will probably not sew from. It is a major problem in my life because when I sort, I fondly remember the stuff and then stick it somewhere else. Maybe I should just film myself talking about it and then throw it out!

  17. I’m reading this in the middle of a whole house overhaul. My husband and I have been slowly changing our keep-it-forever ways and I’m hoping this is the final push. Sentiment is his issue, frugal indecision is mine. Literally every storage nook and cranny has been pulled out and exposed. After 12 years of marriage and three kids, we are finally letting go of our past lives and embracing what we want to be about now – which includes less than half of our stuff. I was so discouraged yesterday feeling the weight of it all and decision fatigue to the MAX. Your post was perfectly timed! Thank you for the encouragement to keep moving toward freedom in our homes. I can’t wait to see your book!

  18. It seemed all i had to do is start watching a hoarder show to get me going. I like clutter bug better than pack rat too. If you love it take a picture of it, and give it away. I know people on both extremes those that will get rid of everything and some that want to keep everything.

  19. I’ve been slowly going through my home loosely following the Konmari method. My biggest obstacle, I hate to say, is my husband. I wouldn’t call him a hoarder, but he gets pretty sentimental about stuff, and he also has a prepper mindset and wants to keep stuff “just in case.” But the biggest problem is that he’s mobility-impaired and gets anxious if his stuff isn’t out where he can easily access it. So there’s barely a surface in our home that doesn’t have his stuff piled on it. After a lot of fretting and praying I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to just focus on decluttering my own stuff, and hopefully he’ll get inspired to let some of his stuff go and let me try to establish some order with the rest.

  20. Melissa, my struggle is the sentimental clutter. We just moved and though I’ve decluttered many times, there remain leftover decisions waiting to be made. Waiting for me to let go once and for all. Thank you for the reminder that they don’t fit in the life I want to live. : )

  21. My oh my oh my. So many of us are in your situation. I was…until progressive ms happened in my life. Now all those ‘things’ are not very important. My life is in God’s hands and those cluttered things are far away from my world. I sit and crochet or read or pray. My life is a simple one now and that is ok. Interesting post. Thank you.

  22. Melissa,

    I am not a “hoarder” of stuff. Don’t like having a bunch of stuff laying around my house cluttering it up. ‘As I make more room in my house, I also find more room in my life and heart…’ That sentence resonates with me. I won’t just throw stuff out- I’ll donate it to a charity and let others use and enjoy the items. A sense of pure joy overcomes me when stuff is gotten rid of. I totally agree with baby steps in cleaning out rooms. Yes. We must all stop procrastinating and just get started.

    Blessings 🙂

  23. Decluttering really lifts my spirits. I have boxes and boxes stacked up right now to go to charity. Sometimes it’s hard to let go but when I do I feel so much better!

  24. I used to be able to wear size 7 rings. However, in the last few years due to aging and swelling in my fingers I can no longer do so. So rather than keep things in my jewelry box I have been doing the following: selling some items on EBay, selling some jewelry for gold but what I have also started to do is give some of my jewelry away to friends; for instance I have a friend who has daughters and I have passed along some jewelry to her that has birthstones for the months of her children’s birth. I have also been tough on myself about clothes. Those I donate to charity. I would like to get to a point where I can store off season clothes in the basement and have a closet where my clothes don’t go in freshly ironed and come out wrinkled due to having to squeeze them in! One of my problems now is that I wanted to donate some personal care products and I thought a charity would take them but no such luck. Also, my husband and I went through our Christmas decorations a few years ago and I also donated a bunch of stuff to charity, even my 6 1/2 foot pre lit tree which I had gotten at half price and enjoyed but I would rather just put up a smaller tree. My husband and I are 60 years old and childless and I do not want someone to have to wade through all our stuff when we are both gone and figure out how to get rid of it. So slowly but surely I am trying to get rid of some clutter.