Monday, May 10, 2010

bookshelves--uncluttered

Over the weekend I had mind that I wanted to do a little cleaning and uncluttering. My proudest accomplishment is this bookcase. I cleaned out a lot of old magazines, gave away a bunch of books I wasn't using or consulting at all, and removed a bunch of 3/4 empty photo albums and old school reports (you can see them here in limbo--waiting in a stack on the floor for their next home--hopefully they won't wait there too long!!)
I am totally delighted to have these books organized and more accessible. We had so much stuff in this bookcase that we couldn't even find what we owned! Ken ended up buying a second copy of Greek Myths because we couldn't find our existing copy! I guess that's a signal to clean up. I've seen books sorted by color like this around the blogs and flickr'. I love the look and there are few enough books that I think we'll still be able to find things pretty easily.
About giving away books: my library accepts donations of used books and sells them in their bookstore. I love supporting that, and in truth it's not too hard for me to part with something I never use or consult. I do love books, though, and ideally we'd have a full wall of bookshelves like this one. That's not our reality right now, though, and if I'm honest with myself there are only so many books that I can truly love and use. Do you know what I mean? In the worst case scenario I would realize that I've given away a book I really want after all and would end up buying another. That's not so tragic, is it? And I doubt it will happen much (if at all).
The nice thing is that we can truly use, find, and enjoy our books ever so much more now. I have been doing LOTS of thinking about how releasing our clutter makes our lives better on just so many levels. Buying, acquiring, and collecting more and more stuff (then having to figure out ways to store it all) is the American way for sure (and maybe human nature) but I'm beginning to reject all that. It never means that I don't like pretty things or will never want to update my clothes or home, but I feel I can do with less.
How about you? Are you rethinking your collections, clutter, and stuff?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh I've been wanting to arrange my books by color, it looks so pretty. =)
I just have to get most of my books out of storage and my bookshelves. Can't wait to go through them.
I have been trying to unclutter little by little. It just feels better and you don't feel so bogged down, I find anyways.

Oona Nicholas

Joy said...

We frequently have to declutter our bookshelves and we DO have a library. My husband and I are both avid book collectors and each of our kids has their own collection. I'm particular about the books I actually buy, as opposed to borrowing from the library so it's really hard for me to part with them. My husband often buys technical manuals so that's the first shelf we head toward when it's culling time. Our home is very simply decorated and simply furnished so I very much agree with your approach to uncluttering life and making do with less, but the books...that's where the love is.

Joy said...

PS. Love the organization by color. Very visually appealing. :)

Karen said...

yes, i've been slowly decluttering over the last three years. it feels wonderful to have more space...but far less STUFF. we just. don't. need. it. we could all take a lesson from developing nations ... where many, many people are actually very happy on what we call "nothing."

i did get into a bad habit, when i started "freeganing" and goodwill/yard sale trolling, of picking up items "just because" they were cute, cheap, free .... you get the idea. now i try to keep practicality in mind, for the most part.

One Crafty Mumma said...

I've been decluttering for about 6 months now and this last 2 weeks I have been re-decluttering (is that a word?!) through shelves and cupboards that have already had one full sort through. It feels good to part with things no longer needed and make cupboards less crammed and oh, so much more enjoyable.

nicole said...

I find when I "purge" and donate my things I can barely remember them and therefore they are not missed. I do have a hard time letting go of books because many of them capture a certain time and place (a memory) but if I am honest with myself, I rarely revisit those books.

Diane said...

What, no 'before' picture? ;-)

Your shelves look lovely sorted by colour. Bookshelves are just one thing on my long To Declutter list...

Andrea said...

Love the color-coordinated books!!

I've been on a big decluttering kick, although I haven't attacked the books yet (I did got throgh all our bookshelves last year and got rid of about six boxes, and put one box in my room of books I either haven't read or don't remember reading...still waiting to be read!). I've been checking about 90% of the books I want out from the library so that I don't have to worry about storing them (and there's a little time pressure to actually read them!!) Though I just got a huge new haul of books at a bookfair.

christina said...

Lot's decluttering a organizing going on over here too. I am doing some book rearranging and purging, mostly the kids books as there are many that are never read and are not quite what i want in the house to read.

I am very much feeling the less is more right now... We have decided to pull our oldest out of public school and homeschool next year, so my thougths are turning to the fall when we will be busy, when I will be busy, I want there to be more space for learning, less clutter.
I don't want our house taken over by stuff. I'm a yard sale gal so it's all being stacked in a pile and waiting for the big yard sale day!

Redbeet Mama said...

I love the color idea!
I had thousands of childrens books - I worked in childrens publishing...but last year I made the leap and got rid of this massive collection. I kept 100!!! I donated my books to homeless shelters, libraries and women centers. It felt so good. I loved having the collection but - I treasure them more though when I was kid-less. My children did not need all this books.
I live for de-cluttering. I have just fallen in love with mid-century houses - minimalist living looks so attractive to me.
Thanks for the ramble! Great Job.

nicole said...

you won a garland! Check my blog for details!

Once Upon A Parent said...

Oh Mary Beth I love that they are all grouped by color. If I kept more books I would do the same.

Annie

Fiona said...

Decluttering is so freeing isn't it? I don't know if I've shared this here before, but it reminds me of something I heard about valuing space. Space is a commodity too was the quote. That really brought home to me the need to have space in our homes. I now ask myself (whether decluttering or about to buy) Do I value this object more than my space? Invariably the answer is no.

Holly C. said...

I just love seeing books and I love the way you've arranged them! So pretty.

kristen said...

Your bookshelves look lovely! I love them!

melissa s. said...

I love rainbow bookshelves! So pretty! Have you seen this?
http://giveyourstuffaway.com/

Nicola (Which Name?) said...

I love the look of your shelves by color. We have a lot of the same books! Decluttering here and wanting wanting wanting it to go faster and be more impactful!
Nicola

erin said...

i think it's certain times of the year, when we get that itch...and we look around and nothing is fresh anymore. i know the feeling exactly.

and i'm with you on the books - as great as books are at being decorative, it's often that they are just that and not read or used. i often try to think of people i know who might like them and pass them on.
happy organizing :)

lisarenata said...

I am, I am. I recently moved my studio/office from down stairs to upstairs and in the process I have been trying to get rid (or declutter) those things I have not used in a while. I'll tell ya, that is hard!!! So far I have cleared out a whole bin. One thing I just can't seem to be able to get rid of is fabric, I know there is always something I can create with each piece. Now that is my problem- I know I can always find a use for everything, but then I hardly ever find the time to do it. Hahaha.
Books are another thing that are hard to get rid of (I love them all), but I have traded and given away some.
Here is an idea for the future: Trade them with friends or other mamas. We do this in one of the moms clubs I belong to.

stitchedincolor said...

I've been tempted to arrange books by color, but we have about 3 times as many books as I see on your shelf, so I'm just afraid we won't be able to find anything (and my husband thinks the idea is nuts, but whatever).

Yes, we are pursuing a simple life, but I haven't reflected that in my books yet. That's a challenging idea. I have a vast resource of books from college that I just don't use right now. And, yet, we homeschool, so you never know... You may like the book "Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity in a Consumer Culture" that I'm reviewing/sharing on my business blog right now: www.EuphoriaBaby.com/blog.

P.S. I love your quilt. Mine is a lot like it (in my Stitched header). Fun!

Katie said...

I love pictures of other people's bookshelves. I always look to see if we have some of the same ones. Last week in our library's book sale section I found a 1948 copy of I Capture the Castle. I love that book, and now I have two copies. Thank goodness for daughters to pass books on to!