Simplify – Step 1

I was having a conversation with my brother-in-law, who has lived everywhere from South Africa to Hawaii to London, about all the “stuff” Americans have. And we do, as a society, we have way too much stuff. And here on Hillside Lane isn’t much different. Paul’s comment that, “You and Andris have so much stuff you can’t even park your car in the garage” is sadly true and is both an indication of having too much stuff and/or not enough storage (if you’re open to accepting excuses) – but the reality is probably a little of both.

The conversation got me thinking about the value of simplifying things on Hillside Lane. This post does not end with an empty garage and our car ceremoniously pulling into it….maybe one day, but today is not that day. But I did figure that step one to simplifying is to at least know what we’ve got – because we are incredibly blessed with many things that make our lives easier, richer and more beautiful everyday, but too often they get lost amongst the clutter. Well that ends today.

Our garage was kind of the catch all when we moved in just over two years ago. I was 6+ months pregnant and before we knew it the baby was here and now we’ve blinked and she’s almost 2 years old – but the garage continued to be haphazordly put together. So with my conversation with Paul as the inspiration – I shipped Luci out to her grandparents for an overnight, so Dris and I could get up early and attack the garage.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the garage before…don’t judge:

Garage Before II

Garage Before I

And here’s the after:



I know there is still lots of stuff, but it just feels so much more open and easy to see what we have. We’ve got a spot for extra supplies – toliet paper, paper towel, cleaning supplies, etc.


And shelves entirely dedicated all things entertaining – extra champagne glasses, wine glasses, platters, lanterns, etc. We so love having people over that having all these extras comes in handy.

Entertaining Shelves II

Entertaining Shelves

The other thing thing that has been so helpful is what I term the “staging area”. Our kitchen isn’t very big, so when we are entertaining, whether it’s just a small dinner with friends or a party that has people spilling into the backyard, we use this table to keep all the extras – extra platters, bags of chips, extra plates, napkins, etc. It has saved us on more than one occassion, but also had started to accumulate party “leftovers”. It is now ready for the next party!


This might be the thing I am most excited about – for two years our rakes, shovels and various yard tools were cluttered in a corner – another example of not being able to see what we had. My father-in-law and husband came up with this way to store the tools using piece of wood that we randomly had in the garage. It’s perfect and saves us so much room.


And finally, what I am calling the mini-mud room. Our house does not have a mud room (yet!). I think it might be first on our list when we are in a position to add it to the house. The garage is a 1.5 car garage in length, which isn’t all that helpful, except for the fact we can eventually take that extra length and turn it into a mud room that leads right into the kitchen. I. Can’t. Wait. Until then, we now have this working area for extra shoes and more importantly, wet shoes and boots when the weather turns cold. The clean up also freed up our garage access to the backyard – making it even more functional after sledding adventures or summer days running through the sprinkler.



There are plenty of more spaces in the house that could use to be simplified and get rid of extra stuff….the crawl space, Luci’s closet, the furnace room. If they all feel as good as it felt to organize the garage – then they will quickly make it to the top of the to-do list (I can feel Andris rolling his eyes right now).




One comment

  1. I know what you mean about the stuff… We had a garage sale this spring, and it felt sooo good to get all that stuff out of the house. The trick was to not bring anything back in afterwards. Great job on the garage, I wish we had one!

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