Note: This is a guest post by Andrea Dekker.
A common misconception in the organizing world is that the solution for too much stuff is simply to find more space.
All you need to do is get more creative with your storage, buy more bins and baskets, use vertical space more efficiently, hang additional shelves, add a closet, build another garage, finish off the basement, or rent a storage unit.
After all, won’t more space magically solve our stuff problems?
You may live in a home with poorly designed storage spaces, which certainly doesn’t help the situation. However, in my experience as a professional organizer and mother of 4 young children, lack of space is rarely ever the main issue.
The main issue is owning too much stuff.
As humans, we are naturally wired to want more — even those of us who try to live minimally and contentedly with what we have.
It’s easy to let emotions dictate our purchases or inhibit our ability to let go of items we no longer need.
Can you relate?
One solution = Space Budgets.
What are space budgets?
They are simply boundaries (or budgets) for our space.
The concept is similar to setting a timer to limit the time we spend on a specific task. Or creating a budget to assure we don’t spend more money than we have.
With a space budget, the goal is to use the space we have… and remove everything that doesn’t fit within that space.
Easier said than done, I know! But once you get on board with space budgets, your minimalism goals will be much easier to achieve.
How to Use Space Budgets in Your Home:
Clothing. Set a limit of how many hangers you will allow in your closet (choose a number that realistically fits, with plenty of breathing room).
Whatever number you choose is now your “space budget”. It determines the number of clothing items you will allow to live in your closet.
If you purchase a new item of clothing only to realize your hangers are all used up, your choices are to either return the item or donate something currently in your closet. Similarly, if you are gifted bags of hand-me-downs, you can select a few favorites and guiltlessly donate the rest, since they don’t fit within your space budget for that particular closet.
By utilizing a space budget for your clothing, you can almost guarantee you’ll never have a cluttered closet again!
Kitchen Gadgets. Designate a specific shelf or drawer for food storage containers, water bottles, small appliances, dish towels, serving platters, etc., and vow to only keep what will fit in that drawer or on that shelf.
When you have a drawer that won’t close or a shelf that constantly spills over, you know you’re crossing your space budget boundary and it’s time to take action.
However, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the thought of reorganizing your entire kitchen, you can focus your energy on that one specific area and feel good about the fact that you solved your space problem in just a few minutes.
Seasonal Decor. If you’re the type who enjoys redecorating your home throughout the seasons, space budgets will help you keep your storage under control while still enjoying a festively decorated home.
First determine how much space you are willing to “sacrifice” for seasonal decor, then put your favorite items in that space (I like using a large clear storage tub). Once the allotted space is comfortably full, the rest must go. Period!
As you change out decor items with the seasons, your space budget will alert you when it’s time to weed through and remove your least-favorite items.
Your space budget will also serve as a helpful reminder not to go crazy with after-holiday specials… if they won’t fit within your allotted space, don’t bring them home.
Use Space Budgets Anywhere!
This same process can be applied to ANYTHING in your home — books, toys, games, outer gear, luggage, gift wrapping supplies, technology, workout equipment, dishes, cleaning supplies… even furniture!
Simply designate a specific amount of space for your items and commit to not using more space than that.
Yes, that might mean you need to get creative or make do without a certain convenience… but won’t it be worth it when you can enjoy a less cluttered, less chaotic home each and every day?
A space budget is a simple and free tool that works!
Well… it works, as long as you don’t cheat!
The goal is not to cram as much into our spaces as possible, but rather, to allow space for the things we truly need and use — hopefully with a little empty space and “breathing room”.
It’s a lovely feeling to open a drawer, find exactly what you need in just a few seconds, and easily close the drawer again. Space budgets can help you accomplish this throughout your entire home!
Just as we know it’s in our best interest to faithfully budget our finances and our time, we will also benefit from budgeting our space.
The next time you feel the need for more storage space, consider instead implementing a space budget and simply storing less.
Andrea Dekker is a wife and mother of 4 young children who loves nothing more than being home! She’s passionate about creating a peaceful home, pursuing a simpler + slower lifestyle, and encouraging women in all stages of life to lean into their values and live more intentionally. She shares new content weekly at AndreaDekker.com.
I didn’t know this had a name but that’s precisely what I do. We used to live in a tiny house of 126 square feet, and now we have greatly expanded out into a spacious home of 660 sq ft and so we have room for so much more. My book collecting has to stay within the confines of my book shelf. My vintage dish collection is limited by space so when I collect something wonderful – something less wonderful has to go to make room. It’s basic and really works for those of us with cozy intimate spaces. So glad to hear your perspective.
I have a different challenge. Lots of empty spaces in my 800 sq ft apartment, but I can’t reach top shelves. Step stools are iffy because of age and balance.
Same modern problem ever since I relocate to NY, no idea who go this designed in the first place!
I’m new to this site (found via You Look Fab) and this idea makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe you’ve addressed this in the past, but I wonder how you use this plan with kids. I thinking of all the birthday and Christmas gifts….
Michelle Bonk says
Great article Andrea!