Friday, May 20, 2011

Home Decluttering: Attic Edition

I am sure that all of you are on the edges of your seats wondering how The Great Attic Clean Out of 2011 went down. Pretty well, as it turns out. I highly recommend you have Andrew around to be in charge of projects like this, because while I become paralyzed by the sheer amount of tasks to accomplish in this sort of situation, Andrew just... does the tasks. And they get accomplished.

So first, Andrew started bringing stuff down from the attic. I naturally forgot to take a “before” picture before we started, but I think the following series should give you the basic idea of what we were dealing with; which is to say, 1400 square feet of disorganized junk and trash. (I know I said 1800 square feet before, but I was wrong. It is a mere 1400.)

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These are our holiday decorations and wrapping supplies. They used to be piled up in a little alcove right at the top of the attic stairs. If we wanted to get at the boxes on the bottom, we had to move all the other boxes first. And a lot of this is just trash.

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Dining room chairs that I put in the attic to stop Nora from using them to rifle through the china closet. Also the easel. And a bunch of empty boxes and other trash.

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Baby stuff, a lamp, air conditioners and fans, coats, and my wedding dresses. Yes, two of them. No, I only wore one. Oh, and look! A random plunger! And an air pump for rocket balloons. There’s probably some trash in there as well.

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This is the baby/kids’ clothes area. It is pseudo-organized, but there are clearly some issues.

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Andrew’s workbench.

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The pool table, aka, backup workbench. (It came with the house.)

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Our old futon, covered with old Christmas presents, candy canes, some baby stuff, and, naturally, trash.

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View of workbench area from the other side.

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This is the living room filled with the toys that were in the attic. Andrew brought this room and the holiday stuff in the kitchen downstairs in the morning, and then he had to go coach Jack’s soccer team even though Jack wasn’t actually there because the kids spent the weekend at their grandparents’ house. I spent that time sorting through it all, and actually made excellent progress. Then Andrew got home and did most of the rest of the work.

So. Is the attic much worse than you thought it would be? It probably is. It was really really bad. But we threw out many bags of trash, recycled about 150 boxes, and gave away a whole landing full of various toys, clothes, baby supplies, and the like. (Don’t tell Jack about the toys, please. I was, in fact, unable to give away his old toy tool bench because he saw it when I was trying to sneak it out and had hysterics.) I Freecycled lots of it and once the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation comes to pick up the last four boxes on June 2, the attic will be DONE. Well, except that it will probably take a few more weeks before we can get all the trash out. But whatever! It no longer makes me cry to go up there!

Here are some after shots:

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Holiday decorations. Look how they are on SHELVES. So when we need the bottom bin, we can take move JUST the bottom bin. I KNOW.

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Baby stuff and toys currently out of circulation. (Note Jack’s old tool bench to the left of the bassinet and how it is hopefully packed in a box. Sigh.

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Baby/Kids’ clothes. There is a slight issue here, because there is no more room for more bins, and I am relatively certain that my kids are not finished outgrowing their clothes, but I think I have a different spot for the new bins.

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Air conditioners, coats, wedding dresses. I will deal with the wedding dresses later.

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Look at how there is plenty of space to walk around the chairs.

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OK, so this isn’t actually much better, but that’s because we need to purchase or build some sort of shelving/organizational system. Andrew has a ridiculous number of tools, and a lot of them are really large. But there IS space for him to build bunk beds for Nora and Jack this month, which was kind of out of the question before we did this. We got rid of a bunch of old wood scraps that we didn’t need anymore, and it cleared out a lot of space.

So there you have it! I’m not sure the pictures adequately convey the dramatic difference in the attic. What if I put them side by side?

Before:
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After:
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After:
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SEE?

So our next major step is to figure out where to store the circulating toys. They’re currently in plastic bins that are pretty much piled up under the window in the living room. It’s organized but not exactly aesthetically pleasing.

13 comments:

Heather R said...

I've been waiting for the attic update!! I have long wondered what it looked like up there!! I don't know if I would be brave enough to post pictures of my basement. The dusty stone walls and spiders make it look bad, even when organized.

Becca said...

Wow. My first house wasn't that big. That's a COOL attic. I'd stash the kids up there, but that's just me.

You did a ton of work and it looks great! I love that feeling of relief and calm you get when something is newly organized.

Dr. Maureen said...

@Becca: One of our potential future scenarios involves finishing the attic, but I think it will cost many tens of thousands of dollars. We'd have to hire an architect to make sure we didn't screw it up, for example. And maybe put in a new bathroom? And how many rooms? One huge master? Two smaller ones? WE DON'T KNOW. But it is currently bare studs and no insulation, so really only useful for storage because of the freezing cold in the winter and the stifling, dangerous heat in the summer. (A bird DROPPED DEAD FROM HEAT last summer.)

Christy said...

Isn't it amazing what you find up there? And how much of it is trash? Your attic is larger than my whole house, and being walk-up it must be so easy to throw everything up there. We have a scuttle into our attic so everything that goes up there is an ordeal. It cuts down on the clutter when you have to carry each item up a ladder and push it through the teeny hole to get it up there.

Swistle said...

Wow, you did a ton of work!

Tracy said...
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Tracy said...

I'm impressed. And the SHELVES for those bins. What a great idea! I will implement it... someday... in my attic of doom.

Jessica said...

I'm so jealous of your attic! The baby/kid clothes have already almost overtaken the laundry room, which is the only storage we have. And Margaret is only two!

On the other hand, I dont envy you the periodic cleaning of the attic. We kind of have to freecycle as we go....

-R- said...

Oh my gosh, will you come over and do this to my basement storage area?

Kelsey said...

We don't have a walk up attic, but this makes me wonder about the potential of storage up there - we have a ranch so it stands to reason that the attic would be relatively spacious. Right now we have everything stored in our basement but some of it is in the category of things I don't want to get rid of but don't need easy access to...

I think it looks like an AMAZING amount of work was accomplished!

Dr. Maureen said...

@-R- No. ;)

Dr. Maureen said...

@Jessica Last year I developed a system for saving baby clothes which is one bin per size/gender. ONE BIN. you must be hard on yourself when you have more than one bin's worth of adorable girl clothes, because you do not need more than one bin of clothes for a given age. STAND FIRM.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember you having two wedding dresses. How did I forget this? Big HOORAHS for you and Andrew. Lot of work and soo satisfying. Now you can come do our basement.
Love from you anonymous Mom.