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Home is where the heart is…or just the clutter?

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There’s something satisfying about a good garage sale; finding a cracker of a bargain and heading home happy. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Aussie Pickers, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

I love the idea of having my own garage sale too. I mean who doesn’t love to make a bit of extra cash while making space for more shoes, more books or hey, just more space? But the actual idea of having to sift through my wardrobe/storage cupboard/garage/dark creepy space under the stairs to find the goods to sell…absolutely terrifies me.

A) I tend to get frustrated after about an hour and quit.

B) I am the most indecisive person I know so nothing really ever makes it onto the To Sell or To Donate pile; and C)?

Well, C) I just really don’t have the time.

Which is why what I’m about to reveal below is big. Huge in fact. Because it means I’m now accountable. To you…along with half of Canberra.

But before you go getting any ideas about the kind of person I really must be to have let the state of my garage get to this point, I want you to know that what you’re about to see is not my fault. Nope. I blame time.

When I heard on the radio about this nation-wide Garage Sale Trail idea that will take place on Saturday 25 October, I thought ‘Right, I have five weeks to get this crap sorted, decluttered and to find it a new home.”

And here it is. In its complete and utter disorganised, cluttered chaos.

Uh-uh, no way can I tackle this bad boy on my own. It's time to bring in the help. Well, sort of.

Uh-uh, no way can I tackle this bad boy on my own. It’s time to bring in the help. Well, sort of.

I took it as another sign that I needed to do this when, shortly after hearing about the neighbourhood initiative on AM radio, we received an email in the HerCanberra inbox. From the Garage Sale Trail organisers. So who better to ask for a helping hand then they?

Now in its third year, the Garage Sale Trail is the treasure amongst the trash of co-founders Andrew Valder and Darryl Nichols who came up with the idea to hold a day of garage sales in their local area. Inspired by sustainability and the opportunity to make new community connections, this grassroots idea has blossomed into the biggest community and sustainability event in Australia.

They’ve even thought ahead and teamed up with decluttering experts in each state to give you a better chance of actually sorting through your clutter. (I must admit I was pretty delighted to know I could pick the brains of someone who could give me some tips and nifty tricks on where to get started.)

Enter Virginia Wells, professional organiser and owner of WellSorted.

With a degree in science and psychology, Virginia helps the busy, stressed and overwhelmed (ahem, that’s me!) declutter, organise and arrange their homes in a way that works for them and says that it’s about bringing calm, order and flow back into their home and life.

“I help people declutter their junk room, the overflowing linen cupboard…the spaces where you want to close the door and hope that no one sees,”Virginia says.

“My clients are women who are overwhelmed with their space and are embarrassed to invite people over. Some of them are minimalists, and others hoarders, but at the end of the day all of us we have a way that we would like our house to be presented and that is different for everyone.”

Like most businesses, the demand for a declutterer has its peak times with springtime being the most obvious. As winter comes out of hibernation making way for new life, there’s no better time to do exactly the same thing with a house/room/garage filled with clutter and unused belongings.

It seems I’m just in time to wake my garage of its (lazy) winter slumber and rid it of its excess winter weight. But you must understand one thing—moving house is never a garage’s best friend. Where homeless bits and pieces, half sorted boxes of crap and unpacked boxes accumulate, clutter breeds like rabbits. No sooner has one pile grown that another corner is filled to the ceiling with boxes.


Clutter breeds contempt

But as Virginia enters my garage there is no judgement, just a wave of instant decluttering mind-ninjaness. I can see she is already evaluating the corner of unbalanced boxes, the pieces of unused furniture and the industrial shelving overflowing with random…well, things.

She tells me that before the decluttering can begin, she likes to ensure that when working with her clients they have permission from their partner or family to make decisions about whether to throw out or keep items that belong to them. Yep, that’s a tick from me.

Handy Hint #1

Think about what it is you want in your home in relation to how it will support your life, lifestyle and values BEFORE you start decluttering. This will help you assess each item that you come across. 

So, now what?

To start your Garage Sale declutter, you’ll need:

  • Some empty boxes or tubs to sort your items (tarps are also handy to pile things)
  • Labels so you can label each box accordingly — Rubbish, Give Away, Sell and Keep)
  • Notebook and pen (to do list for the items you have i.e. Mum to pick up vintage chairs)

It may also be an idea to have a few Sell boxes labelled with different price ranges (Under $5, Under $10, Over $20, Valuable) which will save you some time tagging items later.

Standing in the internal entrance of the garage, Virginia offers me three pointers to get me started.

1. Get a garbage bag and pull out the things that you know can go immediately. Don’t go into unpacked boxes just grab loose items and fill a bag. And do the same with trash. Do a quick five minute blitz.

2. Set up your boxes. Choose one area and stay focused on it.

3. Tackle it in small manageable areas. If you are coming across items that belong to another room of the house, put it in a box labelled To Put Away and only put it away once you have finished decluttering.

Handy Hint #2

If you think you might have stumbled across something valuable in your garage, take the time to find a valuer to valuate it for you. Most will come out to your home for no charge and even if they say ‘Oh it’s only worth $100’, it’s $99 more than what you might have sold it for.

While I try not to pry out too many of Virginia’s decluttering secrets, she tells me that if a person can read through an entire page of what to do (or not to do) when decluttering and then put it into practice, they probably aren’t her type of client.

“People who come to me are those who have read the articles, bought the books but still can’t get through the clutter,” she says.

To donate, or not to donate?

A general guide when determining whether to donate an item to charity is whether you would want the item yourself if you came across it at an Op Shop. If it’s broken you probably wouldn’t look at it twice and chances are somebody else won’t either.

If it’s stain-free, in working order and free from any rips or tears donate it to charity. Electronics are generally only received by The Green Shed due to safety reason while bedding, towels or used linen are always welcomed by the RSPCA and other animal shelters. Old magazines, t-shirts (slogan free) and other crafty things are always handy for preschools and daycares or could be of value to any of your crafty friends. Everything else is either trash or recycled.

Let it go, let it go…

Say goodbye to items that…

  • you haven’t used in a year or more.
  • you forgot you had.
  • doesn’t fit you or your lifestyle.
  • you have more than one of.
  • you hate.
  • is broken and you know you’ll just never get around to fixing or getting someone else to fix for you.
  • you’re keeping for that ‘just in case’ moment.
  • you don’t associate happy memories with.
  • you have no space for.
  • could ideally be replaced with something else.

Handy Hint #3

If you notice that trash from your car is somehow finding itself into your garage, a simple solution is to put a bin in the garage.

Sorting through high levels of clutter can be distressing and quite often a mindset blocking you from making any progress. Sometimes the help from an outside source may be what you need to get you started.

But with two weeks of school holidays ahead (for some of us), or at least two long weekend, what better time to spring clean your home and sort through the clutter in the garage. And hey, it could be just what you need to restore order back into your life and make a few extra dollars while you’re at it…

Stay tuned for my decluttering progress in this three-part Garage Sale Trail series. If you’re keen to make some money, then jump across to the Garage Sale Trail and register your garage sale. There’s nifty guides to get you started and Trail Sale Tales to inspire you along the way.  

Win a decluttering session!

The great news is that the organisers of Garage Sale Trails are also giving one lucky Canberran the chance to win three hours with WellSorted’s Virginia Well to help get your garage sorted before the nationwide Garage Sale Trail rolls up its doors on Saturday 25 October. You can enter the #ClearYourClutter competition here.

The essentials

What: Garage Sale Trail

When: Saturday 25 October, 2014

Where: Host your own garage sale or create your garage sale treasure map to follow around Canberra.

Cost: Free, unless you find a bargain to buy.

Web: www.garagesaletrail.com.au

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One Response to Home is where the heart is…or just the clutter?

Frances says: 3 October, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Chomley Court (Just off Copland Drive), Evatt.

If you love a treasure hunt then just look at what we’ve found for you! This ultimate bargain hunt begins at 9am, and has a sausage sizzle, drinks and ice creams and a cafe with awesome coffee, cakes and food. The jumping castle and face painting makes it a fun family day; or simply go solo in search of seriously amazing second-hand goodies.

Book your own stall for only twenty bucks and sell all that stuff that’s taking up space in your garage.
Join the fun at this popular community event on October 25th from 9am – 2pm and make it a day to remember.


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