Spot the Difference

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The more progress you make in the quest to streamline your home and keep only the things that you use or love, the less spectacular the changes may be.

Here is an example.

I recently cleaned and sorted the cupboard in the vanity unit.

This is the ‘before’ photo.

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Some would say that it is fine, however, I knew that it was not as I wanted it and there were things that I needed to sort out.

I removed everything from the cupboard and wiped over the shelves.

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These things did not go back.  The small shampoo and conditioner are being used.  The large unused container of hand sanitiser has been discarded.  I discovered that it had an expiry date of 2011.  I bought that as a ‘just in case’ but it turned out to be a wasteful exercise.  Th barely used hairspray is going to my daughter – I never use it.  The tube of ‘toddler’ toothpaste has been discarded as the grandchildren are no longer toddlers.  The remainder of a box of Panadeine Forte has been discarded as it had expired.  Empty packet is in the recycling.  Tablet packaging, old toothbrushes and cough lozenge packets are in the rubbish.

The ‘after’ photo.

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Not a great deal of difference but I can now see exactly what is there to be used.  The biggest difference is in the re-arranged crate.

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I could actually downsize the container that I use but I do not have one suitable at the moment and I am not about to rush out and buy one just now.

A 15 Minute Job

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Sometimes it is difficult to find time to do anything much more than the basics – washing, ironing and cooking – done when I am busy at work.

However, tonight I managed to start and finish a small job in just 15 minutes.  I cleaned, tidied and sorted the drawers in the bathroom.  There are 4 drawers in the vanity unit but one is empty and I save that so that it is available for guests to use if they wish.

One drawer has GMan’s stuff, one is mine and the bottom drawer has the hairdryer so extra mini soaps and spare toothbrushes.

Here is my drawer before I started.

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There does not appear to be much difference once I had cleaned it  but a couple of things have gone.  It is a good opportunity to review what is actually in the drawer so that I can remind myself to use it.

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I did not photograph the other drawers before but here they are – clean and sparkling.

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Finally, I have finished the makeup that I wrote about recently.  These have been tossed in the bin and I am going to buy new lipstick, mascara and blush tomorrow.

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The cupboard in the vanity unit is the next thing on my hit list but not tonight.

Clutter-Free – Start Small


I often talk about decluttering various spaces and having less but today I want to focus my attention on having clear spaces.  I am not advocating jamming your cupboard full of stuff, however, the benefit of clear surfaces cannot be underestimated.  It is a task that is unlikely to be achieved in one go and can be enormously overwhelming.  That is why I focused my energy on one room – the bathroom.  It is the smallest room in the house and is designed for a specific purpose, therefore logically should be the easiest to minimise the ‘stuff’.

VanityI have had the benefit of a renovated bathroom which has an inherently streamlined design.  I love the fact that there is no plug lying around on the side of the sink.  There are only 2 items on the bench – a ceramic shell dish which holds a small bar of soap and a repurposed vase (The Duke drilled a hole in the base of it) which holds our toothbrushes.  It is a quick and easy task to keep this area clean and tidy.

Shower recessAs this is quite a compact area we chose not to have a bath – just an easy to access shower area.  I had seen this type of recessed shelf in motel bathrooms and asked the builder to create one when we remodelled the room.  I love the idea because it is simple and streamlined to the eye, nothing to rust or gather soap scum and there is no encroachment to bump into when you are showering.  From left to right there is shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, facewash and a nail brush – everything required when showering.

Toilet and floorThe floor is another place where clutter can gather.  I found these fittings which attach to the wall – a holder for extra rolls of toilet paper and the toilet brush holder are both clear of the floor and do not need to be moved when sweeping or mopping the floor.

Scales and basketsThe only 2 things on the floor of the bathroom are a set of scales and the waste paper basket.

My whole house does not look this clear but it is lovely to have achieved it in at least one room.

The vanity unit has a 2 door cupboard and 4 drawers.  Tomorrow I will reveal exactly what is lurking in there.

A Thorough Clean

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I have managed to get most things back in order since we arrived home 10 days ago but the bathroom has been neglected.  The toiletries that we brought back were unpacked but had not been sorted and put away.

2012-09-26 01This afternoon I finally had time to give the cupboard a thorough clean.  I took everything out and sorted through it.  There was not a lot to throw out but it was good to make sure that everything went back in the correct place and a couple of sample size containers of shower gel have been put in the shower to be used up.

I also cleaned the shelves as it was several months since they were done.  The mirror and basin were cleaned as well.  Of course, one thing leads to another and while I was standing on the chair to reach the top of the mirror I noticed marks on the ceiling.  These appeared to be insect spots and while not really noticeable I decided to clean them as they would only get worse and more difficult to remove over time.  The Duke had painted the ceiling in a semi-gloss paint in an attempt to reduce the chance of mould growing and this made it quite easy to clean the ceiling.  A damp cloth was all I needed and the ceiling is looking as good as new.

Here is the freshly cleaned and organised vanity unit.

2012-09-26 02I also tidied up the drawers and even took some photos but you are just going to have to believe me on that one as I am having issues getting the photos to the blog.  I hope it comes good before tomorrow.

All I used to do my cleaning today was some warm water with a drop of detergent and a couple of clean cloths.  I try to minimise the chemicals that I use and during the next week I hope to share some of the alternatives that you can use.

Bathroom Progress


Two and a half weeks later the end is in sight.  The plumbing, door knobs, mirror and showerscreen are yet to be done.  There are 2 double towel rails plus a towel ring

2012-03-06 01Here is the wall showing the finished recess.

2012-03-06 02The floor of the shower showing the grate with tiled insert.  Also, you can see the spare toilet roll holder and the holder for the toilet brush.  I love them being on the wall which means they don’t need to be moved to mop the floor.

2012-03-06 03I will post some final photos when it is all finished – probably next week as we have to wait for the shower screen and mirror to be made to order.

We are very happy with the way the renovation has turned out.

Renovation Preparation = Decluttering


In preparation for the bathroom renovation I emptied the vanity unit tonight.  I did not think it was too bad as I had gone through the contents fairly recently, however I proved the rule that you do really need to empty a drawer/cupboard/room completely when you a decluttering.  Otherwise it is easy to just ‘tidy it up’ and not really get serious about the worth of the contents.

Here are some ‘before’ photos.

Before - vanity cupboard

The drawers

Drawer 1

Drawer 2

Drawer 2

Drawer 3

Drawer 3

I systematically went through everything and ended up with 4 piles – rubbish, recycling, rehoming and keeping.

Here is the rubbish pile – even I could not seriously keep 3 tubes of sunscreen that expired at least 5 years ago!


The recycling – although it is not a lot, I did salvage what I could to be recycled.


The rehoming pile is pretty small – extra deodorant which should be in the stockpile box, exercise band which is going with the other exercise equipment and a medicine glass (I do not need 3) which Belle may want.

Rehoming pile

The rest is packed in a crate which will probably live in the office for the duration of the renovation.

Packed up

When the new vanity is installed I will look critically at the storage of some items and revamp it.  Some of the small white baskets are cracked so I will look for alternatives.  I will wait until I see the exact dimensions of the drawers.

It does not need to be as radical as renovating a bathroom but when you are decluttering it is definitely worth removing everything from its location so that you can look at it all with fresh eyes rather than just seeing each item. where it is normally stored.