Articles (Blog), Decluttering

What Is One Of The Most Shocking Parts Of Decluttering?

Gina and the pantry or The mindset shift of space.

Before I discovered the delights of having a lot less stuff, I was a collector. Books (especially series of books), shells, stones and feathers, quotes, photos and clothes.

They were all super organised though, even as a kid I had everything sorted and displayed in categories. You know how as you get older your tastes change? I’d get rid of one collection and start another. Or just get rid of stuff that no longer felt right and see what happened next.

When I grew up I’d occasionally sort the things in my house and declutter the unworn, unloved and unused things. Then I’d do a re-organise of all the things. So satisfying!

Sometimes that would leave an empty shelf, or a gap or an empty drawer.

This is White Space.

It might not actually BE white of course. It might be the wood inside a drawer, the top of the pink dresser in your daughters room or the funky old liner that’s been stuck to your pantry shelf since you don’t know when.

White Space is a handy term, like White Noise (which is often the sound of rainfall, waves, hissing, anything that blocks out the other sounds around us.)

When you have a lot of stuff, you’re used to making the best use of every little bit of storage you can find in your home. Squirrelling things into gaps here and there. Wandering around the house with a New Thing trying to find a spot for it.

Moving one thing then another, then another, to create room for a new project or a new treasure. Or creating piles. Or somehow no matter how much storage you always seem to be buying, you need to buy MORE!

Those little gaps and empty spaces can make you feel weird. Uncomfortable. Anxious. Or excited!

Ooooh a lovely gap (you say to yourself.)

What can I put in there?


Must. Fill. Gap. (And try to find something to make the gap go away.)

Some areas cause even more feelings when they have White Space. It’s because we have strong, sometimes subconscious, thoughts and emotions that we connect to them.

Like pantries and linen cupboards. They’re all about nurturing. Warmth, comfort, feeding those you love. They’re places of plenty and abundance.

Workshops and garages. They’re all about having useful things, so you can help, fix and be useful. They’re places of providing, creating and helpfulness.

Clothes and wardrobes. They’re all about memories, feeling good about yourself, feeling guilty about how much things cost. They’re places of creativity and self care.

White Space Shock.

The shock of seeing an empty space can be just a little jolt. Or it can tear at you. It all depends on how strongly you feel about that space, or about the things in that space. Or the concept of things in general.

You might be an Abundance Seeker, having many things around you brings you comfort.

You might be a Helper, needing to have more than enough, because someone else might need it.

You might be a Survivor. When more is never is enough, fearfulness and anxiety only quieten when you have a growing stash of needful things.

We’re all a little bit of all of those, plus more, on the scale of abundance and helpfulness and needfulness.

Gina, my busy client, who loves to entertain, had a gorgeous, minimal home. Inside her cupboards was a different story though. We sorted and decluttered all the storage in the house. We made heaps of White Space, which made her so happy. Then we came to the pantry.

Gina: It’s so embarrassing!

It was chock full. She hadn’t had a chance to sort it out for about 5 years. So we got stuck in and started pulling out all the expired food and rehoming things that didn’t belong there.

There were things in the back that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. Out it went!

She had to go and pick up the kids from school, so I put everything that was left back in the pantry, organised it all, making sure it was easy to find and see everything.

When Gina walked in to look at the results of our work, she looked a bit shocked.

Gina: Oh! It looks so… EMPTY!

The pantry was exactly what she wanted. We’d worked together on this large walk-in space and cleared out only the things that she couldn’t use any more. It now looked like the rest of her house: simple, clean, organised. But this space, above all others, had given Gina White Space Shock.

She had an emotional reaction to seeing the space between things. Space that she loved everywhere else in her home. But in her mind the pantry needed to be full, to give her that sense of nurturing, security and comfort. Just like her mum’s pantry.

After a minute or two of looking around she felt better. She grew more familiar with the sight of clean shelf between things. She loved the turntables, the simple, labeled containers. She loved how easy it was to get to everything.

And she loved the space that I’d left for her to keep fresh baking for her family.



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