Decluttering My Childhood

Written by Joey Daoud

On February 19, 2009

Last week I was back home in Miami Beach. The original intent of the trip was to bring some big things down from my home in Tallahassee to store in Miami so I wouldn’t have to move it when I finally go off to bigger and better things. Because I was bringing stuff down, I needed somewhere to store it.

So I had a new goal: declutter my room.

Cluttered Room

This is what my room looked like when I got to Miami, and what it’s roughly looked like for years.

Clean Room

This is what it looked like 24 hours later.

Now for some back story. I’m a reformed clutterholic, or at least on the path. I know my OCD roommate would disagree with that, but compared to even a year ago I’ve come a long way. I’ve become pretty ruthless with what stays and goes, mainly due to space. I just don’t have the space for crap anymore. But it isn’t easy. I come from a lineage of clutterholics. My mom’s bedroom is filled with boxes (sorry mom), which spread out to the living room all the way to the balcony.

My grandfather has (no lie) three houses throughout Florida. One of these homes, a vacation home in Orlando, has been so overrun with clutter my grandmother refuses to go there, and because of that the clutter just grows. Last time I was there it looked like a warehouse for QVC. It had everything from a tabletop steam press to The Perfect Push-Up (though thankfully no Snuggies).

So it’s no exaggeration that clutter is in my genes.

4 donation boxes, 3 bags of paper to recycle, 1 box of plastic to recycle, and 1 garbage bag later, Zen has arrived to my old room. If I had gotten up earlier and not putzed on the computer I could have done this in one day.

So obviously the biggest cheat which I think would be hard to replicate is I haven’t lived in this room for 3 years, so clearly I don’t need any of this stuff. But more importantly, and something I think is key to making any change, is I had a desire to get rid of everything.

I’ve stopped attaching sentimental value to things. My room is full of years of build-up of childhood and teenage artifacts. But I realized it’s the events and memories that are meaningful, not a ticket stub or token trophy.

In the next few days I’ll share some tips I discovered to power busting through a disaster area of clutter, but my main strategy was to just keep only what I want with me in the future.

That would be my enlarger and photo equipment – the original Photoshop:


The rest of my books:

My Own Library Stacks

And the rest of my vinyl albums:


It is my vision to one day live in a place that has a darkroom (Not to be confused with the Lego room. Those are in storage, awaiting their return.) and giant study.

The abundant amount of counter space was for Legos, but now it’s a bit too much. So I used it for book storage.

Harry Potter

This is actually the preferred way for long term book storage, according to roommate Librarian Lyssa. By laying them sideways it doesn’t put strain on the binding.

What you don’t see is I cleared out all of the drawers and cabinets as well, to make room for the stuff in the center that I wanted to keep. When I clean a large area like this I hit it full on and move around to different spots. At some points the room looked worse than when I started, but I feel that’s good motivation to keep going, because you need to clean up everything in order to have a place to sleep and live.

At some point everything will be cleared out. But for a first step a lot was accomplished (and FYI, a clean room is a much nicer place to be in).

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  1. A. B. England

    It looks like you’re off to a great start. Decluttering isn’t easy, especially if you’ve been used to gathering clutter without discarding any of it throughout your life, but it is so worth the effort.

    I’ve always been one to purge unneeded items two to four times a year, but Hubby was always a pack rat. After nearly four years of marriage, he’s not only come around, but he’s getting pretty good at decluttering without being urged by burgeoning shelves and closets.

    Childhood items are the hardest items to tell good-bye, but without doing so, it’s so difficult to make room for the future.

    • Joey

      Thanks! My only regret is I wished I had done this sooner because once I finished I had to go back to my current home, so I didn’t have time to enjoy the clean room.

      The childhood items used to be hard to toss, but at this point I realize it’s the memories that matter. That and photos, which take up little space, so it wasn’t too hard to get rid of the childhood stuff.

      Plus it’s from a life that isn’t really me anymore.


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