The Urban Minimalist: How to De-clutter Your Home

My dear friend Clay Drinko graciously accepted my offer to guest blog about living minimally.  He currently lives in a small studio in West Chelsea.  What he has created with this space is remarkable.  Literally everything he owns, in the world, is in this apartment.  When I asked him how, he gave me 10 tips for de-cluttering that are tried, true, and continually executed on a daily basis in the Drinko household.  He makes it look so effortless, but also unbelievably appealing.

So without further ado, here is how you live blissfully in 250 square feet!

The Urban Minimalist: How to De-clutter Your Home
By, Clay Drinko (NYC) May 20, 2011

1. Being minimal is constant. Every time you clean or organize or even cook dinner try to get rid of one or two items you haven’t used in a year. This way living simply becomes habitual and kind of a game.

Adding a built-in book case is great way to take up less space and display your books to add color in a room. Functional and decorative!

2. Available space on shelves and counters DOES NOT need to be filled. Remind yourself how much more you dust and how much better you feel when you have empty surfaces. DO NOT display every souvenir from every vacation (also see #3).

Simply towels on the shelf in the bathroom. So fresh and so clean.

3. Don’t buy souvenirs on vacations. Why did you go? Oh yes, for the experience of it. Use new technology to keep even your photos in virtual space…not in your home space. Start living in the moment and not collecting things to live in the past. Live in the present.

Office area. Everything has its place.

4. You are not allowed to buy anything new unless you get rid of something to make space for it. It’s a simple law of economics….or maybe physics. More needs to go out than go in for you to have less clutter.

Closet #1.

5. Everything must have a place. If it doesn’t have a place maybe it shouldn’t live at your house.

Closet #2.

6. Don’t live in fear. I hear about people keeping clutter because you never know what’s gonna happen. Well, that’s true, but you shouldn’t own things just in case. People keep things that they don’t use and would cost almost nothing to replace. Why?

Does one person really need a regular sized fridge? Probably not. This one fits perfectly and discretely under the dining table.

7. Community. Borrow things from family and neighbors. Does every person need her own tool kit? Her own fully stocked bakery? If you only need something once a year or less…maybe you don’t need to own it. Also reconnecting with your fellow man is good for the spirit.

Get out there an meet your neighbors! One foot in front of the other and onward!

8. Giving feels good. Did you read a book that reminds you of a friend? Gift it to them. Does your mom love your coat you never wear? It’s hers now. Everything else goes to charity. Giving away stuff you DO NOT NEED to people WHO DESPERATELY NEED IT feels great. Reconnect with the flow of needs versus wants. The more you give the more you invite real richness into your life.

Invite close friends for a visit. Have them stay a spell and then send them on their way with something they could use and you no longer need.

9. See it for what it is. It’s just stuff. Are the memories inside of the object? No…they are all in you and always will be as long as you nurture your relationships and not your addiction to things.

DJ turn table.

10. Test it out. I heard once about having an “on the way out box.” If you don’t think you need something put it in a separate box. If it’s still unused in that box in a month it’s gone. Test out how you feel with less. I think you’ll feel good. Live simply. Live with only what you need. Don’t be gross, clutter bug.

Adding a large mirror does wonders to give dimension to small spaces.

So there you have it, in 10 easy steps.  I feel like I’m actaully breathing easier after reading this list.  Try it out for yourself and let me know how it goes. Or if you have any additional tips to contribute, let’s hear ’em!

Thanks for the insight Clay Drinko!  Hugs from Chicago!


Confessions of a Potential Hoarder – I Believe the Cute Name is “Pack Rat?”

Last night I watched the most disturbing episode of Hoarders on A&E. These people had been using a closet as a toilet for 10 YEARS!

Now I am not the neatest person on the planet, as my nearest and dearest can attest, but this show got my anxiety crankin’ and I’ve been cleaning and sorting and going through papers since the alarm chimed. My first challenge of the new year: stay focused enough to tackle this daunting chore.


With the exception of a few email breaks, and creating clever new Pandora stations, the fruits of my labor have finally paid off. But I thought I would share some of the miscellaneous items discovered and subsequently thrown out (or donated) whilst reorganizing… aside from dust bunnies the size and density of baseballs.

If only my clutter was this organized. Someone's ready for the apacolypse! Yipes!

Things found while cleaning my place:

1. Stamps from when they were $.37.

2. 6 different types of headsets, thought I’m not clear where, when, or how that collection came to be. Perhaps there’s some subconscious audio listening device hoarding happening here?

Seriously, if I had known there was an abundance of these hiding in my files I would have rocked them every day!

3. Love letter from an ex-boyfriend. Thank god I upgraded my dating standard from illiterate to at least somewhat grammatically correct. (What a moron, not that I’m still bitter or anything… 6 years later.)

This is not what he looks like, but this is what reminds me of him.

4. The Big Book of Faith – Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color. This was a stocking stuffer from “Santa” back in high school. These people I call family know me so well.

It's like 400 pages. Light reading for those looking to find enlightenment?

5. Vicodin from when I had my wisdom teeth out in 2001.

6. Checkbooks in chronological order of places I’ve lived since 2003. (Impressive, no?)

7. Two mates to two missing pairs of earrings. (SEE?! I knew I held on to those for years for some reason.)

Please sir can I have some more?

8. A folder of old pay stubs or what I like to call “Evidence that I actually was paid a decent salary once” aka “The Good Old Days.”

The last time I had a salary they were still hand writing paychecks.

9. A folder of 401K papers. Further proof that I was technically retired from January 2005 – May 2005 while living off those rolled over dollars.

10. Approximately 5,000 socks with absolutely no matches. It’s like a foot fetish smorgasbord. Where did they all come from? Should I throw a sock matching party?

Seriously overwhelming.

OK, OK the list could go on but I’ve been typing this instead of continuing to clean. The Master Procrastinator must get back to work. Just this once I’ve avoided the hoarding pattern, but the true task at hand will be maintenance… or move, leave everything behind, and never look back.

PS The best Pandora station I came up with today is dedicated to The Bobby Fuller Four.

Let her dance. Let her dance all night long.

Transitional Calvin Tran

Many many moons ago when I actually worked a job with salary and health benefits I discovered a small boutique on Halsted near Armitage called “Sac’ now “Calvin Tran.”

Calvin Tran Boutique located at 2154 N. Halsted Street

I invested in a few very well-tailored pieces that have since paid for themselves over the past 7 years.  Calvin Tran has the most clever design execution I’ve encountered to date.   One skirt in particular will forever have a designated hanger in my closet.  I’ve rarely worn it the same way twice and neither have my friends who have borrowed it.  It transitions from season to season and from skirts to top to dress to cape.  The list could ramble on and on and on and…  One article of clothing is really a variety of outfits.  It’s brilliant.  Truly.

So envision my excitement when I learned Mr Tran was to be a featured designer on the Bravo (my go to network) show The Fashion Show – Ultimate Collection.

His personality is as versatile as his designs which is very entertaining to watch.  And while he may not be a fan favorite, he will always have my vote.

Merry Winter With Marimekko.

I would like to transfer my current wardrobe into this collection:

While I love any excuse to venture into Cambridge, Chicago needs to get on the ball and open up a Marimekko concept store on the double.

More importantly, where can I purchase this dress?  I’ll write an entire blog singing your praises if you can assist.  Try me if you think I’m kidding.

Kati dress

Kati dress

Who Needs Weather Fickle and High Maintenance Boots For Winter?

I just realized it’s been nearly a month since my last post.  But these boots brought me back to “Blog Town” and reminded me to return to Chicagored.  Despite the amazing fall we’ve experienced I feel confident about facing the winter months tromping around in these authoritative looking galoshes.  Maybe it’s the hardcore buckle or the waterproof rubber, as opposed to high maintenance and weather fickle leather, that drew me in.  Either way, I’m holding a special spot in my closet for these guys.

Salt, sand, rain and snow are no match for these edgy yet sophisticated twist on the traditional Wellie boot.

Stress Baking – Better Than Stress Eating?

This is called “How I Deal With Stress” cupcakes from scratch using a recipe from the Magnolia Cookbook.

There's so much sugar in these puppies that you'll be comatose before you ever have to confront your stressful situation.

Are there anonymous organizations for sugar dependency and addiction?  Not for me of course, but for all of the people I’ve been feeding as of late.  I don’t have a problem.  Let’s chat when the shakes kick in and I’m clawing my way back to the baking ingredients.

Get On That Pig And Hold On Tight

Seriously, who thinks up this stuff?? Just try not to have this song stuck in your head. If you can figure it out, let me know. Had to share.

Do you think my new kitten FSBO could follow suit? That would be pure entertainment considering how twitchy and awkward she is.