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kristianne koch riddle photography
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on decluttering

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I am truly a minimalist at heart. I am obsessed with the philosophy of simplifying my life in more ways than one. I love keeping things uncomplicated and I cherish living simply. I love to stay focused on the important things in life: family, health and financial well being. Not only are we living completely debt free but we have savings accounts for important purposes-the boat, kids, retirement. I am also on a mission to create passive income so we can live our lives as carefree as possible. But, in order to accomplish this, we need to declutter. Even though my husband and I aren’t big shoppers and don’t run out and buy the latest, greatest trendiest things we still have too much stuff.

After we returned from life on a boat which was very liberating, we moved into a house, then added a couple of kids, and Voila! We are now fully cluttered. Not only are we surrounded by all the new things we’ve acquired over the years and the new toys and gear the kids continuously acquire, but also the OLD stuff that has been accumulating in all our family’s lives over the past 40 plus years (we are the official caretakers of all things ‘vintage’ including but not limited to photographs, toys, cameras, furniture, art and housewares). This makes my goal to keep it simple, downsize and declutter our lives very challenging.

I love collectibles, especially ones that have been a part of the family for a long time. But, when it comes down to it I truly believe that less is more. Taking the time to get rid of so many of my kids’ toys over the years has actually caused me stress. I hate taking the time to do it and they get very upset when I get rid of the “wrong things.” But, it needs to be done. I’ve learned the process that works by trial and error. I put certain things in storage for a few months to see if they miss them or ask where they are. If so, we go back and get that one item-it’s like Christmas in that storage unit. It feels like a new toy to them every time. Most of the time they don’t remember the toys they haven’t played with unless they see it in a photograph or if they find one part of it, then they want the other parts of it. Getting rid of their stuff still hasn’t given me a lot of satisfaction because more stuff shows up pretty soon after birthdays and Christmas.

Once I started getting rid of my own stuff-for example, photography books I’ve been given or books I purchased on a whim over the years, my darkroom equipment that I will never use again, art supplies, clothing etc-I began to feel relief. It has been cathartic and energizing. Nobody else misses that stuff and I feel better for not having it in my life, on my mind and in my home anymore.

Empty spaces are popping up all over the place in our home and I love it. Empty cupboards, empty shelves and empty drawers make me really happy. It sounds weird and I don’t know why it makes me so happy but it does. I feel like those spaces symbolize hope and possibility. They open up room for new things to come in to my life-and not necessarily physical new things but new opportunities and relationships.

So the process continues and I’m not even close to being done yet. But the start is huge and it feels one step closer to the lifestyle I am crazy about. I am looking for ways to not only get rid of stuff, but to get our stuff to others who will appreciate it and benefit from it. My photography books were donated to the Los Angeles Center for Photography, my kids’ toys are now being sold to a woman I met who has a retail shop in Yorba Linda who is trying to get out of debt and random novels and other books went to Mathom House Books in San Clemente. If you haven’t been to Mathom House, you have to go. They know books. I have also sold a few of our nice children’s books to Powell’s Books in Portland and received a credit.

In the deep recesses of the house are still many wonderful things that are looking for a new home. My grandfather was an artist and loved graphic design. He collected hundreds of travel posters and as much as I love them and want to keep all of them, there is only so much wall space in one’s life. These works of art are currently being stored flat in a dark, dry place. I have stacks of them and started posting them for sale on an etsy site. I have done a lot of research on them so the prices reflect provenance, condition and rarity. Many of the posters I have are being sold as reproductions so don’t confuse the value. These are all originals and have been in my family’s possession since they were shipped in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Visit my etsy site for the latest goodies being offered for sale. They make unique and hearfelt Christmas presents!!

Visit my pinterest board for ideas to start your own decluttering dream.


Lifestyle and fine art photographer specializing in kids, portraits, lifestyle, and travel for print and web.