Solutions: Yard sale prompts hard look at all that stuff

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News


Tote bags like these Deluxe Weekender Embroidered Totes come in handy for transporting items to a yard sale at another location.

It helps to have a goal that motivates you to start an organizing project. This time, mine came in the form of a yard sale being held at our swim club. Not only did the necessary prep to participate make me clean out my closet better than before, it created other opportunities, like separating my stuff into different categories.

This led to multiple bags of clothing and other items for curbside recycling and more slated for donation and consignment as my momentum continued.

Sorting through my daughter’s toys for the sale forced me to address my storage room. Having her make signs and help to set up and staff the table gave her a chance to earn some money and learn the entrepreneurial spirit.

This project also allowed me to discard of various odds and ends that had no business being there in the first place.

All this organizing had me thinking about a theory I support, which says getting rid of the stuff that’s weighing you down emotionally makes room for good things to come into your life.

After cleaning out my closet, I got a welcome surprise.

It was a call from an old friend that I hadn’t spoken to in years who had also been my feng shui consultant. While cleaning out some of her files in preparation for a move in another part of Michigan where she now lives, she came across my information.

Our conversation inspired me even more because she had once helped me rearrange and organize my home like never before.

At the yard sale, I learned another lesson from a friend at the next table; it helps to have everything ready to go at a moment’s notice. She had just returned from vacation the night before and grabbed a bunch of boxes that morning. If you already have items you’d like to sell in designated containers, they’re easy to transport and display that way.

I also found that tote bags work well and they make it easier to load and unload your car.

Now that the sale has come and gone, I have a new goal. Since my daughter plans to have a sleepover party, that gives me the initiative to continue my efforts in the hopes of organizing my home.

After returning from our recent vacation, I took one look around the house from a more objective perspective and realized just how cluttered it was, especially when compared to our hotel.

So, for now I continue to do what works for me, which is sticking to one category and separating the items in a space where I enjoy spending time. 

You never know what you might find, like the colored pencils and magic markers my daughter needs for school projects that have a new home in a clear container, making them easy to see when needed.

So far, this entire process has had so many benefits, it’s hard to see the downside. After procrastinating, I can honestly say that sorting through everything feels therapeutic. And that makes me want to do even more to get my house in order.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at