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Simplify: Piles

This past week has been a push and pull of moving things around the house, feeling productive as the spring air peeks through the still-wintery clouds—and having to stop and rest my knee even though the rest of me is eager to move forward. I’ve been looking forward to this week’s hot spot with Project Simplify all month, but my body just wasn’t as cooperative as I liked.

(In case you didn’t know, I tore my ACL a few months ago, had surgery a little over a month ago, and am in full-on recovery mode, with physical therapy twice a week.)

But I did what I could, because our biggest clutter culprit since moving to our fixer-upper last summer is piles. Piles of cardboard, piles of linens on top of the dryer until we build a linen closet, piles of clothes lining the hallway to sort through, piles of old house parts from our remodeling work… You name it, there’s been piles of stuff in almost every part of our home.

Just keeping it real here.

I know it takes at least a year to fully move in somewhere new; even longer when that “somewhere new” is a partially-done remodel that still requires your elbow grease. So I wasn’t feeling like we were behind—I’ve just been ready to have it done.

I’m all about less being more and having plenty of space. Most of you well know one of my favorite quotes from 19th century architect William Morris: “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Well, it was time to purge some of the non-useful and non-beautiful.

So here’s what we accomplished this weekend in the piles department.

As part of our remodel, we turned this random slice of the house between the garage and the dining room into a mudroom. Kyle removed a tiny pantry and filled in a wall, then added hooks, a shelf, and drawers for storage.

It’s awesome—except that since we’ve moved in, it’s more or less served as our catch-all for the clutter waiting for us:





I finally went through this mudroom-turned-pile, and I couldn’t be happier:





Project Simplify, before & after: PILES

Those drawers used to serve as one half of the platform for Tate’s bed (built by my mother-in-law, no less). But they now work perfectly as drawers for shoes—kids toss their shoes in one drawer, parents in the other, and the third works for boots.





I eventually plan to paint them, but that’s down the road.

We also cleared out quite a bit of cardboard and house supplies clutter—but my sweet husband forgot to take a lot of the “before” pics. (Why did he not think to take a picture of the pile of junk we were hauling off? Isn’t that normal?)

Just picture about three piles that look similar to this:

trailer trash

This was the delightful home of a number of those boxes and old house parts. Now it’s empty, and the new home for our old picnic table.

picnic table

We have another newer patio dining table out back, but we have a really long driveway, with this area at the top that leads in to the backyard. Eventually we plan to pressure wash (and maybe stain?) the concrete, and then paint the table in a high-gloss, fun color to create an outdoor table space for the kids. Possibly also Christmas lights overhead.

Picture a happy, festive place, in other words.

And finally, here’s some of our thrift store haul—just some, because we had several more boxes that jumped out of the photo just in time.

donation pile

It’s easy for me to focus on the stuff still left on the to-do list, but looking at these photos reminds me to focus on the stuff crossed off. It’s a habit I’m working on at the end of each of my workday—to list the things I did do, instead of the things I didn’t.

We’re still not done, but we got a lot accomplished—hurt knee and all.

Your turn

Roll up your sleeves, because it’s time to tackle your piles! Like last week, all you have to do is take a “before” pic of your piles, then deal with them—and then take an “after” pic. The photos don’t have to be super fancy—use your high-end DSLR, or your camera phone. Whatever you want.

Also? They can be whatever piles you want. I left this week’s hot spot vague on purpose—we’ve all got ’em, and they can look like anything from papers to books to clothes to dirt. Or in my case, cardboard and house parts. And you can do as many or as few piles as you want—whatever helps your home the most.


Tag your Instagrams with the hashtag #projectsimplify, and they’ll show up above.

I can’t wait to see your photos! You’ll be able to add them to this linky above, or via Instagram all week, so don’t panic—you’ve got plenty of time.

I’ll be back with more photos next Tuesday, for our last hot spot—That Put-Off Project. We’ve got a fun one for our home, and we think our kids will be excited. Stay tuned.

Where are your piles?

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Rachel - A Southern Fairytale

    I spent about 3 hours today reorganizing and going through boxes. If you could see the stack of trash and recycling out for the men to pick up tomorrow!!! WOW 😉

    The storage area looks amazing, Tsh. Big hugs!

    • Tsh

      Yahoo, Rachel!

  2. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    I want to go stencil that William Morris quote on my walls. Or maybe just write it in my notebook. In any case, it’s great.

    • Tsh

      It’s definitely one of my faves!

  3. Yvonne

    All those hooks and drawers is awesome! And getting rid of stuff always feels good. Thanks for another week of inspiration – it felt great to get rid of one of my piles!

  4. Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake

    Wow, Tsh! What a beautiful transformation. 🙂 I hope you heal swiftly! This week’s project was challenging for me too as I tried to squeeze in little bits of progress between snuggling a sick and unhappy baby.

  5. Kayla H

    Oh, so thankful that I am not the only one who has piles. I think my piles have piles, lol. I have let things go this last week for one final push at some school assignments that will hopefully be the last few of my last semester in college. We have also remodeled and are not quiet through (we burnt out), and so there are misc. building supplies and things have never found their new home since we moved things around. Hoping to start on those piles this week. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

  6. Lisa

    The transformation looks amazing. Ah, to get rid of clutter. I bet you feel a million times lighter.

    • Tsh

      I do! 🙂

  7. Stephanie S

    Nice work! And can I just say I LOVE your floors!

    • Tsh

      Thanks! They’re the Rosemary style from Evoke Flooring.

  8. denise

    My favorite words in the text, “…kids toss their shoes in one drawer, parents in the other…”!
    Thanks for a little giggle, and yes, I read your every word. Now, on to the declutter, before I get tossed into a shoe drawer! 🙂

    • Tsh

      Ha! Didn’t even notice that. 😉

  9. Breanne

    Drawers and baskets are two of my favourites for corralling stuff that needs a home but can get out of hand easily.

    And on a totally different note, I love your front door area! So welcoming and colourful, love it!

  10. Sam Sprott

    Hey Tsh,
    Do you hire out?
    We could keep you busy for a month.
    Wish I knew how to post a picture of my garage bench and unfinished first floor TV room/library. Wages would be slim, but Sandy is a great cook and we would both substitute as grand parents while you were finishing our round-to-its.
    Sounds like a great idea to us.
    Sam & Sandy

  11. Heidi

    That looks *fantastic* Tsh!! What an awesome mud room area. I love the brightly colored bins on the top shelf.

  12. Amee

    Great Post Tsh –

    Quick question – did you all make the bench and drawers or purchase? If purchased, can you share where you got them? Thanks so much!


  13. Kathy

    My piles are everywhere! Especially in our sun room where things just seem to collect.

  14. Kristin S

    I’m a pile girl and totally paralyzed to even know where to begin. I’m 42, have always lived in piles, and HATE dirt. My home is clean but cluttered. I’m not sure there’s hope for change.

  15. Courtney

    Can I just say thank you for showing your messy mudroom? It makes me feel better that you – someone I admire for the simple life philosophy – can also have piles of “stuff” that simply accumulates thanks to family life. Love how you keep it real. And, hope that knee heals quickly!

  16. Lisa

    I love your mud room. I have so many piles everywhere! I think I’m going to tackle the area where I store my makeup and jewelry this week.

  17. Tam

    Ugh, my piles always end up in the bedroom, which is THE worst place for them. I hate waking up and seeing them! I have cleared a couple this week, though, and I’m going to try to work through some big ones this weekend. Wish me luck!

  18. Katie@ Imperfect People

    Oh! I need to get on this! I have been following on instagram and it is very inspiring!

  19. Rebekah

    hey Tsh! i totally missed the whole series. march/april was “project move” for our family from our 600 sq foot slice of nyc to an almost double the size apartment. woo hoo! good things are so worth waiting for. i just want to ask where did you get those turquoise metal bins. love them!

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