Real Life Minimalists: Sara Richards

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Sara Richards. I can’t help but smile at the joy and enthusiasm she brings to her decluttering!

Sara writes:



Converting to Simplicity

Yesterday, after another fruitless weekend of attempting to declutter my tiny house, I was wailing on Facebook about how frustrating it is to try and get rid of stuff. A friend recommended your book and I downloaded a sample on my Kindle (having already taken THAT step to try and cut out on the number of books threaten to swallow me whole).

I was expecting yet another book on boxing and labeling, but to my surprise, no! A book about the psychology of why we clutter in the first place. By chapter 3 I was hooked and bought the book. And read it all the way through.

To say that I am inspired is to say the least!

As a single mum I have used “stuff” to show the world “look I am coping, I can give my son everything he wants.” The result? A Wendy house full of stuff we never use. Cupboards overflowing with things never worn.

I have 43 scarves, ladies. 43. And I live in Africa. Where the coldest it gets is 10 degrees in winter. For about 3 weeks. I do not need these things!

This got me looking around the house. I particularly liked the exercise of walking in to my house and looking at it through a strangers eyes. My reaction was one of “ugh. What a depressing space.”

So I have boxes now – ready and labelled “Donate It” and “Recycle It” and I am being ruthless. And the stuff I am keeping is going to be modularised to the last degree.

My bedroom – which is currently a dumping ground for everything I try and hide when visitors come over, is about to get reclaimed. I am even getting rid of the 4 decorative pillows.

The dining room suite (which was my great aunts) is a hulk of horrid brownness, is going off to get a makeover so I can love something beautiful. (Despite the inner voice crying “What will Auntie Lil think?!?”)

All the books that I have read and won’t be reading again are off to the second hand bookshop.

The rest of the stuff – all the duplicate kitchen things, clothes, shoes, knickknacks, craft supplies and such  – is off to my friend’s charity – an organisation that helps refugees.

I cannot wait to have SPACE!!!!

Because I have realised that it’s not the stuff that makes me happy (In fact right now it is making me very Unhappy).

I would far rather have a clean and cleared home filled with friends and laughter than surfaces covered with unnecessary stuff. That I have to clean. Alone.

I am looking forward to live a pared down, simple life.

But I cannot guarantee I will stop buying plants for the garden.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

27 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Sara Richards

  • Brian

    Hi, Sara. I absolutely LOVE your post – simple and to the point! I also love your sentence “I would far rather have a clean and cleared home filled with friends and laughter than surfaces covered with unnecessary stuff” – in my mind, it eventually comes down to a choice between space or ‘stuff’!

  • Zoe

    You can buy eatable plants for you garden, you will provide more off you spended money.

  • Well done Sara! And I’ll bet your son will appreciate this transformation too!

  • Erin

    Sara, yay for your enthusiasm. Enjoy the process and make sure to come back and give us an update!

  • Mrs Brady Old Lady

    A note of dissent here – a woman cannot have too many silk scarves or silk blouses.
    (mrs Simpson).
    Even in Africa (although I’d go for cotton there, not silk) ;-)

  • Great job and I hear you about having plants in your garden. I agree you can never have too much unless you run out of space.

  • Kathleen Casey

    Great post! It really made me smile. And your ability to laugh at your humanity makes me feel like taking another step in my own decluttering journey. Thank you!

  • B.

    Than you! I love this post, it’s so well written!

  • Susan

    Great post! Francine’s book was very important for my journey too. Good luck!

  • Carolyn

    You go, girl! And your last line made me smile. Best of luck to you, and thanks for re-inspiring me!

  • Great post! I think a lot of us have been guilty of using “stuff” to say something about ourselves–in my case, “Look at me, I’m a real adult!”

    My husband has a lot of trouble letting go of books–he thinks he or someone else might want to read them someday. But we just took a couple of boxes at least to the used book store, and we also cut our CD collection in half when we learned that they don’t last forever anyway.

  • Jeannie

    Great post! I’m going through the same thing. Clutter is smothering and it gets me excited to get rid of stuff.

  • Wonderful post! Too much stuff makes me unhappy as well. We’re gradually getting rid of a huge chunk of what we own, which is a challenge stuff from a blended family of 5, but by next year we plan to be down to only what we need and love and move to a much smaller home.

  • Awesome Sara! So excited for this new change and your new space. It’s funny the reasons we hold on to things but whenever I give them away, I always wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.

    P.S. I used to have twice as many decorative pillows and am so glad I got rid of those things!

  • Sara

    Thank you so much for all your lovely words… You really made my day! Since sending in my story I have cleared out the bathroom and kitchen and my son has been inspired and is clearing out his stuff too.Next up is to apply the clutter-free principle at work.
    De-cluttering has proven to be rather addictive. We are moving in the next 5 months and it will be great knowing that I am moving what we need and and not what I think we “should” keep.

  • Wonderfully uplifting. Good luck Sara!

  • Susan

    Wonderful post…Best of luck to you on your de-cluttering journey!

  • Tina

    We live in the Chicago area. I think your post is hysterical. I read the book before I found the blog. I have 2 winter scarves and 2 silky scarves. I keep purging and I’m not done. You go, girl!

  • Em

    I just love reading how exactly everyone got rid of their stuff and what and why did they purge :) I wish I remembered :D Absolutely lovely. Makes me want to go home and declutter right away!

  • Alex

    “I would far rather have a clean and cleared home filled with friends and laughter than surfaces covered with unnecessary stuff. That I have to clean. Alone.”

    Exactly this! I’ll bet your house and garden will look lovely. Although I like a minimalist space inside, I think there can be joy and indeed peace in the rambling lack of control in a wildflower garden : )

  • Tania

    Great post! I know how you feel as I was drowning in “stuff” too and found Francine’s books fantastic. I agree that so many books on minimilism seem to be more about organising clutter instead of just getting rid of it. The less I own the calmer I feel. Stick with it Sara

  • oh my goodness–my boys were the same way-with no exposure to advertising or tv they had no clue! that those stores were full of things that other people bought! they still feel uncomfortable shopping or being in box stores I think the sound of the humming store is too much for them–anyway IF she needs a toy to build with I say let her get some BUT make her wait a while I think the downfall is when parents get it for kids right away instead of the making them WANT it–cheers!

  • Tina

    I really like cleaning and organizing and getting rid of things. It makes me feel useful. I took an overnight suitcase to spend a week out of town. Wore 1 pair of slacks and took 2. Took a couple nice tops and the rest T shirts. A nice cardigan, a sweatshirt, underwear, and pajamas and I was good to go. For our next cruise, I will take this smaller bag.

  • Tina

    I went through the house and picked up all the mismatched china I had bought to make rock gardens. Those will be given away. Today’s job is to dump more soil out of flower pots, clean them out and give them away. Then I will find more art supplies and either use them or give them away. The surfaces are clear except for my husband’s papers.

  • Tina

    The plants have been out on the balcony all summer. I am taking cuttings and giving them away. Then I will bring in one or two of each kind in for the winter. There is still more stuff I am giving away.

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