The Container Concept: I Can Keep It! It Fits!!

Using the Container Concept to Declutter (The Story with the Happy Ending!) at

Yesterday I shared a Container Concept Story with a sad ending.

Today, I’m sharing a happy one!!

While decluttering, I unearthed some tablecloths.

Tablecloths stuffed in a cabinet

Ugh. Tablecloths. A reminder of how I once thought I’d be a Tablecloth Type. Y’know, back when I assumed Future Me would host bi-monthly dinner parties and have a beautifully decorated table at all times.

Reality Me gave up on tablecloths when she accepted that it’s waaaay easier to wipe off a table than to add another unnecessary item to the laundry pile.

But it still caused a little ache in my heart when I found these tablecloths and assumed I needed to stick them in the Donate Box.

I went ahead and asked my first decluttering question, though. “If I were looking for this item, where would I look for it first?”

I headed to the Tablecloth Drawer in my china cabinet.

And guess what I found there?

Room. Empty Space.

Cluttered Drawer at

Once I removed the how-in-the-world-did-those-end-up-in-here-when-they-have-a-designated-spot-somewhere-else gift bags, the Tablecloth Drawer had room for two more tablecloths!! I was able to keep two!!

Photo - The tablecloth drawer

(What? you’re wondering about the not-a-tablecloth-but-a-sheet-with-writing-on-it? This should explain.)

And to prove it:

A closed door at

A closed-all-the-way drawer.

That’s a big deal ’round here, y’all.


Please note: I’ve never claimed to be a Proper Folding Blogger, but even I was rather horrified at the you-call-that-folding?? of the tablecloths in the picture. I’m always amazed at how I see things in a picture that escape my Slob Vision in real life. Neither amazed nor horrified enough to go fold them properly, but whatever.

Not sure what The Container Concept is? Here’s a post and a podcast about it.


The Container Concept in Action: Glasses I KNOW I Love

Decluttering Something I Know I Love Using the Container Concept at

Grasping what I call The Container Concept has changed my life/home. Many of you have told me it has changed yours too.

Today and tomorrow, I’m going to share a few examples of how it works.

While decluttering recently, I excavated the glasses in the photo above.

My first decluttering question is: “If I were looking for this item, where would I look for it first?”

I’d look for glasses in the cabinet where I keep glasses.


So I took them to that cabinet immediately. (That’s the second part of the first decluttering question.)

But when I got there, there was no room for these glasses.


I looooove these glasses. They’re polka-dotted!!! They’re big!!! They’re perfect for my ice-water obsession!!! I know this because I recently decluttered their Ugly Siblings. The ones I’d used to death.

I knew I loved these glasses. I was so excited to find them.

But once I arrived at the “place where I would look for them first” . . . there was no room for them.

My Glasses Cabinet has just enough room for the glasses I have. The grown-up ones I’m so proud to use. There isn’t space to add three (even three stackable) cups, no matter how loved.

The cabinet is my container. Its size is finite.

A container is meant to contain. The size of the container determines how much/many of something I can keep.

Really. If I try to put more into a cabinet than it can actually hold . . . doors don’t close, stuff breaks, and/or items fall on my head.

And even if I avoid those three pitfalls, it’s just plain hard to get to what I need.

So at this point, I had to make a decision. Should I get rid of some glasses that are already in the cabinet so I can keep these re-discovered ones? Or should I stick these perfectly-good polka-dotted beauties straight into the Donate Box?

Because I can’t keep both.

They don’t fit.

It was tough, but I purged the polka-dots.

Something had to go.




Decluttering Tip: How to Easily Determine Value

Decluttering Tip How to Easily Determine Value at

Dear Collector-Types,

Please don’t read this post. It will only cause your blood pressure to rise, and I don’t want to be responsible for that. But if you insist on reading, please read the whole thing before you express your horror in the comments. My example in this post (as in all my posts) is personal and the decision I made is also personal. It wasn’t an easy decision, and I totally understand why someone would choose differently.

Whew. Glad that disclaimer is over.

I’ve been working on a certain long-ignored corner in my gameroom lately. As I get a little time here and there (sometimes only 20 minutes or so), I declutter it.

Last week, I came across some plates I got a while back from my aunt. I love them, but bought the wrong size plate hangers and then never got back to putting them up.

I was re-inspired to hang them after having heard someone say how she twisted plate hangers to make them the right size. (Though, as you can see in the picture above, that didn’t work out terribly well. Twisting them makes them hang differently. Ugh.)

But if the plates are on the wall, what do I do with their boxes?

My aunt, the Ultimate Garage Sale Queen, had found the plates in their original boxes. With paperwork and everything.

Paperwork and boxes? Should I keep them??

I love them because they are commemorative plates of the musical Oklahoma!, which was the very first musical in which I ever had a leading role.

The original boxes were neat to see, but where should I store boxes and paperwork for things I display?

Or a better question:

If I love the plates and don’t see the display as temporary, do I even need the boxes?

No. The answer is no. I personally have no need for the boxes. The plates are on the wall.

BUT . . . don’t the boxes increase their value??

Yes. Technically, collectible items in their boxes are more valuable than the same items without original boxes.

IF my plan was to treat these plates as a collection that will one day be sold at an auction to fund my retirement, I would totally keep the boxes.

But I have no plans to part with them. They are items I love. I’m keeping them because they put a smile on my face.

And yet the value-related “What ifs?” plagued my so-easily-plaguable brain.

At the same time, I had to answer these questions:

  • If I keep the boxes, where in the world will I put them?
  • If I find a place to put them, how in the world will I remember where that place is??
  • And . . . if I do decide to get rid of these plates, will I really want to search through the entire house looking for the boxes? Won’t that just prolong the already-difficult decluttering process.

Here’s how I solved the dilemma: I checked the value of the plates.

There is a simple, quick way to get a realistic idea of the value of items in your home. This is current, in-the-moment value that could be different in a different venue or at a different time, but it helped me make this decision.

It’s called eBay.

Go to and search for your item. If it’s a collectible, there’s likely an exact name on the back or bottom that will help you find that exact item listed on eBay.

After you find other items just like yours, scroll down the page and click on “Completed Listings” on the left. (I put an arrow pointing to it in the image below.)

How to Determine Value on eBay

At this point, things get real.

Before I checked the box to see completed listings, I saw that people were starting some auctions at $40 for a set.

I know enough to not get excited about that. What someone wants for an item means nothing. The only thing that matters is how much people are willing to actually pay for the item.

Once I checked the completed listings (auctions that are over), I saw that most of these items hadn’t. Even for 99 cents. The only one I saw that did sell, sold for less than 2.00.

Even with boxes and paperwork and everything.

Prices in red on the “Completed Listings” page mean the item didn’t sell. Prices in green mean it did sell. See how all the prices are red??

This knowledge does not change the value of MY plates in any way. I love them just as much as I did before I checked. They still have a spot in my kitchen that (though currently totally unevenly placed) made my daughter gasp in excitement over their beauty.

But this knowledge allowed me to pitch their boxes in the trash. My “What ifs?” had been answered.

The answer was that boxes don’t add significant value to these items I don’t plan to sell anyway.

And knowing that means I don’t have to store them.

And not having to store them  means I can move forward ever-so-much-more-quickly with the overall decluttering project.


Another disclaimer: If your search of completed listings on eBay produces results that you’re SURE are wrong, consult a professional about family heirlooms. It is possible that an item could be sold for more in another venue, but this method helps me make educated decisions when “Imagined Value” is the thing paralyzing my decluttering efforts.

Do you stress over keeping stuff like this?


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