Unexpected Organizing: Infrequently Used Items

Welcome back to the Unexpected Organizing series! This is (I think) the last post of the series, and so it’s about the last thing we want to think of when it comes to organizing—the stuff we almost never use, but still want to keep.

Conventional wisdom tells us that if we haven’t used it in a year, we should get rid of it.  But that’s not practical!  And once we break that rule, we can find ourselves shrugging and keeping everything.  The real test for “keeping verses tossing” is this:  Do you need it or love it… and do you have room for it?

I’m a huge proponent of hostessing. I’ve mentioned it in the Organizing You books, written about it in other blog posts, give a talk about it, and even wrote an e-handbook called Organizing for Christian Hospitality. I love the fact that God challenges us to use our homes to further His kingdom! (Check this out in Romans 12:10-13.)

But there’s a lot of “stuff” involved in hostessing, isn’t there? Stuff you don’t use all the time.

When we were house hunting, I wanted a Great Room, a great big family room where we could all hang out all of the time. Instead, we bought a house with a small traditional family room and a smaller dining room. And now I realize that a dining room is a blessing—especially for a woman with a heart to host.

My dining room is pretty expected and very traditional, including the china cabinet that holds my great-grandma’s china. (There is an accompanying story, it’s in Building Your House).



One thing that you might not expect is that I don’t keep all of my serving ware in this cabinet. Not even close. It would be packed full to overflowing! Instead, I keep only my basic, casual, most frequently-used pieces in the lower cabinets so that they’re easy to grab. Then I write up notecards that remind me of the rest.


That way, when I’m planning a big party, I can see at a glance what I have stored in my basement. I don’t forget what I have, or accidently buy things I already have. But those things that I use once a year (at most) aren’t in my way.


This also includes décor items. For example, I own eight cake plates. Eight. And I use them all. I adore using cake plates in any display of food to give height and fun—cake plates make anything look fancy!


At this stage in my life I am blessed with space in our basement in which to store cake plates. I store my favorite two upstairs and I use them all the time, but the rest are there in the basement when I need them.

Now, I’m certainly not a hoarder. If I didn’t have the space, I would let go of those six cake plates. I wouldn’t cram them in or make extra work for myself taking care of them.

But I’m not a minimalist either. I do have the space for those extraneous cake plates, so I keep them. They are useful (albeit infrequently), and they’re beautiful, and I love them. I am blessed with this basement storage space, and I use it well.


When it comes to infrequently used items, there is a certain balance to maintain.  I don’t try to shove everything into our living space, yet I don’t get rid of everything that I don’t use all of the time. I’ve found a good balance for me. Have you?


Take the Challenge:

Take a quick walk around your house, looking for things in your living space that you almost never use. Hot spots may include kitchen cabinets, bedroom closets, hall closets, and piles of things that don’t have their own spaces.

  • Are those things fine where they are, or are they blocking your functional path to the stuff you do use frequently?
  • Realistically, do you actually love them, and/or use them…ever? (If not, let them go!)
  • Do you have room in an attic, basement, or garage for your infrequently used items?  If so, how will you remember that they’re there?


But watch out for:

The urge to purge—you don’t have to get rid of everything to be organized! If it’s useful to you and you clearly have the space, then you don’t have to get rid of it.


I’ve so enjoyed sharing my home, my ideas, and my imperfections with you! If you missed any Unexpected Organizing posts, feel free to go back and check them out!


Tell me about it:

Is there anything that I missed—a part of my home that you’d like to see?  Shoot me a message on Facebook!


For more about functional organization and the 80% rule (what to keep and what to get rid of), check out my second book, Building Your House.

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