Day 31: He Cleaned out the closet! And, the end.

I’m stunned, and not just because the Mister cleaned out his closet. I just finished the 31st day of 31 days of William Morris. I’m done. Before we talk about the end of this series, let’s take a look at the Mister’s closet, shall we?

I couldn’t even open the right side all the way.

The Mister is, usually, neat as a pin. He’s the one who labels drawers and cabinets, does the laundry, and takes two showers every day. (Really, he does.) But when he was laid off after ten years with the same company a couple of years ago, the stress and anger and disappointment got to him. I watched as he went from someone who always put his clothes away to someone who would do it later. Eventually. Maybe one day.

He found a job right away–with Helena’s dad, actually–but it took him a long time to regroup. For many of us, our value and self worth is inextricably tied to our careers. When that connection unravels, it can take time to piece yourself back together. The last two years have been about him finding a good paying job and realizing he is the same great guy he was before the economy took a turn. He’s finally starting to believe it. I think 2012 will be the year when he once again terrorizes me with his label maker.

I told him a couple of weeks ago I would do his closet for him. I could tell the idea seemed daunting to him. He waved me off and said he didn’t think that was fair, that he would do it before the end of the month. Secretly, I think a small part of him was afraid I would leave him with nothing to wear. I know this because he said, “If you do it, you’re not going to leave me with anything to wear, are you?”

“Probably not!” I said.

So while I painted trim in the kitchen, he cleaned out his closet. It looks amazing. There is still clothing I think he can purge, and I need to clean out a few dresser drawers so he has a place to store his shorts, but he is well on his way to a clean closet.

I could never keep neat stack of shirts on such a high shelf, but he’s managed it for several years. Same goes for shoe racks. I can’t keep those things clean, but he doesn’t have the same problem. More power to him. In our case, his and her closets are a marriage saver. We have entirely different ways of keeping our closets clean and organized.

Let’s review the month, shall we?

I accomplished most of the items on my list, but still have many more to go. If I wasn’t achy and feverish, I could probably communicate my thoughts in a more eloquent fashion, but that doesn’t look like it’s in the cards for me today. So, for now I just want to say thank you so much to all of you who hung out with me the last 31 days. You were such a big support network for me this month. I put up ugly pictures and so-so afters, and you cheered me on every step of the way in the comments, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Thank you.

I also want to thank Nester for coming up with the 31 days series. I wouldn’t have done something like this without her invitation to join along.

Finally, I wanted to ask you what you thought of me continuing this series and making it a permanent part of my blog. I couldn’t do projects every day of the week, just like you couldn’t read my projects every day of the week. We all have lives, and they are better spent with family and friends than they are in front of the computer. I thought 1-3 projects per week sounds like a realistic number. Some big, some small. None of them meant to impress, really. My goal is to turn our house into a home rather than produce shocking before and afters.

I’ve taken a strong interest in simple living and all that entails, with the exception of living like a monk. I’d like to be a better mom, a better wife, and a better keeper of our home. I would like to whittle down our debt, spend thoughtfully, and stay in the present more than I do. I want to write down a life list and a house list, and cross items off of both. If that sounds like something you would like to see, let me know. But right now, I’m most interested in seeing the back of my eyelids. Night-night.

New here? For the next 31 days I’m living according to the famous William Morris quote. You can learn more about the project here.

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  1. Thanks (x 31) for doing this series. It has been fun (really) and eyeopening and I would more than welcome if you continued with a minimal πŸ™‚ version of the series.

    In the meantime, enjoy those eyelids. You deserve to see them.

  2. CONGRATS! I’m so impressed, but really, you must just feel so awesome for having completed this!

    I’ll ditto Monica and say keep up a minimal version of this series. It’s definitely been inspiring for me, although this month I’ve only managed to clean all the lids to my dry goods storage containers and vow to keep using more than one attachment when I vacuum. =)

    Rest up lady! You’ve earned it!

  3. Hello Jules,

    I’ve been reading these posts everyday. Love them, and they have encouraged me to tackle my own projects. Your “ugly” before and after are in fact, warm and charming, because they don’t look like “Extreme Makeover. Home Edition”, but something every woman could achieve only with her own effort, a vacuum cleaner and a little of paint. That’s why they are so encouraging. Thank you very much!!
    So I would be very happy if this William Morris thing becomes a permanent section of your blog.
    Your husband’s closets after are amazing! I’ve started to think if I found a man who have his closets like that, I would even consider to remarry πŸ˜‰
    But I have to admit (after a month of Morris life) I miss other kind of posts, like Stuff Mikey Says – my favourite!
    Best wishes from Spain

  4. Hi Jules,

    Just wanted to say that even though I haven’t commented a lot lately, I have been reading your 31 days William Morris project and I thought it was absolutely amazing!
    I wish I did the same (or at least similar)!

    Now you asked if we’d be interested in seeing more of this and my simple answer is: YES! I love your idea of wanting to transform your house into a home and be a better house keeper. I’d love to do the same in mine. It seems like a never ending struggle of mine, to become a better wife, keeper of my home etc. You inspire me very much πŸ™‚

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

  5. I absolutely loved this series and would love you to continue to do it sporadically! I found it so inspiring. I loved the way you wrote so thoughtfully about spatulas, and books, and linens! I loved that some days the sheets remained unfolded, but the cupboard was infinitely improved by receiving the william morris treatment. Thanks so much for sharing, all of it. At times it must have felt quite vulnerable.
    I thought you might like this print I saw for sale once (I have a little notecard version, but sadly, the problem is I think too many things are beautiful and might one day be useful. This is, of course, another issue….)
    I am moving soon and intend to spend a good long time doing a william morris project of my own, maybe I’ll blog about it (maybe not…. my closet is hella embarassing).

  6. Thank you for sharing this all month. It has been encouraging and fun to read. I would definitely read a regular feature, and look forward to seeing what your blog is normally like. (Started following during Oct..)
    All the best and Happy Halloween!

  7. I ‘m with Anna, I like the fact it’s a real home I can relate to and it’s inspired me to tidy some of my messy spots up without spending too much $ or time. I’d read an ongoing series – thanks for this one.

  8. I really enjoyed this month and your perserverance! I was definately inspired and have done major purging – but not every day. Also, your blog was new to me and I enjoy your writing style and your philosophy about the simpler!

  9. WooHoo . . . You did it . . . Congrats!

    You inspired me to mark a few things off my list . . . so Thank You, as well.

    As for the future, you know I love anything you post. Though I must say, if you do more W. Morris, I will need to think of other ways to say, “Love it!” Magnifico! Oh-la-la! Why, that’s splendiforous!

    Yeah, I’ll work on it.

  10. I am a new reader. I think I started in around day 16. I have really enjoyed this series. It has definitely been inspiring. You are a gifted writer and I look forward to what is next!!

  11. I have LOVED this series (for the record, except for you and the Nester, I haven’t been following anyone else in the 31 day series). I have linked to your blog several times and have encouraged people to check out the whole William Morris idea – something that I’m now using as I look around our house and clean out. I’d be tickled if you keep it up (I’d be good with 1 day a week, but if you can do 3, so can I!). Congratulations on finishing the 31 days and get well soon! πŸ™‚

  12. I’m a long time reader but first time commenter. I really enjoyed reading this month and when I was doing my weekly clean on Sunday, I was inspired to take that little bit of extra time and do a few small things I never seem to get around to doing. I’ve made a mental list of the things I’ve been putting off and want to get to soon. I work full-time and am finishing my masters dissertation, but there are plenty of things I could do that take less than half an hour. I’ve been inspired by you to start planning them into my days. A regular posting of the things you are doing would continue to be inspirational so thank you!

  13. I love this series! You inspired me to tackle my own kitchen cabinets, which is no easy thing to inspire. I’d love to see it in a weekly (or whenever) basis!

  14. Hats off to you for pulling through all 31 days. It has shown me that we ALL have lots of little (and big) areas that can be organized, cleaned, purged, and beautified. I vote to keep it up, but totally get it if it only becomes a once-a-month feature. Hope you feel better soon.

  15. I loved this series. I started following this partway through, after finding your blog through small notebook. You have so inspired me to do this for the month of November. At least that’s my plan anyway. I looked forward to your posts everyday, and will continue to follow you. I’d love to see this series ongoing. Congrats on finishing the whole 31 days!!

  16. My husband thinks I’m insane but I love reading blogs about ordinary people cleaning and organizing. You’ve been one of my favorite reads this month.

  17. Jules,
    Your series has been fantastic!
    Freezing here in CT after this bizarre October snowstorm. No power, so this will be short but I want you to have instant feedback; amazing!
    Yes, please continue to post projects.
    Happy day!
    p.s. The Mister did a super job with his closet!

  18. Congratulations!!! I can’t believe you stuck with this project in the face of both your own illness and those of your kids earlier in the month. I’m sure I would have skipped a day or two.

    I’ve loved reading this series. It’s inspiring and also engaging. Each day, I’ve been curious to see not only what project you were going to tackle (it often reminded me of forgotten nooks and crannies in my own home), but also what memories or philosophical musings such projects would generate. I hope that you do keep these projects as part of your blog – they’re awesome!

    I hope you get better soon.


  19. Congratulations my friend! You did it. Look at all that you’ve accomplished. And I’m not just talking about organizing or tidying up your already beautiful home. You’ve inspired many people to rethink the importance of their possessions. Give away what you don’t need or love and honor the things you do by keeping them in order. It’s tough to find time to tackle those things that have been on our to-do lists for so long but obviously with a little effort it’s doable. Bravo and I think you should definitely continue, but only a couple times a week or you won’t have any time to write about all the other things that people love about your blog.

  20. I have really enjoyed your posts for October. The last paragraph on today’s post was wonderful. I’m going to write it down to remember it. Thanks.

  21. Please, Jules, may I have some more?

    I’m here in Illinois working right along with you. I hope to have my kitchen cabinets cleaned inside and out in time for Thanksgiving. I think I will have many soy sauce packets and plastic do hickeys to throw away.

    I love your blog.

  22. I have so enjoyed this series and it’s really pushed me to do more small things around my home (as someone who works full time and goes to grad school, my apartment usually gets pushed to the bottom of my list) and make a list of more things I want to do (and can accomplish). So thank you and I’d definitely love to see a continuation of the series.

  23. I’d love to see a continuation of this! It was very inspiring, and even the days that the project was minimal/so-so (as you say), there is so much to be said for just doing SOMETHING to work toward the goal (one drawer, one counter top, etc.). Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  24. Thanks for 31 Days of William Morris. You inspired me to do some “cleaning out” of my own. I have a long way to go, so keep the inspiration coming!

  25. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve read off and on throughout the month and have been inspired by your dedication. Were you to continue with this, I’d read it. Also, how can I get to the rest of the monthly posts? I missed some and would like to see them.

  26. W00T! Way to go, Jules! You inspired me into taking up a household purge.

    I’m far too lazy to document it, but I cleared out a trunkful of baby gear this weekend, and returned several bags of stuff borrowed and left behind to their rightful owners. Square footage reclaimed!

    Thank you for your posts–entertaining and inspiring.

  27. I say ‘yes’ to more of this series (but heck, I’d say yes to anything that means more Pancakes & French Fries’ posts. And a repeat 2nd on the motion for you to do tutorials on home-maid cleaning supplies. = )

    My mom is running full tilt down the hoarder road, and your series has been such a helpful and inspiring reminder to me to fight the collector genes. I love that you got validation not only from Fred, but also from your Mr jumping fully on the bandwagon.

  28. There’s a lot of “inspiration” out there, and most of it doesn’t help us become holier people (stuff like “Jersey Shore” comes to mind…, which I attempted 15 minutes of watching yesterday to discover that I am distinctly “middle-aged” and care nothing for crass vulgarity that serves only to further debase our young people). As social creatures, we need each other–and ideally, what we need is encouragement.

    Your focus on simplicity has helped me to regroup, and in so doing, I feel more gratitude for all the gifts in my life, which is the LORD’s ultimate will for us. Clean water…gift. Shelter… gift. Coat…gift. Job…gift. Healthy child…gift. Loving husband…gift. Occasionally, more of that encouragement from you…gift also.

    Rest up!

  29. Congratulations on making it through the whole month with all those accomplishments! If I were you I think I’d be brushing my hands briskly together and saying, “Thank God that’s over, now I can relax for a few months!” But noooo, you’re looking for more projects! You nut. And I mean that affectionately and slightly enviously. πŸ™‚

    Honestly, lists aren’t really my thing; whether or not you keep doing projects won’t make a big difference to me. I read your blog because I like you and your writing style.

  30. I LOVED this series. Thank you for doing it. Yours was the ONLY 31 days series that I looked at I vote that you should make it a regular part of your blog. It is very encouraging to see how a small/medium/ordinary organizing project can have such a big impact. I think I get so caught up in dramatic before and afters shown on home improvement blogs that I get discouraged about ever changing anything in my house. Seeing your transformations have encouraged me to take baby steps in fixing the things I can to try to make my surroundings more useful and beautiful (and hopefully less cluttered). Thanks so much!

  31. Let me just say that you have inspired me…first to make a list…and in January to get it done. I do not have the time right now to do bigger projects, but I have been inspired to start cleaning out some junk drawers around the house. Bigger projects will get done in January. Thanks so much for this series, it is great!

  32. I started reading your blog near the beginning of these 31 days so I don’t know what “normal” blog posts are like for you, but I sure am enjoying the projects. Your writing style and real-life constraints are very approachable! You inspired me to purge and reorganize our closets this past weekend, which have been left in a “good-enough” state since we got married a year ago and I moved into my husband’s house. Our 1000sq ft. home has a 10×11 master bedroom with one medium sized closet and I finally determined that we should both be able to have all our clothes in the same bedroom if I just spent some time re-organizing STUFF. Not quite done but it looks like I should be able to do it! Yay, and thank you πŸ™‚

  33. I have loved this series and would love to see it continued (on a less intensive basis, of course). I have high hopes of doing my own 31 days after this semester/the holidays are over. You’ve inspired me πŸ™‚

  34. I’ve read your blog every day for this month of October, and as a result you inspired me to write my own list of things I wanted to do around the house, mainly “purging and organizing” which are actually being accomplished because I see you following through! It’s felt really good to take bags to Goodwill and donate things to people who can use them. I’ve got a couple of projects left on the list but gave myself the deadline of winter to finish them. Thank you for introducing me to William Morris’ philosophy because it’s changed my mindset:)

  35. Hi! Came by to tell you how much I liked this series. As someone who lives in an apartment, there’s this certain mentality of “not mine.” As in, “The cabinets aren’t mine, who cares how they look?” And so on. I think it’s a big struggle for an apartment dweller—finding the balance between not putting TOO much effort into a home that you don’t own, and making it a place you love to be in. You inspired me to look at my place with a more careful, discerning eye, and take more pride in this temporary space of mine. And of course you inspired me to prune, prune, prune.

  36. Please keep doing projects!! I found your blog through Small Notebook and have been following your 31 Day challenge every step of the way. It’s inspired me to organize my own home as well. If you keep going, it’ll encourage me (and I’m sure many others) to keep going. Very inspirational!

  37. I’ve loved this series! It totally inspired me to do the same in my house this past week. I’d love to see these kinds of posts more often. I too am drawn to simpler living and being more present. Your pile of Target purchases totally resonated with me; I really want to stop buying crap and start living within my means. Great series!!!!

  38. Congratulations! You worked so hard and I hope you’re enjoying the rewards as well as getting some much-deserved rest today. Please do continue! As I’ve said before, I’ve really loved this series.

  39. I too have loved this series. You have been brave enough to share with us all your less than perfect areas. We all have them, but prefer to pretend that we don’t, and that all is perfect in our lives, as that is how we would like others to see us.

    It would be great if you were to continue in some form, however I suspect that whatever you choose to write about next will be well worth a read πŸ™‚

    Thank you for taking us on your journey – WM would be proud of you!


    PS: don’t forget about sharing your home made cleaning products with us.

  40. I just started reading your blog, and I’ve loved this series. I’d definitely like to see more. It has been inspiring and entertaining. I keep noticing little areas of my own house that I could tackle in this way, and I’ve had the William Morris mantra stuck in my head all month!

  41. I love your blog. I started out reading maybe 5 different 31 days blogs. Yours was the only one I stuck with. I just couldn’t wait for my teenagers to get off the computer so I could see what you accomplished each day. I think I was on your blog at least once everyday in Oct!

    Thank you so much for the time and energy you invested to write to us each day and to actually do the work required! You are an inspiration to me.

    Please keep up this series. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a real encouragement to me.

    Thanks again!

  42. Great job to you and hubby! I love seing peoples projects and accomplishments on their blogs. I too have started to embrace a more minimalist way of life that includes paying off debt and being more thoughtful about purchases.

  43. Congratulations on a fantastic month of blogging.
    Please continue the W. Morris posts in any capacity.
    Truly enjoyable! Thanks!
    And how about those cleaning supplies?! πŸ˜‰

  44. I loved loved loved this series. In the last month, while my time’s been so limited keeping up with my 2 month old son, yours is the ONLY blog I’ve been reading.

    I’d love to see this as a recurring feature on your blog.

    Also, my husband thanks you. He’s wanted me to clean out our “junk drawer” in the kitchen forever. I did and he was grateful. I said it was my “One Day of William Morris”. He asked what cigarettes have to do with anything.

    We’re working on it…

  45. Yes, please consider keeping up with these project/posts! You are so inspiring and your projects have forced me to take a closer look at not only my projects, but how my family lives. Thank you for being so open and honest with your lists; I think this is a great help to more than just me…

  46. Hi, Jules. First I want to say that I read your blog every day (but from my iPhone, which makes commenting less “friendly”) so the fact that I waited to reply this long is no indication on how I feel about answering your question!…so, yes, more posts like this! Seriously (not to beat a dead horse) but you are a joy to read out in the blog-o-sphere and I will read what you write every day (regardless of the topic)! Your blog is already kind of about lots of things (really just your life) and I don’t think I will ever lose interest (wait, that sounded creepy but you know what I mean)! As others have said, it’s refreshing to see the before pictures as they actually occur, not the fake before that a lot of other bloggers use. So yes, more posts like these, because I know your content will always be inspiring! πŸ™‚

  47. I found your blog right at the start of October and it quickly became the first thing I checked each morning. This whole month has been so inspirational. I have been motivated to purge right along with you, and your honesty and humor have been a real comfort. Thanks for sharing your real life with us, before photos and all. I would love to see this series continue for as long as you feel like purging and organizing!

  48. That’s definitely something I would like to see! Great job this past month and I can’t wait to see how you continue!

  49. I’m fairly new to your blog (I think I started reading in September) but I loved this series and the idea behind it. It’s been inspiring as I try to unpack (beautiful & useful) wedding gifts into a tiny apartment, and I would love to see it as a regular feature after you’ve had a break. I’m a sucker for organization in general, but I also appreciate the little upkeep things you’ve been writing about – oiling wooden spoons and repairing shoes and taking care of small problems instead of constantly being annoyed by them – all very down to earth. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Jess. Being down to earth and practical is important to me (I tend to be the opposite, or at least was for a very long time) so your comment means a lot. πŸ™‚

  50. Oh, yes. Please continue. Not because, as you pointed out yourself, the pictures are stunning or the makeovers jaw-dropping (they’re just simple home projects, and that in itself is enough). It is because it provides inspiration for the rest of us! I see you clean out your hall closet and I want to clean out my own. I see a kitchen drawer pared down to frequently-used items, and I want to pare down my own.
    Yes, 31 Days of William Morris is over. A project a day. Mind-boggling! (I struggle to do a load of laundry a day!) Still…continuing with a project a week sounds do-able.
    Goodbye, 31 Days of William Morris.
    Hello, 52 weeks of William Morris?

  51. YES! That would be awesome. I have loved seeing the before, after, and the struggle between. Sorry, but there it is. I declined to participate because October is always insane month, what with a daughters birthday on the 27th and a birthday sleepover the weekend prior, helping the hubs with a costume to wear to work (don’t ask, they have fun at work), and all the other Halloween activities on top of the usual life, music lessons, etc. I usually stumble through Oct.

    This year we added a day on campus for my Master Gardener classes ON THE 29th!, a friends Halloween party that night, another daughters Confirmation the 30th and the (lovely) requisite activities prior, a Halloween party at church the 30th!

    Yeah. Except – hubs started the refinance this month. Appraiser? What? Take photos? ARGH! Piles of school papers to sort? laundry baskets of outgrown clothes waiting to be sorted for donate or ‘shop-the-attic’ boxes for the younger girls? Boxes of junk from the kids room mixed with precious loved things (from when the hubs ‘cleaned the girls rooms while I was out of town)… ay yi yi. I ended up doing a bang-up job and inhaling buckets of dust into my already cough-racked lungs and we pulled it off. There may be things hidden from view, some in my truck waiting for Goodwill, and so on, but it feels SO GOOD to walk through more open spaces and to open cabinets that were organized so we could hide other things. Neatly. Especially now that it is November and I can think.

    Thanks for sharing. I knew it could be done, but your blog was so motivating. I’ll be continuing right along with you. MWAH!

  52. Found your blog through the 31-day challenge and I love it! I’m a lawyer too – but it didn’t make me grouchy so I’m still doing it. πŸ™‚ (Although I left big firm life to work for a non-profit because the big firm DID make me grouchy!) Anyway – love your list – and I also once made a point of reading some science fiction/fantasy also. Two things – I never made it to LOTR because I couldn’t get through The Hobbit. Then I heard from several LOTR fanatics that they hated The Hobbit and it’s not necessary to read it. ALSO, the Narnia books are my all-time favorites, and C.S. Lewis wrote a science fiction/fantasy trilogy (it might be his only other fiction) which I really enjoyed, so you might try that. They are called the Space Trilogy on Amazon.

    Keep writing – about whatever! Love your blog.


  53. Thanks for the month of inspiration! I definitely think you have a knack for writing about projects and how the details come together. I am inspired to restart my blog and force myself to make thoughtful purchases by only buying stuff I time and ability to post about.

    Thanks again and kudos to you!



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