The heap of shame challenge. January. Wanna play?

Master bedroom with ladder side table and pipe handled bed tray on

Dearest house…

This time of year is a tad traumatic for a blogger. In the mess sense of course.

I had plans to clean you up today. I really did. But an unexpected photoshoot kinda took over.

It was the kind of shoot that required part of my kitchen.

So dangerous. This time of year.

Kitchen with sawhorse lamps on

It had been raining all day, so the kitchen was dark. But I decided to roll up my sleeves, and DO THIS. Sunless kitchen, you will not beat me.

But every shot involved… mess. Mess showing. I tried to kick it out of the way, but it kept rolling back into camera view. Why don’t piles stay put?!

So know what I did? I ended up gutting it all. All of that mess was thrown into a heap into the middle of the living room. The DIY Heap of Shame. I really deserved an award for how high it got. 

While my cat buried himself inside the dried hydrangea section of the heap of shame, (crunch crunch….. CRUNCHCRUNCHCRUNCH… cringe…) I took a shot this way and that way and every other way. I thought they were beautiful. From the camera’s preview. Missing all that mess.

Blog office on
Blog office

But not so on the computer. Dark. Muddy. Sunless. With only one picture surviving.


Yikes… 3:00 pm? I’d better get a shower and get outta my pjs before my son gets home from school…

“Mom, you just had a SHOWER?”, as he spots me in my robe. Editing my one photo of course. 

And then… after spotting the living room…

MOM! You need to clean this up!”

Toronto's Graffiti Alley on
Graffiti Alley in Toronto

Heap of Shame Trying Not To Lose It Pose.

The boy was tripping over the heap to try and find who knows what. ( Good luck to ya. )

So after getting dressed for the day at, oh, I dunno, 5pm? I started to cook dinner. While the spaghetti was bubbling away, I tackled the heap. To diminish the shame.

Living room with signed up vintage toolbox on wheels on

Because there was NO WAY all that stuff was coming back into the kitchen. Christmas or no Christmas. I want my house back!

I hung up clean laundry strung over chair backs, attempted to ‘push them into’ over crowded closets, piled coats up that had no place to go, and realized this issue was much deeper. 

Putting stuff away was no longer possible, because there was quite simply no place to put it.

Lightbulb moment… no wonder. NO WONDER.

Ya know, I’ve been feeling fatigued lately. And I really think it’s coming from the stress of the mess. Tripping over stuff, taking too long to make new stuff because I couldn’t find my tool and craft stuff. 

Front entry wall gallery on

So my once lovely house, I’m cutting you a deal. Once this Christmas thing is a done deal, I’m gutting you. I want you to look like these pictures again.

But I’m not doing this alone. Oh no.

I’m also going to host a Heap of Shame Challenge in January to anyone that wishes to join in. You’ll be asked to build a big honkin’ heap that is due to move on out to either the curb, thrift store or dump. I wanna see heaps all over the land. This stuff needs to go to those that need it. For we obviously do not.

Won’t that be fun? We can cheer each other on with big ‘ol heaps of (bad) junk! 🙂

And don’t worry, if you don’t blog, you can still play. I’ll invite you to post your heaps on my Facebook page! 🙂

Bathroom with ladder towel rack on

Every January I promise to do this. And I never do. This year will be different.

So anyway house, I did well tonight. I got rid of the living room heap, but there’s so much more to do. All these pictures look nice. But you truly look nothing like this right now in most rooms. But I’m gonna fight my way to get you back. And be able to open closets and not be knocked out with falling shrapnel.

See you soon, house! Because I miss you.


messy workshop before on
Dream workshop after on

Heap of Motivation. 🙂

So my friends… prepare. Every cupboard, closet, under the beds… is goin’ DOWN.

Who else needs to do this? Who wants to join me? I’ll post this again in the new year, but I’m preparing you now so you can preorder your favourite dumpster. 🙂

The Heap of Shame Challenge… coming January. I may change the title to something a little more positive… but ya gotta admit, this sticks! Any ideas? 

Who else needs to do this?!

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Categories: DIY, Full Rooms

46 thoughts on “The heap of shame challenge. January. Wanna play?

  1. This is the exact motivation I need! I hesitate to respond to a knock on my door thinking it may be the crew from Hoarders Show on TV

  2. Hi Donna, I’m in. We are in a small house that is crowded to say the least. Sometimes I feel like I’m decluttering and rearranging more than actually enjoying the space. That’s the nature of a DIYer, Upcycler and (neat) organization freak. I have plenty to share, just getting before pictures is going to be a challenge for me, but something I will work on.

  3. I cleaned up our heap of shame outside yesterday. It was our outdoor workshop. It was a mess and wood everywhere as my husband just finished building our island project. I sanded and stained only this time. Was a nice change. Think I finally got my house back in order little by little. We’re still in the middle of our house remodel, year so I try not to get to frustrated with the chaos at times, but it’s hard……… Really enjoy your blog we think a lot alike. Have a Great day!

  4. I SO need to do this Donna! My home has been neglected the past twelve years and I’d be embarassed to photograph ANY room in my house right now. I’d literally have to set the lens an inch away from my subject and then do some fancy editing effects to eliminate all the distractions from the shot. Seriously, there is so much clutter in every single inch of my house, I can barely stand it anymore. I stopped inviting friends over a few years ago because I’m so ashamed. How sad is that? Seriously, my LaZboy is duct taped together! How the heck did this happen? If a thief broke in to rob the place, he’d jump back out the window and run away in fear 😀 I don’t just want to join you, I NEED to join you ~ so where do you start? Looking forward to the challenge!! Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving ~ Shelly

  5. YES!! It is as if you have been watching me every time I TRY to put away a coat, or FIND something in my garage. I tell my self the same thing, I need to clear this no-longer-needed junk out of my house! I did just donate a bunch of coats my kids have outgrown, but that is as far as I’ve gotten. I’m with ya in January for sure!

  6. Donna,
    I hear you! Last October (and I’m not talking about the one that just passed), I down-sized from 3600 sq. feet to around a 1000 sq feet. Despite passing along many rooms full of furniture to people who wanted/needed it, I still moved WAY more things to this house than I can use. Our beautifully finished basement is not even user friendly right now unless you like a stack of ‘things’ staring at you while you sit reading or watching TV. Who am I kidding? I’ve given up both those pursuits due to no free-time to even sit down.

    I told my husband yesterday that this unneeded stuff has to go because I’m not hosting Christmas at my house for my family and having them comment that it looks like we just moved in!! No way!

    I may have to form my mountain of shame long before January if I hope to be able to open my closets without creating landslides. I still have 4 of the large wardrobe clothing boxes that the moving companies use….unopened! Beautiful clothing but way too much for one single little me to wear. Silly me. I ‘had’ storage space galore before and kept on buying more since there was lots of space to put it. No more! I guess I’ll be donating even more clothing than I already have.

    So what do I go away thinking after seeing your post? Great minds think alike?? Haha!

    No, it’s more like, “I need to buy something to fill a need, rather than buying to fulfill a WANT.

    As a Canadians, Donna and I wish our dear American friends a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. As for me, I’m already focussing on what I’ll be serving with my Christmas turkey. Our Thanksgiving was close to 2 months ago.

    Tonight after work, the clear out begins!!

  7. Oh, I am so in on this! I feel like I can’t get anything done in the house or on my blog. To many projects, not enough time, to big of a mess! Don’t change the name! I love it!

  8. Donna, this is hilarious. I would be joining you all if 38 years ago I hadn’t been pregnant!! What? (you say) That started an inner urge to go through my entire house, starting at the spot furthest away from the back door. I went through every drawer, closet, hidyhole, and got rid of everything I didn’t love, use or feel it was an asset to my life and put the remaining things where they ought to be. I would move things of doubt out of the room I was working on and put them in the next room. If things got moved all the way to the back door?…well, it was time to say goodbye. If I hadn’t done this every year after the tree came down, I would definitely be your Heap of Shame WINNER!! As it is I’ll be the cheerleader for all of you newbies!! It is the most amazing feeling once you have your whole house done. The amount of energy that wells up and the speed in which you can attack new projects is amazing because nothing gets in your way…the field is clear and you don’t even have to clean for a long time LOL! Donna, thanks and have a great day!!

  9. I am so with you. I do good for awhile and usually after Christmas get merciless with myself, but then through the year it all piles back up. Thanks for the motivation. My worst heap of shame is my garage and then my own bedroom. 🙁 Can’t wait to dive in.

  10. Boy, do I ever love your house!! I do know what you’re saying. I’ve been under a whole house construction for over 4 year(DIY). It’s being completed, but working without a bedroom closet and piles of supplies/fixtures/lumber/sheetrock has taken its toll. I want to decorate, but I hate that Christmas runs ahead of Thanksgiving these days. I have very little space to decorate and I have decided to eliminate red so there will be less of an awkward transition. My house is a heap of shame in some places(hello dust!). Donate, sell, throw away have been my mantras lately. The holidays certainly add to the stress. I try not to buy into it, but it can be difficult. Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. I am so with you!
    We are in the middle of renovating and it has to be done and cleaned up. Toilet and piles of tile in the bedroom has to go. January, bring it on.

  12. I started this exact project last spring, starting with the kitchen. I just looked at the stuff and if I had not used it in the last 2 years out it went…everything from crystal to cleaning products I didn’t remember buying! I have so much room in the cupboards, in fact the top shelf of each is now empty and I feel so good about it. Had a yard sale and if it didn’t sale it didn’t come back in, off it went to thrift. When I think of it now….lots of stuff went and now I can’t even remember what it was, just shows you the real importance of stuff. I still have our lower level to do and garage and shed. Try the challenge, you will love it..I’m in!

  13. LOL You had me at still unshowered and in your pjs at 3pm – you mean I’m not the only one who does this? OFTEN…too often! Great challenge Donna and I look forward to following it. Unfortunately (fortunately) I won’t be coming onboard because I found another way to declutter – my kids moved out and guess who got all my crap? LOL

  14. HI Donna,
    Wow! I de-shamed myself last summer after 2 years of 2 complete knee replacements with no ability to move. What happened???? I think all the clutter came BACK! It all found where I live. Oh my, I will be happy to join this happy group just as long as we don’t exchange piles!!
    I only have 500ft of living space, no garage, and a fussy HOA that does not allow “stuff” on the patio….. count me in!!!

  15. I NEED TO DO THIS! I have been talking about it for a while, but since we have our first baby coming in six months, like you said, it is GOING DOWN! Let the cleaning begin! I’m in this with you!

  16. Hi Donna, oh my, how appropriate as I have started mucking out ‘stuff’. I have found myself in the exact spot as you, drawers full, closets full and even under my THREE beds full. I am great at wanting to recycle vs throw out, but living in the country it is easy to store ‘stuff’ as we go to town only two or three times a month, well, enough said. Thank you for sharing this post as I have always wondered, “What does Donna do with all her fantastic decorating items??? How does she store them when they are not out?”
    I will definitely participate but oh I believe my photo would scare even me!!! Blessings and smiles and Happy Thanksgivings from Oregon, Emilou 🙂

  17. Wow Donna… you have really hit the nail on the head.
    Ooooh the piles and heaps of shame in our house are enormous! I swear they get up to mischief and multiply overnight.
    I can’t blame it all on the house renovations we’ve been doing but sometimes as you work on one room it looks its contents have been “thrown up’all over the next available space!! Sigh…
    I feel like I’m perpetually juggling… in fact I’m sure I spend more time moving things from one spot to the next than I do cleaning!
    But I’m not telling you or all the rest of the keen DIYers and hoarders anything new! 🙂
    So, ‘hell yeah’… I’M IN!!
    Love your work…

  18. What heap should I start with? Or should I say what room? Maybe the heap on the dining room table? The magazine stack that is taking over the living room? My basement office where I can hardly get in the door?

    I think I just convinced myself that I should be in.

    • I’m in! My house is full of projects I want to do and no place to do them. And no where to put it if I managed to finish something! Helppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp!

  19. I am in! It may be hard to tackle as much as I would like as January is a huge month for my job at the ski resort but my husband and I were just discussing how we need to clear out the clutter. It is making me crazy!
    My studio is just as bad or worse and it makes it hard to get my painting orders done so that is going to get cleaned out as well! Thanks for the extra incentive.

  20. At this point I’ll just be happy if I get myself to go take down those dried hydrangeas I plucked many weeks ago and can get them woven into the wreath I bought even fewer weeks ago!

    You inspired me with the hydrangeas before, Donna. Now to just get the wreath done!

  21. I am smack dab in the middle of dehoarding….I packed 10 bags for the thrift store today. My daughter is in Town and she is always my motivator. Working full time….and clutter leaves very little room for creativity. I am the Queen of PILES!! I made baby steps today….so instead of beating myself up….I am praising the 5 accomplishments!

    My in-laws are coming for Christmas…this is a sure way to keep procrastination at bay. Thanks for keeping it real!

      • I’m so in! My garage,which I vowed to clean this summer, progressively got more and more cluttered. I needed to clear it so I can finish the umpteen projects I started over the summer. Love the name . . . I’m excited to have some motivation to start.

  22. Hi Donna,
    I’m working on a major downsize from 2,800′ to a 528′ living space and have no idea where to begin. What I need is group energy and your Heap of Shame Challenge is perfect.
    I’m ready!

  23. I am so glad to hear that I am not alone. I have so much stuff that I keep thinking I can do things with. I need to get rid of the excess so my life feels more simple again. Less stuff means less stress. Keep only what you really love. I have December to psych myself up to this. 🙂 I have heaps all over the house. It is embarassing to me. I am so In!!!

  24. Heap of Shame, you say? Yes, yes indeed. That has me written all over it. I do so much better when I have partners. Give me a place for accountability and I WILL give you that heap!

  25. My heaps have been contained (well, almost)! I had a problem, seriously, a real problem that kind of took my breath away and kept me from doing what needed to be done in my home for several years. I let it get the better of me, let it become a storage unit for my community activities, and when your house is stuffed to the gills, how do you clean? Simply put- you don’t. The “I’ve had enough!” limit was hit in December and I kid you not, no fewer than 20 30+gallon garbage bags left from my front door. (moment of truth- not all of it was community group related, I allowed myself to spiral to the borders of hoarding) I have three stacks of boxes or totes in my dining room that will have to be there until the snow goes away so I can access the two places most need to go and we have a rummage sale for a high school group. I can live with that. My utility room is my crafting storage area and while it’s cleaned up considerably, that is the room that will be getting my attention full on this month. I have to work out storage solutions for my hoard of blankets (can never seem to have enough in this cold and bitter winter of northern Michigan though I’m thinking 20+ for two people in one house may be a bit much lol) and still have room to store the crafting supplies that I will now be able to use once again.
    It’s been two weeks since the cleaning tornado swept through and I am proud to say I have been keeping up with it all and have made the very solemn vow to myself and my son that it will NEVER get that way again- NEVER!

  26. Oh, Dear God! I just took a break from packing away Christmas “stuff” and a break from trying to finish wallpapering just ONE wall in our bedroom. Sat down for a few minutes respite at the computer (where I had to move aside all manner of junk “stuff” to find my mouse) and what confronts me first? Yes, The Heap of Shame Challenge! Great timing! I haven’t finished the ONE wall of wallpapering because I can’t find all my tools. Am trying to dig them out from various spots. Coats are piled on the couch in the family room because nothing more will fit in the coat closet. My kitchen looks like a disaster because there’s just too much stuff hanging around. The dining room is piled high with Christmas decorations yet to be packed away. The living room doesn’t look too bad – except for that huge pile of important, time-worn, dog-eared decorating magazines I so cherish. I’m trying to find an empty spot to start piling up my Heap of Shame. It might have to be on the porch… But, thanks for the “Challenge”. Picture forthcoming soon? Oh, no! Where. Did. I. Put. My. Camera?

    • Waiting to start the Heap of Shame!! I’m prepped — a pile in every room. Are WE starting soon? I need motivation. Past experience(s) tell me I can’t do this alone.

      • YES! Will start it this week. Was going to work on the concept today but my son texted me from school and insists I need a new iPhone instead. The nerve! haha

        Will do it this week for sure!

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