Save Space by Separating Your Sets

posted by Andrea | 08/25/2016
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separating sets

If you’re like most people I know (including myself a few years ago), you have gotten sucked into buying a full set of something based on a store sale, just to get the few pieces you really want or need…

  • pots and pans
  • knives
  • bedding
  • picture frames
  • luggage
  • wrapping paper
  • children’s clothing
  • dishes
  • etc. etc.

And if you’re like most people I know (including myself a few years ago), you only use a few pieces of the set, while the rest of the items take up valuable space in your home.

  • you use your favorite frying pan and big stock pot daily, while the other 5+ pans are collecting dust
  • you have 3 favorite knives and rarely touch the other 8+
  • you just wanted the duvet cover but had to buy the full bed set even though you already had sheets you liked
  • you wanted a couple 8″ x 10″ picture frames, but they came packaged together with a bunch of other sizes you didn’t need
  • you wanted a nice carry on and medium size piece of luggage but it was more economical to just buy the entire 7-piece set
  • you needed a roll of blue wrapping paper, but the store only sold the blue with silver, pink, and white
  • you wanted a couple cute shirts for your child, but every option came with matching or coordinating pants (and you had enough pants)

My list could go on and on and on… so many things come in “sets” these days!

(I love mixing and matching bedding versus buying a full set of matching items)

(I’ve gotten rid of SO many pans that came as a set and now only have my favorites)

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If you find yourself nodding to any of the statements above, take a moment to think about HOW MUCH SPACE you are potentially wasting by storing pieces of sets you don’t use, need, want, or love.

And think how much extra space you could have if you ONLY kept the items you actually used and needed versus storing the entire set of something?

Although there was a time when I kept full sets of things together “just because”, I have now freed up so much space in my kitchen, my storage room, my bedroom, my kid’s closets, and more after parting with the items from sets I didn’t want, use, need, or love.

No more holding onto unused items in our house… even if they are technically part of a set! 

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Now, if I want something specific, I rarely buy it in a set (even if it is cheaper per item to buy the set). Instead, I just buy the exact item I need — one paring knife, one shirt, one picture frame, one blanket, one bag or suitcase, etc.

It’s a different way to think about things because we are so used to everything coming in sets, but if you can look past the advertising and past the store sales, you’ll most likely find that you save money, time, and space in the long-run by ONLY buying (and storing) the items you actually need versus a complete set of something you don’t!

(it would have been cheaper to buy a full set of baking pans, but I wouldn’t have gotten the exact sizes I wanted… so I bought each pan individually)

(my favorite mix and match frames that I spray painted black)

(no matching knife set for me — only the knives I actually use)

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(even my dishes are not a matching set — they are just all white!)

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If you’re looking for a relatively quick and simple way to purge a handful of items from your home, I would encourage you to break up some of your “sets” and only keep the pieces you actually use and need.

Your single pieces of luggage, 3 lone pans, a half set of knives, pillow shams without a matching comforter, and infant pants without the matching tops will certainly still be welcomed at your local thrift store… and you could probably even sell them if you wanted to take the time.

There are so many people (like me) who jump at the opportunity to buy single items instead of full matching sets, so not only will you clear some of your own unused clutter, you’ll also help other non-set-buyers out there 🙂

Are you a fan of “sets” or do you prefer single items?

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20 comments

  1. Lydia

    08/29/2016

    I loved your dish drawer so much that when we bought our house and I noticed the kitchen Island had really deep drawers I started using them as I dish drawer. It’s perfect for a shorty like me.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay! Glad you are enjoying your dish drawer — we love it too! I’m not even that short but it’s so fabulous. The kids can reach their own plates to set the table and Nora can practically clean out the dishwasher herself!

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  2. Denise

    08/25/2016

    GREAT post!!! Don’t even get me started on having to buy matching bedding sets just to get the piece you want! Another one the drives me crazy…having to buy a set of coordinating dish towels just to get the cute one I want. (And then sometimes I end up buying two sets–4 towels–to get the 2 matching ones I want). Grrrr!

    [Reply]

  3. Roxanne

    08/25/2016

    I feel like we must be one of the few people that actually use all of our pots and pans on a regular basis, even with a couple of spares that I had from college! Of course, part of that might have to do with the fact that we don’t do dishes nearly as often as we should… but it sure is nice having all those extras ready to use! 🙂

    [Reply]

  4. Mara

    08/25/2016

    Love this post!! This is an overlooked issue in so many homes, and I think a lot of people just don’t ever think of separating sets since they are a SET! This is such a powerful tip!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh don’t even get me started! I know so many people who won’t’ even consider getting rid of anything that’s part of a set unless they get rid of the WHOLE set at the same time.

    I actually know someone who gets rid of all their 3 month baby clothes at the same time, all their 6 month baby clothes at the same time — EVEN IF THEIR KIDS ARE STILL WEARING THEM! They are so obsessed with keeping the full sets together that they get rid of clothing that still fits their kids just because some of the other clothing doesn’t fit. It’s so crazy!

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    Denise Reply:

    Hah! I hadn’t read the replies before I posted mine…I love that you use “Don’t even get me started!” too!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I laughed too when I read your reply about “don’t even get me started”. I think I say that a lot 🙂

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  5. Bonnie'sMama

    08/25/2016

    My husband and I have an ongoing discussion about whether or not to get rid of our wedding dishes–a full, 24 place settings of white and ivy Correlle, from platters to coffee cups and saucers. I liked it then, but I’ve finally admitted to myself that I really never use it. I like colored dishes better. And we moved to a tiny town 12 hours from home, where we know few people and don’t do much entertaining. We don’t really need 24 settings for a family of five, one of which is a baby.

    I’m trying to decide if there’s anything in the set worth keeping. I have a sneaking suspicion there isn’t. Sigh.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — a full set of 24! That’s a lot!
    I guess I would say get rid of them and get color plate that you like more — but I might not be the best person to ask as I’m ALWAYS inclined to purge!

    If you think of how often you use your dishes (3 times every day) I feel like it’s important to have dishes that make you happy. I actually got rid of both sets of my wedding dishes (both brightly colored sets for 12) and bought plain white about 7 years ago because that’s what I liked best. I’ve never regretted that and LOVE my white dishes every time I use them.

    [Reply]

    Denise Reply:

    I LOVE my white dishes, too! They’re all I have. Easy to add color with seasonal linens or decor when I want to, esp for holidays.

    [Reply]

    Colleen Reply:

    Corelle is great because it doesn’t take up much space, and you may want to hold on to some of it for future use. It is very lightweight and durable so it is good for kids to learn how to set the table with, load the dishwasher or put away in the cabinet when they are of the right age. If keeping it all is too much than think about just holding onto what you might use. The dinner plates are great alternatives to paper plates esp for large gatherings. We use our dinner & luncheon sized plates all the time instead of paper. A friend has one of those small picnic carriers on the counter with the luncheon plates and silverware in it so her kids can access them easier. If they still aren’t your thing, there are lots of people that love them and collect them even, you shouldn’t have any trouble selling them. Look on Facebook, there’s lots of selling groups and even some targeted to Corelle.

    [Reply]

    Bonnie'sMama Reply:

    I’m enjoying these responses. I like the idea of Corelle because it is so beautifully stackable and durable for children.

    The problem is that I have a large set of thrift-store, Melmac plates with a dragonfly and flower pattern that charms me more. Also, I think food looks prettier on a colored plate instead of a white plate.

    So what I need is for Corelle to produce their usual sets in gorgeous colors like Fiesta.

    Andrea, what brand of dishes were your colorful ones?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I honestly don’t remember what brand my colorful plates were. One set was very “Tuscan looking” and it was from Target. The other brand was a gift from friends and I think it was really expensive (I know, I’m horrible for selling them!)

    I sold both sets on Craigslist in no time at all and made much more than it cost me to buy the white dishes we have now. I love having and using dishes I love — so I’d say get what you want and donate or sell the rest. If you don’t have much storage space, paper plates are TOTALLY the way to go when you have guests. We use paper when we have more than 12 people and it’s SO much easier!

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  6. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    08/25/2016

    I have this problem too. I bought a pots and pans set when we got married and when enough of them get worn out (soon), I’m not going to buy another set. I’ll just buy the few pieces that we use the most. And I don’t really like pillow shams, so those don’t get used when I buy bedding. I will say that I use almost every single piece of our miracle blade knife set, so those are all keepers 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I think pots and pans are the biggest “waste of a set” because you almost never need or use all the different sizes — and often need a couple of the same size (like sauce pans)

    [Reply]

  7. Beth

    08/25/2016

    I fully agree with this post. The question is what do you do with all the random extra pieces, besides donating them? What did you do with the pieces you didn’t use/love?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Donate or sell — or I guess trash if they aren’t useful on their own.

    [Reply]

  8. Jenn S.

    08/25/2016

    Sets are great when you’re just starting out, but once you learn how you work or live, buying quality singles that suit your needs/style is a superior way to go.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, good point!

    [Reply]