I went out to dinner with some friends the other night and we were catching up on what we have been up to. One of my friends is moving so she has been de-cluttering and getting rid of things. They moved from Utah when we did and she was shocked with how much stuff they brought with them that they haven’t even unboxed or used in over a year. She found a box of clothes a year after living here and didn’t even open it, just took it straight to Good Will. She figured if she had not used it or needed them in all that time why would they now. My other friend shared that she read something online about de-cluttering and setting a timer for 15 minutes to tackle as much as you could in that time. For me it is that stack of papers that I can’t decide if I should save, normally it is my kids art projects or school work.
“Clutter is anything you’re keeping around your house that doesn’t add value to your life. Decluttering is all about making room in your home for the things that matter. With less clutter, there will be more room for you, your family, and your friends.” (source via)
It helps me to make list’s. I personally don’t need more paper to juggle. So I use my phone a lot to write goals or things I need to get done. Another spot I like to write lists is on my chalkboard in our kitchen, that is kind of like our command center. That way my husband can see what I am working on and pitch in to help. The best place to start is just one room at a time.
Start the process
As you go through the rooms in your house establish a system for sorting the items you find. I always have a box that I keep in my basement for things I want to donate. As you are working on one space you could use bags or bins. DO NOT get up every time you find something that belongs in another room and walk to that room. Gather three boxes or bags and label them as DONATE, TRASH and STORAGE (meaning it needs to go to another spot or be stored away).
I LOVE the 80/20 Rule. I used to be a buyer for a design store and I learned about this 80/20 rule then. It means that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your vendors. I find it fascinating and less overwhelming that in order to do better you just need to focus on 20% of your vendors or product, basically your TOP product. The same thing applies to your clothing and everything else we use on a daily basis. We only wear 20% of the clothes we own 80% of the time. Think about your kids toys they probably only play with 20% of their toys, we need to declutter the 80%!
You could be creating clutter with the decorations and accessories you have displayed in your home. It might feel over-crowded. It helps me to look at each space and think, do I really love this? Would I buy this again today? Then I completely clear off the piece of furniture and only put back pieces that have meaning or that I really love.
Above is an example of a piece that has probably too much stuff/clutter on it. I completely cleared it off and evaluated each piece.
I only put back what I loved and what I felt would visually look the best. The books were needed to add height, I love fresh plants and flowers. I got rid of all of my fake flowers, I have zero. It feels so much cleaner and less cluttered. This shows that you don’t need MORE things to make your house feel like a home.
When deciding to get rid of something think of the last time you used it. If you have not used it in the last 6 months then it is time to let it go. I have read and always heard that it is better to sleep on big decisions. I have a lot of accessories and art that I keep in my basement. I get attached to things and think of when I bought it or think well, I might want to use this again. It helped me to make a pile of things that I wanted to donate then go back and look at it the next morning and see if I still felt the same way. Mostly all of it was donated or sold.
Pillows can make a space feel too crowded. Again clear your sofa completely free and look at it with a fresh eye. Try using LESS but better and bigger quality pieces. Don’t just fill up a space to fill it up.
In the above picture I didn’t have this many pillows on my sofa, but I have seen this a lot where it looks like you made your bed. Or too often I see too many pillows that are too small.
I took away all the pillows and only kept two large fur pillows that are 22″ and then one kidney pillow. All pillows that I love and are statement pieces. The throw helps to fill in that dead space. Now these pillows don’t have to be moved when someone goes to sit down, again creating less clutter.
Counter tops are clutter-magnets for mail, bills, homework and extra paper. Designate a spot for mail, papers and magazines that you go through once or twice a week.
The basket above my fridge is where I put mail for my husband or that I need to review when I have time. I also put homework extra paper work I will sort through when I have time that week.
Try to keep your counter tops free and clear. I personally like a little decor on my kitchen counters, but my decor are things that I actually use in my kitchen. I have had this discussion with clients and family when I de-clutter their counter tops. When I try to move their blender, toasters, mixers etc to a cabinet or pantry they say “BUT I use that everyday.” I ask them “do you use your plates everyday, what about your forks, cups, frying pan?” The answer is always yes, but we seem to be able to pull those out daily.
I keep our toaster and blender in a cupboard. I used to keep my kitchen aid in my pantry and now that I don’t have one that is the only piece that I keep on the counter and actually use the bowl to store our fruit. I use our crock pot, food processor, blender, pressure cooker several times a week but I store them in cupboards and actually hide several underneath the skirt of this settee in our kitchen.
I love this quote that I found-
“Many of us have waffle irons, crock pots, egg slicers, choppers, food processors, and so many more small appliances and gadgets that take up space. And yet, rather than pulling out and dirtying the chopper with a dozen parts to clean, we grab our simple knife when we need to cut up an onion. Consider getting rid of many of the “convenience” items that you rarely use as you streamline your kitchen.”
I absolutely stand behind all of these tips below and could not have said them better myself to prevent clutter from returning. (source via).
1 Don’t allow potential clutter into the house in the first place: Before you purchase or acquire anything new, ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” and “Where will I keep it?” If you don’t have an immediate answer to those two questions, don’t bring it home.
2 Declutter a little each day: Deal with mail, clothes, toys and other common clutter a little each day. Set aside 20 minutes a day, if you build this time into your daily routine, you are likely to have greater success.
3 Use the one in, one out rule: Whenever you bring something new home, you have to throw out or donate something else.
4 Don’t buy. Rent or borrow: If you need something only once in a blue moon, consider renting or borrowing it. When it comes to books and video, the library is a great resource, or you can opt for digital versions, which take up far less space!