Just as our lives seem to get busier with each passing year, our house seems to get more cluttered. Or at least it does if I’m not sitting on top of it, screaming “no, no, no, no!” at the top of my lungs.
Still, there are easier ways to reduce clutter in the home without resorting to such techniques, and the following tricks will help you achieve your goal of a clutter free home without making the neighbors call the police for disturbance of the peace.
Throw Out as Much as You Can in 15 Minutes
Throwing out or giving away, also known as purging, means that you go through the home and get rid of everything you have not used or do not love. While this step can be very frightening if you are attached to things, remember that you will enjoy your clutter free life far more than you will enjoy the thing.
One way to make this more enjoyable, however, is to purge in time to the music. Get everything together and have a contest to eliminate the most stuff in the course of a single song. Upbeat songs as opposed to sentimental songs will make your task far easier. Personally, I’m fond of classic rock and the oldies, and Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” always wins points for throwing the excess clutter into the giveaway bag.
Use Custom Bedding to Incorporate Your Favorite Images
In our home, the bedroom is the place most likely to be littered with knickknacks and pictures. For the longest time, our décor in the bedroom, however, required that we use a plain solid comforter and curtains. We then used pictures and accessories on the wall to communicate the theme.
Custom bedding, however, allows you to incorporate your theme directly in the fabric rather than putting it on shelves and bureaus. Vision Bedding is my favorite for this because it has so many different design options to fit our many different personalities. It also has a complete “room design” feature which allows us to create the perfect elements for the bedroom before setting down the cash.
This process can actually make purging a lot more fun. We brought our sons into the design portion and explained to them that by giving up their things, they would get a new comforter, pillows, and curtain set in the designs they wanted. They were thrilled to find ones that none of their friends had, and it worked out well for us because they needed new linens anyway!
Bring in Storage
In some cases, the clutter problem may exist because you simply have no place to put things. If that is the case, you can remedy it by using shelves and storage compartments. However, if you already have these things and you still do not have enough room, consider whether you need to add more storage or go back and purge.
One often overlooked tip, however, is to make the most of your vertical storage. Closets often have tall narrow portions that you could use to store smaller things. You can build your own book shelf or find a small shelving unit to make the most of this. Sweater organizers such as the kind you can find on Amazon are inexpensive and can store any number of clothing, blankets, and sheets. My sister and I paint ours to make them part of the décor rather than just leave them blank and bare.
One tip that I borrowed from my college days was to incorporate hideaways throughout the house. While you can buy many different kinds of furniture storage units, this particular method involves creating hideaways from furniture you already own. All you need are some bricks, cinderblocks, square stones, or sturdy supports.
To create the space, you place the furniture on the supports. Make sure the furniture is properly balanced and does not wobble when you set it up. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. I like to line the entire side with supports so that the weight is evenly distributed. When using cinderblocks, stones, or bricks, you are in essence creating a small platform underneath your furniture. Most of the time, you can add five to six inches of storage space without a noticeable difference. This technique works best for beds, couches, chairs, and block tables or tables without legs.
Camouflaging your hideaways is the next most essential step. My favorite trick for this part is to make dust ruffles. While you can buy them from stores, the size dust ruffle you need will vary depending on the piece of furniture. By making your own or tailoring a purchased dust ruffle, you can make it fit your furniture perfectly. Lace knit and crocheted patterns can also be adapted if you so choose.
Tidy and Declutter Everyday
Most of the time, the clutter did not show up overnight. At least it doesn’t in our family. It creeps up like some ominous fog that wants to eat us alive. So the solution to this problem is to declutter and tidy everyday.
The Fly Lady, an innovative home organization expert, recommends that you incorporate a 15 minute declutter period into your daily routine. From personal experience, this goal appears far easier in theory than in practice. But if you can get the whole family to participate in the clean up, a great deal of work can be accomplished in a short time.
Trade Your Items
You’ve probably heard at least one variation of this saying. The basic definition is that once you bring something in, you take something out. This way you never lose your space again. To help facilitate this, you might consider keeping a box in your backroom where you put all of the things that you are giving away or recycling. This way, you know that it is going to someone who can use it, and you get to keep your new beautifully organized space.
This particular habit can be especially difficult around Christmas time. With so many gifts and surprises coming in the house, you may feel overwhelmed. But you needn’t be. You can either do a preemptive trade before the Christmas season begins, or you can do it after the holiday celebrations. By incorporating it in before Christmas, you will have less stress, however, because you have already gotten the work done. Additionally, you can welcome the new year in, knowing that you are already caught up.
Scan and Recycle
One area of the house that is hardest to keep organized is my desk. As a work at home mom, I have a tremendous stack of letters, bills, and documents that need to be dealt with and filed. Perhaps your desk looks the same way. And it only gets worse when you add the magazines and newspapers with interesting articles to be used later. Tax season means a whole new layer, and those documents must be kept for at least six years, though the IRS insists you keep them longer if you have any errors in your tax reports.
Fortunately for us, none of these items need to be in their original form unless they are notarized or contain an explicit statement that only the original will suffice. Those documents should be filed away. All other documents should be scanned into the computer, organized promptly, and then recycled.
Rent Rather Than Buy
This tip is more about prevention than it is about cleaning out clutter. Nowadays we don’t have to buy everything to be able to use it. Sites like Zilok and others allow users to pick an item that they need, pay a fee, and use it for as long as they need. You can also do this within your own community. I rented a sewing machine from a friend when I was trying to decide whether it was worth the investment, but online communities offer you the chance to see if the product fits your needs.
The benefits of renting items from toys to clothes to appliances is that you only use it for as long as you need it. I don’t need a pasta maker every day, but having it once a year for our big Italian night is a wonderful blessing. Rather than pay an arm and a leg for a quality machine and let it gather dust and take up space for the rest of the year, I can rent it for the time I need it, use it, clean it, and return it for a fraction of the cost.