Bust Clutter and Take Your House Back
- Admit the problem. To misquote Tolstoy: Every unorganized family is unorganized in its own way. Step one: Figure out your home’s problem areas: Poor paper management? Haphazard meals? Too many black shoes? Breeding toys? (Guilty, guilty, guilty.) Once you’ve identified your out-of-control areas, commit to conquer each one.
- Let go. Open your cupboards, closets and drawers. If they don’t make you proud, clear them out. Then, before you shove the same stuff back in only neater, ask two questions of each item: Do I love it? Will I use it? The following rationales are not reasons for hanging on: But I only wore it once. It’s still in good condition. It was expensive. Purge anything you’re saving out of guilt or cheesy sentiment. All the kids’ artwork, really? Get rid of unnecessary multiples of common items. How many old t-shirts do you need? Establish a maximum for disposable items; if you save shopping bags, margarine tubs or gift boxes, allow yourself five and toss the rest.
- Think before you store. If you decide an item must stay, then ask: Is this the best place for it? Would this storage area be better for other items, say placemats instead of light bulbs? When putting away what made the cut, group like items, so no tools in the towel closet. Give everything you own a home, and keep it there.
- Use space better. Turns out what goes down can – and often should — go up. A lot of stuff, especially kids’ stuff, winds up on the floor hogging space and tripping people. Think up. Use your walls. In kids’ areas and offices, set up shelves with stacks of matching bins or baskets. Use these to store stuff that isn’t beautiful, and most stuff isn’t. In the garage, hang bikes on heavy duty hooks and install pegs to hold skis and hockey sticks vertically. Exploit the overhead garage space. Run a few heavy gauge rafters across the ceiling space. Lay laminated wood panels over those, and you have storage for that crib you just may need again, and those light-up Christmas reindeer.
- Ditch the boxes. Boxes hog room. Plus you forget what’s in them. If you see an item, you’re more likely to use it. Labeled bins are fine for small like items, but when possible, lose the box.
- It’s easier to sort someone else’s stuff. If your storage areas need tough love, phone a friend, and trade services. You help her sort and she’ll help you. The outside opinion helps, plus the job’s more fun.