Model homes and houses we covet on HGTV all have one thing in common that differs from reality: those homes have no clutter. No piles of paper on the kitchen table, no heap of shoes by the front door, no guest bedroom swamped with out-of-season, out-of-date, out-of-sight mounds of stuff. This isn’t practical for most of us on a daily basis, but we have 10 fundamental tips that might help control the clutter.
Start thinking about what you love
The designer Nate Berkus said he will not keep one object in his home that he doesn’t absolutely love. Start looking at your home with a discerning eye, and give yourself permission to get rid of the thimble collection you’ve kept out of duty, or the set of dishes you bought twenty years ago and secretly hate. Keep only what you truly use and what brings you joy.
Keep it simple
Your home didn’t get cluttered in a day (unless you have a toddler, and then it is possible). It won’t get un-cluttered in a day. Give yourself five or ten minutes a day to chip away at the clutter. Make a manageable project that doesn’t overwhelm you or take over all of your time.
Be preventative with paper.
If it doesn’t need to be brought into the house, don’t even bring it in. Stop by the post office recycling bin and throw all that unwanted junk mail away. Put notices in the calendar on your phone instead of sticky notes. Scan and upload documents to your cloud. Keep only what you need to for tax and medical purposes and lighten your load.
Again, keep it simple. Go through rooms, and make three piles. 10 things to keep and put away, 10 to donate, and 10 to throw away. Do this in each room. Rinse and repeat. You will know when to stop, when you have no more clutter to clear!
Control the closet monster
This one takes a bit of time, but it will make your daily routine much easier. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit or are not your style. Make a pile of clothes that need to be fixed, and either get the alterations done or get rid of them. Simplify your wardrobe to quality staples that make you look and feel great, and refuse to keep anything that makes you feel less than great. If you need inspiration for this, search “wardrobe capsule” online.
Group items by use
It sounds so simple, but sometimes we forget. Make a coffee station in your kitchen, a baking station in your cabinets. Keep your kiddo’s building toys all in one area, and make an art station in one dedicated spot that they will truly use. Do this in every room, for how you and your family live, and you will see that it naturally lessons the clutter.
Baskets can be your friend
(Be careful not to overdo this one, or you will just have piles of baskets of clutter.) Take five minutes to throw random socks, toys, books, etcetera into a basket that you keep in high traffic rooms. This leads to the next step…
Enlist the rest of your family
Whether they are four or forty, the rest of your family can take said basket and deposit items to their proper homes. If you do this on a regular basis it takes only a couple of minutes a day. Play fun music and make it a race with little ones. It won’t feel like doing chores at all!
One item a day
Once you’ve established the de-cluttering habit, start thinking about donating one item a day. Clean, outgrown, or unused items can enrich someone else’s life, so keep a basket or box handy and donate once you have filled it.
Change your thinking
As you get rid of the clutter throughout your home, reframe your thinking about what you bring in. Look at the free koozies from your local bank and the riff-raff from the dollar bin, and decide if it is truly going to enrich your life. If you don’t bring it in, it won’t grow into piles!
Our homes will never be “model home” uncluttered. Nor should they be, because they are where we live and make wonderful, messy memories. The above tips will hopefully make your messes a little more manageable and allow you and yours to live more fully in your homes.