Every Thursday, I will post a guide with ways to declutter a certain area in your home or life. If you’re not ready to toss everything out, try these ways of reducing clutter, one area at a time. Like me, you may not think you have much, but you’d be surprised to find how much stuff you have that you really don’t need.
Most of you just sat through the blizzard and spent the past couple days shoveling snow, so cleaning is probably the last thing on your mind. That’s fine. Sit back. Relax. But if you’re like me and you have another snow day today, then this is a great chance to get some decluttering done!
Your living space is an important area in your house for relaxing and entertaining guests. However, it is also the space in your home that usually ends up with the most clutter (aside from your closet). Consider your living space and what purposes it serves. Is one area used for entertainment and another as an office? A child’s play area? Reading area? Do you have people over often or are you the only one who uses the space? Tackle each area one at a time – don’t overwhelm yourself by doing everything at once! Also, check out the other posts in my decluttering series (and the links) before tackling the living space. I suggest reading 10 Ways to Declutter: Papers & Office again because the majority of clutter in a living space comes from magazines, mail, and assorted office paperwork. Keep in mind that everyone’s living space is different. You and I have different purposes, things, and values. What works for me may not work for you, and that’s OK. Now, ready to declutter your living space?
Get two bags or boxes – one will be for donation, and one will be to toss.
1) Clear all flat surfaces, including the floor. Shoes on the floor? Put them in the closet or neatly by the door. Toys piled neatly in the corner? You’ll have to find somewhere else to put them. Take things off surfaces and decide if you want to keep them (put them back somewhere – but not before reading the rest of this post), donate them, or toss them. If it’s one of the latter two, put items in corresponding bags/boxes.
2) Clear off your walls. You may love displaying the three dozen photos from your Costa Rica trip on your wall or your immense collage of family and friends, but you need to think about taking them down and filing them away or putting them in a scrapbook. And don’t scatter twenty photos of puppies on each wall. Too much visual clutter is still clutter. Your brain is overwhelmed as it tries to process everything, leaving your mind in a state of chaos rather than peacefulness.
3) Use simple decorations. Of course, a space that has completely bare walls can be a little boring (unless that’s your thing), so don’t be afraid to spice it up with some character. Adding an wonderful art piece to a wall or displaying your prized antique vase on a flat surface is very tasteful. Love those puppies? Keep one or two of the best photos on the wall. A good family photo or two are excellent items to put on display. Replace pictures every few months to keep it fresh (ex: putting up your family holiday photos during the winter and replacing them with sunny photos in the spring). Just remember to keep it simple! The less you have, the more you appreciate them.
4) Reduce the amount of storage space. The best way to limit the items you have is to limit the space you have to put them! Once you have your surfaces cleared off, you will be left with shelves and storage bins – if you even have room for them! I suggest the use of boxes like these – but only to keep what you really need and cherish, not just to hide things away. The boxes offer a great solution for organization and keeping your room looking polished and clear. Be clever about where you place them, too – maybe a couple under the coffee table, or strategically placed on a bookshelf to look like accent pieces (with surprise storage inside).
5) Keep furniture to a minimum. Essentially, keep furniture that you use and donate the rest – you will enjoy the extra space in your room! If you keep furniture you use, you will find you may only need just one couch, a chair, a coffee table, desk, and entertainment center. Or maybe you can forgo the couches and just have two nice chairs. Maybe you don’t need a desk (I don’t have one). You may or may not need a bookshelf or side table. This is something I’ve focused on recently as we eliminated our two couches earlier this week. He likes to watch television and play games while sitting on the floor. I rarely plop myself in front of the TV. We also don’t have friends over very often and we’ve been fine using the floor for games and sleepovers. Therefore, we had no need to bring the couches to our new place and a friend came to take them earlier this week. I am loving the extra space in our already large living room! We do plan to buy two chairs in the near future to replace the couches. While getting rid of the couches might be a bit dramatic for you – many people use the couches – do take a look around and assess what you have and use.
6) Find a shelf, drawer, or container for things to go. This ties along with the need to find a place for everything. If you can’t find a place for something to go, it doesn’t belong. Always remember to put things back where they belong after use, immediately.
Done? Now sit back and relax. You deserve it.