Did you wake up recently and realize you had to go through an obstacle course of laundry, toys, old newspapers, and other stuff just to get from your bed to the bathroom? Did you finally realize that it doesn't have to be Spring to start cleaning? Are you trying to raise home value? Whatever your wakeup call happened to be, now is the time to deal with the mess that's been building up in your home. We are here to help you get started with a few tips on creating a clutter-free home. Believe me, coming from a former pack-rat who was forced to deal with my own mess of stuff in my last major move, I can guarantee you that "uncluttering" your home will not only make you more proud of your space, it will also help you save time and be more productive on a daily basis.
Now remember, it probably took you a while to let all of your junk pile up around the house, so don't be surprised if you have to budget some serious cleaning time over the next couple of weeks/weekends to get your house looking good again. However, once you get your place into shape, our tips should help you maintain a clutter-free environment easily.
Ready to start?
1) The first thing you have to do is probably the most painful: You've got to actually go through your clutter and throw things out or give them away. Start with the rooms that are most used and get rid of anything that is past its expiration date. This includes: medicines, make-up, toiletries, coupons, and of course the little black dress that's been hanging in the back of your closet for the last five years waiting for your waist to revert back to its former self. Use the age-old one-year rule: If you haven't used it in a year, you don't need it. If your clothes don't fit, give them away to someone who can appreciate them - a friend, relative, or a charitable organization. (You'll get a new little black dress that's actually in style when that weight finally comes off.)
2) After the initial cleanse, separate what's left into two piles: practical things you will use regularly and sentimental memorabilia. Then you have to start being smart with your space. Anything that doesn't need to be easily accessible can be put away in stylish trunks that can double as a coffee table or bench when you throw a seat cushion on top. High-traffic items can be stored near the places you use them in sets of drawers (with or without wheels) and plastic bins that slide under the bed.
3) If you have a four-poster bed frame and want to add unobtrusive storage space in your bedroom, you can buy a set of bed risers for less than $20 that will lift your bed an additional six inches off the ground. This is an economical and aesthetically friendly way to add lots of space in your bedroom. (I did this in college and it made a huge difference! One year, I even stacked a few risers under each leg of the bed frame and it gave me a ton of extra storage space and a beautiful high bed at the same time.)
4) Laundry baskets: keep a basket or laundry bag in every bedroom. Create a designated time for collecting and doing the laundry and stop tossing dirty clothes on the floor or in a corner. Plus, if you get in the habit of putting dirty clothes directly in the laundry basket and clean clothes back in the closet, you'll always know where your clothing is and you won't have to pull apart your house looking for that last piece of your outfit.
5) If you have more than one storey, designate a place under or near the stairs where you keep things that need to go back upstairs. Then, whenever anyone goes upstairs, they can bring that stuff up with them. Don't let upstairs stuff wander around downstairs. Everything must have a designated space and must always be returned there. It may be difficult to reinforce this at first, but with time it will become natural and you will be happy to see your floors, countertops, and other spaces clutter-free.
6) Speaking of designated spaces, create a specific place for your keys and briefcase, backpack, or purse. Use hooks to keep things from piling up on your floor and to maintain an atmosphere of cleanliness and organization.
7) Junk drawers: We all have them, but it's time to limit them to one per person per household. Clean them out once a month and don't let clutter accumulate.
8) If you live in a small apartment and want it to feel more spacious, add mirrors to the walls and mirrored cabinets in the bathrooms. This will give you more storage space and does not take much space.
9) Stuffed animals and toys do not belong on the floor. First, get rid of the ones that are old and unused. Only keep the few sentimental ones that you can't bear to part with, and find or build them their own shelf.
10) Last but not least, create a chore chart once you have everything organized. Make sure that each room gets at least a basic cleanse every week so that you can maintain the clutter-free home you have worked so hard to create.