In the cleaning industry, we call the remaining rooms of the house -'The Living Areas'. Named so because that's exactly what we do in these areas, or at least we should be. When areas of our home become too cluttered they become lifeless because we avoid spending time in them. Think about it, when's the last time you spent some quality time in your storage room?
We all do it. We collect things over the years, whether bought or, received as a gift, and we add it to the rest of our collection of things. Many items are sentimental and others are, what I call, "what if I need that?" items. Unfortunately, we run out of space and our homes become cramped, uncomfortable, and frankly -disorienting. There are so many 'things' in the room with us that we get distracted trying to make sense of everything.
So let's start de-cluttering our homes one area at a time.
- Kitchen Cupboards - Go through your cupboards and box up the items that you don't need or never use. Keep enough plates, bowls, cups, silverware and glasses to feed your family for a day's worth of meals but pack up the rest and donate them. Yes, you will need to do the dishes daily but, doing the dishes won't be as big of a chore as before because there won't be as many dishes to do! Also donate anything you haven't used in the past year. If you have muffin tins but never bake muffins, then donate them. This is one of those "but what if I need that?" moments... I have a hard time with this kind of stuff so here is my compromise. You could donate them and then purchase new ones if, and when, you actually are going to bake muffins or.... you could purchase a plastic tote and pack up these "what if I need that?" items. Of course this is the same with any other baking or cooking item. I would suggest getting a see-through tote so you can see what's in it without having to open the tote and make sure to give it a label -'Kitchen Wares'. You'll need a place to store this tote though. Don't just throw it in your 'storage room', which we'll get to in a moment, but put it somewhere you will be able to find when you actually do need one of these items.
- Closets - This is another hard one. We hang on to clothes that we want to wear again but, either because we never have the occasion or they don't actually fit us anymore, we most likely won't. So.... donate! Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to wear that? Some clothes we keep because we like the way it looks on the hanger but when we put it on, we don't like the way it looks on us. If that's the case, donate it! Also, if you've had that piece since high-school, it's time to let it go. Another compromise though! When you get rid of those clothes you can get new ones that you will actually wear and that actually fit you. (But only if you need them of course!) And what about towels? How many towels do you need? I would keep enough towels & wash clothes to get your family through a week. Again, you may need to do laundry more often but it won't be such a chore because you'll have less to wash, dry and fold. Coats are another item in closets we tend to collect too many of. You should have two for each season, a casual one and a formal one. And if you ski or, do some other outdoor activity which requires special clothing, you should keep just what you need of them as well. Shoes are probably the worst things to let go of. Especially for us ladies -we love our shoes. This is another "what if I need that?" item. But again, if you haven't worn them in a year or, when you do you curse yourself for it because your feet are killing you, get rid of them. And yes, you can replace them, but make sure you replace them with ones that are comfortable and that you can wear with more than one outfit. Try to consolidate.
- Furnishings and Decoration- Yes even furniture can become cluttered or be the clutter themselves. If you have furniture that no one ever sits in or uses, then why have it? Also, keep the decorations on your furnishings to a minimum. It is difficult, I know, because we tend to display items that are sentimental to us. But, we can't display everything! When we display too much decor, it gets lost among all the rest. So that precious knick-knack you put on display won't even get noticed because no one can focus on any one thing with all that other stuff! Another tip, put holiday decorations away when the holiday is over! Get another see-through tote and pack up your holiday decor. Make a tote for each holiday and store it in your 'storage room' with the rest of your holiday decor so you can find it again next year. When you do break out the holiday decor, don't just display it with your every day decor. Neatly pack up the decorations you have out normally and let the holiday decor take center stage. Even do this with pictures of your friends and family. Have Christmas photos, in frames, with your Christmas decor and put them out in place of your ever day photos. This gives your home a fresh and festive feeling while you and your family can reminisce and discover hidden memories.
- Storage Room - Last but, not least, we are going to tackle the storage room. We all have one (or two) rooms in our homes that collect the things we don't use on a daily basis. So let's open the door and take a look around. Can you even find anything you might need in here? Can you actually walk around and get to things without tripping? If you answered no to either of these questions we need to get this room organized. Let's start by taking out the things we really don't need. A lot of times we use this room to store things because we just don't know what to do with them and really don't want, or need, them. So this is a great time to get rid of them -donate! Now we need to get more see-through totes and start organizing things into categories that we can pack up together. As before, we packed our holiday decorations into separate totes. Don't forget to label them! Now we will stack them in one area of the room which we will consider our holiday section. You would also put all of your wrapping paper and any other holiday type item in a tote and put in this section. Put all your crafting items in one area as well, putting each of your project tools in a separate, labeled tote. Do this with each of your categories and soon your storage room will actually be a functioning room again and you will actually be able to use the things you are storing in it!
So there you have it. A nice, neat and tidy home. Have fun de-cluttering, organizing and re-discovering your home!
A note: For those of you that don't want to donate your items, you could have a yard sale and earn some extra money for those new shoes!
Written by Erica Jensen, President and Co-Owner of Clean Right Company of Spokane, WA. www.cleanrightco.com