How to Declutter and Stay Organized

Have you ever thought about organizing and decluttering as part of the decorating process? Well, you should! Clutter is a fact of life and I know how easy it is for random stuff to grow legs and scatter itself all over the house, but we need to keep a lid on it. How can you appreciate your amazing coffee table if there’s a layer of magazines in the way? Here are my favorite tips for decluttering your house (and keeping it that way!) so you can actually enjoy your decor.

1. Determine the room’s function. It’s hard to organize a space if you haven’t figured out what to use it for, so that’s step one. A guest room will have different storage needs than a home office, as will a room that needs to be both of those things. Take a minute to ponder some goals before you start tossing anything.

2. Become a sorting machine. This is the fun part. Divide everything (and I do mean everything, be ruthless) into piles:

>> Keep In Here
>> Keep In Another Room
>> Donate
>> Recycle/Trash
>> Sell

Instead of tackling an entire zone at once, like your monster walk-in closet, it’s faster to pick a category. For example, I helped one of my clients organize her basement recently (so we could decorate!) and she had a lot of sheet music to wrangle. Most of it was in her storage room, but about a third was still in her office. It was easier for us to sort all of that at once rather than doing it piecemeal as we moved room-by-room. If you’re not sure where to start, choose something you have less of and go from there.

3. Make five second decisions. It can be hard to get through a lot of clutter, especially when you come across sentimental items, but limiting yourself to five seconds will help you go with your gut. I personally have a hard time letting go of things that were gifts (even if I didn’t like them) but you know what? If you never use something or it’s not your style, it will be better off going to someone else who can love it. Heck, maybe your sister has been drooling over the wine rack you got last year and will be happy to take it. If not, that’s why you have the donate pile.

Clutter-free tables for everyone!

Clutter-free tables for everyone!

4. Take stock of the keepers. After all of the decision-making is over and you’ve weeded out the pile of drawings you made in elementary school, you can think about where to put the rest. Frequently used items should be kept somewhere handy, while seasonal or special occasion wares can be at the top of closets or in the crawl space. This is the time to measure your shelves and drawers, too, just in case you need to…

5. Go shopping! The lure of the Container Store is strong, but this part needs to be LAST. Don’t shell out for new baskets and bins only to get everything sorted and realize they won’t work. Womp, womp.

BONUS: Staying organized. Obviously after going to all of this trouble, you’ll want to keep that clutter in line. The main thing that helps at my house is a good purge every 5 or 6 months. It’s amazing how much stuff will creep into your house in that short span of time, but it does. Another trick is to bring home less in general by only buying what you love. If there’s less in the house, there will be fewer things to sort next time.

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