For those of you who do not know, I am a self declared neat freak! That’s right… I absolutely HATE mess and cannot function in the midst of clutter. In my world, everything has a place. Of course with little ones, things are constantly being ripped out of that place and being rearranged in any funky way that those sweet souls desire, but nonetheless, everything has a home at the end of the day.
I often get asked by friends and family, if I can come organize their homes; closets, kitchens, play rooms, etc. So I figured now is the perfect time to share my tips and tricks for decluttering the spaces within your home. Here are ten steps that you can implement today, without consuming much time and without breaking the bank.
1. Clean-Out the Unnecessary: While the thought of decluttering an already cluttered home may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. Make a list of all the areas within your home and pick one area to target first. Keep it simple, work on one room per day or per week, depending on your schedule. When tackling a heavily cluttered space like a garage, closet or attic, identify things that are no longer practical, used or needed and make piles for items to keep, items to throw away, items to donate / sell and items to relocate. Often times the idea of cleaning out personal belongings instills feelings of anxiousness, but that anxiety will soon turn to feelings of relief and a sense of freedom, I promise!
2. Repeat Step 1 Regularly: Cleaning out unused or misplaced items within your home is not a one and done scenario. In fact, it is something that should be done monthly, if not weekly or even better, as you go about your daily life. Once your home is decluttered after the big clean out (referenced in Step 1), reinforcing your efforts should not take very much time at all.
3. Designate Areas: Depending on the layout and size of your home, you likely have rooms intended for a distinct purpose; living room, family room, play room, bed room, office, etc. It is important for the purpose of minimizing clutter, to define the spaces within your home and to use them for their intended use. For example, if you have a living room that is ideally served as an “adult space”, keep it as such. Instead use a designated family room or play room for toys, games, crafts, etc. Also within reason, try to keep items that reside in those designated rooms, within that particular area. In my home, we have toys and even pacifiers intended for my son’s bedroom. These items stay in his nursery when we leave and are cleaned up before we move to another room. Likewise, we have toys dedicated for the main floor and others designated for the true play room in the basement. Doing this prevents overflow and minimizes the spreading of clutter throughout the entire house.
*If you are confined for space within your home and many rooms serve as multi-purpose, it becomes especially important to implement storage and containment solutions (see Step 4).
4. Use Storage Solutions: Bins, Baskets & Bags! This step is implemented to the nth degree at my house. In our closets, we have baskets for items that cannot be hung or folded, including belts, bathing suits and hats. In the playroom, we have toy bins that are organized by toy type, including books, electronics and stuffed animals. In our garage and basement storage, we have plastic totes for miscellaneous items, including holiday decor, party supplies, home improvement accessories and baby items. Nice looking bins and baskets are easy to find at many local retailers, including Homegoods, Target, Michael’s and Pier 1. I like to match them to the style and color scheme of the room that they will be located within. Plastic storage totes with locking lids are widely available at Target and Walmart. You can also get creative with your solutions, using multi-functional pieces like using a storage ottoman, which can also double as a coffee table and or additional seating.
The following storage system is located within my son’s nursery. The blue baskets store items, such as diapers and wipes and itty bitty baby shoes, while the bottom baskets contain books and stuffed animals that are stored at a toddler friendly height!
5. Be Consistent: After use, put items back in the same place each time. In your kitchen and pantry, put food items, including bowls, plates, cups, etc. back in the same cabinet. Or in the family room, store blankets, toys and magazines in the same bin, every day. Think of other items that you commonly misplace around your home; keys, cell phones, chargers, mail, etc. and designate a consistent home for these things as well. This will not only prevent clutter from accumulating, but it will will also make it easier to put these items away and likewise, easier to find the next time.
6. Use Labels: Labels are great for organizing the items that you may not use / see everyday and are therefore easy to forget about, including totes that end up in remote storage locations, such as basements, garages and attics. In addition, labels are also great for pantry items and craft supplies that you want to locate and grab quickly and easily. In these instances, your can use a label marker, sticker labels that you either write on by hand or print using a computer, or you can even implement unique ideas, such as chalk board paints for a fun and custom look.
7. Make a Routine: While I certainly prefer to clean up as I go, it may not be practical for everyone, everyday. Therefore, establishing a clean-up routine that works for you and your family, is key to keeping your home tidy and clutter free. Maybe prior to dinner is the best time for you , or after dinner and before bed. Maybe doing a cleaning sweep 3 days a week is best, or exclusively on the weekends. The key here is to remove mess and clutter from one day / one week, prior to recreating it the next.
8. Get the Kids Involved: Keeping a space clean and clutter free should be the responsibility of the entire family. Dividing and conquering not only teaches and shares accountability, but also results in getting the job done faster. Make it fun and second nature for your kids. Place toy bins on low shelves where they can easily put their belongings away at the end of the day, or prior to moving on to the next activity. Rather than using written labels for kid’s storage bins, use pictures so that they can easily identify the designated home for their items.
9. Color Coordinate: Color is a great tool for home organization and can be used in many ways. Color coordinating closets and office spaces, among other areas, provides the appearance of a cleaner and more put together space. Also, the integration of colored elements within the home (from pillows, to curtains, to storage bins and more), is an easy and effective way to demonstrate warmth and personality, in a fun and non-permanent way. In my home, turquoise is the color of choice. You will see it integrated moderately into the different rooms of the main floor, creating a clean, cohesive and clutter free look.
In addition, color is often an effective way to assign ownership and to designate the placement of things. For example, assigning a color to each member of your household, can be used as a way to identify, locate and put away items, by providing each person / child with a corresponding colored toy bin and laundry basket. Finally, having different colored storage totes (or labels), signifying a unique category, such as blue for sports equipment, yellow for craft supplies and green for outdoor items, is another useful color coordination strategy.
10. Implement Everywhere! Of course there are in-home locations (closets, pantries, play rooms etc.) that can most prominently benefit from these decluttering tips, but try to implement these ideas in areas outside of the home as well, including your office, your car and even your garage.
Thank you for reading and as always, feel free to comment below with any questions or feedback or to contact me directly!