Containing Your Clutter

Think about when you first moved into your home- did you have a few empty corners, closets, drawers? Chances are if you once had an empty ounce of space that it is now over-flowing. Maybe you’re not bad enough that your friends and family submit your home to one of those hoarder shows, but you’re still seeking some advice. There are so many more options for storage now, as compared to 20 years ago. Storage can be rugged, beautiful, obscured, on display, plastic bins, woven baskets, and so much more! Choosing which type best fits you depends on needs for accessibility, location, and items to be stored.

Purging is the first, and hardest, step to containing clutter. Start in one room and go through every drawer, box, and bin. I recommend making 3 piles to organize: keep, toss, donate. The “keep” pile can later be sorted into location needs or functions to help consolidate items to a specific area. Place rarely used items in rooms that are rarely occupied, such as a guest room or garage. Store more frequently used items in close proximity to where they are most likely to be utilized. Try thinking outside traditional roles for storage. Maybe your dining room table doubles as a work surface for bill paying or weekend crafts. Store those items in the credenza and pack away the rarely-used Christmas dishes in the winter coat closet.

The next task is to assess the function of the house as a whole. Can your home office be combined with your guest bedroom? Would the family computer be better utilized in a more populated area such as the living room? Consider the space requirements needed for a task and try to combine travel paths, empty space, or rarely used functions. For example all of my pots and pans hang from a ceiling rack in my kitchen. Now I’ve got a functioning display as well as extra, valuable cabinet space.

Finally, informing household members where items belong ensures your continued organizational success. I’m afraid that most of this burden rests on your shoulders. Labels can help with this process but the designer can’t monitor your special craft helper as you put away playtime. Giving each item a “home” or a designated area minimizes wasted space, and time. How many places do you find yourself looking before you track down scissors? Kitchen scissors stay in the kitchen but locate all the other scissors in a desk drawer or plastic bin. Now you (and everyone else in your home) know where to find them!

Don’t worry- you don’t have to face this alone. Sometimes an objective eye (like a designer or a friend) is helpful in deciding if an item is a keeper or not. Get other household members involved in deciding how your “keeper” items are stored. Their involvement shows them their opinion matters to you and might make them more receptive to putting items in their proper place. Take your time and make your way through each room using this process. Be ruthless- those happy meal toys from the 80’s are just gathering dust in the back of your closet. The more you get rid of, the more space you have for yourself!

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