I love seeing the changes as our home steadily gets renovated. However, sometimes those renovations stretch into areas that are holding pens for stuff. And sometimes you gotta clutter to declutter. In our ongoing DIY project, we are rounding the house and (hopefully) finishing off the back siding. However, in order to do so, my loving man needed to be able to reach said siding. This was the result:
Kidding! That was my inside voice when he told me we had to 'dump the garage'. Here's what it actually looked like:
Turns out, the siding was tucked away at the back of the garage, behind piles of stuff, mine and his, and the only way to it was through a complete emptying of our garage onto our new deck. Well, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Despite my fears of having many many boxes in the garage, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I only had three that needed to be dealt with. Sadly for my guy, he had a few multiples of three to get through.
A few hours later, we now had a bunch of things in the trash/recycling (including a few items I thought I was keeping but somehow ended up broken in the trash - my cry of disappointment instantly made him realize he wasn't supposed to get rid of those), we had a pile ready for donation, we had organized our major reno materials AND we had found the siding that started the whole mess.
Tips to Help You Sort...
When I work with my clients and they are frustrated that they have lots of stuff that just seems to hang around, the first piece of advice I give them is to go through it when you're a little bit frustrated or upset. The reason is, when you're already at that point, your 'aww-I-remember-when' emotions are nicely tucked away and it will allow you to be more ruthless with what you have been keeping in storage. Often, the stuff we keep has some kind of memory attached to it, or was a gift from someone, or something you paid a lot of money for and when we approach it with our 'aww' brain in place, we tend to keep it. The trouble is, as you grow older, there is more stuff. So on that day that you're already feeling frustrated or irritated, take it out on your storage boxes and BE DECISIVE. If you haven't used that juicer in the four years since you bought it, you're probably not going to use it at all. Donate it, or as a friend of mine likes to say, GIFT it (doesn't that sound better?) to a centre where someone who truly could use it can find it.
Be sure to have garbage bags/containers and recycling containers close at hand, have a dedicated area for donation/gift items and have a few bins ready to collect the items that you do choose to keep.
It is ok to keep some things!
It's important to know that you don't need to get rid of everything. I managed to take down all my many boxes to one bin. Now, that was after many such declutter days over a span of years but eventually, you'll get there too.
Now That You're Down To The Good Stuff...
Now that you've gotten rid of all the energy-sucking stuff that's been sitting around so long, implement an organization system. If you are using opaque bins, write or type a list of exactly what's inside and tape it to the front of the container. I started doing this when I lived in a 600 sq.ft. apartment and it made trips to the storage unit much faster! Here's a few other tips I'm borrowing to share with you for when you are cleaning through your living spaces:
Here's a great way to keep those seasonal things in one place and ready to go at any moment. Benita Larsson, a design blogger in Stockholm, created compartments using foam core (available at most craft stores) and added nylon bags for grab-and-go items. You can have a tub for every season so in the winter, you have hats, scarves, mittens and other warm gear ready to go near the door.
Bag 'Em & Tag 'Em...
If you have kids, you know that toys can sometimes seem to have legs and wander around the home. This great system, created by Brooklyn-based lifestyle author Katie Brown, is an easy way to help your kids keep things organized. Using opaque tubs, the key to this system is the graphic images on the front of the tubs so the kids know what's inside and where things go. As your kids grow, swap out the images for new ones so you can go from Barbies to costumes while still maintaining organization.
If you've ever tried to pack for a long trip you've probably learned that rolling your clothes maximizes your suitcase space. Same is true for your drawers. New York City organizer, Barbara Reich, found that when she rolled her clothes, she could get about a third more clothes into a drawer. Plus, when rolled in such a way that you can see the prints or graphics on the front (or back), you can more quickly find what you are looking for. And, on those days when you just don't know what to wear, you can peruse your whole collection without having to pull everything out.
Click here to find the whole list of organizing tips I borrowed from RealSimple.
Have questions or comments? Please enter them below and let's get you started on your path to a cleaner home and your own beautiful, personal spaces!