10 Steps to Declutter Your Space
In our lives, and if we’re fortunate enough, one thing remains constant, the wonderful feeling of being/returning home. And what is it that we love about home so much? The comfort, familiarity, and peace that we find. But as a millennial consumer, I find it hard to keep that peace while my place is a mess. Not messy in the sense that it's dirty, but I've got too much stuff, and the pressure in unbearable. So we’ve put together a thorough step-by-step process for turning your home into an oasis - a functioning place that can remain organized and peaceful, even during your busiest times, and a sanctuary during your quietest times.
This is the first guide of three that will help you to declutter and create the sanctuary you definitely deserve. We can’t all be on HGTV or HomeEdit to receive full makeovers, so we’ve got to dig in ourselves and use what we have to make our houses, homes.
*Bonus Tip: Don’t try to do it all at once. So start by taking the next 10 days to take-one step at a time.
1. Take a tour of your home, as if you’ve entered for the first time. Take notes on what you have, where you have things, and how much of the things you have.
2. Then sit down and compile a list of all of the activities you and each person in your household takes part in. Everything from running, skiing, soccer, painting, movies, wine nights, etc, should be included. This way you can connect what you do currently, to your current needs, and begin to mentally separate the things you need from the things you’ve collected over time, and may no longer need or want.
3. Break down your space into functional areas and/ or zones - This will help you to outline your spaces to prevent future clutter by creating a place for everything. Think about all the ways you want to use your space, and particularly how you want to maximize your space to meet your needs, i.e. routines. For example, do you throw your keys on the kitchen counter when you get home, maybe now you want to create an entryway that can be a space to remove things from the outside (keys, shoes, jacket) so that it won’t create clutter in other places?
4. Now that you’ve toured your home and dedicated your spaces based on how you would like your house to function, go back through your home and each space that you’ve identified to create a list of things you might need to maximize your space. Things like storage bins, under counter shelving to maximize space in your bathrooms and kitchen, would be useful.
For this initial list, try to focus on the storage areas that you have currently. It can be tempting to go out and purchase cute baskets, tabletop accessory holders, and trays, and the like. But think about your end goal for your home, clarity. You’ll be better able to clear your home if you can first better utilize the spaces you have.
Some areas to consider beefing up your storage accessories: *Tip - Be sure to measure, measure, measure, to make sure the units you purchase or find will fit. Also, since you have a good idea of what you have around the house, the likelihood that you have some things that can be used for storage is high. So check at home first, before you buy.
- Under counter storage like this one
- Towel and oven glove hanger
- Paper towel dispenser
- Under counter trash - you can reuse your plastic shopping bags here as liners.
- Drawer dividers for utensils
- Paper towel wall-mounted dispenser
- Microwave shelf, if your micro is on the
counter. For additional storage consider getting a shelf that could hold a few teacups, a glass jar with some tea bags or coffee, and a tea/coffee pot. This way you’ll have a morning station for your favorite brew and save space.
- Wall Mounted shelf or hallway table to put keys and mail.
- Bench or stools with a bottom shelf where you can place shoes. Would be great if these could slide under your entry table.
- Mirror, for your last look before heading out the door. A mirror in a small area also creates the illusion of a larger, airer space.
- Key hooks or tray, I have a cute little ceramic bowl that I found at HomeGoods that fits perfectly here, and also adds a bit of glam to the space with its gold trim.
- Umbrella bucket. Often you can find cute versions of these at HomeGoods or TJ Max, but I actually use a pot, originally meant for plants, but it’s perfect, tall, and narrow.
- Wall mount to hang your brooms and mops if you don’t already have a broom closet.
- Your vacuum, handheld, can also be mounted in your coat closet. I attach an extension cord so that I can connect the charger fairly easily to the closest socket.
- Baskets to go above the top shelf, to hold accessories like hats and gloves.
- Under the counter shelving units that maximize space, even around your plumbing
- Drawer dividers
- Baskets that separate your hair products from lotions and skincare
- Bins for your seasonal wardrobe.
- Shoe rack
- Hanging brackets. I use this hanging shelf unit to store my t-shirts and sweaters, and it really saves a lot of space, and also acts as a divider between my different clothes.
TJ Max and HomeGoods are great places to find good looking and decently priced storage accessories. But don’t go overboard, stick to your list, you can always come back later for fabulous decor.
5. Get 4 separate bins, and depending on how much stuff you have, these bins will vary in size and numbers, small boxes to large containers :). Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. But the point of this is to not have to move clutter from one place to another and you can see the progress as you go. These boxes will go with you from room/area to room. Boxes: Donate, Toss /Trash, Keep, Move.
The move bin is mainly for things that belong in another room or area. It’s important that you keep like with like, no matter where you put it in your house. You can also just move those items to the designated area, but I find I can move faster if I stick to one room at a time. For example, I love candles and have a lot of them, but the ones that are not in use are all in my living room console. This way, I know exactly where to find them, and where to put new ones that I buy.
6. One room/area at a time - I like to start or end with the bedroom, mainly because that is my inner sanctuary. But also because in the bedroom you have multiple zones: sleep, read/relax, closet, and bathroom, if you’re lucky, (definitely a rarity in NYC). Either way, there’s a lot of stuff there, and for me, my bedroom is a whole universe of its own, so I like to give myself some additional time, separate from the whole house decluttering process.
7. Clear the area of all items. And as you clear, make sure those bins are close, and you’re accessing and scrutinizing each item as you remove them from the area under construction. After all, it is a rehabilitation zone.
Audit: Give each item a once over
- Is it in good condition
- Is it something that is still being used
- Is it the right version of what you need (i.e. phone cables and chords)
- Does it have it’s matching pair (gloves or socks)
Put each item in its respective bin, as you go.
8. Clean - Depending on how long it’s been, you may have dust and other build-up that needs vacuuming, and wiping down. Particularly during this time of covid, we all want to be safe and make sure that our spaces are cleaner than ever. Think of this as your time to really do a deep cleanse and clear out any hidden dust mites and germs. Trust me, this is a therapeutic process. You’ll feel good after this.
9. Set up the area, the way you would want it to be. Now, this is the time to set up your shelves, and racks, and other storage units. This is the opportunity to reimagine with a clean slate, knowing also that you’ve already gotten rid of the many things that no longer serve you, or as Marie Kondo says, no longer brings you joy.
10. Bring back the items that do belong in the area you’re working on. Normally I second guess here, and make sure that I really want to keep or that I need each item I’m returning to that area. Then, and only then should you put the item back in the area, but now in its new designated space.
Be sure that you’re checking the ‘move’ bin as you move from one area to another. This bin contains things that were in the wrong area and as you clear out each area, you’ll need to check the bin to see what's there in case it's needed in the next section.
Bonus Round: Bask in the glory of your clean home & then repeat until you’ve done each room.