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How to Deal with Clutter

Almost every time I meet a new client, one of the first things they do is apologize for the clutter in their home. We all want a home that looks like a brand new decorated model, but in the real world, we live in our homes and things tend to accumulate. So how do we maintain order; and how do we deal with the fear of letting things go?

First the keeping things orderly part…Purchase bins, drawer dividers and organizational items to keep things in place and readily available. When buying furniture choose pieces that provide additional storage like ottomans with storage, end tables with a drawer, TV consoles with doors and drawers; this space never goes to waste. Use a closet system to get the most storage in an out-of-sight place. Make sure you have a place/bin/caddy/drawer to drop items that you carry in to your home, like keys, phones, mail etc. You can always find a wall to hang a few bins in the laundry room. Make sure the foyer table has drawers for storage. The second part of the plan is using the new places to store everything. A little self-discipline from yourself and cooperation from everyone in the household will be required.

Now for the fear of parting with clutter. One of the hardest reasons to let things go is sentimental value. Ask yourself if you are ever going to use the item and does it go with your style? Often times we feel a sense of guilt when considering parting with something that belonged to mom or grandma. If you will not likely use the item, saving it will only pass your guilt on to your children one day. Try to find someone who might love the item or donate it. I had held on to my mother’s wedding gown for years and when I was packing to move, I was torn with whether to pack it and take it along to be stored in a closet at my new home. Instead I donated it to a theater group along with a few other gowns that I had been keeping just in case I lost ten pounds.

Other excuses for keeping unnecessary belongings are “it was a gift” or “I may need it someday, or “I paid a lot of money for it”. All of these things may be true, but again, if you are not using the item or do not love it, don’t prolong the inevitable. Keeping something for the above reasons causes negative emotions like stress, guilt or dissatisfaction. Donate it to a good cause! Once gone, I bet you will feel better and won’t miss it.

Ultimately, taking control of your space and not being subordinate to your possessions is the key to decluttering. It is an ongoing process that requires letting go of the fears and guilt that keep us holding on to things and prevent us from achieving the order that we yearn for.

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