It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Home Neat Home post! On this page you’ll find tours of my previous houses along with posts on organizing and cleaning. Decluttering is one of my favorite pastimes. I actually love the moving process because it forces you to really consider everything in your house. (But I don’t love moving breakable things like artwork and dishes…) Even though I have no intention of moving anytime soon, I often ask myself: “If I were to move next week, would I be ready?” I want to know that everything in my home is there for a reason: because I love and use it.
Step One: Categorize
Before you can organize, you must reduce the number of things in your home. Rather than tackling trouble zones one at a time, I’ve been approaching decluttering another way: by tier of least important to most important. Break down your things into the following tiers in your mind:
- Couldn’t live without it
- Use it all the time
- Use it sometimes
- Like it but never use it
- Useful but rarely use it
- Don’t like it but use it
- Don’t like it, don’t use it.
Something in level 1 might be your very favorite clothes or your everyday dinner plates. You wouldn’t know what to do if you gave them away. You couldn’t dress or eat.
Level 3 things are still keeps because you need them. Examples are flashlights or a play-doh set for your son that he enjoys and plays with every other week.
Level 4 items might be spare pillows or shoes that you think are cute but are not practical for your lifestyle or have been replaced by ones you like more.
Something in level 5 might be your third set of guest room sheets that you haven’t used in years (but continue to store) because you have newer ones.
Something in level 7 might be a candle someone gave you that you don’t like the smell of so you never burn it but haven’t had the heart to give away.
When I feel like my house is starting to feel cluttered, I walk around like a realtor giving a tour opening closets and peeking in cabinets and collect things that I either don’t like or don’t use. I ask myself: “Would I miss this if it were gone?” Once you have a big box to donate you’ll already feel better. #snowballeffect
Step Two: Get rid of the worst things in each category
Sheets and towels are a good example. When you buy new ones, you probably keep the old ones “just in case!” you need a towel for something messy. After owning towels for over 10 years I have accumulated a lot – the good master showering towels, the nice guest room towels, the extra towels that are still nice, the extra towels that are just OK, the extra towels that are for cleaning up spills, and the extra towels that are really gross and I might use and then toss. That’s a lot of towels!! So my point is, you probably don’t need all those tiers. Before a towel gets to the bottom levels, go ahead and give it to someone in need. Generally when it comes to sheets and towels, I like to have one in use and one for the wash. If I buy something new, I give away the one I like the least. I don’t buy new sheets all that often, but over the years I have learned that I really do need to embrace out with the old and in with the new. The same rule goes for tablecloths, scarves, shoes, handbags, etc.
Step Three: Admit you have favorites
Similarly, how often do you have a variety of something all on the same level of niceness yet you always choose certain favorites to actually use? I definitely have favorites – serving platters, clothes, bathing suits, and tablecloths – that always get first dibs. If you use one platter 10 times during the year and another just once, you probably won’t miss the latter. If you have room to store it, great! But if your things are feeling tight, free yourself of the second and third placers. They just might be first place to someone else!
Step Four: Repurpose
And finally, if you have things with sentimental value that you just don’t want to give away, ask yourself if you can repurpose them for another use. For example, I have a bowl with the KERF logo on it that I can’t bear to give away, but my bowl collection needed thinning out and I never chose it to use for breakfast (because it’s technically a dog bowl! Lol.) So instead of donating something sentimental to me that I never used, I repurposed the bowl as a bracelet holder in my closet and now it brings personality to a bland closet space. I’m sure you can find many different uses for those second-tier serving platters I mentioned above!
Once you’ve tackled all the bigger stuff, the little stuff like sorting through your child’s book collection or finally getting some dividers for your junk drawer (hey, bowls are great for this!) will be a more manageable project.
PS. Would you guys like to see an updated kitchen organization post, or is that overkill since I already did one in a previous house?