by de-cube

A 10 step guide to de-cluttering your home (and life)

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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Clutter has a nasty habit of creeping up on us. One day it’s only a magazine and a takeaway menu on the countertop, and suddenly it’s a horde of wrappers, stickers, unopened envelopes, the neighbours’ kittens, and goodness knows what else that are taking up valuable space inside your home. 

No wonder we sometimes feel so discouraged looking at our interiors – they’re being overthrown by messy piles all the time. 

If you’re unsure about throwing something out, ask yourself these questions: Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I use it? Easy peasy! 

Let’s talk downsizing and de-cluttering, helping you achieve more and more space every time you get rid of something.

1. Be honest with yourself

Under Stairs Storage: modern Corridor, hallway & stairs by buss

When you walk into your home, what feelings greet you? Is it peacefulness? Chaos? Have you stopped throwing dinner parties or hosting get-togethers simply because you’re embarrassed by the clutter in your house? Are you struggling to find what you’re looking for, and then end up discovering you already own three copies of the same thing?

It’s time to take charge.

2. Focus on your goal

 Garages & sheds by de-cube

Establish your reason for tackling this clean-out project.

Whether it’s to find more space in the garage or to gather up some legroom so that the guest bedroom becomes functional again, remind yourself what you are trying to accomplish.

3. Begin with the easy stuff

Start off with tasks you can finish quickly and without emotions attached to them, like cleaning out the kitchen/hallway junk drawer.

Accomplishing these small tasks will gear you up for the harder ones, like sorting through years of family photos or personal paperwork.

4. Make a habit out of it

A mere 15 minutes a day is what you must start off with, which is manageable most of the time. Tackle one drawer in your study desk. Go through your handbag. Get rid of expired foods and spices in your pantry. Sort through those extra towels and linen. Be honest about those heaps of books and magazines lying all over the house. 

Put all the stuff you are donating in black bags so that you can’t see it, lessening the chances of you being tempted to pull something back out again.

5. Expect some emotions

We always say “it’s only stuff”, but the truth is that many of our possessions represent memories and the people in our lives who gave them to us. That is why throwing out stuff, whether to downsize or de-clutter, can be a tad emotional at times. 

Don’t let this discourage you from the bigger task at hand, and acknowledge the fact that you don’t need to keep the elements to keep the memories

6. Decide on the criteria for what stays and what goes

Ask yourself the three questions posed in our intro. For example, when faced with a pile of old books, ask yourself if you love them, if you need them, and if you will read them again. 

Being honest with yourself will definitely help in deciding what goes and what stays. 

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7. Don’t go on a guilt trip

London Apartment by Sybarite Architects: eclectic Living room by Whitaker Studio

Many of us hold on to stuff because it belonged to a family member, not because it’s our style. That is no reason to fill your life with clutter. Give yourself permission to donate or give something away. 

Accept the fact that what matters to you changes at different stages in your life. Sometimes stuff just becomes stuff.

8. Respect someone else’s memories

Different people have different reasons for clinging onto stuff. Your moody teen, for example, might not want to part with his stuffed teddy bear – that’s his right. 

If space is truly at a premium in your home, allow every family member to keep one plastic container of personal belongings – no questions asked.

9. Keep the memory, toss the item

Full House Renovation with Crittall Extension, London: eclectic Nursery/kid’s room by HollandGreen

Don’t want to part with those drawings your child did in kindergarten? How about you make a photo book containing all his early-years art, which will take up far less space than the papers themselves? Or snap a picture of that drawing and let it go. 

The same goes with collectibles – keep one or two, not all 30.

Remember: out of sight, out of mind.

10. Don’t get carried away by sentimental value

brush64's collection of inspiration: eclectic Living room by brush64

If you deem every single thing as important, then nothing will be special. For instance, if you have a bunch of items that once belonged to other family members, select a few unique ones to hold on to, and donate the rest. 

Remember that your heart can’t be too cluttered, but your house most definitely can be. 

You may want to treat those de-cluttered spaces to some cleaning. And therefore we bring you: 9 Painless Ways To Make Light Work Of Cleaning Your Home.

What other good de-cluttering tips did we miss?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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