Decluttering is essential to prepare for the sale of your home, but there are other reasons to tidy up.
Retail therapy. We’ve all done it: shopping for fun, celebrating by buying, rewarding ourselves with a purchase… Or two. Or five.
Shopping can be a quick fix for elevating mood. But after a while, our houses become the repository for all our accumulated “stuff” which then becomes clutter which then can make our moods plummet. It’s a vicious cycle. Research shows that clutter leads to stress and anxiety as our minds associate jumbled disorder with an untackled “to-do list.”
If your home is overflowing with a hodgepodge of purchases, maybe it’s time for a home edit.
What’s a home edit?
Editing when associated with writing is the process of conveying a message in the best way possible, being succinct — using precise expression without wasted words.
Your home also conveys messages. Your color and pattern choices, furniture and accessories all reveal who you are and what you want to present to the world. Are you playful? Sophisticated? Traditional? Modern? Relaxed? Formal?
But who knows if you can’t see past all the extraneous items? Clutter conceals the character of your home.
It’s time to clear the clutter and showcase the beauty of your home!
How do I become a home editor?
Our method of home editing uses three categories:
You’ll be starting at the macro level, working your way down to the micro level. Proceeding this way enables you to strategize wisely and see progress immediately, motivating you to continue trimming down all that “stuff.”
A picture is worth a thousand words. But do you really want that? Let’s edit that picture down to a handful of powerful messages.
Take a photo of each room with your iPhone. Review each image as if you were a magazine editor. Print the photos out and mark them up, crossing out what you want to eliminate, taking notes on how to better organize each room.
It can be overwhelming to physically stand in the middle of the room and look around wondering where to begin, but looking at a picture of the room as if you’re looking at a page in a magazine allows you to be more objective and less inundated by the chaos. Turn your notes into a room-by-room strategy.
Next, make a list of your local charities and what types of donations they need. If you have children, include them in this process to instill a sense of generosity and civic responsibility. Always call or visit a charity’s website before donating to make sure your items will be welcome, but here are some ideas:
- Animal shelters/wildlife rehab facilities – clean bath towels, heating pads, newspaper
- Homeless shelters – unopened travel-size toiletries, clean but gently-used linens and clothing, toys and games
- Food pantries – non-perishable food items that have not expired
- Charitable thrift shops – furniture, home decor, housewares, collectibles, clothes (Some places will pick up larger pieces of furniture.)
- Schools – unopened school supplies, gently used backpacks
- Libraries – books (Check for the dates of their book drives.)
We recommend tackling one room at a time, one day at a time for this stage — creating systematic, achievable goals.
Use a three-box method, labeling your boxes “TRASH,” “DONATIONS,” and “STORAGE.” While donating big-ticket items might give you tax benefits, don’t worry about the everyday, smaller items. Refraining from attaching a monetary value to possessions will simplify your decision-making when determining what to get rid of.
Make frequent trips to donate (or dump) your items. Out of sight, out of mind — no second guessing! Eliminating items frequently helps you see progress quickly and feel a sense of accomplishment daily, motivating you to continue.
Limit the knick knacks used for decorating. You don’t have to show every pretty item you have. Rotate your favorite items in and out of storage. The outcome is two-fold: you’re spotlighting each item by not allowing it to get lost among many others and you’re clearing space, making surfaces easier to clean.
Now that each room has been cleared of extraneous items, you have achieved the macro level and have entered into the micro.
There are many experts with advice on organizing. Marie Kondo’s philosophy (Tidying Up) encourages you to ask yourself “Does it spark joy?” for each item you are considering. Clea and Joanna (The Home Edit) merge organization with design and interior styling adding their signature stylized aesthetic.
There are also professional home organizers in your area — do an internet search and you’ll find them. However, if you’re ready to take on the challenge solo (or with the help of your family), we have culled our favorites. Here are our top 25, organizing our own list by room by room.
1. Define the purpose of this space and take out anything that is not relevant.
2. Segment the room to make it more functional. Children’s toys could be limited to one cabinet; child-size furniture stays in that part of the room. Television and lounge chairs could go in another area. Books in another.
3. Keep decorative throw pillows to a minimum and place blankets in a pretty basket or bin.
4. Minimize what’s on the floor.
5. Use trays to corral remote controls and magazines — and only keep current magazines.
6. Put your most-used items front and center and store the things that are not used daily. This reduces countertop clutter and makes cleaning easier. Similarly, keep frequently-used dishware on lower cabinet shelves and place special occasion items higher up.
7. Invest in clear bins or wire baskets for your refrigerator and pantry. This way you won’t so easily forget what you have and overbuy items. It’s also disappointing to open a refrigerated container and find it full of mold!
8. Install a whiteboard on the inside of your pantry door. When you take the last of an item out, make a note and add this item to your grocery list. Train your family to do the same!
9. Install a wall-mounted mail organizer inside another cabinet to keep paper clutter at a minimum. Pockets could be labeled “Receipts,” “Bills,” “To Be Filed,” “Take-Out Menus.”
10. Use multi-level lazy Susans for easy retrieval of smaller items like spices.
11. Use the space under your bed for storage of extra blankets, sheets, out-of-season clothes, etc. Store these items in clear containers. Purchase bed risers if you need more space.
12. Categorize the clothes in your closet by type and arrange them accordingly: pants, skirts, dresses, shirts. Color coding is another option. Rehang each item backwards on the rod. As you wear an item, you can hang it back up the standard way. This helps you recognize which clothes you haven’t worn in a long time. Donate the ones you never wear.
13. Use a nightstand with drawers to eliminate visual clutter. A bedside pocket organizer is also helpful for storing a laptop, reading glasses, phone, etc.
14. Drawer dividers aren’t only for the kitchen. You can use them in your dresser to categorize, socks, undies, scarves, jewelry, etc.
15. Use a two-compartment hamper in your closet to separate lights from darks as you undress.
16. Keep cleaning supplies in a portable caddy.
17. Use clear, labeled containers, jars and wire baskets to categorize bathroom items in the linen closet.
18. Purchase a wall-mounted hair dryer holder and attach it near the outlet for easy use and convenient storage.
19. Assign each vanity drawer to one person. Use drawer dividers to reduce drawer disorder.
20. Only keep items that you use daily in your medicine cabinet.
21. Gather balls and sporting equipment into a mesh laundry bag.
22. Store car wash products in a bucket.
23. Keep a garbage can next to your car so you can easily toss trash from your travels.
24. Change out lawn equipment seasonally. Snow shovels should be easily accessible in the winter, rakes in the fall, etc.
25. Look up! Use your garage walls and ceilings for extra storage. There are so many creative organizational options.
OK — so maybe it’s not perfect, but streamlining your surroundings creates a calmer, more peaceful home.
Just one more step: Go back and take pictures of each purged and organized room. Before/After pictures may inspire you to maintain order.
Congratulate yourself on a job well-done! And resist the urge to reward yourself with a shopping trip!
Fill out the form below to download this checklist so you can track your progress as you refresh your home!