There’s no rulebook on how to declutter your home. But, there are times throughout the year—like this month when you want to start the New Year with a thorough cleanse—when a helping hand and a few declutter tips are greatly appreciated. Here’s how to give your home what it needs to turn over a new leaf.
Where to Start when Decluttering your Home
Declutter help begins by deciding a plan of action. When the idea is in your head, suddenly you can look around your house and feel overwhelmed by how much you’ve amassed and not know where to start.
The best way to declutter is to choose one room, or even just one area of a room at a time.
How to declutter your bedroom
If you’re wondering how to declutter your bedroom, start with storage. The feeling of opening your wardrobe doors onto space and order or looking into tidied drawers, is not to be underestimated. Especially when these are the parts of your bedroom conducive to getting ready in the mornings – often the busiest part of your morning routine.
Clutter-free lifestyles are, in the words of lifestyle guru Marie Kondo, about asking yourself whether something still genuinely ‘sparks joy’. If it doesn’t, it should be destined for the charity shop. So, as you rifle through everything from your sock drawer to a rail of evening wear, try to force yourself to only keep what you enjoy wearing. Remember, it’s not just about frequency. There can be a garment that you sport all the time, but if you don’t love it, you’ll be wearing it because it’s familiar and easy. Decluttering your home can be a way to pull you out of a rut, encouraging you to step into the new.
Another part of your bedroom prone to clutter, is the surface of a bedside table. Leaving them totally bare will feel cold and begs the question of why have one if you’re not going to use it? But, it’s a much more calming sight to wake up to when there’s nothing but a bedside lamp, a glass of water and then something that you’ll get pleasure from seeing, such as a photograph of a loved one, a luxury hand-cream, a candle or simply a good book.
How to declutter your living room
When decluttering your home, the living room is often one of the hardest of all. It’s because it’s a hive of activity, and with activity comes ‘stuff’.
Take a step back and you’ll instinctively be drawn to one area (or maybe two) that’s crying out for attention. Bookcases are frequently top of the list. There’s a real art to filling a bookcase. Maybe you use yours for books alone, or as a display case for all sorts of treasures with books tightly stacked in one area, leaning in another and piled on top of each other elsewhere. If you’ve gone with the latter, it might be that this type of presentation feels too mixed-up for you. If so, try the more traditional organisation of all books stacked (colour-coordinated spines is a therapeutic exercise and makes your bookcase look incredibly orderly). But if you like a more eclectic spread of curios and books, don’t be tempted away from that. Decluttering isn’t a case of arranging everything in a regimented fashion. But more for you to rid your home of the items that you no longer love or use.
Are your living room console tables filled with vases that you don’t use? If so, perhaps it’s time to bid them farewell and replace them with sculpture or piece of artwork that leans on top. Is your sofa laden with cushions that are no longer plump and whose fabric is worn? Then refresh them with ones that suit your decor and that really suit your seating so that they serve a design purpose and aren’t just taking up room unnecessarily.
How to declutter your dining room
Should you want to know how to declutter your home fast, choose a room that generally holds fewer belongings, like the dining room. Starting small is a good decluttering tip for hoarders who are probably going to find the process difficult. The dining room helps to ease you into the right frame of mind.
Homes that do have a separate dining room mean that it’s a space you generally use a little less, saving it for special occasions and favouring the kitchen table for day-to-day dining. Therefore, what you may keep in a dining room could be a dresser or sideboard full of board games, your finest china and glassware and tableware, and even old records for safekeeping. Items like these can feel like clutter because they’re seldom seen, but if they hold sentimental value or they come out at times like Christmas and birthdays, hold onto them. The dining room might well be the best place for keeping them if they’re kept out of the way and not causing you to lose out on storage space. The trick is to get rid of enough so that your cupboards aren’t crammed and a bother to sift through. A decluttered dining room means a place for everything and everything in its place.
How to declutter your home office
Similar to the dining room, if your mantra is focused on ‘how to declutter your house in one day’, then you can either choose one large room or a few smaller and simpler ones, like the dining room and home office.
What makes a home office easier to sort is that you’re possibly holding onto paperwork, be it old bills or filing from the office, that you can work through and recycle. In a study, what you can and should throw out presents itself to you in a way that doesn’t quite happen in the other rooms of your home. Set enough time aside to go through all of your files and to shred, burn or recycle everything you can. Then, reorganise them in a way that’s logical and will make locating paperwork when you need it far easier.
Empty desk drawers and cupboards to free yourself of items of stationery that never see the light of day, or notebooks that you thought you might use one day but never did.
And then reassess your desktop to be sure it’s not scattered with piles of mounting paperwork and books or bits and pieces that you don’t need or could be kept in a drawer. Instead, it should have a few items that serve a purpose but that look good too, like a beautiful desk lamp and leather-bound desk accessories. A calm and tidy workspace means a calm and tidy mind.
How to declutter your kitchen
Rooms like the kitchen are what make the prospect of decluttering your house a daunting one. Take it slow by looking at one part of your kitchen at a time. The cupboards are the best place to start. Empty them entirely so that you can discard items never used or that need replacing. This will give you a clearer picture of the volume of your kitchen belongings. Before you put them back in the cabinets, consider what goes where. Have you found that reaching up for pans isn’t so easy and they’d be better placed in a drawer? And has another drawer been freed up that your utensils could go into to save having a pot on the kitchen work surface? Or are there items that you have in cupboards but really you would prefer to have them within sight? It might be that you need some additional shelving – freestanding or fitted to the wall.
Your work surface space is another key area of the kitchen prone to being cluttered.
Appliances like kettles, coffee machines, microwaves, mixers and so forth all take up valuable surface space and contribute to making your kitchen feeling crammed. This is where you need to be ruthless. Don’t keep items purely because they were expensive if the reality is you never use them. If you can’t get rid of them completely, at the very least put them away in long-term storage space like in the attic or the basement. The clearer the work surface, the more serene your kitchen will feel.
Top Decluttering Tips
How to declutter your home requires some easy-to-remember decluttering tips to bear in mind for every room:
1. Allocate some time
If it’s one part of a room, set aside an hour or two. If it’s an entire room, give yourself a full day. Decluttering your house requires dedicated, concentrated time and effort if you’re going to get it all done.
2. Give yourself a challenge
If you have steely determination, say to yourself that you will declutter your house in 30 days. It will help you to stay on track, to feel positive that once it’s completed then you won’t need to think about it for the rest of the year, and it will get your adrenaline going in the same way a 30-day fitness challenge would.
3. Think about others
When contemplating how to declutter your house, consider how you can give back to others in the process. So much of what you will choose not to keep can be donated to charities rather than landfills.
Image Credit: Katharine Pooley
4. Ask whether it makes you happy
Back to Marie Kondo’s advice. If something doesn’t spark joy any more that is a surefire sign to not keep it in your life.
5. Have a point of inspiration
At some point in the decluttering process, it’s easy to feel fed up and to think of all of the things that you would rather be doing. So it’s helpful to have in mind your end-goal and a vision of where you want to end up and why. If there’s part of your home that you’ve already decluttered, take a picture of it or head down to look at it once more to keep your motivation levels up.
6. Don’t let it build up again
Clutter creeps in on you. So don’t undo all of your good work but letting the clutter amass. Bear in mind the organisation hack of the OHIO rule (only handle it once). By doing that, you tell yourself that once you’ve picked something up, to sort it there and then rather than adding it to a pile.
Another helpful tip on how to declutter any room is to have a ‘declutter your home checklist’. No two checklists need to be the same, but instead should be a case of what you personally want to achieve through simplifying a space in your home. Everybody has different decluttering ideas after all. A checklist will provide direction, manageable steps, rewarding goals and the satisfaction of ticking things off when they’ve been fulfilled.
Step one could be ‘time agreed and set aside to declutter the kitchen cabinets’. Step two could be ‘boxes and bags purchased for emptying and organising’. Steps three onwards could be broken down as much as having a tick box for every cupboard sorted. And your final item on the checklist could be a new project or event that’s borne out of your decluttering, such as arranging a dinner party for friends in your newly-sorted space. Because after all, decluttering is said to cleanse the mind, soothe the soul and pave the way for new ideas and creativity.