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Resolve to Be Clutter Free in the New Year!

clutter free

If you’re like most people, you’re busy making too much trash(or already breaking) your New Year’s resolutions. If your resolution for this year is to live clutter free, then I have some tips for you! It can be overwhelming to even think about clearing out the clutter but you really can do it; you just need a plan to help guide the way. If you can coerce a spouse or good friend into helping, then even better! Thankfully my boys are at the age where they still want to be helpful so if you’ve got some willing hands at home, then enlist them too!

  1. Don’t try to do it all at once. This is especially important if it’s been a long time since you’ve de-cluttered or are Cleaning Girlbordering on being a hoarder. You’re setting yourself up for failure if you try to tackle several rooms at once. Pick one room or even part of a room, and get to work. Start small and once you see changes, you’ll be inspired to keep going.
  2. Remove everything from the room. If you can’t remove large pieces, pull them away from the wall to clean behind them. Remove all small pieces like art, photos, throw rugs, and accent furniture.
  3. Clean, clean, clean. Once the room is cleared out, clean it top to bottom. Use a clean dust mop on ceilings, walls, trim, and floors. Use a soft clean cloth on light fixtures, light switch covers and outlets and vacuum window treatments. While the room is empty, touch up paint or even repaint the whole room (remove all outlet and light switch covers).
  4. Sort your stuff into piles – keep, sell, donate and toss. baby sortingBe realistic, if it’s in bad condition, outdated, or you never use it, let it go. The only things in your keep pile should be things you cannot live without. Ask a very honest friend to help you make the tough decisions (you know, the one who will tell you when something is ugly – and trust her opinion!). If you like to dabble in Craig’s List, then make a sell pile (items from brands like Pottery Barn or Gap sell better than Wal-Mart). The rest should go into the donate or trash pile. Try The Bagster if things have really gotten out of control! It’s a portable dumpster bin that you fill up and Waste Management comes to take it away. It’s available at The Home Depot in my area.
  5. Start bringing things back into your space. While it may not be possible to only bring back things that you love, do your best. Bring back large pieces, small furnishings and accessories. Put your accessories in different places to make them feel new. When you’re all finished, remove at least one thing from each quadrant of the room – there is such a thing as too many accessories!

With a little bit of elbow grease, you really can have a room that feels new. Stuck? That’s okay – I can help! Give me a call today to schedule your in-home de-cluttering consultation and start living clutter free in this year!

Clear the Clutter – Creative, Budget-Friendly Storage Solutions

shoe closet

Clutter is everywhere – in our mudrooms, closets, drawers and sometimes in plain sight! Storage is a problem in every house, no matter how big or small. And add a kid or two (or four or five), and a husband, and it’s a recipe for more clutter than you ever thought possible. I am not a clutterbug. I like everything in its place (okay, I’m actually a little OCD) and it drives me crazy not to have stuff in its proper home. The only thing on my kitchen counter is a paper towel holder, and only because my husband insisted after we got married. I don’t want to look at coffee makers, Kitchenaid mixers, and microwaves. Tripping over bins of toys and craft supplies makes me nuts. Because I’m always looking for furniture and accessories for my clients, I’m always thinking of new ways to use things to clear the clutter that inevitably invades my home. Here are a few things I’ve come up with over the years to keep my family’s junk under wraps (and way under budget-mostly!).

Shoes, glorious shoes (and coats)
We have a huge mudroom. Because it’s a big room, my family dumped their shoes and coats everywhere. When we moved in, we had one coat rack for all of our shoe closetcoats, and two boot trays for our shoes. The problem: no one but me put their shoes and coats where they belonged. So after two years of griping at everyone (and picking up after them-and griping about that!), I finally figured out a solution. My mother in law had given me an old cabinet a year before and I put it in my garage unsure of what to do with it. It was a shabby little thing with bowed paneling and stickers on the front. One day I was out in the garage, I saw the cabinet and thought with a coat of paint and some shelves, it might work for all of our shoes. I scrubbed off the stickers, painted several coats of bright red paint (my accent color), painted the existing hardware black, and had hubs add several thick pine shelves. The wood cost $35 but other than that, it didn’t cost me a dime.

I also had several antique iron hooks and had him mill up some beaded boards. I painted the hooks black andcoat hooks did a red and black distressed paint treatment on the boards to make them look old. I hung one row at a kid-friendly height, another at my height, and a third at my husband’s height (on another wall). Another issue was apple crate storagethe apparent procreation of our hats, mittens, scarves, plus the toys and garden tools. I had a shelving unit from Pottery Barn that once held my TV and stereo. I put that in my mudroom, filled it with wooden apple crates and designated one crate to each person, plus extras for the toys, helmets, and gardening things. The wooden crates cost me $15 from a local apple orchard. Just today I bought three more to store the inevitable mess that accumulates from thin air (or my family!). The mudroom isn’t perfect, but until we’re ready to rebuild it (it will eventually be torn down and rebuilt as a proper mudroom) it serves its purpose well and is somewhat organized.

Toys, Games, and Legos
If your family is anything like mine, your kids have more toys than 10 kids could ever play with in a Antique laboratory cabinetlifetime. We’ve cut back buying toys quite a bit in the last couple of years but our boys get so much for their birthdays and Christmas, we were just running out of room to keep it all. We moved from a much smaller house so we didn’t have a lot of furniture when we moved into our current home. For two years, we made do with bins for toy storage. I had bins everywhere – lined up along the wall, stuffed under the coffee table, piled on top of each other in the corners of the room. I really hated them. One year for our anniversary, we decided to buy a large piece of furniture to store all the toys. We looked at new furniture but nothing felt right.  On our anniversary, we got a sitter, headed to Troy (when it had lots of antique shops) and spent the day picking through shops. We finally came across a huge, oak laboratory cabinet that we both fell in love with. We hauled it home and filled it with toys (we call it the world’s most expensive toy box). After that, the rule was if it doesn’t fit in the cabinet, it doesn’t stay in the living room. It definitely wasn’t one of my bargain finds, but that’s okay. I don’t mind splurging every once in a while for something that speaks to me! And it’s really beautiful so we feel like we got double the pleasure from it!

Keep the Desk Clean
Once fall officially set in and I was freezing in my office, I decided to move to the living room for the winter (the woodstove keeps it toasty) andPottery Barn Printer's desk found myself in need of a desk (my kids’ craft table was not cutting it!).  I had my eye on the Printer’s Desk at Pottery Barn for quite a while so I did splurged a bit on the desk. But after that, I was out of money for accessories. I often write about “shopping” your own house to get a new look without spending a penny. So following my own advice, I walked around my house, gathering this and that to stylize my desk. In my home, everything has to be pretty as well as functional. I don’t buy things because they’re practical if they don’t look good too. My kids’ crayons and markers are stored in antique wooden cheese boxes, I use old wire baskets for magazine and paper storage, and keep my pens in pretty vases. I grabbed a stack of Pottery Barn design books, topped it with my boys’ marker box, and filled an antique milk glass dish with my business cards. I added a lamp from my other desk, an antique stapler and an old black phone and my desk was complete. It looks beautiful and the accessories cost me nothing! And, it gave me the opportunity to move some things around in my other rooms, making them feel fresh too! I am going to repaint my lampshade to match my décor and liven up my little corner of the world (when I find the time).

You don’t always have to spend a fortune to have the storage solutions that contain the clutter in your home. Antique dressers are some of my favorite storage solutions as are old wooden bowls and boxes. Have a piece that isn’t great but has the storage space you need? Try a new coat of paint and some new (or repainted) hardware. Look at the things you have and see if you can give them a new life with a little bit of imagination.  And when you’re done, post a picture on my Facebook page! Not sure how to start organizing your clutter? Contact me to schedule your in-person consultation today!