Welcome 2011 with our guest blogger Jenny Leary, magnetic materials designer for Puff&Flock and founder of Ferrofabric. She gives you her top tips for starting the year in style with a clean, decluttered home:
Winter is known to bring about two contradictory feelings: that good ol’ cozy feeling and it’s evil twin, the doldrums.
The lower light levels of winter’s shorter days make spaces feel smaller. Your home gets crowded with all kinds of stuff, especially if you just received a heaping cache of gifts at Christmas.
Image credit: Shutterstock
While your animal instinct may be telling you to hibernate into your cave-like abode, your New Year’s resolution might urge you to do something healthier instead.
This year, why not give yourself a fresh start and shed some of that clutter? I want to share some tips for getting in the right mood to be organized, and a simple system for reducing your hoard.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Five Tidying Tips
1. The psychology of clutter
Most of us have a problem with clutter, but if you are on the extreme end of the scale, the habit of holding on to things might have deeper roots. Psychologists believe that pack rats are often expressing subconscious fears that were developed in childhood. If you try your best but are unable to part with junk, attempting to declutter will lead to frustration. Researching the causes of hoarding can shed light on the issue.
Nothing makes you regret having too much stuff like lugging around heavy suitcases. Every time I’ve traveled, I’ve become better at packing light. You don’t need twenty sweaters to survive a week, and you can probably survive with one color of lipstick. Next time, take only the bare essentials. When you return home, you’ll be thoroughly convinced about the joys of living light.
If you don’t have the time or resources to travel, another way to learn to live minimally is to read more about the Buddhist mindset. Zen philosophy emphasizes the importance of spiritual assets over material assets. When you set out to declutter, envision the tranquil atmosphere that you are aiming to bring to your home. Learning to let go is the first step of the process. Be at peace with the trash bin.
If you’ve set aside a weekend to declutter, nothing will derail you like being in a romantic mood. Imagine, as you contemplate whether or not to keep that chipped coffee mug you got in college with your dusty stereo croons whispering in the background: ‘Baaaaaby, oh you’ve left your mark on me. Pleeeease don’t throw this love awaaay…’
Avoid the sentimentality. Stay away from nostalgic music and choose something more ruthless, like modern punk. It will make a better soundtrack and will encourage your determination to get rid of stuff. You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind.
5. Go shopping
A friend of mine once complained: ‘I’m too poor to afford cheap things.’ Buying low quality is a sure-fire way to accumulate clutter. You’ll be left with heaps of unsatisfactory or half-functioning products. In my own house, there seems to be an ever growing population of salt and/or pepper shakers. None of them feel quite right, but I can’t throw any away because none of them feel quite wrong, either. You save yourself time, money and space when you just go ahead and treat yourself to your dream items.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Divide and conquer
OK, so you’re now committed to cutting the clutter – you’ve got some fierce tunes blasting and are ready to let go mentally and physically, but how do you start? This one simple system seems to work wonders:
Gather together all the items in a particular collection (e.g. 100 salt and pepper shakers) and bring them to a big open space such as the middle of your living room. Imagine that there are three zones:
- Keep it
- Consider it
- Toss it
As the names suggest, you rank the items based on these three categories. When you’re done, pick up the middle pile and sort through it again and continue until you’ve finished. It’s a guaranteed way to eliminate about 50% of your hoardings. You’ll be better acquainted with your favorites, and you’ll know which ones were on the fence so that you can re-evaluate them at spring cleaning.
Bag it or box it?
After your brave decluttering crusade, you’ll need to give some structure to your collections. At this point, you might want to choose your storage containers wisely. Ask yourself if you’re better off with boxes or bags.
Image credit: Horne (top), and Cath Kidston USA
Thinking inside of the box:
Storage boxes create firm compartments that present limits to how much stuff you can accumulate. The Aperture Spice Rack from HORNE, above, is an example of how rigid boxy structures can keep you organized. It has eight pots to keep your spices in, so figure out which ones you use most often, and chuck the rest. You’ll be surprised at how far those few basics can take your recipes.
Image credit: etoile home at mydeco boutique
Storing your storage:
Bags compress to be no larger than the amount of stuff inside of them, and when you’re not using them, they are easy to stash away. I love these printed laundry bags by etoile home, from mydeco botuique. They can make a very pretty home for your towels, winter sweaters, or even kitchen utensils. This underbed storage container from Cath Kidtson is another example of a soft-sided unit that you can squish to fit in different spaces.
Happy tidying, and a very Happy New Year!
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