This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too

by Julie Rains on 9 April 2014 0 comments

You've probably heard you should throw out stuff that hasn't been used in the past year. But if you are like me, you have regretted decisions to donate, sell, or trash the nonessential as you tried to aggressively declutter. Sadly, you may have learned this lesson too late. You can easily get rid of a saved item, but you can't readily reclaim one that's been given away. (See also: Simple Rules for Decluttering)

To declutter but keep your stuff, defy conventional wisdom. Hang onto whatever your heart desires, bypassing those difficult, emotional decisions often linked to decluttering. Just be mindful about what you save and how you store your stash, using these tips.

1. Create Organizational Masterpieces From Castoffs

Beautify your home with vintage items that have storage capabilities. Consider fashionable yard-sale, thrift-shop, curbside, and consignment-store finds for organizing things before buying storage bins from big-box stores.

For example, replace a table in an entryway with a thrift-shop dresser and store off-season clothing there. Place odds and ends, like buttons, paper clips, or pens and pencils, in a collection of mason jars.

2. Repurpose Rarely-Used Items as Storage or Decor

Imagine new ways to put mostly unused yet beloved items into service.

For example, turn an old trunk or footlocker into a table (and store keepsakes inside). Display collectibles on an old ladder or hang pots from one attached to your kitchen ceiling. (See also: Turn Kitchen Junk Into Cool New Things)

3. Group and Elegantly Hide Like Items Together

If you consolidate like items, a couple of neat things often happen naturally.

One, you will realize you have duplicates, triplicates, quadruplicates and feel fine about casting off the extras. Second, seeing all these things together (such as your cleaning supplies or electronic chargers) means you probably won't have to buy more of the same, preventing additional clutter.

These items can then be grouped and hidden elegantly in a handmade basket or stylishly trimmed box instead of scattered randomly throughout your home.

4. Hide Stuff With Curtains

Discreetly placing things behind curtains is a great design option for those with lots of stuff but little storage space.

For example, you might build floor-to-ceiling shelving and cover with full-length curtains to hide your cache of clothing, accessories, and personal supplies in your bedroom. Alternatively, conceal clutter in your home office by storing items on a shelf and covering with a custom-made curtain. (See also: DIY Curtains)

5. Use Vertical Space

Capitalize on the space above most of your traditional furniture for a clean look with lots of storage capacity.

For example, ditch small bookcases and save your tall ones. Consolidate the remaining bookcases into one room and stack your books on these shelves. The result is a library-style room that holds loads of stuff, yet appears uncluttered. (See also: How to Live Large in a Small Space)

Likewise, shed two-drawer file cabinets in favor of four- and five-drawer ones to hold financial, college-related, and medical documents. On top of these cabinets, store seasonal items.

6. Declutter All Rooms, Even Non-Messy Ones

Resist the desire to skip decluttering a tidy room.

Well-kept rooms may harbor extra stuff that is easily scrapped. Sifting through and disposing of this clutter frees storage space. Even one or two extra drawers in your bathroom, for example, can be used to store small items that may be clogging up other rooms.

7. Toss Stuff You Truly Don't Need or Want Pronto

Get rid of stuff you are sure you don't need or want immediately. Don't wait until you finish decluttering the entire house. Carry unneeded and unwanted items to the Goodwill store, rescue mission, or other place that accepts your old things as quickly as possible. (See also: 10 Frugal Ways to Get Rid of Stuff)

The more you can remove from your home, the easier it is to organize the stuff you do love.

8. Store Things in Out-Of-The-Way Places

Collect storage bins and boxes as you declutter or acquire them after you've finished going through every section of your living space. Store rarely needed items that can withstand extremes of hot and cold in your attic or basement. Put stuff you occasionally need in specialty bins under beds, odd corners of utility rooms or garages, unused shelves of your closets, and other accessible places out of casual view.

You don't have to become a minimalist to live in a clutter-free home. Get rid of what you no longer want; organize and display or store the rest.

How do you declutter while keeping your favorite stuff? Please clutter up the comments thread with your secrets!

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