Conquering clutter is easier said than done for those of us who cannot resist—stuff! If you frequent garage sales, antique stores, malls and flea markets—or—if your home has become smaller over the years due to a slow accumulation of things, than there are steps you can take to organize everything. The following article offers strategies to cope with clutter room by room while providing storage solutions and organizational management of your household items.
Generally the living room is where you entertain company so it makes sense to begin there. For living rooms that are truly lived in, shelving makes a big difference provided you keep your shelves organized. Bookcases and shelving units can easily become cluttered so consider well what you need them for. One option is to purchase colored boxes that match your décor and store magazines, photos, candles, cds and other odds and ends in them. This way, guest only see the neat arrangement of pretty boxes punctuated with books and interesting bookends.
Also, instead of pedestal side tables and an open style coffee table, purchase trunks to be used as tables. Many coffee tables are designed to enclose items like books and photo albums. This is a practical way to keep your stuff handy but out of sight at the same time. Try to limit furniture to essential pieces even if you switch pieces seasonally. An overcrowded room is an uninviting space.
Unfortunately, most bathrooms are small—too small for all the stuff that needs to be there like towels, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc…If space permits, a water-resistant chest at the foot of the sub is an alternative spot for towels and will free up linen closet space for other items you need stored there. There are also inexpensive shelving units that sit above your toilet for additional and attractive storage. And, instead of shoving items all about your medicine cabinet, arrange them in small tins or containers for a more organized look.
The master bedroom should be a place of relaxation. It may be hard to relax when all your clothes are spilling out of your too-small closet. Instead of purchasing another dresser, buy or even make a simple free standing armoire. Angle it in front of a corner. Not only will you have a more space to hang clothes, you’ve created a storage spot behind it where you may store totes of out-of-season clothes. If the top of the unit is flat and sturdy enough, stick your television up there or decorative baskets filled with linens.
Try to make the most of all your space—even under the bed. There are shallow totes available made to fit under the bed. These are perfect for magazines, craft supplies, shoes, wrapping paper, etc…Again, keep furniture to a minimum. If your chair becomes a discarded clothing magnet, get rid of it since it’s not used for sitting anyway. A stack of decorative hatboxes makes a charming and useful storage element for socks, pantyhose, greeting cards, jewelry, etc…
Children’s bedrooms need particular attention on a regular basis. If possible, devote an entire wall to a shelving center. Plain wood works best and may be bolted to the wall in a series of box-like shelves that will hold plastic bins and boxes of toys. Keep soldiers in one, dolls in another. Begin teaching your children how to organize by storing each type of toy separately.
Basements can become extremely unruly with clutter. Best thing to do—take a weekend (or a week) and empty it out. Put up several industrial shelving units available at most home improvement stores. Arrange them in aisles so both sides of the unit are accessible. Then, holiday supplies on one, nostalgic high school and college items for another, household cleaners on another and so forth. If the look bothers you, section off a corner and put up decorative screens.
Finally, treat yourself to a trip to a storage or container store for as many organizing gadgets as you can afford—and then use them. Often the problem of clutter is that there is not an adequate space to keep them. An alternative might be to visit a flea market where you’ll find boxes, crates, shelves and many odds and ends you may be able to fix up and use in your home or garage.
Copyright © 2005, Ian White
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