Drowning under piles of stuff? Overwhelmed by never being able to put something down without clearing a space first? Desperate to just sit down and not be taunted by all the mess waiting to be put back in order? If you have a New Year’s resolution to cut down on the clutter, here are a few DIY tips.
If you’ve got too much stuff, store the items behind closed doors in a cabinet, wall unit, drawer, under-furniture box, or basket or bin with a lid. Hang a curtain or build a pallet-wood barn door over open shelving to hide the mess.
The key here is to pair up frequency and convenience. Place your hidden storage as close as possible to where you’ll be using items; pair like items with like when finding a home for them, and make frequently used items easiest to get at.
Bonus points if you can leave a little extra space. When you’re setting up your cabinet, closet, or bins, don’t fill them to the top from Day One. Extra space to dump more stuff means less mess drifting outside those closed doors.
If your main concern is functionality and surface clutter, rather than visual clutter, then hooks and hanging boards are going to change your life. Try hanging a rod with shower curtain hooks (the “S” ones, not rings) for kitchen tools such as scissors and spatulas, and throw in a garden pail or two for the small items that don’t have an opening to catch with the hook.
For bigger items, a pegboard and hooks make it easy to install a single unit on a wall, and free up cupboards and counter space.
Is opening a door or pulling out a drawer too much of a barrier? It will look less tidy but will still help keep things under control if you give items a place to live in a bowl, dish, open basket or other container. Aim for a range of container sizes, and look for locations near your worst clutter culprits. If there’s an open-top dumping ground, you should be able to reclaim your work surfaces and tame the clutter.
Take a breath and look around. Which things are visually or functionally irritating in your space? What adds to a sense of clutter or excessive busyness? What gets in your way? Can you change it?
Sometimes, there are things in our space that just don’t work, but we’re so used to them being there that we don’t even think of changing them. Can you cut down on cords with a charging pad? Get away with fewer gadgets by using multipurpose appliances or tools. Stopping to think about your needs can open up new possibilities and solutions.
Once you’ve reviewed your space, noted the irritating clutter culprits, and considered solutions for combating them, you may just find that a lot of that clutter should go away, permanently. Less stuff in your space is going to make it feel more open, peaceful, and pleasant, so why not donate, recycle, or junk those items that no longer delight or serve a purpose?
People often have emotional attachments to their stuff, which can make this a challenging step. If it seems too risky to clean your house in one fell swoop, try gathering potential discards, putting them away in an unused corner, and setting a calendar alert to come back to them in a week or a month.
If you no longer feel anything positive, and you or other household members haven’t needed those items, then cut them loose. Generally, donating items to a meaningful cause is easier (and better for the environment) than junking unwanted stuff, as you can imagine it going on to have a nice new home, serving a purpose, and generally doing good in the world.
Some people find it easier to delete their clutter than others, so if you or a loved one is attached to your objects and can’t cut down the piles by sending pieces away, loop back to the first item and invest in some attractive hidden storage solutions. Look for creative solutions by questioning if you need everything around you – including décor and objects that have been around so long that they’ve faded into the background. If hiding the clutter behind closed doors is too big a step, then gather some containers or install some hooks to corral the clutter and free up your space.