I recently had the pleasure of assisting a client in preparing her lovely home to sell, which, in her case, included editing massive amounts of new and antique quality furniture, tons of fabric and copious amounts of art and accessories. After months of her purging, decluttering and minimizing, the house is now staged and ready to put on the market.
Meanwhile, she is considering having several estate sales to let go of all the beautiful things that are left, as she is interested in downsizing and simplifying at this point in her life.
Unlike my client, most of us do not have such quality items to be resold at top dollar, but somehow, we all have too much stuff. Things naturally accumulate over the years: furniture is inherited, collectibles are amassed, cabinets and drawers are filled.
As we get older, we often accept things as they are, make fewer changes, and do less editing. We sometimes add items to our homes without ever removing any. We stop seeing the potential for change.
Unfortunately, clearing out a lifetime worth of stuff often falls on the shoulders of grown children. Let’s discuss a few ways we can curb the clutter and renew our living spaces.
First of all, note the specific areas where clutter tends to collect. The entry table, kitchen counter or coffee table may be examples of spaces that would benefit from a clearing out, cleaning up and re-evaluation.
Keeping everyday items in a specified place helps. For example, keys can be dropped off each day in a lovely china plate on the entry table, and remotes stored in an interesting wood box on the table. Storage ottomans, baskets and chests are other attractive yet practical storage solutions for larger overflow items.
If you’re a collector, try separating pieces and display them in smaller groups throughout the house. (Remember, items are most aesthetically pleasing when displayed in odd numbers.) After grouping your very favorite pieces, pack the rest away. After a while, decide if you truly miss them or enjoy the clear, open space more.
Another common eyesore is the family photos. What began as a few portraits often expands through the years to cover entire walls of a home. Unfortunately, the more there is to see, the less anyone can visually appreciate. A few compatibly framed and hung portraits will invite viewing, instead of simply feeling overwhelmed by a sea of floating faces.
Another rule of thumb for keeping clutter under control is to eliminate an item whenever you add one: Bought a new pair of sandals? Send the old ones to the thrift store. Invested in a new chair? Rehome the old one. Bring something new in, and send something out. This simple rule will keep your things in balance as life evolves.
If you are considering decluttering this summer, start small with the linen closet, bathroom cabinet or guest room closet. The immediate gratification will encourage you to keep going!
After all, the goal is to create space to relax, enjoy and rejuvenate, while allowing room for new, beautiful things to enter your life.