Spring is almost here! There’s no better time than a change of seasons to tackle those closets and drawers. Before you start balking, think about this: Clearing your clutter is not only about getting rid of needless items and unwanted mess, but also an opportunity to rediscover forgotten gems and create a space you love. So let’s throw out the old and bring in the new!
1. Start small. Often the very idea of organizing is so overwhelming that we either do nothing or do it all at once and find ourselves wading through piles of chaos. Instead, pick a room or an area (the garage? under the sink?) and a set a time limit.
2. Keep only the stuff you truly love. Not only is this a good way to help filter out unnecessary items, but it should also prevent you from acquiring more of those seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time pieces. Adopt a recycling rule: For everything you buy and bring into your house, you’ll have to toss something to make space. I guarantee this will make you think twice about that “fixable” dress/end table/chair you bought on sale. It’s also hard to separate the rubbish from, well…the meaningful rubbish, like the horrific mask Mom brought you back from her trip to Peru. Remember, the item should have meaning for you, not someone else, especially if it’s a space-stealing eyesore.
3. Be realistic about your space. If you have a small home or apartment, is it really practical to have six lamps, several piles of books and a beat-up old desk you pulled in off the street to refurbish? Let’s face it: If you haven’t used it by now, you’re probably not going to, so toss that space waster out the door.
4. Be sure your things serve a purpose. Look around your room right now. I bet there are five things in plain sight that are totally useless. The magazine rack that holds everything but magazines? Chuck it! That shadeless lamp you were going to brilliantly redesign yourself? Toss it! It may be hard because these are pieces of your life, but it’s better to save the memories and lose the miscellany. Take a picture or write about it in a journal, then say adiós.
5. Repair, store or swap. Once you’ve sorted through the keepers and the tossers, you’ll probably come across things that need just a little tweak to be as good as new; must be stored (winter clothing and bedding); or are too valuable to give to Goodwill (expensive clothing and household goods).
6. When it comes to your wardrobe, don’t overlook easy repairs. Replacing buttons or fixing and altering hems can give old clothes new life. For instance, a long summer dress can be cut, teamed with tights and a blazer, and reworn as a chic winter mini-dress. And a tired old coat can be smartly resurrected with bright or cute buttons. On the other hand, anything that is seriously stained or needs heavy alterations, like relining, may not be worth it.
7. Before you store winter clothes and linens, clean and repair everything. Always use airtight containers to prevent moisture and moths, and if you’re storing the bins in the basement, put them on a shelf to avoid flood damage. And label them clearly—who wants to dig through the whole stack to find a swimsuit for a tropical winter holiday?
8. For unwanted pieces that are too good to donate, try a clothing swap. Invite friends over; ask them to bring only desirable castoffs. Then take turns picking one item each until everything is gone. It’s a fun way to build your wardrobe (and shrink your giveaway pile) without spending a dime.