Home Organizing Tips for Downsizing and Decluttering

You might be trying to get rid of unnecessary clutter before moving into a new house. You could be trying to free up space in a specific room. You might just have a lot of junk lying around and it’s finally time to restore order to your home. Whatever the reason might be, there are many benefits to decluttering your living space. Amy Stockberger Real Estate (ASRE) is here to help with tips for organizing and downsizing.

The Benefits of Downsizing and Decluttering

Let’s face it. After a stressful week at work, spending part of your weekend organizing and/or cleaning your home doesn’t sound very appealing. We get it. And while downsizing and decluttering can mean two different things, depending on your end goal, the idea is still the same: less of everything. You might shudder at the thought of fewer belongings, but less stuff also equals less of the following:

  • Decluttering means less stress. Not only can a messy living space steal your motivation, but things like dishes in the sink, papers on the countertops, and laundry on the floor can increase your anxiety.
  • Decluttering means less cleaning. As we just mentioned, cleaning can be stressful. Why not do less of it? Prioritize the stuff you need and the stuff you can live without, and there will be a lot less junk to clean around, saving more time for the things you actually enjoy doing.
  • Decluttering means less organizing. Where is my phone? Has anyone seen my car keys? How did we lose the remote control again? You can stop asking all of these questions after a little bit of decluttering. When you have a designated place for everything it makes it that much easier to find things.
  • Decluttering means less debt. Fewer possessions equal more money in your pocket and less time spent worrying about the other activities listed above. This is not to say you shouldn’t treat yourself every once in a while, but it’s important to consider whether or not you actually need or want the purchase.

How to Downsize and Declutter

There are plenty of organizational methods out there to choose from, but one thing’s for certain: You will need some type of sorting system as you make your way through each room of the house. The three-box system is popular and easy to implement, and while you may need more than just three boxes (depending on how much stuff you have), the simplicity of this method makes the thought of downsizing a lot less intimidating.

  • The STAY Box: After you finish cleaning and organizing each room, the items in this box will go back to their designated spot.
  • The GO Box: As the name of this box implies, these will be items that need to go. This could mean they should go in the trash or recycling bin, should be sold online or at a garage sale, or should be donated to a local charity.
  • The STORE Box: Just like the “stay” box, these are items you will keep after you’ve cleaned and organized every room. The only difference is you will put these things in storage containers, label them or use an inventory sheet, and place the containers in your attic, basement, closet, or wherever you have extra storage space.

Depending on the amount of stuff you’ll be throwing away, it might be a good idea to rent a dumpster. They’re great for bigger items and simply put, they make the process much easier.

How to Downsize and Declutter Each Room

Now that we’ve established the how and the why, let’s break down how to declutter each room in your house. We’ll provide helpful tips for organizing your kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom, closet, and home office.

Organizing Your Kitchen

The kitchen is generally the most used room in your home and clutter can build up quickly. Below are tips for organizing your kitchen:

  • Clear everything off your kitchen countertops, leaving only essential appliances and frequently-used utensils.
  • Relocate everything that you cleared off the countertops. This is a great opportunity to remove all non-kitchen items from the room.
  • Divide your kitchen into zones, creating a designated area for similar items. For example, a drawer for utensils and flatware, a cupboard for Tupperware, and a shelf for baking supplies.
  • Get rid of expired goods and items that you rarely use. If you’re unsure about an item just put it in a storage container and ship it off to the attic or closet.

Organizing Your Bathroom

For this space, most of the work relates to rearranging and throwing out expired or rarely used products. Below are tips for organizing your bathroom:

  • Clear off the counter and empty the drawers, closet, and vanity (if applicable).
  • Perform an audit. Decide which items you still use and what can be donated.
  • Throw away all expired products.
  • Just like your kitchen, put similar items in the same place. This will help you stay organized and make things much easier to find.

Organizing Your Living Room

This may seem like a daunting task, depending on the size of your home, but a cluttered living room can make it hard to relax and/or entertain. Below are tips for organizing your living room:

  • Create more storage opportunities with shelves, baskets, and furniture such as a trunk or ottoman.
  • Re-evaluate your decor. If your living room seems small or cluttered, you may have too many pillows and throws, wall hangings, and knick-knacks on your end tables.
  • Untangle the wires behind your entertainment system. Not only is a mess of cables visually unappealing, but it also makes for a stressful situation if you need to troubleshoot one of your electronic devices.
  • Identify items that don’t belong in the living room and put them back in their proper place.

Organizing Your Bedroom

Because there aren’t many people that actually see your bedroom, clutter can build up fast. Kitchen dishes on the nightstand. Bathroom items on your dresser. Clothes lying on the floor. Scratch that. Clothes lying everywhere! Below are tips for organizing your bedroom:

  • Keep flat surfaces like nightstands and dressers clear, except for essential items like lamps and picture frames.
  • Empty all drawers and determine what you need, what can be donated, and what belongs in a different room.
  • Similar to the living room, you can create storage opportunities with a trunk or ottoman at the foot of your bed.
  • Store items underneath your bed, but be careful, as this can escalate quickly. Keep your items in plastic containers or storage bins to avoid being your messy, 10-year-old self when your parents told you to clean your room.

Organizing Your Closet

Organizing and/or cleaning out your closet is the perfect opportunity to sell or donate any unworn clothing. Ask yourself these three questions when organizing your closet:

  • Does this still fit me?
  • What is the condition of this piece of clothing? Is it faded, stained, or torn?
  • When was the last time I wore this?

Organizing Your Home Office

While more and more people are working from home, the home office (or designated workspace) is another golden opportunity for clutter. This is understandable considering you spend a majority of your day here. However, kids filtering in and out, lunch breaks at your desk, and mountains of loose papers can make finding things a little more difficult. Below are tips for organizing your home office:

  • Remove all unnecessary items from the surface of your desk.
  • Clear out all drawers and perform an audit of what you need and what you don’t. When you replace these items, use the zoning method, putting similar items in the same spot.
  • Organize your loose papers.
    • Create digital records by scanning documents and then shred them when you’re done.
    • Put older documents like tax records in a box or plastic container and then store them away in the attic, closet, or basement.
    • Create a designated area for mail, time-sensitive documents, and any other paperwork that will require immediate action.
  • Untangle the cords behind your desk. Just like your entertainment center in the living room, a mess of wires behind your desk can be unpleasant to look at (and a nightmare if you need to move or troubleshoot a device).

Call it decluttering. Call it downsizing. Call it whatever you’d like. Whether you’re moving into a new house or simply need to reorganize your living space, decluttering and downsizing are an inevitable part of life. But don’t think of it as work. Some people find this process meditative. Some use it as a source of exercise (albeit not very strenuous, but still). And some use it as a way to practice gratitude for the possessions they have. Most importantly, it should be fun! Turn up the music, bust out your dance moves, and start organizing your home.