Organization is key to living a clutter-free life.
I’ve recently moved into a beautiful Victorian terraced home in the center of this lovely coastal town and have had to get rid of 60% of our stuff—everything from antique furniture to clothes. After devoting so much time to organization, I thought that was enough, but it wasn’t. Even though everything remaining is beautiful or useful, too much of a good thing becomes clutter. That makes living uncomfortable. It was time to get my ducks in a row!
How did I begin the organization process?
I spent my evenings staring at the furniture. I was trying to figure out what should go and was drawing a complete blank. As a general rule in life, if you get stuck, get help.
So, I invited a friend (who lives in a very tiny home that is always immaculate and fresh feeling) to get advice and a different perspective. One of the first things she pointed out is that the furniture that best suits the rustic nature of the house, with its stripped pine floors and doors, is the rustic, shabby-chic furniture, not the fancier stuff (blatantly obvious as soon as she said it). At last, some criteria!
It is so much easier to make any kind of decision you when have clear criteria in place.
My friend suggested moving a few items from one wall to another and voila! It opened up the space considerably. Then, she advised that I put everything in the room where it will be used. For example, I had linens stored in a chest in the living room. Those needed to go into the dining room. So I moved the chest into the dining room. Not only does it look nicer there, but also it is more functional.
Nothing beats an outside perspective to help with organization–especially when you’re feeling stuck. As a result, I’ve now loaded up the van with stuff to take to the resale shop, and the house looks much nicer.
Here’s the key to organization and clearing clutter.
When you are trying to decide whether something should stay or go, the obvious questions are:
- Have I used it in the last six months/year and/or is it useful?
- Is it beautiful and does it give me joy?
- After that it gets tougher. You may need additional criteria to weed things out. Figure out what that criteria is and then the clearing is easy and effortless. For example, consider the condition/quality of the item. Another criteria could be whether something holds sentimental value only. Why are you holding onto the item? Could you instead take a picture of it to remember it just as well? Or maybe it’s time to properly display the item.
Additional criteria for organization and clutter-clearing:
- What furniture best suits the style of the house?
- What is the numeric limit (e.g., I have space for 20 pairs of shoes in the closet, I have two drawers for linens)? Put your favorites in and donate, sell or trash the rest.
- Does it match or belong with a set or is it an odd/stray item? (Strays go!)
- Is it in the room where it will be used? If not, then move it in there. Then you’ll see just how much you are dealing with and can decide to toss, donate, sell, or store it.