The year 2020 was one for the books – and one many would sooner forget. We spent most of the year masked up, staying and – when possible – working from home, and social distancing. With all that staying at home, many of us may have "cluttered up" our homes more than usual to accommodate everyday – day after day – living.
With the new year upon us, it’s time to reflect back on the year we'd like to forget and make resolutions for the next. If you’re like many homeowners, a lot of those resolutions are going to be about cleaning up and fixing and improving your home as we look – hopefully– to getting back to some kind of "normal." As one of those improvements, you’ll probably want to deal with that abundance of clutter, and perhaps lack of storage in the home.
Instead of letting your plans fall by the wayside as with other resolutions of the past – like losing that Christmas weight, taking up skydiving, or training for the marathon – make ridding your home of clutter your first accomplishment of the New Year. Here are some easy and effective ways to successfully declutter your home in 2021.
Prioritize the High Clutter Zones First
Like any other home renovation project, getting rid of clutter in the home begins with a bit of planning and organizing. It might be tempting to go out and immediately buy a ton of plastic bins, bookcases, and elaborate wall-mounted racks, you’ll just end up wasting your time and money on home storage items you might not actually need. It’s important to take the time to evaluate the situation fist so you can understand exactly what you need to de-clutter your home.
This is especially important in homes that already have ample storage areas, otherwise you could end up burning yourself out before you can actually get anything done. The key here is to really make a plan for what you want to accomplish, and give yourself an ample amount of time to do it. Remember, de-cluttering your home is going to take time, so don’t plan to finish everything in less than a day.
Achieving a clutter-free home can be a challenge, especially in busy work areas like the kitchen, where lots of action takes place and it is easy to fall into clutter-causing habits. The countertops and work areas above are kept clear, except for essentials. Everything is kept in cabinets: the shelf is more for display than anything and items are kept to a minimum (Plan #168-1128).
Donate Old Clothes, Toys, and Furniture
One thing you’ll figure out as you start to de-clutter your home is that you probably have a lot of items that you just don’t need anymore. Instead of holding on to that old Jon Bonjovi T-shirt that doesn’t fit anymore or the bookcase that clashes with your entire home décor, you can donate them to a local charity so that others can really put them to use. Plus these donations are often tax-deductible. Resources like Donation Town can help you locate dozens of charities in your area that can even pick up your donations for free.
Try Wall-Mounted Shelves for Open Storage
If you want to add more easy-access storage space but don’t want to deal with installing more cabinets or using bulky storage solutions that can eat up limited space, consider open wall-mounted shelves. This is a great option for tiny homes or rooms where space is at a premium, as it has a lower profile while still giving you tons of usability. Because there are no backs, doors, or sides, the room will still feel spacious instead of cramped. Open shelves also make it easy to always see your possessions, from plates to books and even trophies.
Open shelving – with no backs, doors, or sides – makes the space you are trying to organize feel less cramped and more spacious. Using chalkboard paint on the surface behind the shelving gives you a quirky, creative way to organize the items on the shelves. Just remember to keep the area tidy – as it is, in effect, on display (Photo creit: Jason Leung on Unsplash).
Maximize Closet Efficiency
Closets are notoriously the hardest areas to de-clutter in a home, mostly because it’s so hard to make good use of the space. Some are very tall; others quite narrow; and most come without any built-ins to give you a leg up. A great way to make your closet more efficient is to give it a specific purpose, like holding only off-season clothing or just your linens and spare toiletries.
If you have a walk-in closet, then you should definitely look into more structural solutions that give you additional shelves and racks. This makes it possible to compartmentalize the space so you can have easy access to all of your clothing and accessories. Keeping shirts, jackets, pants, sweaters, and shoes in their own dedicated spaces guarantees that your closet will stay clutter-free all year round.
OK, so maybe this is the closet of your dreams – but the approach can be applied to just about any closet. Compartmentalizing – especially walk-in closets – allows you to keep items in their own dedicated spaces, improving your chances of maintaining clutter-free storage. If there is a place for everything and everything in its place, the chances of clutter taking over are greatly reduced (Plan #153-2088).
Focus on the Little Things
Sometimes trying to get everything in your house organized and de-cluttered can seem like a truly impossible task. So instead of trying to fix every single area of your home, focus on a few of the smaller areas where the clutter causes you the most problems. The bedroom nightstand probably comes to mind right away, so focus on removing any unnecessary items like keys and knickknacks; set a clear space for your phone and any medication you might need at night or in the morning; and focus on only including one or two personal items.
Consider Under-Bed Solutions
Speaking of the bedroom, another way to bring some home storage innovation to any room is by utilizing the area under the bed. Plastic containers with a low profile can easily slider under most beds, allowing you to store your big sweaters and jackets when winter ends. Just remember to always use bags and containers that can seal up completely, rather than tossing large items or using lidless bins, as this can result in a lot of dust buildup on the items.
Create Designated “Clutter” Zones
Completely getting rid of clutter in your home is almost impossible, so instead think about setting up some designated “clutter” zones so that you can keep it limited to a clear, manageable space. It might be a junk drawer in the kitchen where you store your twist ties and rubber bands, or a chair in the bedroom that you set your clothes on at the end of the day. As long as you don’t let the clutter stray from those areas, this tactic can help you maintain harmony throughout the rest of the house.
Get Creative with Kitchen Storage
Decluttering a home’s kitchen is easily one of the most challenging tasks anyone can take on, which means you’ll need to get creative if you really want to whip the space into shape. Many homeowners upcycle coffee cans and similar tins as storage cups for utensils and cutlery, while others turn to more rugged concepts such as installing a pegboard on one wall for true storage customization. If you have a walk-in pantry, don’t be afraid to entertain different shelf and cabinet configurations, or even shift some of your smaller appliances in there to save limited counter space.
A walk-in pantry is a great help in avoiding clutter in the kitchen. You can store appliances there that would otherwise clutter up the countertop space. Alternatively – as here – you can store rarely used "party" items on pantry shelves and use the space in kitchen cabinets that would otherwise be taken up by these items for storing bulkier, often used – and clutter-prone – countertop appliances like toaster ovens, coffee makers, mixers, and the like (Plan #153-2088).
Enlist Bedroom and Cabinet Doors
The old adage “waste not, want not” is definitely true when it comes to tackling clutter in a home, which means you should never waste that precious space on the back of your doors. Hanging solutions and racks can help you store shoes, scarves, or jackets in an accessible yet unobtrusive manner. As for your cabinets, you can easily install spice racks, magazine holders, or simple mounted clips to store anything from extra food to cleaning supplies.
As you can see, starting the new year off right, by slimming down your life and de-cluttering, is not that difficult with some pre-planning and will make you feel better about living a simpler lifestyle.