Create a Clutter-Free 2015, Part 2: High-Traffic and Living Spaces

Michelle Hopkins
January 30, 2015

For many of us our lives are so busy that our homes have become our sanctuaries – a refuge we go to for serenity, peace and calm. Yet, for most of us our homes are so full of “stuff” that it can cause your heart rate to go up each time you walk in the door. Doesn’t the idea of living a decluttered and simplified life sound really appealing?

In part one, we looked at decluttering kitchens, clothing and documents. In this second part, REW.caspoke to Kathleen Boland, franchise owner of two Everything Organized locations, to provide some great tips and creative ways to get organized in your home's busiest spaces. She explains how to make the job of decluttering our main living areas – family room, living room, dining room, entryway and mud room – easier and less painful.

Take Stock of What You Have

First off, have you noticed just how much “stuff” has somehow accumulated in your main living space?  Does that tennis racket really add to the look of your living room? Sometimes we overlook things that don’t belong because we just don’t see them anymore.

“Relocate and purge those items that shouldn't be there or you've outgrown,” says Kathleen. “Choose furniture and storage units that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also multi-purpose for the storage of items in that room, such as ottomans that open up and baskets that tuck under end tables or into shelves.”

Clutter – For Whatever Reason – Is Still Clutter

Abundance clutter? Bargain shopper clutter? Sentimental clutter? Aspirational clutter (that coffee table book!)?  Your "clutter" has names: The “I'll do it later” clutter. The” I need to return that” clutter. The “I just bought that and I haven't put that away” clutter. The “That's not mine” clutter. 

Sound familiar?  Clutter is really just another name for your belongings that you haven't dealt with appropriately. 

“It's not negative, it's just a friendly reminder that you need to put your stuff away,” adds Boland. “Be realistic about what you have, where it belongs, and relocate it to the appropriate room or space.”

Entryways and Mud Rooms

Doesn’t it seem like every piece of clothing and footwear reside in your front hall to the point where you can't open the door? 

Here are some great tips for those entry points:

  • Use the front hall and mudroom for seasonal clothing only.
  • Use shelf space for items that are footwear- and weather-related, such as shoe-shine kits, shoelaces and small towels to dry off. 
  • Have hooks for umbrellas, walking canes and scarves. 
  • Use an appropriate storage unit for a minimal number of footwear and outdoor clothing accessories. 
  • Spare and out-of-season clothing and footwear can circulate from storage in each person's bedroom closet or in a basement storage area. 
  • For small children, a rolling cart is handy for all their small items that go with them each day. 

“Personally, I label open baskets and bins, which are easier to maintain than stacked closed totes,” Boland says. “I prefer clear bins to coloured ones so I can easily find what I'm looking for.”

Artistic Clutter

Have you outgrown the art that you put up when you first owned your house or that you inherited? Look at decorative pieces that complement the size of your wall and vision for the room. You don't have to fill every wall with something. Sometimes one large piece can focus and ground the room.

Dining Rooms

All too often the one room we tend to use only when we entertain because a makeshift office/homework room! Keep on top of the paperwork, craft materials or that science project your son is so proud of …  

In addition, do you need all that china and glassware? The sentimental porcelain, china, and dishware can eat up room on your buffet, hutch and in your cupboards. That tea set that you received from Grandma or those "good dishes" from Mom that just don't suit your style don't have to do time in your space. Maybe it’s time for a clear-out or a yard sale to let these items go to a home where they will be used.

“The act of giving from someone else is an act of love. Sometimes the act of letting go can be an act of love as well, to honour yourself,” Boland says.

Living Rooms and Furniture

When we move, it is human nature to want to bring along every piece of furniture we own in case it has a “perfect spot.”

Is there any furniture that you've held onto too long that is gathering dust or has become a laundry magnet, magazine holder, or paper chaos destination?  Once the belongings are purged and relocated, then take a look at what larger items can be moved around to suit the best traffic flow for ease of movement, safety, and to be visually pleasing. 

Now that your living space is decluttered, it’s time to relax and enjoy the beauty of your home.

Next month on our 2015 Essential Home Maintenance Tasks list is February's task: Attics, Basements and Garages

Michelle Hopkins
Michelle Hopkins is a Vancouver-based freelance writer with extensive magazine, newspaper and online writing experience in home décor, new home developments, culinary adventures, wine, travel and more. Michelle writes for many notable publications including Real Estate Weekly and other Glacier Media Group publications, Western Living Magazine, Vancouver Magazine, Home Décor & Renovations, to name just a few. Michelle is passionate about anything to do with real estate.