What to Do With All Your Stuff

Clutter and chaos is not a design aesthetic. It ruins everything you try to do with your home: it prevents things from being functional, makes it difficult to clean, does not provide comfort, rest, or peace, and it does not make people feel welcome.

There is a lot of advice out there regarding how to get rid of clutter, from simply getting rid of all of it to storage containers to holding onto only the things that bring you joy. Paring down is work, we won’t lie. Before you attempt to cut back on the amount of stuff you own, we have some advice.

First, start small. Pick a bookcase, a closet, a corner, or even a shelf. If you start too big too fast, you’re going to overwhelm yourself and give up before you have even made a dent. Don’t buy containers before you pare down, because you won’t know what you need to store until you know what you have left. Choose storage containers fit for the room you’re putting them in. Items in the basement or garage don’t have to look pretty but it might be good for them to be waterproof. Baskets in the living room for toys have to be easily identifiable and simple to open, or your kids are going to dump everything out to find what they want or never put things away. Just keep going, the process is time consuming and awful but at the end, it will be worth it.

Then, resist adding things back in to your newly decluttered home. Just because you have space does not mean you need to fill it. Bookshelves do not need to be packed full of items. A few treasured books and knickknacks creates more of a visual interest than shoving every single book you own into one case. You don’t live in a library or museum, there’s no reason to have the same amount of stuff they do.

Think creatively. Go vertical whenever possible – even shelves over the top of doorframes can be useful for out-of-the-way storage. The same goes for under the sink and in kitchen cabinets. Ottomans with storage provide extra seating and are a good place to stash items like extra pillows or bedding. Vacuum-sealed bags are a great way to store out of season items like heavy drapes, sheer curtains, flannel sheets, and other things you only use at certain times of the year. They’ll work for your heavy coats and bathing suits as well.

Be smart with how you store things and they will remain easy to find, simple to access, and allow you to enjoy the space you’re in, regardless of its size. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, hire a professional organizer or interior decorator to help you make the most of your square footage and all the stuff you need to have in it.