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6 Tips to De-clutter and Downsize Your Home

Lex Lianos

Lex Lianos is an award winning, top producing Realtor...

Lex Lianos is an award winning, top producing Realtor...

Mar 10 6 minutes read

There are many reasons why you might choose to declutter and downsize your home. Perhaps you’re planning to move into a smaller and more manageable home. Or you’re figuring out how to sell your house fast and getting rid of those personal items may make your home more appealing. Or maybe you've just been inspired by the growing popularity of minimalist trends, such as the work of bestseller Marie Kondo.

Whatever the reason may be, home organization can be an extremely overwhelming process. Keep reading to see 6 helpful tips that will make downsizing and de-cluttering much less stressful. 

1. Downsize the big stuff

If you know you’re moving from a three-bedroom home to a two-bedroom home, there’s absolutely no reason for you to move three beds, three dressers, and three bedside tables to your new place. 

Look carefully at the floor plan of your new space, or do a walk-through with a tape measure to really get a feel for where you can place your tables, chairs, and sofas. You may realize you can keep your dining room table, but you need to sell your breakfast table; or, you may find that you can keep your sofa and a chair, but it’s time to give away your loveseat. It’s better to make these big decisions before you move so you don’t end up paying for the expense to haul or store the excess furniture.

2. Keep the small stuff

If you’re moving, or if you’re just tired of the clutter in your home, you may be tempted to give away or sell a lot of small items, such as clothing, dishes, and decor. However, you may want to take this step slowly. It’s a good idea to go through your stuff to get rid of the general junk that tends to accumulate in a home, but don’t start getting rid of items you regularly use or enjoy just yet.

Keep any item you currently use or use seasonally. Also, keep items with sentimental value or a practical purpose, even if you don’t use them regularly. If you’re not moving and just want to do some major decluttering, pretend that you are moving and ask if each item would make the cut.

3. Start with the closet

The closet is often the first place people turn when you want to declutter your home. There’s just something satisfying about clearing out unworn clothes, shoes, and accessories. Although the result is rewarding, downsizing your wardrobe can be tough.  But a move or other new adventure is the perfect time to overcome these obstacles.

To seriously reduce the size of your wardrobe, assess every item—even the small things like T-shirts, socks, and jewelry—and get rid of anything that you wouldn’t wear right now (if the weather and occasion were appropriate). Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit, physically or otherwise. If you’re moving, pay special attention to whether your clothing will work in your new location; if the move is tied to a new job or retirement, factor in your new daily lifestyle too.

4. Dig through any boxes

When space is at a premium, every box matters. Take some time to go through each area in your home, from your attic to your closets to your garage to your cabinets. There’s so much stuff that lands on shelves and gets tucked away in storage just because it “might be useful someday,” or because you simply don’t know what to do with it. If you haven’t used it in over a year, or if you see no immediate use for it in the coming six months, give it away, sell it, or toss it in the trash. 

5. Tackle the "junk drawer"

Even the neatest of households can accumulate dry ballpoint pens, single socks, broken gadgets no one will ever repair, and random knick-knacks of uncertain origin. If you want to declutter your home and don’t know where to begin downsizing, this is a safe place to start. It is probably the quickest, easiest, and most immediately satisfying category to declutter, and cleaning out your junk—whether it’s literally in a designated junk drawer—is a relatively mindless project that lacks the emotional or logistical decisions that can slow you down in other areas.

You can tackle your junk by dividing your space into sections—clearing out a desk or small room might take just minutes. Or you can dedicate a day or weekend to walking through your house, garbage bag in hand, searching for caps that fit no bottle, buttons that match no coat, or any other extra bits and pieces you don’t need.

6. Organize Your Long-Term Storage

Most of us have items that we keep in some form of long term storage and getting rid of them can be big positives when it’s time to declutter your home. These items often live in a basement, attic, or storage unit and likely they once served a real purpose. It can be hard to simply shred or donate these items, even if you haven’t looked at them in 20 years. And yet, you probably don’t want to store them for the rest of your life, especially if you’re about to move.

To pare down these items, start with anything that doesn’t belong to you. Ask your kids if they want their old books, papers, or teddy bears. Then, determine if anything important is lurking in the remaining clutter. Documents you need to keep can often be digitized to save space. As for anything you don’t need, ask yourself if it makes you truly happy knowing it’s stored in your home. Also, be honest about whether you’ll ever really go rummaging through those boxes for a memory. If the answers indicate that the stuff isn’t a meaningful part of your life anymore, it might be a good time to give it up.

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