After the holidays, and the excitement of opening our presents, we need to find places for all our new stuff. Granted it’s great stuff, stuff we probably asked for, but we still need to find room for all these new possessions. So, we begin to hunt for precious space in our crowded closets, on our bursting book shelves, in our overflowing dressers, on our cluttered counters, in our cramped kitchen cabinets, and that’s when reality smacks us with its white glove–it’s time to organize and declutter. Oh no!
It can be an overwhelming and tremendous task. Heck, that’s why we put it off for so long. Luckily, Ray Gernhart and Associates is here to help you, along with these organizational blogs, and even the recent best selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Kondo offers a fresh, and simple approach to decluttering. But first, let’s be clear on the tremendous benefits of an organized home.
- The thought of your Mother-In-Law dropping by unexpectedly will no longer make you break out in hives.
- Your home will function better and that will free up time and space to be more productive and accomplish your career and personal goals.
- You will realize you don’t need a bigger house.
- You will be able to open a closet without having to yell “Avalanche!”.
- If you find yourself in need of selling your home, or moving due to life’s unexpected curve balls, you, and your home will be ready.
- Your home will feel like your sanctuary, not a burden.
- Your home will be easier to clean, and maintain.
- An organized home is more likely to attract top dollar on the real estate market.
In her book, Kondo recommends a massive decluttering which boils down to keeping only those items that bring you joy, and discard possessions that have outlived their usefulness, or are connected to bad memories. The items that get discarded are thanked for their service before getting kicked to the curb, or donated. Kondo also does not believe in tidying a little each day, she advises her clients to do an all-at-once purge for dysfunctional spaces. The theory being that once you rid yourself of non-joyful items, you will be left with a space that functions for you in the long-term.
Over the years, Ray Gernhart and Associates has helped hundreds of clients organize their homes before putting them on the market. An organized home impresses potential buyers, and is so much easier to sell! We are also experienced in helping clients downsize to smaller homes. Along the way, we’ve learned a few tricks that will help you maintain an organized home so these life changes aren’t so stressful.
Define Your Spaces: Your home should bring you peace and work for your lifestyle. Start at the front door, and think about the function of each room, area, cabinet, surface, and piece of furniture. Define the areas in your home where you like to work, read, listen to music, display art or pictures, pay the bills, relax, make coffee, get dressed, put on makeup, etc. How can these areas serve you better? Do you need something at the front door to catch your keys, and mail? Do you need a favorite piece of art there, so you see it as soon as you come home? After you have defined your spaces, eliminate anything that is keeping each space from serving its unique and special purpose.
Stop Going to The Container Store: All those nifty storage solutions turn you into a tidy hoarder. If you are storing it away, do you really need it? We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard clients complain about the painful process of cleaning out an attic full of stuff they don’t need or want. They often ask themselves, “Why did we keep it all?”.
Get The Urge To Purge: A recent Fast Company article, revealed the scientific findings of researchers who found that experiences, not possessions bring us the most happiness. We recommend reading that article for inspiration before you start decluttering. We like Marie Kondo’s approach to deciding what to keep. If something brings you joy through its beauty or usefulness, it stays. Everything else can be donated to a charity, sold, given to a friend or family member, recycled, or thrown out. Some things you will be tempted to keep, but shouldn’t: broken things you will never fix, clothes that no longer fit, that intellectual book you will never read.
It’s Ok To Have An Empty Drawer: We tend to fill all the space we have. If your purge is successful, you will probably find yourself with an empty cabinet, shelf, or drawer. That’s ok! Not every drawer needs to be filled, and not every surface needs to have something on it. Give your home some breathing room, and you will receive some in return. Ah..Breath. When selling your home, a buyer will be pleased to see that you live there so comfortably, you don’t even need all the space your home provides.
The “One Thing In & 2 Things” Out Rule: This rule works great in maintaining your household post-purge. It also has a secondary benefit of managing your extra spending since you will think twice about buying that new sweater knowing you have to give up 2 sweaters in exchange. Anytime you bring something new into your house, be prepared to donate 2 similar items.
Keep A Gifting Bag: We suggest using one of those giant tote bags you can get for a couple bucks. Keep it somewhere convenient like the garage or front closet. Use it as a continual collector of unwanted items that can be donated to a charity or shelter such as gently used clothes, books, and kitchen items. Did you get a nice gift, but one that you will never use? Place it in the gifting bag, and consider donating it or regifting it to someone who will be sure to enjoy it more. Your gifting bag has the power to bring a lot of people joy, including you.
If All Else Fails Call A Professional: Sometimes, the job is just too big. A professional organizer can help you get the task done efficiently. In the DC Metro area, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Cannon Clutter Control. Look for a service that it certified by NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers. They are also an excellent resource for finding a professional organizer in your area.