Knowing what to keep, what to store away and what to throw away can reduce a lot of unnecessary clutter.

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Methods for Decluttering Your House

Not everything that "clutters up the place" is clutter. Much of it is useful stuff that's just looking for its place in your house. The methods of organizing your home described below will help you find those places.

  • Keep items where they're used -- This logical method of storage is also a time saver. Plus, it saves the frustration and risk of resorting to items that aren't suited for a job. If something is needed in two or more places, get duplicates. Remember: It isn't clutter if it isn't in the way.
  • Keep the most-used items most accessible and visible -- This rule is especially valuable for smaller items that are easily misplaced or covered up, like keys and cell phones. By the same token, store out-of-season items in an out-of-the-way spot.
  • Use space creatively -- Walls and ceilings aren't only structural features; they can also be storage space, and attractive storage at that. Meanwhile, obscure nooks and crannies can hide less sightly items. Items can be reconfigured to better fit their designated areas -- rolled towels might fit more snugly than a stack, for example -- or given new ones. A collection of photos competing for space on an office desk might fill bare spots on the walls.
  • Discard expired items -- Some foods and medicines are time sensitive. Vitamins lose their potency and milk can be most unpleasant if kept much past their "use by" dates. For things that don't have expiration dates, invent one. Weekly magazines may "go bad" after a month, for instance.

Keep in mind that these are only guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. At times, they may contradict each other. Choose the one that makes most sense and work best for you. Oven mitts hanging on the kitchen wall may add to the décor, but are they within easy reach for rescuing a roast that's burning in the oven? Also, different people can have different, but equally useful, systems of organization. Exercise a reasonable degree of give-and-take.

That point leads to the next section: what to do if your existing space or home design doesn't lend itself to storing things efficiently. On the next page, we look at tools and aids for making space work for you.