How to Declutter Your Home: Mood-Lifting Storage Ideas for 2023
Is there anything more calming than a clean and tidy space? Surely, you’ve felt that wave of Zen wash over you as you’ve stepped into your freshly-organized closet or clutter-free home office.
In fact, studies have even shown a measurable link between cluttered homes and higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. So there’s that!
If you aim to create a more serene environment for yourself in 2023, few activities can be as impactful as decluttering your home. That’s why we asked Jane Zapf, Purchasing Manager at Acampora Interiors, to share her expert guidance on how to declutter your space – and the best storage solutions to help you achieve your goals.
Home Decluttering 101
While the relief we experience when we undertake a decluttering project is real, Zapf is quick to acknowledge that getting started can be daunting. She shares these essential tips to help you overcome that overwhelm.
Getting Started: Think Small
No home will go from cluttered to pristine overnight. That’s why Zapf suggests that anyone aspiring to a perfectly organized home start small.
“Taking an incremental approach is a great way to start decluttering. Pick one area to start, even if it’s a single cabinet in your kitchen,” Zapf says. That small foundation can be the gateway to greater organization.
Zapf also suggests a thematic approach, whether you choose to start in one room or pick a category of items to organize.
“Maybe you’re going to just organize the sports equipment, you’re just going to organize your tools, your garden items, your Christmas decorations,” she says. “Just focus on one item at a time so that you’re not looking at a whole space all at once.”
Approach decluttering the same way you would any major habit change in your life. Those who attempt to upend their lives – undertaking extreme exercise regimens or hyper-restrictive diets – so often revert back to their old ways. Making small but steady changes is the key to building a decluttering habit that lasts.
Top Home Decluttering Methods
Once you’ve settled upon the room or type of item you’d like to declutter first, it’s time to begin the process of sorting through your things. An essential component of decluttering is deciding which items you will discard and which ones you will keep and organize.
Zapf recommends using time as your guide in deciding an item’s fate. “If you haven’t used an item in, say, a year, you shouldn’t have it,” she says.
“Particularly in the kitchen or closet, we’re often influenced by trends,” she adds. “We buy a lot of things we may only use or wear once.” Those items that were purchased on a whim should be the first to go.
After you assess each item, assign it to one of three groups: keep, donate, or discard. The items you keep are ones you can’t live without. Gently-used items can be donated to a local charity or passed along to friends. Those items that are past their prime can be thanked for their service and relegated to the trash pile.
Where To Find the Right Home Storage Solutions
Once you’ve taken stock of the clutter and decided which items you’d like to keep, you need to find a new, organized home for your things.
While we all know the particular thrill that comes from a trip to The Container Store, Zapf suggests you pause before hopping in the car: “Shop your home first.”
We’ve all accumulated myriad home organizing solutions over the years. Woven baskets, plastic tubs, desktop trays – these items are scattered around your home, and are likely not being used to their full potential.
Take an inventory of your existing storage solutions, and see if there’s room to repurpose or optimize the items you already have. Once you know what’s on hand, you can create a curated list of items you’ll need to fill the gaps. That’s when you may proceed to your favorite home organization or big box store.
Zapf highlights the following as some of her favorite storage solutions for any room of the house:
- ‘Hold Everything’ rattan woven baskets from Williams Sonoma. These classic baskets feature a matching lid, making them ideal for stowing clutter in your bedroom, living room, or even within a bookcase.
- Beachcomber handwoven baskets from Pottery Barn. The decorative handles on these baskets add some personality. Tuck these away under a console table or use them beside your favorite reading chair to hold a blanket or magazines.
- See 10 other storage favorites from the Acampora team in our roundup of woven baskets for any room of your home.
Room-by-Room Tips for Home Decluttering
No matter where you choose to begin your decluttering journey, there are some helpful tips the Acampora team has picked up over the years – both from assisting clients and optimizing techniques in our own homes.
Zapf walks us room by room to provide top advice and specific storage solutions for every space in your house.
Home Office Organization
Creating an organized home office has always been vital in maintaining a productive and peaceful work environment. The work-from-home revolution has only added urgency to our need for home office organization solutions.
Many office supplies are small items that can add up to big clutter. That’s why Zapf recommends a two-pronged approach to storage.
For the items you’d like to keep stowed away, Zapf suggests a flexible solution. “I love drawer organizers, particularly from the big box stores like The Container Store (like these or these). You can find modular options to get the optimal fit for your particular desk drawer,” she says.
Then, there’s storage for the desktop. There are items like pens or paperclips we might like to have more readily available. Here, Zapf recommends bowls or trays to contain the items.
“Little catch-all spaces keep things from being strewn across the desk,” she notes. “Bowls or trays keep things collected and organized but easily reachable.” Zapf likes this decorative option from Pottery Barn, and this modern, minimal one from Poppin.
Paper clutter is another major concern in home offices, and here, Zapf urges you to undertake a digital transformation.
She shares, “There aren’t many documents these days that need to be paper other than passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates – official documents like that.”
Beyond those necessary hard-copy items, Zapf says, “Everything else should be electronic, even if it just means taking a quick photograph on your phone.”
Of course, it’s then up to you to ensure your digital files are organized and decluttered so that you can find the documents at a later date.
Home Office Organization Bonus Tip: A hallmark of a modern desktop is electronics. To reduce the visual clutter their tangle of wires creates, Zapf suggests securing them to the back of desk legs with tape or hooks. For chargers, she recommends having a storage spot in a drawer or pouch where they can be tucked when not in use.
When it comes to kitchen organization, the watchword is functionality.
“Space in the kitchen is really at a premium,” Zapf says, “So the first thing you should do is make the appliances you use as accessible as possible. A stand mixer on a countertop can look beautiful and architectural, and if you use it regularly, that’s exactly where it should be.”
For those second-tier appliances that may get less regular use, Zapf recommends placement in a cabinet or deep drawer.
The same principles apply to storage for utensils, pots, and pans. “I like to have all the utensils I use in pretty pots accessible to the stovetop, so they’re there, and I can just grab what I need,” Zapf shares.
Deep pullout drawers are best for housing pots and pans, but if your kitchen lacks that feature, additional wire shelving can be incorporated into existing cabinets.
“I put in wire shelving so I can stack and organize the pots and pans within it,” Zapf says. This is another location where you should prioritize the items you use most often.
Kitchen Organization Bonus Tip: Don’t forget about your refrigerator. It’s easy for a refrigerator to become overrun by rogue leftover containers and half-full condiment jars. That’s why Zapf recommends a weekly wipe down, where you remove everything, dust off the shelves and crisper drawers, and toss anything old or mysterious. OXO and Le Parfait offer practical storage options that can add some uniformity to your refrigerator door.
Laundry Room Storage
Laundry rooms are a high-traffic area, with clothes being shuttled in and out, so it’s no surprise that Zapf’s laundry room organization and storage suggestions focus on streamlining the clothing flow.
“Every member of my family has their own laundry hamper in their room, and it’s their responsibility to bring the hampers down to the laundry room,” she says of the process she employs at home.
“I also have baskets in the laundry room for folding clean laundry and sending it off to wherever it’s going,” she says. These handwoven seagrass baskets are perfect for a seaside home, while this utilitarian polypropylene option adds an appealing pop of color.
Zapf notes, “Each destination has a basket so that when the laundry is done and folded, my family knows it can be taken in that basket to that space in the house.” For example, each bedroom has a designated basket, while the hallway linen closet and guest bedroom have their own vessels.
Closet Organization and Storage
Closets, like kitchens, are another place where trend-driven purchases can quickly overrun your space. In fact, it can happen so quickly that Zapf recommends you edit your closet once every few months.
Once you’ve removed those unwanted pieces, turn your attention to mismatched hangers – they should be the next to go. “Uniform hangers help optimize the amount of hanging space in your closet,” Zapf says.
In your wide-open hanging space with standardized hangers, begin by featuring the things you are using seasonally, so they are front and center. Rely on shelves and storage boxes for off-season items.
Adds Zapf, “Placing items like scarves and sweaters in individual boxes keeps things contained.” Plus, boxes are easier to stack, which means simple categorization, organization, and access for you.
“Storage boxes give more structure to soft items so you can get more into each shelf,” says Zapf.
Closet Organization Bonus Tip: When it comes to shoe storage, Zapf prefers clear boxes over the original cardboard ones. Clear plastic allows you to peek inside without having to hoist a box or lift a lid.
For many homeowners, the garage is the last decluttering frontier. Perhaps you moved old clutter out of your house and into your garage, but the day will eventually come when it’s time to clean your garage.
In fact, Zapf contends it may actually be the space you should prioritize.
“Garages are for cars,” Zapf says. “Particularly if you live in the wintry Northeast, when you have the luxury of having a garage, you want to have your car in it. It’s better for the car, and it’s better for you.”
If garage decluttering feels overwhelming, she reminds you, “Return to your mantra. ‘Do I want to own this? Can I donate it? Or should I just dispose of it?’ The garage is a space where you need to be particularly ruthless so that it can be used for its intended purpose.”
Fortunately, once you’ve edited down your collection of items, there are versatile modular storage solutions, like slatwall panels, that can maximize your garage space.
“I’m a big fan of wire shelving in garages,” Zapf shares. “It’s not pretty to look at inside the home, but it is a great product for this purpose.”
Once you’ve created the decluttered home of your dreams, you’ll surely want to keep it that way! Zapf reminds us, “Staying organized is more of a lifestyle than a single event.” Creating a daily tidying routine – tucking things away at the end of the night, sorting through the day’s mail, and removing bibs and bobs from around your home – will help you maintain the serene, clutter-free space you worked hard to create.