Living with less is the truth that has changed lives.
As a professional ‘de-clutterer’, I’m a witness to this on a daily basis, and offer these 10 steps to de-clutter your home as a gift to yourself for the New Year.
Consider giving your space a refresh as we approach the new Jewish year. When you take a bite of that apple with honey, taste the sweetness of your newly simplified life.
1) Stop if you cannot definitively answer, “Yes!” to the following question: Are you willing to work to create your vision for your home? If so, “De-clutter Time” is your first move. It’s daunting to many, impossible for others, but transformational for all who commit to making positive changes in their home. Work in shifts with intervals for snacks and hydration. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting, but the end results are magical.
2) Make time to look at your home with an outsider’s eyes. Enter as if you were a visitor and really examine the space. Open closets, drawers, and cabinets in every room. Then, sit and write down all of your observations, in detail. Most importantly, include your feelings about what you’ve observed.
3) Sit in a quiet space. Close your eyes and visualize your perfect home. Again, beginning from outside, when you step inside, what do you see? The more detailed you are, the better. What does your foyer look like, your living room, kitchen, dining area and so on? Write it down. Example: “I walk into my home and my foyer is clear with one contemporary piece of storage furniture, a pretty, floral runner and photographs of my family. It feels warm and inviting.”
4) One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned is to ask for help. Doing it with someone is fun and teamwork encourages creativity. It’s a total game changer.
5) There are four outcomes when purging objects: Donate, recycle, shred and garbage. Have boxes and large, extra-heavy duty bags on hand. Watch the excess leave your house and feel happy that it’s off to someone else who will truly appreciate and need what you’ve donated.
6) Handle that foyer. It’s the first room people see when they come in. It sets the tone for your home. The shoes, coats, backpacks, strollers, etc. all need proper places. Store everything you need and donate what you don’t.
7) Closets. Evaluate your closets. Do you need to re-design them and make them more efficient for you and your family? And of course, take everything out, assess what no longer fits, is no longer being used and enjoyed, and donate!
8) Paper is the devil. It grows and grows and takes over room after room. Nobody wants to tackle the years of build up, but it’s necessary. It weighs us down. Lose all your warranties, the insurance policies you no longer have, the manuals you no longer need. There’s a lot of good information on the web on what you need to keep for your records.
9) The “tech mess” – tangled wires, cords, plugs, sitting in a box or a file cabinet. It’s usually a “guy” thing. (I’m not being sexist, it’s just an observation.) And while he’s at it, have him take a look at his tools…
10) Kitchen tip: Know what you have. How many times is the pantry so poorly organized that there are duplicate and triplicate items? My client had seven jars of peanut butter. It’s also a possibility that you have a shopping problem that comes from a place of scarcity. Try to shift that. Come from a place of abundance. Repeat: “I have enough.” And that applies to everything in your home.
11) Children’s memorabilia and photographs need to be sorted and organized. Let go of some of this. Not every photo is one you have to keep, and not every drawing of your child’s is a masterpiece. Let go!
Release, and breathe in the new space you’ve created for the new Jewish year.
Ruthie Kukoff is an interior designer and professional organizer based in New York City. Her clients have included Lin Manuel-Miranda and Sara Picasso Lavner.