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The room-by-room guide on how to declutter your home

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Wood Kitchens by LWK Kitchens SA Modern
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It’s no joke decluttering an entire home, whether it’s a ground-floor flat or a two-storey house. But how do you eat an elephant? Little by little! And, thus, there you have the easy answer on how to declutter your home: by separating the living room from, say, the bedroom, and so forth.

And the great thing is you don’t need a wealth of fancy tools to get that decluttering job done. What you do need, however, is five baskets or bins for these five purposes:

1. Put Away: For items that have crept out of their designated storage cabinets (i.e. coffee cup, sock) and need to go back there. 

2. Recycle: All paper, plastic and/or glass items that you want to get rid of.

3. Fix / Mend: For pieces you want to keep after they’ve undergone some tinkering (like shoes that need a proper cleaning).

4. Trash: All items that can’t be recycled and need to go. 

5. Donate: Think if another person could want or need an item before you get rid of it (clothes your kids have outgrown, a set of plates you no longer want, etc.). 

Be sure to bring these bins into each room for your decluttering project, or leave them in a central place while you work.

Let’s start!

1. How to declutter: Your living room

House La Croix Fresnaye Modern living room by KMMA architects Modern
KMMA architects

House La Croix Fresnaye

KMMA architects

We’ll start with one of the hardest spaces to keep neat on a daily basis, seeing as it gathers so much attention from residents and guests. The average living room doesn’t offer that many storage facilities: the odd bookcase and TV console here and there, but they don’t hide that much. 

Your aim:

• Decide on permanent storage spots for commonly used items like remote controls and magazines,

• Declutter this space on a regular basis. 

Start with your bookcases, console and side tables, then proceed with the coffee table and entertainment centre. Empty them as per your five baskets / bins.

Next, move on to electronics. Remove everything that isn’t connected to your TV or home theatre system. Ask yourself what you still use and what still works. 

Lastly, tackle those loose toys strewn everywhere (the joy of having kids). Assess each one for wear and tear, check if it still functions and if your child still plays with it, then decide to recycle, store or donate. 

2. How to declutter: Your entryway

Sea Point Apartment Eclectic style corridor, hallway & stairs by Studio Do Cabo Eclectic
Studio Do Cabo

Sea Point Apartment

Studio Do Cabo

Not all houses have a traditional mudroom or foyer, but you definitely have an entryway. And no matter how small or big it is, it needs to undergo the declutter process quite regularly. 

Start with any big storage pieces you may have in here, such as a desk or side table. Check each drawer, remove all the contents, then decide which of those five baskets you’re going to use. 

Don’t overlook your hall closet (if you have one): start with the shoes and boots, then proceed on to jackets and accessories. 

3. How to declutter: Your bathroom

House St Andrews Modern bathroom by Principia Design Modern
Principia Design

House St Andrews

Principia Design

That medicine cabinet is up first: take all its contents out and discard all outdated medicines, makeup, and skincare products. Everything that you’re keeping must be immediately put back into the cabinet. 

Then move on to any cabinet drawers and repeat the process. Next, your shower / tub, then the bathroom sink. 

How are those five baskets starting to look? 

4. How to declutter: Your bedroom(s)

Turns out your mother was right for teaching you to make your bed every morning – it sets up your mood for the rest of the day, plus makes your bedroom look neater. So, if your bed is still unmade at this stage, you know what to do!

Start with the nightstands and remove all contents that don’t belong there (those go into your Put Away bin). Repeat with the tops of your dressers, chests and/or bureaus. 

Watch out for any clothing strewn about. Anything that requires folding or hanging goes into your Put Away bin. Lay it down on your bed if you’re afraid it might wrinkle. 

Tackle each drawer of your bureau individually. Take out all the contents and decide in which bin it needs to go (Donate, perhaps?). Fold and store everything you’re keeping. 

If there’s a desk or vanity table in your bedroom, it’s up next. Never just shove stuff back into the drawers, but rather put them into the Put Away bin. And anything that hasn’t been used in over six months (not counting seasonal clothing) gets tossed or recycled.

You may wonder what about your closet. Well, that’s up next…   

5. How to declutter: Your closet and clothing

WALK-IN CLOSET Modern style bedroom by Linken Designs Modern Wood Wood effect
Linken Designs


Linken Designs

We suggest first decluttering your clothing closet by clothing type. Thus, start with shoes and boots, then move on to pants, shirts, dresses, etc. 

And it’s easier deciding on whether to keep, donate or toss a pair of jeans, for instance, if you look at your entire jean collection at once. 

After going through each clothing type you’ll have four piles:

• Put away anything that was just in the wrong spot (like a pair of socks that belongs in the dresser);

• Dirty laundry that must go in the hamper or the laundry room;

• Anything that needs fixing or must go to the tailor or dry cleaner;

• Clothing pieces that you can take to a donation centre. 

6. How to declutter: Your kitchen

Wood Kitchens by LWK Kitchens SA Modern
LWK Kitchens SA

Wood Kitchens

LWK Kitchens SA

You don’t need to save the heart of your home for last, but we did as so many different activities occur in there (cooking, eating, socialising, working), meaning there are so many different types of items stored in it. So, by now you should have the whole decluttering thing and working with those five bins down to an art form. Which means the kitchen should be a breeze. 

You can choose to declutter your kitchen by tackling one category at a time, like glassware or utensils, or by working through each zone. 

First step is to completely empty each space, assess each item, then put everything back where it belongs. Opt for the powerhouse storage spaces first, like the pantry and upper cabinets. Then make your way down to the lower cabinets, drawers, the areas underneath the sink, etc. 

Finally, zoom in on your countertops by moving as many items off them as possible and into storage spaces. Only the daily used items must remain on the countertops, like your coffee maker. 

Lastly, open that Put Away bin and return anything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen to its rightful space (such as a toy that should go into your child’s bedroom, or a book that must be stored in the study).

And what do you know: your house has just been successfully de-cluttered! 

No time to tackle your entire house? Then you need to check out these 10 decluttering projects you can do in 15 minutes or less.

Did we make the task of decluttering a whole house seem a bit easier for you?
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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