How To

How To | Organizing & Decluttering for Spring

SPRING has finally arrived, and that means it’s time for a fresh start. As the snow melts, away so should your clutter. Spring after all, is a season of rebirth and new growth. The flowers are popping, the sun is shining and it’s time to break out the garden gloves, flip flops and slip on those comfy shorts.

I’m talking about that bulky build up that happens when winter forces a blizzard of clutter inside our homes, blocking passageways, corners and closets. All that clutter can effect and block more than just a doorway. It can also block your ability to feel good in your home environment… and if you can’t feel great there, than we have a huge problem. So here are a few tips to help declutter your home while getting a clean fresh start on making your place pop just like Spring.

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1. Get your tools SET. There’s a really good reason carpenters wear a tool belt, and it is not because of the awesome buckle, or it looks cooler than a fanny pack. The carpenters belt is there so they can always find the tool they need when they need it, because it goes back in its proper place on the belt. This may sound really simple and something we all would do, but the truth is … more often than not when a tool is used it doesn’t always end up back where it was found, thereby making it really difficult to even start your next project. So, a good first step on any home project is getting all your tools organized and making a home base (just like the tool belt) where you can always find the right tools for the right job. A really good way to go is by using a peg board, it allows you to use empty wall space and organize everything from hammers all the way to nails, screws and even nuts and bolts.

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2. Chuck the Junk. The all-encompassing ‘Junk Drawer.’ We all have one and it’s usually in the kitchen. It’s that drawer we literally throw everything in. Everything meaning batteries, to beer koozies, bags, business cards, rubber bands, big markers, dog biscuits, back up keys, bug repellent … ok you get the idea. It becomes a rat’s nest of debris. It’s the drawer that can open, but usually can’t always close without moving a few things around. Let’s face the facts, who knows if those batteries even work anymore. The time has come to get a handle on the junk, a good way to do that is to use rubber bands to group items together. For example, keep pencils and pens together by wrapping a rubber band around them. The same can be done for business cards, batteries, etc. A little organization goes a long way! Next thing you know the drawer finally closes and maybe just maybe you won’t have to replace the drawer glides from being jammed up with junk for months.   Oh yeah, and your bloody fingers with be a lot happier when scavenging for a band aid.

3. The IN box needs to go OUT.   We humans use to be called hunters and gathers, but now we gather more than we hunt. In fact, we’re more likely to be called consumers these days, because well…we consume a lot that we’ve gathered.   In the old days, whatever wasn’t consumed was eaten, or burned. But today, the gathering starts early just by getting the daily newspaper. It’s truly amazing how much gets gathered just coming through our front door. From the daily newspaper, to the big headline gossip magazines, mountains of junk mail, to even the books we’ve already read, not to mention the bags they all came in. All this reading material starts to stack up quickly.   A great way to keep from being overwhelmed by all this news is too create IN boxes and OUT boxes for all these items. Using simple decorative bins, (they can be found in wood, metal or even woven fibers) you can keep all the incoming organized and the outgoing ready to be used for projects or just ready to for the recycle bin. As far as old books go, instead of spreading them out all over the house in random places, put them on a shelf next to other books…so they can feel intellectual next to their friends.

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4. Love it … or don’t live with it. They say Love is the answer and love is all you need. But we sure seem to find A LOT of things we LOVE, and breaking up with them is harder than hearing “it isn’t you it’s me.” These things we say we LOVE start to add up especially in a closet. Let’s face it, what we love is what you can’t live without. So, if it’s not around your waist or draped over your shoulder most of the time, chances are … you like it a lot, but, you can live without it. A closet, much like LOVE needs its space. A great system I use to weed out the Unworn, is to use three boxes with – STAY, GO and I don’t KNOW written on them. If you’ve been holding on to that one shirt you’ve never worn but would be great at a Hawaiian wedding, but haven’t worn it goes in the GO pile, the STAY is everything you wear all the time and the I don’t know is a holding box to see if you will wear it. If in 6 months it hasn’t left the hanger, it’s time to give it to a thrift store so it can enjoy another fun life with someone else. Remember if you don’t love it   set it free.

5. More Floor Less Mess. We often pride ourselves by how many square feet our spacious rooms are. Yet over time, all that floor space gets over run with things. Boxes, bags, boots, balls, bottles, even babies. Well, I think you see my point. Things start to add up over time, and end up under tables, next to couches, on top of more tables and even chairs. Before you know it, that beautiful hardwood floor is covered and smothered. A simple fix is to just put those unused items in their proper places (hopefully unseen) in the attic, garage or in bins etc. A good rule to remember is “if it doesn’t have legs or feet, it shouldn’t be on the floor”. Space that is free of clutter really opens a room up, even lifting things up on shelves instead of on tables, lets the room breath with space .You’ll be amazed by how much space was visually unused or seen because something was covering it.

6. Someday should not be Forever. We all love those rare rescued, vintage items of HOPE meaning that we hope they will fit into our garage. Hope that we will find the time to restore them. Hope that we don’t find another item a month later, that’s quicker and easier to fix up. Yes these old classic dressers, tables, stereos, lamps, you name it we hold on to them, thinking we will bring them back to life. This is the time to either “roll up your sleeves, or roll it to the curb”. Better yet, have a garage sale, and use the cash to buy something new that you can use right away.

7. Edit for Credit.  Your closet is money, literally. It just needs is a little spring cleaning to make it rain. That’s right, once you’ve gone thru everything and edited out what can go, the fun begins. Take everything to thrift and second hand shops for store credit. Eventually you’ll find something you might wear more often.

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8. POP it like it’s Hot!  A fresh, simple and inexpensive way to make any room come alive for spring is to add a pop of color. And one of the most fun ways is too use a gallon of paint on an accent wall to brighten and transform the whole room.   Another is to add bright bold colorful or patterned throw pillows on the sofa to give it a quick fun update. For a more subtle approach paint a large picture frame with that same color and hang it on the main wall. Even paint matching lamp bases. These large or small ideas really add a fresh, bold, pop of color to match all the blooming Spring flowers outside your window.

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9. Get Fresh. The fresh smells of spring and the outdoors is what invigorates us when the warm weather finally comes around. Unfortunately that warm weather also brings the bugs out. A great way to protect your fine linens, sweaters and other edible clothes from moth infestation is by using real cedar hangers in your closets.   They protect as well as deliver a fresh mountain aroma.   Another way to bring a fresh outdoor scent into your closet, is to literally spice it up by using natural spices like rosemary, cinnamon, balsam and lavender to make everything smell Springy fresh.

10. Tune Up. Get all your lawn equipment tuned up. Mowers, electric hedge trimmers, chain saws, most of these have been sitting in storage while you have been waiting for the warm weather to come back. These items need to be maintained just like your car. Local hardware stores and home improvement centers provide this service, and many offer classes on how to DIY.

Ty Pennington

Ty Pennington is best known as the Emmy-award winning host of "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" and as the co-host of ABC Daytime's "The Revolution." He has been recognized as a home design expert, carpenter and leader in the field of volunteerism. TyPennington.com is a space to share his inspiration, design tips, daily musings and more. Ty can currently be seen on TLC's Trading Spaces.

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