1) Edit, edit edit.
How many pots and pans actually fit on your stove at the same time?
How many clear vases can be filled with flowers at one time? Many if you have a cutting garden, not so many if you live in a small city apartment.
How many (if any) ugly pens you got for free do you need?
How many T-shirts do you need to save for your next paint job? My husband Martin claims many and he never picks up a paint brush. I say one and I’m the one who does all the painting around the house…
I constantly edit my belongings.
2) Let it go.
I always keep a row of grocery bags in the garage designated for stuff I want to get rid of. One goes to the local charity shop, one goes to my son’s younger cousins, one goes to recycling. When one bag is full I bring it to wherever it’s intended. I love it when all the bags are gone!
3) It’s only “stuff”.
You probably won’t regret what you’ve edited out. Considering the masses of stuff I constantly get rid of all the time I can only remember two things I’ve regretted. A few old letters I wish I’d kept and quite recently an Alvar Aalto Savoy vase which had a corner chipped off. I saw someone on AT cast a cement door stopper in one and wish I’d saved mine… But then again I have another one with a tiny chip so…
5) One in - one out
When getting something new get rid of something old. I really do. If I get a new pot for the kitchen I check the cabinet so see if an old one can go and if not I get something from another cabinet and toss that.
6) Own what you love.
Just because somebody you love gave you something doesn’t mean you have to display it or, in my case, even keep it if it’s not to your taste. I’m ruthless about this and feel it’s much better to pass it on to someone who will appreciate it more or to someplace that can use it. I can honestly say that in my house we only have things we really like. Martin doesn’t always agree with all of my things and I may not always agree on all of his but at least someone in our household loves it.
7) Buy storage in bulk.
For a streamlined, less cluttered look get lots of the same boxes in one color. I spend a bit of money here and get all the same boxes from IKEA. My favourites are white cardboard Kassett boxes for upstairs and clear plastic Flaj boxes for the storage room and garage. They are really inexpensive but when you get lots it amounts to a bit of money. I must have about 25 Kassett and 40 Flaj by now… I print the labels on my printer for neatness.
8) Corral your Clutter.
To avoid day-to-day clutter I keep containers in clutter prone places where I corral all things trailing about. There’s a green glass container by the front door where I put keys, cell phones, coins, buss passes, lost (and found) buttons, sun glasses etc. In the home office area there’s another one for desk related things like paper clips, eraser, push pins, business cards and other stuff laying about. In the kitchen there’s a tray on top of the microwave where I gather stuff found on the kitchen counters. Once in a while I empty the stuff out and put all the things in their correct places and start over.
I also keep a basket by the stairs where I put stuff which needs to go downstairs. When the basket’s is full I bring it downstairs and put away the things where they belong.
For paper clutter I’ve added vertical slots in my home office where we each have one slot and I put the papers in there. If Martin or Wille are looking for something they know where to find it.
There’s one slot for bills too. I open all mail every day as soon as I get in and keep a recycling bin by the door. All junk mail goes directly in there and the bills go in the bill slot.
9) Rotate your collections.
It’s not necessary to display all your belongings all the time. I switch things around quite a bit and enjoy the changes. A lot of our collections are in cabinets and boxes but every now and then I bring a different set of things out to enjoy.
10) Buy white.
I always buy day to day supplies in white, no print, no color, just pure white. Paper towels, toilet brush, dish towels, laundry pegs, toilet paper, candles, napkins, the list goes on. White looks clean and fresh and doesn’t draw attention to the boring day to day stuff we all need. Also with white you see when it gets dirty and needs changing.