The One Universal Truth You Have to Remember About Decorating and Decluttering

published Jan 30, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Chloe Berk

The January Cure is an Apartment Therapy tradition, helping you clean and declutter your home for the year ahead. We’re in the final week, but it’s never too late to sign up and join. Or you can begin your own journey any time with The Eight-Step Home Cure book.

Finish lines are important. They give you a goal to work towards. And maybe more importantly, they tell you when to stop; when to rest and recover for the next race. You stop painting the living room once every inch of wall has been covered. You know the laundry’s done once the clean and folded clothes are back inside your drawers.

In that sense, it’s good to have a goal in mind when you’re taking on an effort like redecorating a room or decluttering your closet or any other thing you might do to improve your space. But the most important lesson I’ve ever learned about designing and caring for my home is this: It’s a journey, not a destination.

Homes aren’t static. They’re meant to evolve and support us—whatever current version of ourselves we are. So don’t ever get too attached to the way things are, or the objects you store between your four walls.

Keep that in mind as we roll into the penultimate assignment of the 2020 January Cure…

Apartment Therapy Daily

Your daily dose of our top posts, tips & tricks, house tours, before & after transformations, shopping guides, and more.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Today’s Assignment: Empty the outbox and reset your living room.

Last week, you stripped your living room down to its bare bones, minimalist basics. Today we’re going to reconsider the things you set aside from that refresh, then empty the outbox you’ve been using all month.

First, grab that box of stuff from the living room reset and begin to layer your things back in to the space…

You’ve lived in the naked space for 10 days now, so trust your gut about how you want to put the room back together. If you want to bring everything back to exactly where it was, go for it. But more likely, you’re going to have some fresh clarity about which of those things were your favorite things, and how much decoration is “too much” for you. The end goal is to make sure everything in your living room is something you intentionally chose to be there.

Anything you don’t want to layer back into the living room can be put to use in another room, or placed into your outbox.

The second part of today’s task is to empty that outbox…

If you remember, the idea of the outbox is to give your things an in-between place, so you can remove them from your home’s active areas and make a decision later about whether or not you need those things. Here’s the hard truth: The fact that those things are still sitting in the outbox right now—days and weeks later—means you probably can do without them.

So tonight, go through the things that have been in your outbox for a week or more and decide where to send them:

  • Pass them on to friends or family
  • Set out a bag for the donation center
  • Put things out on the curb or community table with a “free” sign
  • List them on the Apartment Therapy Bazaar, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, Craigslist, or eBay

You don’t have to get rid of your whole outbox right now; you can use this box (or a version of it) all year long to help you snap the emotional bonds you have with your things. Feel free to leave things inside today and let stuff sit for a while, but don’t let this moment be a sticking point. You should feel really good about letting go of anything that you haven’t thought about in some time!

Then put your plan into action as soon as possible. Make an appointment on your calendar to drop donations off during your lunch hour, or create online listings during the commercial breaks of your show tonight. I know it’s a tough final step, but if you put this part on hold, you’re denying yourself the seriously satisfying feelings that come with truly letting go.

Credit: Apartment Therapy

We’re in the home stretch! Here are a few ways to participate in the Cure: