Having moved into our new home just over a year ago, we are finally getting close to feeling "moved in" to our new space. We downsized by 30% from our previous house in, and we sold, or gave away a large amount of our belongings before moving into this new home. Our goal is to live in an uncluttered space from here on out. It turns out this is much easier said than done. It's not only the accumulation of stuff that can lead to clutter, but how you live in your space from day to day. More to the point, it's about getting into the habit of putting things in their proper place as you move through your day, each day.
I spent time this past week sifting through the remains of our packed boxes, and getting rid of clothes and toys that the kids have outgrown. I usually donate these items to the Hartsprings Foundation in Springfield, MA, who will come pick up gently used clothes, games, toys, linens, furniture, etc. I sorted through the piles on our coffee table and other surfaces, and spent some time rearranging our living room. I find this room to be a challenge because it's a large open space, connected to the kitchen and entryway. I want it to feel cozy, not cavernous (or cluttered and messy). Once I had the furniture arranged to my liking, and had gotten rid of the accumulated clutter - I felt much better! A friend of mine, who works as a professional organizer, once told me that the key to organization is not just that everything has it's place, but that you have to go through your drawers, cabinets, toiletries, closets and file cabinets (etc) a few times a year to keep things organized! I was reminded of this during my cleaning/organizing frenzy.
I came across this blog post on the Apartment Therapy website, which gives tips about how to keep a small living space uncluttered. The truth is, I think it applies to homes of all sizes. I also think that in setting expectations for your family members, that they should follow the same rules of putting things in their proper place as they go, everyone in the household feels more comfortable, and knows where to look for things at any moment! Read on for these simple words of wisdom.
10 Everyday Habits to Make Any Small Space Dweller Happier at Home
Alana's Brooklyn Railroad
There are plenty of habits everyone should adopt to keep a home reasonably clean and tidy. Here are ten worth practicing in any size home, but especially vital for people living in small spaces when even a small amount of clutter can make your home look and feel messy.
1. Make your bed each morning. In a small room, the bed may take up half the space or more so if it's not made it will look unkempt even if everything else is in order.
2. Take care of your dishes as soon as you're done with them. If you have a dishwasher, put them in it. If you don't, try to wash them right away or, at the very least put them in the sink. Keeping counters clear in a small kitchen is key.
3. Process your paper mail each day. Small space living is a constant fight against "piles". Try to deal with your mail soon after you bring it in—recycle, file, shred, etc.—so you don't end up with even a small pile (which is always a slippery slope).
4. Digitize as much as you can. If you have a piece of paper that *might* be important, but you're not sure—take a photo of it and then recycle it.
5. Straighten as you go. Get in the habit of straightening and returning things to their homes as you walk around your home. Gabbing on the phone? This is an ideal time to do some straightening.
Christina's Sunny South Austin Digs
6. Put your coat and bag away as soon as you get home. Don't drape them on a chair or leave them on a table. As my husband likes to say "don't put it down, put it away."
7. Deal with in-store or online returns as soon as you can. Don't let boxes or packages or items clutter up your space and don't take the risk that you will lose receipts and other documentation.
8. Break down unwanted cardboard boxes immediately and take them outside to recycle as soon as you can.
9. Cook from your pantry. How many half boxes of pasta are in your cabinet? Or cans of beans you bought for a recipe and never used? Be vigilant about using stuff up before your cabinets are a complete jumble.
10. Put your clothes away each night before bed. Don't let them accumulate at the end of your bed, on a chair or, the worst, on the floor.
Do you have any useful habits in your small home to defend against clutter and mess?
(Image credits: Sherrie and Oliver ; Kate Bowie Carruth )