Editor's note: The following is a guest post written by Journalist Lisa Ling, host of Our America on OWN and program ambassador for the IKEA Life Improvement Project — a program designed to inspire people to make a positive impact on their homes and the lives within. Below, Lisa shares tips for creative ways to cut the clutter at home.
Your home should be a peaceful retreat, a place to relax and unwind. Since clutter can be a big cause of stress, my husband and I built in solutions for staying organized when we built our new home. With a new baby and a hectic travel schedule, knowing I will come home to a clean and clutter-free home makes all the difference in staying focused while I’m away. Below are a few tips for you to make sure that everything in your home has a place:
Pictured: Ling's master bedroom.
Make A Plan: If you’re not starting from scratch with a new home, you’ll need a plan to whip your current place into shape. Create a three or six-month plan and think through which areas of your home you’d like to tackle first. Focusing on one room at a time will keep you from getting overwhelmed and abandoning the project. Breaking it into accomplishable chunks will help you get everything done.
Assign Categories: Sort all of your belongings into three categories — display, store and donate/toss. Donate clothes you haven’t worn in the last six months (excluding seasonal items) and things you no longer have a use for. Store seasonal items — like heavy textiles and winter coats — out of reach. Lastly, keep things you use constantly handy. For instance, if you’re a big smoothie maker, keep your blender on the countertop in your kitchen. If you eat granola bars each morning, store the blender away.
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Invent Storage Space: Once you’ve determined what you’ll stow away, look around your house for clever storage solutions. Rather than storing holiday décor in one box and an empty suitcase nearby, fill the empty suitcase with holiday décor and store them away together. Or, use empty spaces that you don’t often think about – like the space under the bed. Buy a storage box shaped especially for creative storage and turn the space beneath your bed into an additional closet. Use closet and clothing storage solutions to make storing/organizing your clothes and shoes easier and more efficient.
Pictured: Ling's living room
Use Levels: When deciding how to arrange items that you need to keep handy, use the levels rule. Keep things you use daily – like bath towels –at eye level. But, for light items you need only occasionally – like bedding for the guest room – use the highest shelf in the closet. Store heavy items and things that can handle getting dirty (like cleaning supplies or boxes) at the bottom level, near the floor.
Stay Motivated: If you need inspiration to get through your organization plan, turn to the internet! Start a Pinterest account or go to The Life Improvement Project to submit or be inspired by others’ home projects.
Keep Organized: Once you’ve finished your plan and are living in a structured and clutter-free space, it’s important to make sure it stays that way! When my daughter Jett is old enough for a playroom, we plan to use a one toy in, one toy out rule. I try to use the same rule for our closets as well. To keep your house clean and de-cluttered, institute a family cleaning schedule, or designate a weekly time for everyone to clean. Tidying up weekly is doable and you’ll never accumulate a big mess again.
Visit the Ikea Life Improvement Project website to submit your own home projects or be inspired; for each submitted or shared project, Ikea will make a $1 donation to Save the Children’s Early Steps For School Success.
Photos courtesy of Tom McCaffrey/ PUNCHouse