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How to Properly Declutter Every Room in Your Home For the New Year

A new year brings new opportunities to rid it of last year’s clutter and chaos

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By House & Garden | January 17, 2024 | Diy

Clearing out your house can be an exhausting process: so many decisions to make, so much stuff to move around, and so much research into the best ways to donate or recycle your unwanted things. Tackling one room at a time is logical and helps to make things manageable, and there are few rooms that will take more than one day to clear and reorganise. Some people take to decluttering like a duck to water, but others need a little more guidance. As a general rule, we find that if you can't remember the last time you used something, or if it takes a while to dive down and find that memory, it's time to get rid of the item in question. We've broken it down room by room, so you can follow along with the process, and find tips on the easiest and most convenient ways to get rid of things (if you live in the UK, at any rate).

For a more Liveable Living room

Sunset Flat by Falken Reynolds, located in Vancouver, Canada. Image: Ema Peter.

The living room is a magnet for clutter of the purest form. Books you're never going to read pile up on the shelves, knick knacks gather dust on windowsills, and old technology like DVDs and DVD players haunt the cabinets.

Start with your media cabinet/TV unit, where a proliferation of wires and cables can easily contribute to feelings of clutter. Investing in a good cable storage device will help to tidy things up.

While you're in the media cabinet, take everything out, have a good look at it, and decide what really needs to be there. Almost all DVDs (unless they're hard-to-find old TV series or films) can probably go now that we're in the age of streaming. Get rid of cables that relate to old technology - it's highly unlikely you're ever going to use that DVI/VGA/RCA cable again in the age of smart TVs and HDMI.

Devices that are not regularly in use and their corresponding chargers should be tucked away in a cabinet–no one wants to see them cluttering up surfaces 24/7. Find a small basket or box to keep chargers and miscellaneous cables in, and label any ambiguous looking wires and chargers so you know what they do.

Examine your bookshelves carefully. If you bought the book over a year ago and you still haven't read it, are you ever going to? Do you really want to? If the answer is no, consider removing it. Seriously think about any collections of magazines you have built up and whether you'll have a use for them in future.

Objets are the other main source of clutter in a living room: ornaments, candlesticks, small bowls that don't have anything in them, etc. With these types of things, sentimental value should probably be your main guiding principle. Do all of those objects mean something to you? Beyond that, are they serving a decorative function? Are they filling a gap that needs filling? If not, think about making a few charming tableaux on your side tables/bookshelves/windowsill, and then eliminating anything that doesn't fit in.

Clean up Your Kitchen

Decluttering a kitchen is a serious project. To do it effectively, you need to go cabinet by cabinet. Photography by Read Mckendree.

Decluttering a kitchen is a serious project. To do it effectively, you need to go cabinet by cabinet, take everything out, clean the cabinet (don't forget the top), and put back what you intend to keep.

Spices and jars of pastes/jams/pickles are the worst offenders for piling up in a kitchen, since you're highly likely to buy them for one recipe and then never use them again. You must be ruthless here with expired items, but don't just throw the entire container away. We know it's a faff, but clear out the contents and then recycle the jar.

There is a real benefit to storing dry goods in glass jars, it's not just an aesthetic choice. Piled up packets of spaghetti/rice/beans can be difficult to keep track of, but if you have one jar for each commonly used thing, and especially if you keep those jars on open shelving, you will always know what you have and what you're running out of. And once you have the jars, you can consider going to your local refillable store and cutting out the packaging altogether.

Small appliances and utensils are likely candidates for gathering dust. The year rule applies here–if you haven't used it in a year, it's probably time for it to go, unless your long-dormant juicing/spiralising/pasta-making habit is really just about to resurface.

Say Bye Bye to Old Clothing in your Bedroom

Each room of this apartment is the perfect amalgamation of maximalism and minimalist tastes. Photograph: Tim Lenz

Wardrobes and clothing storage is the big target here; we all know how clothing piles up, and how tempting it is to hold onto things that don't fit or that we haven't worn in years. It's painful, but just think of the joys of the organised wardrobe that await.

Sort your clothing type by type. Underwear, t-shirts, jumpers, trousers, dresses and skirts, pyjamas, gym clothes - all should receive their own individual attention. Considering each category will allow you to see what you have, what needs to go and what gaps there are.

When it comes to getting rid of clothes you no longer wear or that doesn't fit, make two or three piles: one for donating, one for sending to textile recycling (for worn out clothes or underwear), and potentially one for selling.

To keep chests of drawers organised in future, a set of drawer boxes can be incredibly helpful (we love IKEA's Skubb range), especially for the underwear drawer, so that knickers, bras, socks and tights can all be kept separate and not devolve into a chaotic jumble. IKEA's clothing storage range is in general indispensable, with hanging storage for wardrobes, matching hangers at very affordable prices, and those brilliant underbed boxes which are great options for storing duvets and spare bedding.

If you don't have a good jewellery box, buy one. It is difficult to feel elegant when you're trying to extract a necklace from a tangled knot of chains, or brushing the dust off earrings before you put them on.

Ban unused toiletries in the Bathroom

The meticulously cleaned bathroom of an open-plan beachfront apartment in Clifton, Cape Town. Photography by Greg Cox.

The land of toiletries and cotton wool pads can be a daunting place to start a clear-out, but the likelihood is that you use a fraction of what you actually own, so a good declutter can be particularly satisfying.

Everything that is clearly out of date can go in the bin, though do check if you can recycle the packaging!

Unused products are easy to donate: it's quite likely your friends will take some off your hands if you invite them to raid your bathroom cabinet; some charity shops will take them and charitable initiatives like Beauty Banks exist specifically to distribute toiletries and hygiene products to food banks, charities and shelters.

When you come to rearranging the things you plan to keep, store everyday items in view on open shelving, or at eye level in a bathroom cabinet. Keep any below the sink storage or other cabinets for loo roll, medicines and spare products.

Consider buying a set of boxes so that different categories of toiletry can be kept separate. Makeup, skincare, nail stuff, dental kit, etc should all have its own home to make it easier to see what you have and what you're running low on. Muji sells great acrylic boxes for this purpose.

This story originally appeared on House & Garden UK.