Your New Year’s resolution? De-clutter and simplify your space!


This is our favorite quote by a designer … because we believe it!
Almost all of us, at one time or another, have embarked on a quest to de-clutter our homes, to divest ourselves of worn or useless items, to simplify our spaces. Identifying belongings we “do not know to be useful,” however, often leads to agonizing decisions in the belief that we have to toss items that have sentimental value but are not necessarily functional.
That’s where the “believe to be beautiful” part comes in.
Not functional doesn’t necessarily mean not useful … when we find happiness or fond memories in our belongings, that’s when they are the most useful and beautiful! To that end, we like many of the concepts currently made popular by Marie Kondo, a tidying expert.
We’re also fans of the CALM approach – Create a Plan, Approach it by Sections, Lighten Up and Let Go, Manage It Simply – from author Marcia Ramsland. Here’s our own take on the CALM process.
Create a Plan
Marcia Ramsland recommends that we make a plan and take some action every day. Visualize your dream space and then set clear goals for how you want it to look. We like the idea of actually moving things around, which can instantly change your space into something new and fresh. For instance, is your family room so piled with clutter that you can’t enjoy it together? Or do you bring your office work into your bedroom, even though you have a designated space or desk? When you keep your goals in mind, it’s that much easier to stick to your plans.

De-cluttered family room designed by Dahl House Design

Approach it by Sections
Taking on your goals one room at a time, or one category at a time, as Marie Kondo suggests, can make them less daunting. Don’t worry so much about the big picture … the idea is to work on manageable chunks that provide immediate results! For example, start by sorting, filing, or discarding all your papers and documents. Or choose a living space such as your kitchen, which, as we all know, is where friends and family gather. Determine a time estimate, keep your eye on the clock, and try to stick to it, says Marcia. If you get stuck wondering what to do with an item, put in a “maybe box” and decide later.

Inviting kitchen designed by Dahl House Design

Lighten Up and Let Go
Ah … here is where useful and beautiful may collide, and when that “maybe” box comes in handy. Marie’s method focuses on whether an item gives you joy. If so, keep it. If not, consider donating to charities or nonprofits (who often provide free pick-up service!). Let go of things that don’t work or are duplicate items … for example, do you have sheets for a twin bed you no longer own? Friends or family might need – or would enjoy – your extras, especially if you know newlyweds or college students. Even more established households would probably delight in family-oriented items.

Organized living room designed by Dahl House Design

Manage it Simply
Okay, now that you’ve worked on your plan, attacked certain rooms or categories, and decluttered by letting go, how do you maintain your clean, comfortable, inviting spaces? Marcia suggests establishing daily, weekly, and monthly routines. For example, in your bedroom – often a place where everything accumulates to keep it out of view – begin your daily routine in the morning by making the bed and putting away out-of-place items sitting on dressers. Your weekly routine will be cleaning, dusting, and vacuuming to keep your bedroom attractive and inviting. Every month, review the contents of drawers and shelves and let go of excess to managing these spaces simply.

Tidy and appealing bedroom designed by Dahl House Design

Dahl House Design Tips to De-Clutter and Simplify
With our years of experience, we’ve implemented additional ideas that help you stay de-cluttered and organized, and we’re happy to share them here!
• Follow the “everything has a home” concept. This is our best advice to keep things from piling up on your counters, your desks, or your dressers simply because you don’t know where to put them! Identify designated spaces for your items’ “homes.”
• Invest in organizing tools. Now you’ve done the bulk of the work, invest in boxes, bins, shelving units, and drawer organizers. Staying de-cluttered is so much easier when you have the right tools in place.

Attractive (and functional) built-in shelving designed by Dahl House Design

• Use all your available space. Think vertical rather than using precious floor space. Consider taller shelves – maybe built in! – and look for usable storage under stairs, above your clothes in closets, or higher up in your pantry.
• Ask for help. Don’t hesitate to reach out! Would a babysitter help you focus on your goals? Would friends and family be willing to pitch in? A professional designer could also help you “stage” your home so it’s easier to envision an organized house … and to help you keep it that way.

Simply beautiful space designed by Dahl House Design

We know that you can sometimes get used to your own clutter. But to simplify your space you don’t need to take away your style or your personality … just de-clutter enough to enjoy your comfortable and inviting home. And we always encourage you to surround yourself with belongings that make you happy – the useful things, the joyful things, and, of course, the beautiful things.
Let’s stay home!

NOTE: Resources for this article include Marcia Ramsland’s book Simplify Your Space: Create Order and Reduce Stress, and Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Check out their websites for even more inspiration!