One of the most helpful aspects of having an outsider’s perspective on a room is that everything is fresh to his or her eyes. When we live with clutter, we stop seeing it. Remember that nagging pile of folded laundry? After a while, it starts blending in. And the stack of catalogs, costumes and papers to deal with … soon enough we forget they are even there. The junk becomes a part of the landscape, and we cease to notice it. This happens to all of us!
If you have really tried to declutter a room but can’t seem to pinpoint the problem, here are five tips that might help:
1. Take a photo of each area of the room. If you don’t have a partner or friend (or me) to help spot the clutter, a quick photo on your phone is a good substitute. See something you don’t like or that belongs somewhere else? Out it goes.
2. Consider your surfaces. Decorative objects seem to breed overnight. It is very common to keep adding accessories and artwork without removing the old ones. One in, two out is my rule. Start by completely clearing the surfaces of your room (side table, coffee table, console, mantle, etc.) and only put back the things you really, really love (if you don’t know if you love it, you probably don’t). And keep it minimal. Less is almost always better than more.
3. Limit the picture frames. Holy smokes, the picture frames. Reduce these by about 90% and keep the remaining ones in a single style (bone, horn or silver are good options). I know you love seeing your family in a frame, but trust me on this, friends!
4. Examine your floors. When too many things “live” on the floor, it starts feeling like a room cannot breath. Rooms frequently have too much furniture, plus baskets, bins, toys and other mish mash on the floor. Clear as much as you can from the floor (other than major things like your sofa or bed). Stick it in the hallway while you look around the space. Doesn’t it feel better already? Return as little as possible, and if you do, find it a home other than the floor.
5. Check your lighting. Two common problems I see: overhead lighting (only) and windows left covered during the day. Overhead lights create a dull, dreary ambiance. Try using lamps, sconces and/or floor lamps before flipping on the overheads. And open up those shutters or curtains! Sunlight makes everything feel and look more beautiful and fresh. The first I thing I do every morning is open the shutters in each room (even if we aren’t going in there). It makes a significant difference in the feeling of a space.
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