Clutterologist Q&A - Is My Home Cluttered?

A modest white house

When it comes to home furnishing, how do you know when enough is enough? We asked Lauriann Stepp the Clutterologist a few common questions about keeping a tidy home.

Clutterologist Q&A

“My place feels a little cramped…”

Q: Lately I’ve been feeling like there’s just too much stuff in my home, but I don’t know where to start! What do you usually look for first when you begin the decluttering process?

A: I always suggest starting in the area that stresses you the most on a regular basis. Whether it’s the living room, kitchen, bedroom, garage, etc.  When you start to see change there first, you will feel motivated to attack other areas of clutter.  Also start with categories, such as tackling clothes clutter first, or paper clutter, or book/magazine clutter, or toy clutter if you've got little ones. It helps the brain to stay focused when you only have one type of thing to sort through.

“I love this piece of furniture, but it’s too big.”

Q: I have this vintage table that belonged to my grandmother. It’s one of my most prized possessions, but I can’t figure out a good place for it in my home. Do I try to live with it or put it into storage?

A: Many of us inherit furniture and other sentimental knick-knacks from family. We feel guilty if we don’t keep it, but quite often it doesn’t match our own décor or it’s oversized.  I would definitely suggest keeping it in a storage unit or putting other bulky items in storage to make space in your home for the treasured pieces. 

“My home is totally clutter-free! Except for my closets…”

Q: I love keeping a peaceful living space, but unfortunately this leads to closets that are packed to the gills! My shoes are overflowing, and I have tons of old documents and boxes that I don’t know if I should keep. Please help!

A:  When cleaning out your closet, organize one category at a time. First sort through shoes only and make a “keep” or “donate/consign” pile.  Then sort through clothes, first removing all extra hangers, then deciding if you love it to keep it, or donate/consign the other items that no longer fit or flatter you.  Repeat the same process with purses, hats, etc.  As for old documents and boxes, keep a box for photos or sentimental keepsakes, and another box for seven years of taxes and related back-up documents.  If you know for sure that you don’t need it, toss it. If you are not sure, keep a separate box for the undecided items to google or research which items to keep or purge.

“The kitchens on Pinterest seem impossible!”

Q: I really love the look and feel of a well-organized kitchen, but I can’t seem to make it happen! My pots and pans are almost all essential, yet I still feel crowded when I try and cook. How can I make my kitchen more like the magazines?

A:  Magazine pictures are always amazing and can be great inspiration to make adjustments in your own space.  One thing you will see often is clear countertops; only keep out the small appliances that are used daily or weekly. If you use the crockpot once a month, find another storage space for it off the counter.  Try to conceal spices in a cabinet rather than on the countertop or across the top of the stove.  If space is limited, the best way to organize pots and pans is to stack them by size inside each other.  The same method applies to stacking pans on top of each other, with the largest on the bottom.  This is how I stack my Tupperware as well! Keep all the square and round containers stacked similarly, and all the lids vertically stored in a separate container.  Try to create themes in your cabinets; make areas for daily-use plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, and serving containers.  Use higher shelves for the other pieces you don’t use often.  In general, have easy reach access to your most used items and if space is still limited, use a self-storage unit for your seasonal items and rarely used containers.

About the Clutterologist

The Clutterologist

Lauriann Stepp is known as The Clutterologist, a professional organizer for individual and business clients in Atlanta and South Florida. A member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) since 2001, Stepp offers monthly organizational tips to Storage Post customers who want to make the most of their home, work and storage spaces.