Homework: Decluttering Doesn’t Have to Mean Living with Less

ONI-MUSHA Real Estate Homework: Decluttering Doesn’t Have to Mean Living with Less

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Homework: Decluttering Doesn’t Have to Mean Living with Less

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Your home will feel less cluttered if you can keep at least 80 percent of the surfaces clear. (Cindy Apple Photography for Model Remodel)

Q: How do I make my home look more like the spaces I see in magazines? What’s the trick?

A: Clear off those countertops! Decluttering is the No. 1 way to make any space look more beautiful.

The idea of living with less may be attractive to you, but that’s not necessarily what this article is about. Sure, a deep clean and trip to your local donation center with unused items is a good idea, but the overwhelming feeling in your home might not be from the amount of “stuff” inside. On the contrary, it might just be the way it’s organized and stored.

Here are some ways to declutter your home so it can be as beautiful as the photos you see in those magazines.

It is a consideration on almost every job we do: How do we add more storage and get things off the counter? Browse the before-and-after photos on contractors’ sites. The thing they all have in common? The latter photos will be significantly more organized and clutter-free. Lotion, makeup and perfumes on the countertops: limited to one or two. Bath toys: organized in a storage cabinet. Kitchen mixers, toasters and blenders: stored neatly away.

The 80/20 rule

A great goal is to keep at least 80 percent of the surfaces in your home clear. It’s not about hiding the items in your home, but prioritizing counter space for those items that are used the most or will add to the aesthetic of the room. Everything else? Find a practical and purposeful place to put it.

Great storage solutions abound. If you’re thinking about a remodel, make sure storage is one of your primary considerations. The worst thing you can do is consider this too late; or, if you’re simply looking to give your home a makeover, to purchase storage containers without knowing what you’ll use them for.

Be purposeful about storage. What are the things in your home that don’t need to be out in the open? Your list may include blankets, toiletries, clothing and kitchen utensils. Take a seat in your home and look around. The best way to organize is to make a list of the things you see lying around that aren’t visually pleasing or could be stored away.

Controlling the kitchen

Your most-used kitchen utensils, such as spatulas and spoons, can be hung on the wall or placed in a large, tall jar on the countertop. The rest can go in a drawer near your stovetop. It’s never too late to rearrange some drawer contents in your kitchen.

Cutting boards are high-use items, so it’s popular to create a special spot in the kitchen just for these when remodeling. A vertical, open shelf next to the oven in the lower cabinets is a natural place. Likewise, you can purchase a hanging or mounted in-cabinet cutting board holder to put in a lower cabinet.

Spice racks are the most versatile organization solution in your kitchen. They come in all shapes and sizes and really do make a difference. Find racks that fit in a drawer, pull out of a cabinet or spin on a countertop Lazy Susan.

There’s no easy way to store food on open shelving and have it look nice. Instead, put your pantry to good use or designate some cabinets just for food. Open shelving can display uniform plates, cups and other stackable items.

Consider buying an island that has extra cabinets below for concealed storage instead of an open shelving one. Buy an extra standalone pantry with doors instead of a wire utility cart.

In the bathroom, trays can be your best friend. Place items on a tray and designate that area as the space to put toiletries. It will prevent bottles and containers from migrating around and give you a finite space to use. Drawer trays work too, and can be found in just about any home store.

Free up space around the sink with wall-mounted holders or open shelving. If you choose open shelving, place a few loose items on the shelves and group the rest into canisters. The grouping of items and consolidation of space will keep your shelves looking clutter-free while allowing them to hold more items.

Our favorite bathroom upgrade? An in-drawer outlet for bathroom gadgets. You can keep your hair dryer plugged in and ready to use every day inside your vanity. Other plug-in items, such as electric toothbrush chargers and hairstyling tools, can be stored in the same drawer to keep messy cords out of sight.

Regardless of which storage solutions you choose, a clutter-free home can be yours. Follow the 80/20 rule and your countertops will thank you. If you’re remodeling, know that a little extra thought up front will help you make organization a habit in your home for years to come.

Jason Legat is the owner of Model Remodel and a member of the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.

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