You don't need a complete home makeover to freshen up your home. Sometimes, all you need in order to create a simpler, more balanced atmosphere is a simple reassessment to determine what objects you can remove from – rather than add to - the picture. Don't procrastinate – read these tips and then take action to get rid of the following items that are often found clogging up your space, from those shoes in the closet that you've never actually brought yourself to wear, to the packet of taco seasoning that expired three months ago.
Pantries are for storing food: everyone's got an extra can of tomato sauce lingering in the back of the pantry, but are you housing additional items that are filling up your storage space? Perform a reconnaissance mission and get those expired, unused, or unidentifiable items out of there! Take the three jars of dried basil and combine them into one. Check expiration dates and move the items that expire the soonest to the front of the cabinets where you'll be more likely to think of using them before they reach their expiration date. Pitch the mostly eaten forgotten box of crackers. Pour the contents of bulk bag items into convenient storage containers. In general, bring order to your pantry, and make it easier for your future self that will be able to smoothly navigate an up-to-date, ordered kitchen.
Storage containers are only convenient when they're being used to organize your household items, but when they themselves become the household items, you'll find yourself buying storage containers for the purpose of organizing your collection of storage containers – don't fall into this cycle! Get rid of boxes that don't have matching lids, and get rid of pesky lids that don't seem to fit any of the boxes. Chuck the cardboard moving boxes (you can always snag free boxes when you need them by asking at a local grocery store). Get rid of the stacks of shoeboxes that you thought might be useful someday, but aren't.
Bags fall into this category as well – if you've accumulated a pile of those non-disposable shopping bags, evaluate which of them are still in good enough shape to use again, and pitch the ones with holes (don't feel guilty – often these bags are made of biodegradable materials).
You don't like using the chipped mug anyway; now it's time to let it go. Getting small nicks, chips, and cracks is all part of your dinnerware's life cycle, and it's finally time to acknowledge the pieces that have simply passed on to their next phase. Cracked dinnerware is excellent raw material for art projects like collages – for example, if you feel like repurposing it, you can smash it on purpose and arrange the broken tiles in a homemade mosaic.
If you're feeling like your dinnerware is already in order, perhaps your kitchen just needs a few lively touches to freshen things up. If so, have a look at this ideabook, featuring ways to Liven up the Empty Corners of your Home
Shoes are easy prey: they take up a lot of space, so it's easy to feel de-cluttered and accomplished by getting rid of even just a few pairs. Remember that pair of shoes that you got as a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding, but that you wouldn't want to ever be seen wearing in public again? Get rid of 'em. The same goes for any pair of shoes that you can't actually walk in. There are plenty of comfortable shoes out there – don't torture yourself by sticking with a pair that's barely functional. The fact is, you only have two feet, and therefore you probably don't need or wear all of the shoes on your shoe rack with enough frequency to justify clinging on to every single pair.
It may be hard to part with your shoes, but just remember: parting with the old makes way for the new. The next time you see a pair of shoes that sings to you, you won't feel overburdened by the thought of already owning too many shoes. Create the freedom to bring new things into you life, all with the simple act of reducing your shoe rack.
When it comes to clothes, everyone has at least a few lingering items in their closet that don't get worn anymore. Tastes change, styles come and go, and it's okay for your wardrobe to reflect that. One good rule of thumb is this: if you haven't worn it in the past 6 months, you're not likely to wear it again. See if this rule helps you perform an accurate process of elimination in your closet. Evaluate each item, asking yourself whether it still brings positive value to your life. It's easy to fall into the trap of holding on to each and every item, remembering how much it cost to buy in the first place. However, it's also important to consider how much it is costing you to keep it – if you're constantly shoving it out of the way, moving it from one storage area to the next, or intermittently trying it on before deciding not to wear it (yet again), it's time to let it go, no matter what the price tag was in the beginning.
Don't just pitch your clothes – if you're not interesting in repurposing them yourself (by making rags from old T-shirts, for example), you can donate them to a friend, trade them at a clothing swap, sell them through a consignment store, or deliver them to a local thrift store.
Some movies are classics, and you should hang onto those. But some movies really only merit being seen once – get rid of those DVDs and videos that you're not likely to watch again. If, in the future, you decide that you absolutely need to watch it, you can always find an online streaming service where it's available, or you may even be able to check it out from your local library.
If your DVD collection is already at an appropriate size, make sure that you've found a way to keep the stacks of empty cases and loose discs from accumulating all over the coffee table. This sleek example employs a low, narrow shelf with plenty of space for harboring all of your digital treasures (and if this amount of space isn't enough, it's a sign that you should take another critical look at everything you're holding onto!).
Books are wondrous miracles of human ingenuity, but they are not so precious that they should be clogging up your space. You have two options: get rid of enough books so that they fit on your bookshelf, or construct an attractive bookshelf that really allows you to showcase your book collection. This living room shines a spotlight on the book collection – this assortment of books could look cluttered on the floor beside the couch, but the shelf provides plenty of space for them to be viewed, remembered, and enjoyed. homify offers some great examples in the Office Spaces and Stores section.
Remember, if you decide to get rid of your old books, don't put them in the trash. Either recycle them or donate them to a library – they're usually happy to use the books in their own community book sales where profits can be used to support the library and its programs.
It's no good using expired creams and cosmetics anyhow – sort through your items and get rid of things that are expired, funky looking, dried out, or mostly used up, and you'll be surprised at how many things you'll be able to get rid of. Check the bathroom cabinet for sunscreens, old mascara tubes, and the like – combine duplicates into a single container when possible, and chuck the stuff that's so old you wouldn't dream of using it anyway.
Now that you've read this list, have at it! Now's your chance to free yourself from burdensome accumulations of stuff that no longer serves you. If you're looking for more tips, check out this ideabook, which offers another list of pointers for cleaning up your home.
Free up your storage space, enhance the functionality and practicality of your home, and, most importantly free your mental space. Happy de-cluttering!