For 18 years, designer and stylist Lynda Felton has been arranging and re-arranging furniture, propping rooms, and displaying art in an effort to make houses photo-shoot-worthy.
She’s worked on multi-million dollar mansions and tiny fixer-uppers and she knows that any well-loved abode can be gorgeous and welcoming—as long as there’s no clutter. Here’s how she says we can all clear clutter, create breathing room and stop stuff from taking over.
Take baby steps
“When people think about decluttering, they panic,” says Lynda. But you don’t have to get rid of everything that makes you happy in order to make a difference.
“Start with your junk drawer, closet or purse … something tiny,” she says. “Your goal is to cut the contents in half.” Why? “If it’s packed to capacity, you can’t rummage through it to find what you need, and things you don’t need stay trapped,” says Lynda.
Try this ‘50% off’ approach with pen collections, hair elastics and socks before moving on to more intimidating areas, like the garage or basement. Ideally no storage (drawer, closet, container, etc.) should be more than half full.
Keep a box by the door
“If they aren’t used, your things become permanent squatters,” says Lynda. The solution is to create a system so that as new items come in, older ones go out.
Keeping a wicker basket or fabric-covered box in the hall or living room will help. Take the contents to a charity or let visitors rummage; they might need something you’ve outgrown.
Stop buying storage
Don’t let pretty containers take over, though. “Too many boxes, canisters and bags encourage us to hold onto stuff,” says Lynda. “Keeping your home comfortable is as much about stopping stuff from coming in as it is about organizing once it’s there.”
Excessive storage solutions can really take hold in the kitchen. Canisters for spatulas that collect dust, cookie tins with unused baking supplies and bread boxes for food that belongs in the fridge all contribute to clutter.
Get rid of tools with duplicate functions (tongs and salad servers, for starters) and recycle the container that held them. “Storage is a form of design,” says Lynda. “You need white space to appreciate it and get the most use from it, otherwise it’s just a jumbled, frustrating mess.”
Keep reading for even more useful organizing tips and tricks.