Three Steps to a Happier Home: Declutter, Organize, Elevate
Having helped many people make their house a home and having lived in quite a few houses myself, I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a home a happy one…… a home that just feels good…… where we love being. After contemplating these ideas for years, I concluded that we unnecessarily overcomplicate things. I’m all about getting down to the heart of the matter so over the years, I came up this simple formula to guide my clients (and myself) in creating a happier home:
Declutter. Organize. Elevate.
Simple right? The good news is that it is! The not-so-good news is that that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It will take some work – especially the first two steps – but the reward is more than worth it. Let me go through each step and show you how I implement them. This is a tough love approach so prepare yourself. 😉
Step 1. Declutter.
This one is self-explanatory. By now I think we can all agree that the less physical (and mental) clutter in your life, the better it will be. This makes complete sense. After all, life is short. You have places to go, people to see, and the less time you spend managing your stuff, the more of it you’ll have for much more enjoyable pursuits. Of course, we can just ignore the physical disorder around us but a chaotic environment weighs us down and drains our mental energy even if we don’t realize it. By the same token, a clutter-free home gives us a sense of peace and calm that does wonders for our well-being.
So the first step is to declutter your house as much as possible. The goal isn’t to become a minimalist (unless you want to be one); rather, the goal is to clear your home of anything you don’t absolutely love or need. Here is my version of the KonMari method:
- Go through your house, room by room and take an inventory of everything.
- By inventory, I mean take each and every item and ask yourself if it’s something you either need or love.
- If your answer is “yes,” it stays. If you have 100 books, albums, shoes, whatever and you love them all, keep them. Just be honest about whether you really love it or not.
- If your answer is “no,” it either gets donated or thrown away. This will be easy for anything worn out, expired, or just random. The harder things to let go are those “just in case” things, duplicates/multiples, “but I spent $$$$ on it” items, and sentimental pieces. Just keep in mind, none of this matters. If you don’t need it or love it, it goes out the door. Be ruthless.
The process is really that simple but it could take days, weeks, or maybe even months, depending on how much you have and your attachment to things. (Personally, it took me months.🙈) But I promise you it will be pure euphoria when you’re done. In a twisted way, the harder you have to work, the better you’ll feel at the end of it all! And the very best thing about completing a major purge like this is that going forward, you will think twice about bringing anything else into your house ever again so the chances of your house becoming re-cluttered will be very, very low.
Step 2. Organize.
Let’s start with the obvious. Once you’ve decluttered your home, you will have far less stuff to organize. (Even more motivation to declutter!) Now, there are a million articles, classes, and books out there about how to organize your home and they can be very helpful if you need detailed advice. But again, I’m all about keeping it as simple as possible so here are just three rules of thumb I suggest.
- Every item has a home. This means there is a place for every single item in your house and that is where it is kept when not in use. This is especially helpful for things that are used daily or most frequently such as on-the-go items like keys, sunglasses, bag/purse, etc.; devices and their chargers; coats and hats, pet gear, toiletries, current mail and papers. (More on that below.)
- Store like with like items. I would bet most of us do this anyway but it’s helpful to keep in mind to avoid ending up with….. the dreaded junk drawer or “misc” boxes. You know the ones! Just repeat the mantra: “Like with like.”
- Process mail and papers weekly. This is the one category that deserves special attention because it’s the thing that trips up most people. The best way I’ve found to handle this is to take just one minute and throw away or recycle anything you don’t need as soon as it enters your house or as humanly possible thereafter. With anything you need to deal with later such as bills, things you want to look into, notes to yourself, etc., put them in one bin or folder in one spot. Then, set aside one time each week to go through whatever is in that receptacle. For most people, I find that 30 minutes is enough to stay on top of things. If you invest this little bit of time each week, you’ll never have to face those mountains of paper ever again.
Step 3. Elevate.
Okay, now for the fun part. This is where we beautify, take our homes to that next level and create la belle vie!
The idea here is to make the everyday just a little better. Think of necessary objects as an opportunity to introduce a pretty element to a room. Treat everyday meals as occasions to savor something delicious and healthy. Create a lovely atmosphere for your daily activities so they become something to enjoy and not just get through. Here are just some ideas……
- When it comes to buying anything, I have one guiding principle: Less stuff, better stuff. Always buy the best quality you can afford. Gourmet coffees and teas, luxury candles, and natural beauty products are some of my must-haves.
- Create a cozy corner for reading and listening to music. Toss a soft blanket and pretty pillow on a comfy chair, stack books and favorite magazines on a side table, and add a good reading lamp.
- Use a mix of overhead and accent lights throughout your home. Good lighting is so important to how a space feels plus with all of the beautiful fixtures and lamps out there, it is another chance to take the design of a room up a notch.
- Choose original art and crafts to decorate. Original art is all around us at all price points at galleries, local markets, Etsy, Ebay, etc. and there are handmade crafts from around the world readily available everywhere these days at really reasonable prices. So there is no need to fill our homes with mass produced faux art. Support artists and makers and make your home unique and personal at the same time.
- Splurge on making your bed as luxurious as possible. We spend a third of our lives there, after all. From the mattress to the pillows to the linens, go for quality.
- Treat yourself to weekly flowers on the coffee table, nightstands, and/or bathroom vanity. Whether they are simple grocery store flowers or designer bouquets, fresh flowers make everything better.
- Set a pretty table, use the good china, glassware, and napkins frequently, even for a simple meal.
- Pile seasonal fruit in a beautiful ceramic or wooden bowl for an easy decorative touch (and for easy, healthy snacking).
- Opt for hand-milled or natural soaps in a pretty soap dish or glass dispenser. Luxurious hand lotion is nice to have next to it, too.
- Serve your morning coffee or afternoon tea in a pretty set and water in a pretty pitcher.
- Place plants anywhere and everywhere they will thrive to not only beautify a room but to naturally purify the air.
- Don’t overlook wastebaskets. Choose something that you enjoy seeing.
- Same for umbrella stands. Fill them with beautiful umbrellas too while you’re at it.
- Use beautiful, thick stationary and nice pens for notes.
I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. We tend to go all out for special occasions but most of our lives are made up of small, everyday moments so they deserve to be just as, if not more, beautiful and enjoyable.
So there you have it. My three steps to a happier home. I hope this approach will take some of the overwhelm out of home organization and motivate and inspire you on your journey to a happier home. If you have any questions or ideas to share, come chat with me on Twitter or Instagram!