Is the gathering area (a.k.a. family room, living room, den, great room) in your home chaotic and cluttered? If so, try the following prescription to create a calm, comfortable and orderly space you’ll love to relax in and entertain family and friends.
- Pin down the purpose(s) of your room. Is it your intention to use the family room as a place to watch a movie, curl up and read, play with the kids, take a short nap and gather with friends? Whether you have the foregoing functions in mind or something different, move objects unrelated to the purpose of your room (shoes, clothing and the ironing board) to other more appropriate quarters of your home.
- Specify the major categories of items to be kept in your family room. For example:
- Reading – books, magazines and newspapers
- Media – TV, VCR, DVD, stereo, videos, CD’s, DVD’s and remotes
- Toys – dolls, action figures and vehicles
- Games – board games, puzzles and cards
- Collections – photos, baseball paraphernalia, etc.
- Sort everything in your family room into piles that represent the major categories identified in step #2. Begin with all surface items, and then move to objects stored in baskets, drawers, and cabinets. Smart tip: If you haven’t edited your belongings for a number of years, you will find it easier to sort large quantities of things by using a large box to hold the contents of each major category; the boxes will ensure your piles don’t spill over and get mixed up.
- Cut out the clutter and organize what remains. Working with one category at a time, evaluate each item using the following rules: don’t keep anything you don’t love or use; reduce multiples of any single item; recycle all but the current issue of magazines and newspapers; dispose of broken and unwanted items by pitching them, giving them to someone else, selling, or donating them. Then put the remainder of items in order. For example, eliminate: duplicate pictures, out-of-focus pictures, and unflattering pictures. Then arrange the pictures you want to keep by date or theme, such as home, family, school, vacations, etc. Smart tip: As you’re weeding out clutter from each major category, let go of 20% more stuff than you have room for, that way new acquisitions will have a ready made home.
- Arrange your room for comfort and functionality. When you have one space that serves multiple functions, consider setting up your room in zones – each to accommodate a different activity. For instance:
- Reading and gaming. Place a game table and chairs where you have a good light source, it makes a great spot for perusing the paper and playing board games. The same table top can also double as a place to set out snacks when you have friends over. Mount shelving or spot a bookcase on an adjacent wall to house books and gaming materials.
- Watching TV. Pick a good place to locate your TV and hide electronic gear in cabinetry if you don’t want to see it. Coordinate the arrangement of key seating pieces so you can readily see the screen (and take advantage of the view, if applicable). Position a magazine rack nearby and toss a throw over a plush armchair so you can cover up and catch a cat-nap when it’s chilly.
- Playing. Tuck toys into baskets or storage ottomans that blend with the aforementioned zones. These types of containers offer an ideal way to store distracting clutter and make the family room a welcoming adult space after the kids have drifted off to dreamland.
- If needed, use containers you have around your home to accessorize and containerize items that are easy to access. Family rooms are a magnet for books, papers, magazines, and supplies that get piled on the floor and table tops. However, you can organize these items with budget friendly solutions you likely have around your home.
- Shoe boxes of the same size and color can be used to corral photos, letters, CD’s and more. Using multiple containers with the same color and symmetry will elevate the ordinary into an appealing collection.
- Fruit crates, baskets, and sturdy totes can be used to hold books, magazines and newspapers.
- Pottery, glass jars, and mugs are good holders for pens, clips, rubber bands, and push pins.
- Ice cube trays, muffin tins, box lids, and cutlery trays make great drawer organizers.
- Vintage luggage and picnic baskets stacked on top of each other work well as side tables and make for durable, attractive storage.
- Slip items you want to confine into their new vessel and place them where they’ll be pretty and practical. That’s it! You now have a family room that’s organized, easy to clean, and makes smart use of your space.
Stay tuned-the next addition of the Decluttering Blueprint will be released soon.
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