1) ORGANIZE THE ROOM YOU LIVE IN
Aside from the fact that many of us hang out in the kitchen and dump our stuff there, what other room do you and your family hang out in when gray days or tired evening hours arrive? The living room or the family room, perhaps? Whichever room people “live in” in your home, pick up some tips to simplify this high-use evening and weekend family habitat.
2) WEED OUT
Since my family seems to constantly add to the clutter in our family room, I try to weed out any excess clutter in the room itself. With books, CDs, DVDs, and other things already sitting around, I don’t need to overdress this spot with decorating knick-knacks too. Spring cleaning is a good time to donate books, magazines, videos, and anything else your family may have outgrown or replaced during winter and the holidays.
3) REMOVE EXCESS FURNITURE
Years ago, after observing the open living room floor space at our daycare provider’s home, I went home and eliminated our living room coffee table! (Okay, I stored it.) Before you shake your head, consider this: Getting rid of the coffee table reduced the heavy dirt and carpet wear pattern on the floor around it. It also made more room for my children to roll around safely on the floor and play. Eliminate or store excess furniture or decorating if you can.
4) CLEVER CONTAINERS
I am also in love with “containerizing” everything that can be contained. Piles of stuff sitting around looks messy. Stuff in containers looks calm, and neat to my eye. I’m picky here. I want the containers in the family room to be functional and to look nice too!
When we’re talking about furniture, I like enclosed entertainment centers and barrister-style bookcases—because I don’t have to look at all the little stuff or dust the open shelves all the time either.
Larger boxed games and puzzles can be problematic because of their size, but they can also be stored near where they are used! Try a large wicker or plastic laundry basket, or use the space underneath a couch or loveseat, or add some shelving to a nearby closet or base cabinet to store them.
In addition to baskets, I sometimes use nice large canvas bags to hold library books or a temporary project that I want to keep in the room. A sturdy canvas bag is multi-purpose because I can just grab it when it is time to take our library books back, and it looks better to have our library books in a bag next to the end table instead of piled on top of the table. Choose bags in colors that match the rooms they live in.
After removing clutter and organizing the remainder into functional containers, there is maintenance. To keep a semblance of order in a high-use room, help family members get into the habit of taking something with them every time they leave the room. This will help “things” find their way back to their proper storage locations.
Another trick is to spend five minutes straightening up the family room every night for a week. You will be surprised by the improvement. Set a kitchen timer. Don’t skip a night, but also don’t let five minutes expand into thirty--then you know you’ve stayed up too late! It is amazing what can be done in five minutes per night.
I like to nest in sometimes during evenings or weekends. Purge the excess clutter, make homes for things your family enjoys using there, and maintain the room to make it a comfortable habitat for everyone!
Barbara Tako is a clutter-clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life (O Books, 2010), a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips that readers can pick and choose from to fit their personal style and needs. Sign up for her free monthly clutter clearing tips newsletter at http://www.clutterclearingchoices.com.