The Art of Decluttering

I have talked about decluttering my space (and life) over the last couple of years, but with the start of a new year I wanted to bring up some of my favorite tips for doing so. For me, decluttering is an ever evolving process of making conscious decisions to bring things in that truly make you happy and rid yourself of items that don’t bring any value to you. I am someone that used to have a lot of stuff, whether it was clothes, office accessories, beauty products.. you name it, I had it. I am hardly a minimalist and still could pair down a lot, but over the last few years I have learned how to purge. I felt overwhelmed by my things and realized I was holding on to possessions that I didn’t use or even look at. Now I don’t have a closet or drawer crammed with things I don’t need. Here’s how I was able to simplify my belongings.

Don’t be so attached to everything. This is an ongoing joke in my family and my mom once told me I don’t have a sentimental bone in my body (ha!) because I throw evvvverything away. Birthday cards, old school work.. Don’t want it and don’t need it. I get that you can’t throw all of your sentimental possessions away, but you most likely don’t need a birthday card from six years ago. I am very particular about things I save and keep them all in a contained box. I think about what I would want to look back on when I am older (notes, memorable cards, obviously photographs) but I don’t need my ninth grade Spanish homework. This instantly cut down a lot of clutter I was holding on to, as I had cards, old shopping lists, invitations, etc. all shoved into my desk drawer.

Surround yourself with things you love.  I used to love getting new things so often that I would buy items I didn’t really have a place for. I would eventually end up donating it, selling it or pawning it off on a friend. Now I try to be much more thoughtful about my purchases especially with home decor. Just because I am at Home Goods or Target, doesn’t mean I need another little tchotchke for our shelves. They end up looking cluttered and if it was a super impulsive purchase it doesn’t mean as much to me.

Think about the end result. For some people it is hard to imagine cutting down their possessions because they think they need everything they have, but if you focus more on the end result of how you will feel when you are freed of clutter, you won’t want to hold on to so many individual items. I used to picture what my closet would look like when clothes could hang nicely without being crammed in, or what my medicine cabinet would be like if I could open it and stuff wouldn’t fall out. The vision of clean spaces made it a lot easier to toss things and look forward to starting over fresh.

If it looks like garbage, throw it in the garbage. This isn’t as literal as throwing everything in the garbage, but if something has seen better days it’s time to evaluate if it is worth holding on to. Old sweaters with moth holes? Mascara that clumps when you put it on. A candle that has half an inch left, burn the rest or throw it away! It is really about taking time to go through your belongings and see what condition they’re in.

Start a Pinterest board. I am an extremely visual person so I turn to Pinterest when tackling something new. I created a board called Becoming A Minimalist (which is funny because I still own 500 baskets) and started pinning images of clean serene spaces I wanted to emulate. I looked for practical organizational solutions, bright and airy spaces that made me feel good and gathered a collection of classic pieces I wanted to work towards including in our apartment.

I know I don’t have kids and live in a very small apartment so this might be a little easier for me, but I really feel so much better since making an effort to remove clutter from my life.

Photo by Torrey Fox

  1. Chrissy McDonald says:

    Thank you so much Paris! It always feels so good to go through all of your stuff, especially in a small apartment! Things have a way of adding up : )

  2. Paris says:

    I’ll be keeping these tips to heart! Just renewed my lease for my SF apartment and three years in, especially for a studio, it’s gotten too cluttered and is in need of a more intimate but more open feel. Your home is my first thought of inspiration!

  3. Chrissy McDonald says:

    Thank you so much Clancy!

  4. Clancy Simon says:

    These are really helpful and realistic tips! Thanks!

  5. Chrissy McDonald says:

    Anastasia, you know I’m the same way! It’s like when is it just the right amount? I can’t wait to see your home tour, I keep anxiously checking!

  6. Chrissy McDonald says:

    Thank you so much Jane, I’m glad you found it helpful, it feels so good!

  7. Jane says:

    This is the best advice of read thus far into the new year. Its a time when everyone wants to start with a clean slate so purge it is!

    Thanks for your tips!


  8. Anastasia says:

    Loved these tips Chrissy! Especially the visualizing what you want to live in. As we fill in our new house that feels like a total mansion to us, it’s easy to want to keep layering and layering and layering more things. But every picture I love on Instagram or on Pinterest is SIMPLIFIED, so I need to remember to emulate that and limit my purchases.

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