Tips for de-cluttering for the new year

What better way is there to get yourself back into the swing of things than putting your home back in order after the holidays? I'm no model citizen when it comes to this, and I readily admit I still have five Santa Clauses sitting at the bottom of the stairs, waiting to be taken back up to my attic storage. The mantel is still sporting evergreen garlands and twinkle lights, and my suitcase is sitting on my bedroom floor, right where I dropped it. I'm a mess.

After weeks of disruptions in your schedule, getting back to reality can be unpleasant. The new year generally gets off to a sluggish start.

Try a few quick decluttering tips on for size that were sent to me by the founder of Brooklyn-based Dumbo Moving + Storage, which is named for the neighborhood where the company began. Nothing makes a small home more undesirable than clutter that detracts from the available space. Here we go!

• Have versatile furniture. Pieces should either have some secret storage space inside or be able to hide items underneath. In a small space, it's best to have items that work overtime (something I've been preaching for years now).

• Along with throwing out items you hardly ever use, what about items of which you have multiples? How many towels and washcloths do you have stashed away in your linen cabinet? Here's a good rule of thumb: If you have more than two weeks' worth of towels — or anything else — get rid of the multiples or donate them.

• Have outdated electronics lying around the house, like old computers or printers? Recycle them. Keep an eye out for recycling fairs — the staff will make sure your hard drive gets destroyed so your information cannot be stolen.

• Workout equipment takes up a tremendous amount of room. Join a gym instead, and sell your treadmill and recycle any of those as-seen-on-TV clunky and clumsy workout gizmos!

• We all know the “if you haven't worn it in a year, throw it out” rule. The same rule applies for your collection of books. Donate books to a hospital or senior center. Get digital versions of your favorites as replacements, and read them on an e-book reader or tablet that can store hundreds of books.

• If your place is still packed to the gills, consider joining a monthly storage center that would allow you to rotate your items and clothing seasonally. There is no need to have winter jackets taking up closet space in your home during the summer months.

I can add to this list a few suggestions of my own:

• A great place to store out-of-season clothes or extra bedding is an armoire that sits in your living room.

• A highboy dresser in a hall or in the corner of the living room can function similarly. No one will know what is behind those doors and in those drawers, so you can hide items in plain sight.

• Another opportunity for hidden storage is under the bed. There are models of lift-up mattresses on the market that reveal a huge storage compartment underneath. Other styles include deep rollout drawers under the mattress, which are perfect for folded shorts, bathing suits and T-shirts. Once the weather turns warm, you can trade the light clothing for ski clothes, jackets, gloves, hats, scarves and rain gear. There are many storage beds with smaller bin drawers. And you can always elevate a regular bed with risers to create extra room for plastic storage boxes.

•Christine Brun is a San Diego based interior designer and author of “Small Space Living.” Send questions and comments to her by email at

© 2017, Creators Syndicate

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