My Apartment Has Floors? How to Declutter Your Place and Maximize Your Space
It isn’t always easy to be an urbanite. Odds are, you pick up and move every couple of years—and don’t always have much space to call your own. But regular migrations don’t preclude the possibility of achieving some guru-approved order in even the smallest and most temporary of digs.
Follow our experience-earned tips to declutter your apartment and you’ll be well on your way to a peaceful home. (Just tell your roommate to stop leaving passive aggressive post-it notes on the fridge.)
SHOW YOUR STUFF
Put your stuff out in the open to keep it all looking spiffy. Photo courtesy of jmsilva/iStock.
It might sound paradoxical, but one of the best ways to get rid of clutter? Take all your stuff out of the cupboards. In the kitchen, consider open shelves; if your lease prevents you from busting out your drill, you can pick up a kitchen wall organizer or workstation on wheels. This also works for closets. (Bonus: a clothing rack gives your room instant boutique style.) You’ll know what you have (so you won’t double-stock it), and the open aesthetic will reinforce your need to keep things streamlined.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR
Go reverse-shopping in your closet to make way for just your favorite duds. Photo courtesy of kateafter/iStock.
Speaking of exposed closets: Take this as your cue to do some good, old-fashioned closet cleaning. If you haven’t worn it in the last year, it’s not hugely sentimental, or you just don’t feel your best when you wear it, it’s time to say goodbye. This approach will keep your wardrobe limited to what you actually like (and will encourage limited spending in the future, too, so you don’t repeat the same mistakes). You may also be able to pick up some bonus cash by selling or consigning your duds, or just some karma points by donating it for someone who may truly love or need it.
CALLING STRICT LIBRARIANS
Book some time to clear through your tomes for an enhanced shelf life. Photo courtesy of Gary Houlder/Thinkstock.
Don’t worry, bibliophiles: We’re not counseling you to toss out your beloved books. But, if your shelves are bursting—or if you haven’t found a better place to store your reads than in piles on the floor—it’s time to do some inventory. (Your old textbooks? Yeah, you’re not gonna read those again. Trust.) Donate the fall-out and, while you’re at it, see if you can’t spruce up those shelves with some cool contrast painting (or—if you’re not allowed to paint those rented walls—some removable wall decals).
GAMIFY YOUR DECLUTTERING
Make decluttering, dare we say…fun…by making a game of it. Photo courtesy of Jodi Jacobson/iStock.
When you've got piles and piles to sort through, you need some motivation. Answer? Turn it into one big game. Some experts recommend using the “12-12-12 Challenge” when sorting through your stuff: Find 12 things to put away, 12 to donate, and 12 to toss. Others suggest finding one possession per day to give away. Either way, you’ll cut down on clutter quickly—without feeling like you’re doing chores.
DON’T SHOP, ADOPT (ER, BORROW)
Sharing is caring—and also space-saving. Photo courtesy of Dean Mitchell/iStock.
Who needs to own everything when you can just use it when you need it? From bikes to boats to formalwear (and, of course, our favorite: cars), the sharing economy is on top of cutting down consumption for consumption’s sake. Use items when you need ’em, keep ’em out of your space when you don’t. Easy.
JUNK IN THE TRUNK DRAWER
Organize at every size, including the multi-functional junk drawer. Photo courtesy of Howard Shooter/Thinkstock.
That said, it’s not like you can banish everything miscellaneous from your house. All hail the humble junk drawer. By keeping your bits and pieces isolated in one spot, you’ve got the mess contained. (Installing smaller boxes within can keep it all from becoming one big mess, too—assuming you want to find or use anything in there, that is.) Bonus points if you can install a small shelf or organizer next to your door where random junk mail and papers can be temporarily kept.
ALTERNATIVE STORAGE SPACES
Go off the wall with your organizing solutions to keep your floors all clear. Photo courtesy of Kevin Miller/iStock.
This one goes out to all the apartment dwellers without closets (seriously, landlords, what’s up with that?). Though lack of obvious storage space might seem, at first, like a curse, consider this your opportunity to explore some creative alternatives. Under-bed storage is an invisible solution (and using bed risers only increases that hidden real estate, if your bedframe is compatible), as are storing out-of-season clothes within luggage you’re not currently using. It’s also worth investigating double-duty furnishings that combine function with, well, more function. And don’t forget to look up: From ceiling-height bookshelves to suspended bikes, there’s more than just floor space to work with.
READY, SHREDDY, GO
Cut your papers down to size to cut down on clutter, too. Photo courtesy of Jaroslav Frank/iStock.
Old bank statements, instruction manuals, phone contracts—we can bet you’ve got stacks of “important” papers lying around. Really want to declutter your apartment? It’s time to embrace the digital. Find PDFs online, use apps like Evernote that let you scan your documents (and even keyword search them later), and pick up a shredder (or visit an office or copy shop that has one) to obliterate anything sensitive.
JUST REMEMBER: YOU’RE NOT A GRIZZLY BEAR
Make wise shopping choices to stop clutter before it even starts. Photo courtesy of McIninch/iStock.
One final thing to remember: You’re not about to go through six months of hibernation and, odds are, you aren’t a hermit living in the mountains (according to our demographic research). Instead of picking up way too much stuff “just in case,” take home only what you need—and what you have storage space for (including food!). Mastering the clutter coming in is half your feng shui solved.
What techniques do you use to keep your belongings at bay? Tell us in the comments below.