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Claiming Your Space: Tips for Room Organizing and Reducing Clutter

by Judy Camp


Whether you are planning a home office, finishing a basement, home decorating, rearranging furniture or just need tips for cleaning a cluttered room or closet, organizing can be a daunting task, but quite fulfilling, if you follow a few simple steps.


1. List the ideas and activities you have in mind for the space.
All good things start with a plan, and organizing is no exception. You may want to claim that extra bedroom for a sewing room, for example, but still want to use it to wrap presents, iron clothes and store luggage. You may want a home office, but the closet may be a place to store off-season clothes.

2. Visualize areas for each activity. Plan to keep everything needed for that activity as close to that spot as possible. For sewing, you will want an area of the room for the sewing machine, but also some storage bins for extra material, buttons, and various notions you'll need. For a home office, plan to have ready access to extra paper, a file cabinet, and various supplies.

For other activities, plan for another area of the room, and, as before, store all the items related to the activity within easy reach. List the items, so you will be sure to provide yourself the right amount of storage space. As your ideas become concrete, draw a floor plan. Figure the amount of space you have in each area, noting the position of doors, windows, electrical outlets, and telephone jacks.

2. Reduce the clutter in the area by getting rid of or storing elsewhere anything you don't love or use regularly. Don't allow yourself to get sidetracked. People often get sucked into reminiscing during this stage. I keep myself from doing this by assigning a "memory box", and promise myself I'll go through it within a week or two. This helps me to continue to focus on the project at hand.


Some people have a hard time getting rid of things, wondering if they will need them later. One idea is to set up an area in the basement, attic, or other storage area for things you plan to give away. I once set up a pallet in my basement, and referred to it as the "garage sale pallet." Every time I thought about getting rid of something that wasn't worn out, I stored it there. Occasionally, I did retrieve things from the pallet. But after six months I gave away everything left on the pallet to charity. I felt great about it too, because I had had ample time to see if I needed the items. This works best if you have plenty of storage space. If not, it's best to just give the items to charity or have a yard sale immediately.

As you go through your stuff, have plenty of boxes handy for the items you will be storing elsewhere, and label the boxes well. You'll save yourself a lot of time later.

3. After you have reduced the clutter, it's time to begin to put the area back together. Start by arranging the larger furniture. Though you have sketched out a floor plan, it's sometimes useful to rearrange furniture to try different options. An office, for example, can work great in a U, J, or L pattern. Try different ways to see what's most comfortable for you. Consider where the windows are placed, if you want a nice view as you work.

Once you have the larger pieces in place, add anything requiring electrical outlets and telephone jacks. Next, add storage items. Resist the temptation to rush out and buy storage bins piecemeal prior to this point.

It's better to have everything match and the correct size for your needs. Be sure to measure the available space before going shopping, and to consider your list of supplies for each activity. Plan to buy matching or coordinating colors and styles for storage, taking into account the overall design of the room. Closet organizers are perfect for this step.

After you begin reusing the space, reevaluate your design in two weeks, and make adjustments if necessary. By using these simple household tips, cleaning and reorganizing can be a rewarding task.

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Judy Camp is a writer for Paradox Home and Garden http://www.paradoxpro.com . Read more articles on home and garden topics in the Home Style News email newsletter. Subscribe free at http://ParadoxPro.com/ezine.html

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