Skip to main content

Style Magazine

Out With the Old

Oct 31, 2008 05:00PM ● By Super Admin

It can happen to the best of us. As life barrels along, we accumulate stuff. We don’t throw things out for fear it may come in handy one day. We’ve asked the experts for advice on how to rid your home of its unnecessary clutter once and for all, in just a few simple steps…and just in time for holiday guests!

Though the task may seem daunting at first, getting started is easier than you may think. Holly Hitchcock Graff, Certified Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant at HR Associates Clutter Control Angels ( explains how to take the first step. “I like to start with the big trash bags for recycling and donating,” Graff says. Then make a simple plan that can be completed “in 30 minutes or less.” One small accomplishment like this after another will make a large task seem more manageable. “And then, start sorting,” she says. Teri Mangel of Refresh and Refine ( points out that overwhelming yourself by attempting to get everything done in one sitting is a “sure-fire” way to sabotage your success.

Staying in a small area, begin by grouping things together. “For example,” Graff instructs, “to de-clutter the kitchen. You’ll need trash bags, recycle bags, a box for donations, and another box for items that go to other rooms. Sort by categories – office supplies, videos, magazines, paper, clothes, etc. Sorting helps you identify what is being accumulated. At the end of the 30 minutes (you should already see results), take the items that go to other rooms and put them away in their ‘homes’. Repeat this 30-minute process until the room is clutter-free.”

Christine Giri, a professional organizer with Simply Organized (, notes that your kitchen cabinets waste plenty of vertical space, utilize shelf stackers to store items under and on top of the shelves. Beside the obvious benefits a clutter-free home provides, Giri says, “Living with clutter affects your stress level…it is never about the stuff that we accumulate, it’s always about the need to have more, or the fear of letting things go.” An organized environment can add other advantages to your lifestyle, as well. Terry Prince (, who has been in the organizing business and serving the greater Sacramento area since 1983, points out that by de-cluttering, a homeowner can improve the safety of their home, and even save money. “You don’t have to buy what you already have,” she says, which makes sense, especially to those of us who have ever purchased something a second time because we misplaced it the first.

Some particularly helpful hints to keep in mind once you’ve made the commitment to go clutter-free:

1. Sort it. Shred it. File it. Toss it.
Sort your mail right when you walk into the door. Walk your junk mail to a shredder that you keep tucked out of the way, toss your bills into a pretty bin or gift bag near the place you pay them each month. If you have larger items, or a large quantity of items to get rid of, Just Junk It ( offers a great service and will come straight to your door.

For more about maintaining clutter-free spaces, be sure to pick up this month's copy of Style-Folsom El Dorado Hills edition. Click on the "Get Your Copy" link on the bottom of this page for some of our newsstand locations. Or, to order a copy of this issue, please email Gloria Schroeder at [email protected], or call her at 916-988-9888 x116.