There’s nothing quite as effective as an impending move to help a household declutter itself. But let’s be real. The household doesn’t declutter itself. The people in it do.
When the impending move features a brand new house, there’s even more reason to declutter and to do it well. That’s where the time it takes to build the home comes in handy — as does a plan.
The declutter process
In the existing home, tackle only one room at a time. Take pictures of each room before and after the hard work; you’ll gain a nice sense of gratification when you see the results.
That way, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed. Start with cabinets and closets, sorting items into four groups: things that should stay in that space, things that can go in another storage area in the home and items to donate or throw away.
When storing items, use clear boxes or large labels with clear writing that describes exactly what’s inside.
Sort out the sentimental items
Take a closer look at sentimental items that have remained in the household because of the memories behind them or the people who used to own them. Keep them if you truly feel that you or another family member will happily begin using them again within the next couple of years.
For instance, an antique jewelry box owned by a great-grandmother may be quite beautiful but not at all practical, as may be some of the pieces of costume jewelry in it. But it’s not getting the intended amount of honor if it only takes up space and dust in a closet or under a bed.
Antiques stores and consignment shops may be able to sell items like this and give you a portion of the sale price. Faster ways to give these items new, grateful homes are to donate them to charities that operate thrift stores as a fundraising effort or post pictures on social media donation sites.
Less stuff means more space. And less shopping means less stuff.
The only exception to the stop-shopping rule may be to acquire furniture or shelving items that can attractively store belongings. We’ll explore that more in a bit.
With the exceptions of food and essential clothing, household items that get used up on a regular basis and certain home office supplies, avoid the urge to shop. This includes so-called window-shopping, shopping for fun or shopping to kill time.
When you must shop, write a list before heading out and stick to the list. And for every new item brought in, remove at least two other items of the same type or size.
Catch yourself when you start thinking, “This beautiful red and purple elephant pillow will look darling on the new living room sofa we’re going to buy.” If the sofa hasn’t been delivered and moved into the new home, don’t buy the accessories for it.
Speaking of furniture, browse as early as six months before move in and order as much as three months before move in, but have items held for delivery until right after move in.
Maximize vertical space at new home
Look for stylish, attractive and clever ways to store or showcase belongings at the new home. And, as mentioned above, if these new methods will help organize the existing home, go ahead and get some of them to use before the move.
Floating shelf solutions, for example, can be quite helpful and pleasing to the eye for everything from houseplants, candles and art to home electronics components. Resist the urge to purchase these items until after choosing materials and colors of cabinets.
Some items, such as shelving units made of natural materials, can be used for various purposes from artwork displays to attractive charging centers for mobile devices, when placed near an outlet. Some are made of both wood and exposed metal. Choose tall but narrow pieces that match or complement the woods, paint and metals selected for the new home.
Hooks and hook racks made of tumbled metals such as brass, nickel and iron, can serve many purposes. Choose one for hanging pet leashes or kids’ seasonal coats near the front door. Use another — with a mirror above it — for keys.
Finally, creating a clutter-free environment in the new home starts as soon as the decision to move to a new home. Remember that it is a process, not a one-and-done job. Use the excitement of the new home’s construction time to plan out how to shed unneeded items and how to store or showcase the rest.