After a long, cold winter, spring cleaning might seem like a welcome chore. This spring, take your cleaning beyond a basic bottle of Windex and open up your living space through the process of decluttering.
A clean, organized space not only looks good, but it can help you feel good. The Institute for Challenging Disorganization asserts that clutter can lead to health problems — and even created a downloadable Clutter-Hoarding Scale, featured in the New York Times, to help hoarders assess their level of dysfunction. The scale provides “definitive parameters related to health and safety.”
Ai InSite spoke to Stephanie Fallon, who in 2009 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from The Art Institute of Houston, to learn more about how decluttering can be incorporated into spring interior design.
ADDING SPRING-INSPIRED STYLE TO INTERIOR SPACE
“Spring is the season that brings in color after a dreary winter. So live it up!” Fallon says.
She notes that paint is one of the simplest, least expensive ways to makeover a space. For those in a financial or time pinch, even adding a splash of color to one accent wall can dramatically change a room’s appearance.
Fallon notes that accessories are another easy way to update the look and feel of a room.
“Pillows, picture frames, flower arrangements, candles, even changing lamp shades are small but powerful ways to add color.”
Fallon recommends starting with a neutral overall palette — keeping the furniture, carpet, and paint basic — and adding color through accessories. This allows for easy updates as seasons or tastes change.
INCORPORATING DECLUTTERING INTO DESIGN
Having an assigned location for accessories can keep a space decluttered — and makes it easier to unpack and store seasonal items.
For those who enjoy changing up accessories with each season, Fallon suggests choosing just one of each accessory type.
“Have one frame delegated to one picture, one lamp shade to one lamp,” she says.
She adds that finding an end-of-the-season bargain might not be a great purchase if it means adding to the clutter in your house. If the new items end up buried beneath a pile of other accessories, finding them the following year will be a challenge.
Instead, create a way to organize items by season, and keep them together in storage.
“Use a paper ream box with a label for each season so it’s easy to spot,” Fallon says.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HIDING CLUTTER FROM PLAIN SIGHT
Some homes will always be challenged by clutter — especially those with small children.
To get toys out of sight quickly, Fallon believes that shelves and tables with baskets are key decorating items.
“If you have company coming, it’s a super easy way to organize, but remember to clean them out frequently.”
She adds that for busy families, mail organizers can double as storage units for keys, umbrellas, and even coats.
Fallon recommends The Container Store and Hobby Lobby for good-looking clutter hiding pieces.
KEEPING UP WITH DECLUTTERING
While the project of decluttering might begin with spring cleaning, in reality it is an ongoing process.
“Spend about 15 minutes a day, cleaning and decluttering. It’s an easy task once you’re in the habit,” Fallon says. “That way you’re not stuck with a giant pile that you dread going through.”
Fallon’s best decluttering tip is to create a recycle spot — a place where she puts clothes, paper, and electronics that she knows she won’t use again. She then donates the items or finds other ways to recycle them.
The feel-good action of recycling can help to break the bond a person has with an unneeded item.
“Knowing things are going to a good cause makes it easier to declutter,” Fallon says.
REDUCE. REUSE. REPURPOSE.
Items that cannot be recycled can be repurposed.
“For example, any socks I can’t find the match to or would never wear again, I use for dusting,” Fallon says.
She also uses old towels or washcloths specifically for spot or stain cleaning — removing these items from the linen closet and moving them alongside other cleaning supplies.
Fallon utilizes mismatched bowls and plates as locations to store jewelry when she’s doing dishes or washing her hands. And she paints old pots with bright colors to spruce up her yard and porch.
The key to spring decluttering is to make it a year-round design decision. Adding color and subtracting clutter can help your interior space to truly capture the essence of any season.
Written by freelance talent for Ai InSite
Contributing writer for EDMC.