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Decluttering…where to start?


By Wendy Oleksiak

One of the most frequent laments I hear in my business is “I want to declutter my home but don’t know which room to start in!”  If you ask ten downsizing specialists or organizational coaches this question, you will probably get ten different answers.  Why?  Because there is no one right way to begin this process.  Just as each person’s goals will be unique, so too will the most effective method to downsize.  

My advice is to begin downsizing in the garage. This allows you to create a “staging area” where you can deposit your items to donate, sell or trash/recycle.  When one of my teams works with a client, we remove things in the home as we declutter.  We will fill up our van with bags and boxes for donation or recycling and make drop offs on our way home.   But I know that for many do-it-yourselfers, these boxes and bags of unwanted items often do not get moved right away and frequently sit for days or weeks in the room that is being decluttered.  The result is the homeowner doesn’t get the joy of seeing the room looking stream-lined and doesn’t get the same motivation to continue the process to the next room.  By clearing out and creating space in the garage for your unwanted items, you can move things out of your newly decluttered room.  I am also a firm believer in “Out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to decluttering.  By moving items to the garage, you are less apt to be tempted to remove items from your donation bags!  Another benefit of creating space in your garage is that many donation organizations will not go beyond the first floor when picking up donated goods (for insurance reasons).  

When decluttering your garage, try to part with the items that no longer fit your current life.  If you have hired a neighborhood kid or landscaping service to cut your lawn, go ahead and sell or donate your lawn mower (and related objects).  The same is true for your snow blower.  Part with your camping equipment and volleyball net if these are not activities you see yourself doing in the future.  The old rule “If you haven’t used it in 18 months, get rid of it!” is always good advice.

To organize your garage, put your bulkiest items (ski rack, bin for outdoor cushions) in the back of the garage, hang bikes and tools on the walls and keep hooks and bins close to the door for reusable shopping bags, dog leases, and other frequently used items.  Lay a clean tarp down on the garage floor to put your boxes, bags and furniture from your decluttering projects within the house.  

If you do not have a garage or are too intimidated to start your downsizing project there (I am terrified of my garage!), start your decluttering in the guest bedroom.  This is most often the spot in our homes where we deposit items we don’t know what to do with.  xt decluttering project.  

Where NOT to start? Attics or basements!  These spaces are frequently overwhelming and filled with sentimental objects that are difficult to part with (heirlooms, photos, etc.).  Save these areas for a later date when you have a bit of experience and success under your belt from other decluttering projects.  It will make the process a bit easier to accomplish.  

Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 12.03.34 PMAbout the Author: As a former Registered Nurse, Wendy Oleksiak understands the importance of trust and accountability in creating a successful partnership. Honesty, hard work and professionalism paved the road to Wendy becoming the top selling agent at her previous firm. Wendy made the move to Compass to utilize cutting edge technology and state of the art marketing that provides her clients with the competitive advantage. 

Her extensive network within the real estate community ensures that her clients learn about off market properties, and enables her to get her buyers offer’s accepted and listings sold for the highest price with the best possible terms. 

Wendy has lived on the South Shore for 20 years, raised two children and owned homes in the towns of Hingham, Scituate, Cohasset, and Duxbury. Her hobbies include oil painting, paddle boarding, boating hiking, and enjoying the fabulous beaches in the area! You can reach Wendy at 781-267-0400. ∞