Cut the clutter

–by Boomers & Beyond Staff

cut the clutter 002

It’s January and time to shape up – your home that is. Once the tree and other holiday ornaments have been neatly packed away, it’s time to tackle the rest of the house, particularly the kitchen and bath where clutter tends to build up.

“Everything has to have a home,” said Carrie Briskin, owner of ShelfGenie of Southeastern Michigan, a home organization company that strives to put everything within reach with its custom pull-out shelving system. Briskin offers these suggestions to help you get your home back in organizational shape:

“Start by taking a good look around your home. Is it functioning well for you?” asked Briskin. “Many people are afraid to rearrange their kitchen because it’s always been that way. Ask yourself, ‘Does this really need to be here?’”

Briskin suggests looking at your kitchen differently. “Go through the process of making a meal and think about where you have to go to get what you need. Are things convenient? Then give yourself permission to make changes and rearrange items so it makes your tasks easier.”

Store items that are only used occasionally in the basement or other areas of the home. “The kitchen is prime real estate,” said Briskin. “The only things that deserve to be stored there are the ones you use every day. For example, I use my crockpot religiously during winter months, so it has a place in my kitchen. In the summer, it goes into the basement, and my summer entertaining pieces come out,” she explained.

“A lot of people don’t want to part with things because they think they might need them someday,” said Briskin. She suggests to put all the items in a storage box. Attach a detailed list of what’s inside and the date in which you stored them. If you haven’t gone to that box within a year, it’s ready to be donated, and you already have an itemized list for tax purposes.

The beginning of the year is a great time to clean out the refrigerator and pantry. “It’s important to wipe the insides of cabinets regularly because it forces you to pull everything out and evaluate whether you need it. Throw away anything that has expired. What’s not needed, give to a local food bank,” said Briskin.

The bathroom is another area where items tend to multiply. “Make a resolution and decide which products you should get rid of and which you should keep. If you choose to keep something, use it up before you buy anything else,” said Briskin. She also mentioned that some women’s shelters do accept donations of gently used toiletries and beauty care items.

Evaluate your medicine cabinet. “Go through your medications and make sure they have not expired,” said Briskin. “If they have, it’s time to dispose of them, but do so responsibly. Many cities have hazardous waste days when you can drop off expired or not needed medications.”

What to do with all those magazines that build up? Briskin suggests to go through each one to see if there is anything you want to save. “If it’s a recipe, tear it out and save it in a binder with categories and plastic sleeves. Or you can look for it online and then save it to a Pinterest board,” she advised.

With children’s toys, go through them and donate anything that is outgrown or unused. As for other clutter, everything needs to have its place. “At the end of the day, everything needs to be put back where it belongs.”