Your old stand-mixer. Your kid's broken recorder. That box of candles you've been meaning to regift. Despite your best intentions, clutter has a way of piling up...and taking over. Here, eight secrets of folks who are magically able to keep their homes free of stuff.
2. They don't own clothes they don't like
This one seems obvious, but think about it: How many ugly sweatshirts are you hanging onto just because you might wear them to paint the garage some day? Put those suckers out to pasture. (And when painting day comes, we promise you'll find a way not to be topless.)
3. They don't distinguish between summer and winter wardrobes
You thought that box of bathing suits in your basement was an honest effort to stay organized. But in reality, it's giving you an excuse to hold onto stuff you don't need. (C'mon are you ever going to wear that rainbow string bikini?) A good rule of thumb: Your entire yearly wardrobe should fit in your drawers and closet. If it doesn't, you need to purge.
4. They digitize
Some things--like your first edition Alice in Wonderland--are nice to own in the flesh. Other things--like tax returns from 2006--are better off kept in the cloud. Take stock of your papers, books and movies to see what you could easily digitize and store on your computer or online.
5. They invest in smart garbage solutions
Dear anyone who has a stack of magazines or empty water bottles in her mudroom: If you have dedicated recycling bins (preferably tucked away or built into a cabinet), you are far more likely to keep trash out of sight until collection day arrives.
6. They clean their counter tops daily
Ever try to wipe down a counter top that's covered in crap? Not so easy, is it?
7. When they buy a new item, they throw out an old one
Think about the stuff in your house in terms of finite numbers. You have 20 pairs of shoes. You have 3 spatulas. You have 6 tubes of lipstick. When you buy a new pair of boots or even just a fun, little cooking utensil, an old one has to go.
8. They don't have a junk drawer
Yes, it's tempting to have a place to store the stuff you're not quite sure what to do with. But mark our words: Once you allow that old cell phone charger into junk-drawer purgatory, it's a slippery slope toward total chaos. Best to throw it out, or assign it a proper home in the first place.