If you’ve read Marie Kondo’s bestseller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” yet the mastery of its content — and the virtue of a perfectly organized home — continues to elude you, we think we can help. It is more than likely that your schedule is so packed that the possibility of setting aside time for a top-to-bottom house purge is rather laughable. Instead, we recommend focusing on your decluttering priorities, starting with the areas of your home that you use most, and working your way down the list.
Tackle your clean-up in whichever way works best for you. Do you like to get caffeinated early Saturday morning and work ferociously on your chores until you finish? Or is it more realistic for you to set aside 20 minutes a day and work toward your decluttering goals in increments?
In any case, be sure that dedicated clean-up time is demarcated in your agenda, and stick to it. Most people work well with upbeat music playing, so get your Spotify playlists geared up, and charge your speakers. It can be helpful to have a decluttering partner, whether it’s your spouse or a friend, but if you think that company will keep you from staying on task, then you are better off going it alone. Organization experts recommend setting up three piles for items that you plan to eliminate from your home: sell, donate, discard. We suggest purchasing clear garbage bags so there is no chance of mixing up the contents.
And now, the only thing left to do is begin:
The state of your wardrobe, and the condition of your attire impact how the world sees you. It’s where your morning begins, and your evening ends. So how do our closets get stuffed with so much detritus? Time to pare down. Start by trying on each and every garment. I like Kondo’s directive to get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” Examine the condition of each item, and be sure to remove anything that is worn out, misshapen or out of style. If a garment does not fit properly–no matter how beautiful it is on the hanger–it is no good to you. Put it in the donate pile. Set aside clothes that need simple repairs such as a hem adjustment or a pocket repair, and be sure to make a priority visit to the tailor.
As you examine your clothes, shoes and accessories, don’t forget to make a list of items that you will need to purchase to replace your essentials that are damaged or obsolete. We recommend having at least 21 pairs of underwear, 10 bras (of different styles), 21 pairs of socks and 10 pairs of hosiery to accommodate an active lifestyle.
A black pencil skirt and blazer, white button-down blouse and a shift dress in a neutral color will get you through almost anything, from a business meeting to a funeral. Be sure to have adequate footwear that is not ripped or scoffed. A pair of pumps, fashionable sneakers and a sturdy pair of boots will keep you well-heeled, and anything you hold on to beyond that should fall in the “sparks joy” category.
1. Theory | Stretch-Wool Pencil Skirt | $255 | bloomingdales.com
2. Equipment | Slim Signature Silk Shirt | $214 | bloomingdales.com
3. Theory | Carissa Classic Blazer | $435 | bloomingdales.com
4. Theory | Silk Tee Dress | $295 | bloomingdales.com
1. Stuart Weitzman | Tippi Kitten Heels | $398 | bloomingdales.com
2. Frye | Melissa Stud Leather Boots | $378 | bloomingdales.com
3. Zadig & Voltaire | ZV1747 Skull Sneakers | $238 | bloomingdales.com
If there is one place in your home that should be immaculate all (or most) of the time, it’s the kitchen. Cleanliness is paramount where food is being prepared and stored, so start in the fridge. We hope you do a weekly clean just before you grocery shop so that you can place your purchases in a tidy fridge. For a deeper, seasonal cleaning, start by removing anything that is moldy or spoiled. Check for expiration dates on jams and condiments, and make a list of everything that needs to be replaced.
After washing out each section of your refrigerator with a damp cloth and gentle detergent, be sure to dry it thoroughly before you put everything back in its place. Check your kitchen cabinets and remove any cracked or worn plastic cups or storage containers and add them to the replacement list. Do you have any chipped porcelain, stained pans, or mismatched silverware? Yep, you know what to do. In your pantry, check for items that are out of use or expired. The flavor of herbs and spices begins to degrade after a year, so examine your spice rack carefully.
1. Utopia Kitchen Glass Storage Containers | $33.99 | amazon.com
2. Gibson Magello Dinnerware Set | $61.33 | amazon.com
3. McCormick Gourmet Organic Spices | $27.07 | amazon.com
4. Lianyu Everyday Silverware | $29.99 | amazon.com
The proliferation of personal care items is the main cause of bathroom clutter. Do you really need 5 types of shampoo? Pick your favorite and discard (or use up) the rest. Similarly, you only need ONE type of night cream, ONE hair gel, ONE toothpaste and ONE deodorant. Remove any expired pharmaceuticals from your medicine cabinet and dispose of them properly. Assess your towel situation. If you have a towering pile of frayed, mismatched nonsense, this is a good time to invest in a quality set of towels.
Hudson Park Collection | Luxe Turkish Towels | $11.99 – $68.99 | bloomingdales.com
Do you have pillow cases that don’t match any of your sheet sets? Are your duvets torn or damaged? Have the elastic bands on your fitted sheets stretched beyond recognition? Cleaning out the linen closet is pretty straightforward. Instead of throwing your old sheets into the garbage, why not rip them into squares and use them as rags for household chores? But don’t forget that you have them or else they’ll just be another pile of junk collecting dust.
Sky | 500TC Sheets | $60 – $215 | bloomingdales.com
Ralph Lauren | Artisan Loft Bedding | $115 – $430 | bloomingdales.com
When it comes to the coat closet in your foyer, Kondo’s “spark joy” scrutiny is a must. Overcoats that haven’t been worn in years should be donated to charity. You don’t need a coat in every style and color. Neutral choices cover the most ground. Your absolute essentials are a light coat, a raincoat, an overcoat and a parka. Any ice skates, soccer cleats, or other athletic gear that has accumulated in the coat closet but hasn’t been used in years should be donated or discarded, depending on its condition.
1. Alexander Wang | Daze Denim Jacket | $450 | net-a-porter.com
2. Burberry | Amberford Trench Coat | $795 | net-a-porter.com
3. Gucci | Embellished Wool Coat | $2,800 | net-a-porter.com
4. Moncler | Quilted Shell Down Jacket | $1,150 | net-a-porter.com
In many homes, the garage is a catch-all for items from all over the house that should be discarded or need to be stored for the season. Invest in a durable shelving unit that can accommodate everything from air conditioners to hockey equipment. When you put items in the garage for long-term storage, be sure they are clean, properly labeled, and protected from the elements in an appropriate box or enclosure.