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How to Declutter Like a Pro: Imagine You’re Moving

Image: Justin Lambert/Getty Images
Image: Justin Lambert/Getty Images


A universally held truth in our society is that moving can be a beast. It’s exhausting, expensive, or more likely, both. But with the right approach and preparation, moving is unequivocally an opportunity to downsize your possessions and enter a new home far more nimble, maintaining a space you love with only the items you need or value most. And that’s why imagining you’re moving is a great way to objectively evaluate your belongings.

When moving, dead weight can be literally just that. The heaviest and largest items, even if you know you don’t fit the room, can seem too problematic to deal with. But that also means they’ll provide the greatest benefit once you’ve replaced (or removed them), and that’s exactly why they’re the first items to tackle. If you have a dresser or armchair that is still there solely out of inertia, the time to switch it out is now. Selling through Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Everything But The House can be easier than you think. Additionally, the Chicago Furniture Bank and Humble Design are two excellent resources to connect your unneeded furniture with folks that truly need it most.

When it comes to shopping for new items, whether you’re upgrading your current home or moving into a new one, a common mistake is falling in love with pieces without considering not only how they work with the room, but how you want the room to work for you. On the latter, think about the senses: which makes a room truly feel like comfy to you? Is it a couch you can truly sink into, soothing aromas by candle, or some tunes to set the mood? Determine those priorities, then seek out items that will make you feel at home. Make sure to take measurements of the item(s) and the area you’ll be placing it in.

Consistent discipline can help you remain clutter free and space full. As published moving and decluttering expert Ali Wenzke writes, be mindful of the items you purchase and their intended use around the house, and be even more skeptical of freebies. Are you keeping it because it serves a distinct purpose or has genuinely strong sentimental value? If not, it can go. Communicating how you hold your belongings to this ruthless standard with the other members of your household — especially kids — can turn your home into a neatly appointed and maintained machine.