Moving to New York, especially if you are looking for a place on a tight budget, often means starting out small. Small apartments come with their own specific set of challenges, the largest of which is clutter. Although not unique to a certain square footage, clutter is progressively harder to control the smaller space it occupies. If you are used to living in a house (or even a large apartment), learning how to deal with clutter in a way that works in tight spaces can be tricky. Luckily, there are a few simple guidelines that can help you.
Fewer things: own less
The obvious solution to clutter in any amount of space is owning fewer things. This is often easier said than done. We get attached to our possessions easily. And it makes it hard to let go of them even when we no longer need them. Buying new things is, on the other hand, par for the course – newer means better and who doesn’t want to have better? But when it comes to decluttering your life, owning less is key.
Get rid of things (a lot of things)
The first step to owning less is purging what you already have. Moving is the perfect opportunity for that. You are already going through all of your things while packing. So you might as well kill two birds with one stone: getting rid of some of your stuff means there’s less to pack, carry and unpack. While simultaneously you will deal with clutter in a new place before you even get there.
Regardless of whether you are purging as a part of your relocation process or as a way to deal with the mess in a place where you already live, be as strict and indiscriminate as possible. Anything you have replaced with a newer and better version should be sold or donated. The things you haven’t used or worn in a year are not something you need to keep. The exception is if they have serious sentimental value. Old papers and magazines, expired contracts, university projects you’ve forgotten about all have no place in your life anymore – toss them. You should only be left with the things you really need, regularly use or are strongly attached to.
Don’t live (too) large
Getting rid of things is pointless unless those things stay away. Learn to control your impulse shopping. Do you really absolutely need that IKEA lamp that you are never going to turn on? Is another home design book something truly essential to your life right now? Are you willing to throw something else out to make space for that pretty throw pillow on sale? If the answer is no, then don’t buy it.
Better storage: get organized
Living without material possessions may be an interesting thought exercise, but it is not realistic or very practical. The truth is that some things you really cannot live without these days and that’s okay! You just need to learn how to store those things by utilizing the space you do have right.
Find storage space anywhere you can
A key lifestyle change when transitioning to a clutter-free existence is embracing the storage. The days of displaying all your worldly possessions for everyone to see are gone – it’s time to find new ways to decorate and store your things properly. Get boxes, bags, containers, anything that can conveniently hold your collection of figurines or stacks of photo albums while being easy to move, stack, hide or use as a piece of furniture.
For that matter, reconsider your actual furniture. Use every drawer or cupboard you have for storage space. Many ottomans open up to hold your things. Also, many beds come with drawers. When buying new furniture invest in some that can serve a double purpose! A similarly creative solution is to think vertically: put shelves on your walls wherever you find some space, organize your papers by pinning them to a bulletin board or use hanging file folders to hold things in the kitchen and bathroom.
Concerned about the aesthetic? Buy decorative boxes in a party store or invest in an antique chest. You can also always put your DIY hat on and decorate yourself!
If all else fails, look into renting a storage unit but don’t forget – just because the clutter doesn’t live in your bedroom doesn’t mean it’s gone!
Have a place for everything (and keep everything in its place)
Clutter has a way of spreading and growing out of control seemingly without any input from you. This is why it is absolutely crucial to keep everything in its place. Organize your space in a way that’s convenient for you by storing items where they are used and then stick to those decisions. On top of making it easier to store and find things, keeping the place tidy just plain looks nicer!
Proactive solutions: how to deal with clutter before it appears
Decluttering is, of course, only one part of the process. It’s staying clutter-free on a daily basis that has many scratching their heads. Learning how to deal with clutter even when you can’t see it must therefore also be a priority.
Develop useful habits
Dealing with clutter should be an every-day thing. Get used to putting away everything you use immediately so that it’s always in the right place (if it’s already conveniently located close to where you need it, this should not be too hard). Try not to hold on to things like ticket stubs, chipped mugs or outdated university books – throw things away as soon as they are no longer needed. Finally, plan to purge your place at least once every three to six months. No matter what you do, things will pile up and learning how to deal with clutter means learning to anticipate it existing.
Learn to indulge responsibly
It is inevitable: you will want to buy new things. You might as well accept that now and find a way to make it work for you! Indulge yourself by getting the things you want from time to time, but do it sparsely. Do it as a treat for doing something good (like throwing something else out). If you already know how to deal with clutter, a couple of purchases here and there are not going to be a problem!