By Kerrie Kelly, ASID
“But… what if I need it later?”
If you find yourself asking this age-old question while reorganizing your apartment, you’re bound to make only minimal progress. The next time you’re going through your stockpiles of who-knows-what, here are six productive questions to ask yourself.
These questions are designed to help you determine what items to store in your apartment, what to take to the storage unit, what to donate to the thrift store and what to throw out once and for all.
- What is it?
When sifting through your junk drawers and stashes, you might stumble across a few mysterious gizmos and gadgets. These trinkets may look important, but do you even know what they’re for? Just because a gadget has a plug or USB port doesn’t mean it’s useful or salvageable, especially if you can’t remember why you have it in the first place. If you have a nagging feeling it might be that random cord you were looking for last month, take it to a closet for safekeeping. If you’re clueless, toss it.
- How often do you use it?
Your mother-in-law may have given you a bread maker for your birthday three years ago, but that doesn’t mean you’ve baked a single loaf of brioche. While you may want to have it on hand in the future when she comes over and asks to see how your culinary skills have developed, you certainly don’t need it taking up space in your kitchen cabinet in the meantime. If you haven’t used something in over a year, take it to storage. Longer than that? A thrift store shopper will get plenty of use out of it!
- How do you feel about it?
When you gaze upon that old family heirloom, what are your personal feelings toward it? Happiness? Uneasiness? Confusion or indifference? Your apartment is your space to be true to yourself and comfortably surrounded with things that represent your life. If it doesn’t bring you joy, it doesn’t belong in your home. If there’s something that you feel obligated to keep even though you don’t much care for it, move it to storage—out of sight, out of mind. Or, ask other family or friends if they’d like to have it—you may just make their day.
- How many do you have?
Only two people live in your apartment, yet you manage to stow eight place settings complete with linens and charger plates. Sound familiar? Unless you’re throwing elaborate dinner parties every other weekend, keeping so many of one item is unnecessary and often results in breaking or dirtying some of the pieces. Keep just two or three settings and carefully pack the rest away in storage. To cut down on clutter even more, donate or resell the extra pieces that you know you’ll never use.
- Would I display this?
When it comes to decor, some pieces are not something you rationally need—so you have plenty of wiggle room to decide what to display, store and toss. For example, although you may have treasured your collection of childhood sports memorabilia at one point in time, perhaps you’re now going for a more modern, mature aesthetic in your home. If there is still a special place in your heart for those MVP trophies, box them up and head to the storage unit. If not, it’s time to say goodbye.
- Is it seasonal?
If you aren’t blessed with a walk-in closet, you understand the struggle of storing bulky coats during the months in which you’re constantly reaching for your summer slip dresses. Hoarding away winter items like down jackets, flannel pajamas and holiday decorations can take up a lot of space throughout your apartment. Instead, store these items elsewhere until their season rolls around again. If you’ve grown out of your peacoat phase or have no real plans to light up that holiday candle collection, stop wasting valuable seasonal storage space and donate it straight away.
There you have it: six questions to help you declutter and take your apartment back from the figurines, appliances and multiple pairs of snow pants. Feeling liberated yet?
Kerrie Kelly is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers and author of the books Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide and My Interior Design Kit. Kerrie writes on the role that storage plays in enhancing the overall look of an apartment for The Home Depot. To view many of the storage solutions available at Home Depot that Kerrie mentions in her article, you can visit the company’s website.