How do you detangle the mess that's accumulated throughout your home? One drawer at a time, said Sandy Patton, a member of the Interior Redesign Industry Specialists organization, IRIS.
"Start by choosing a few things to toss out," Patton said.
The key to decluttering is to take it one step at a time, said interior redesigner and real estate stager Laurie Murphy, who is also a member of IRIS.
"You need to think room by room, rather than tackling everything at once," Murphy said. "Stay focused on that room until it's done."
For a home to appear clutter-free, Murphy recommends to start by streamlining the décor. "Less is more," she said. "Take out pieces you really don't need for a nice, clean look."
That concept is something Murphy applies in her business, ReDesigning 4U. Area realtors enlist her services to "stage" homes for sale to appeal to a wide range of potential buyers.
Patton and her business partner, Kate Stevens, operate Simply Divine Redesign, and are also certified in both interior redesign and real estate staging.
"Organizing is part of redesign," Stevens said. When working on a client's home, Stevens and Patton start by clearing the room. They then look for items from other parts of the house to combine together in a unique way.
"Redesign is about placement, but it's also a way to use what you have," Stevens said.
Getting organized is one of the top five New Year's resolutions people make, according to Standolyn Robertson, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. The organization sponsors "Get Organized Month" each January to raise awareness of the benefits of getting organized.
"January is the perfect month to get organized and start your new year off right," Robertson said.
In a November survey conducted on behalf of NAPO, 71 percent of adults polled said their quality of life would improve if they were better organized. 96 percent of respondents indicated that they could save time every day by becoming more organized.
With that in mind, Billings three IRIS interior redesigners and real estate stagers offer the following tips on banishing the clutter in your home.
To give your closet a makeover, first determine the hanging requirements and storage needs, Murphy said.
"Go through the existing closet and figure out what items you no longer use and clear them out," she said. A general rule of thumb for ditching items is if they have not been worn in the past year.
"It's a good idea to go through your closet yearly," Murphy said. "Ask yourself, 'Does it fit? Do I wear it? Is it in good shape?"
This advice can also be applied to household accessories. If you have a set of dishes you haven't used in five years, perhaps someone else could get more use from them, Murphy said.
In the bathroom
"Realize the power of trays," Patton suggests for bathroom storage. "Instead of crowding your counter and sink with creams and beauty products, display them on trays."
In a bathroom with limited space, Murphy said a creative solution for bottles and other toiletry storage is to use a refurbished wooden ladder as decorative shelving above the toilet.
Another innovative solution in a small space is to use magnetic paint on the back of the bathroom door, and then add hooks to hold linens or clothing.
"Often, you don't utilize the back of a door," she said.
In a larger bathroom, adding shelving or a freestanding cabinet can create additional storage solutions.
In the kitchen
To become more organized in the kitchen, Murphy suggests replacing cupboard doors with glass doors. With the clear glass doors, you're more likely to keep the cupboards organized.
"This is a great way to update the kitchen and give a new look, while cleaning out cupboards as you go," Murphy said. If you don't like seeing your dishes, or hate the maintenance of clear glass, she suggests using frosted glass instead.
Organizational tools for the kitchen that allow easy access to frequently-used items include a pot rack, which can be hung from the ceiling, or a wall-mounted tool storage rack, often made from a long stainless steel rod, the storage rack can be hung on the wall which organizes utensils.
Stylish storing solutions
"Let no window go unnoticed," Murphy said. She suggests surrounding the window with shelving and to place a bench with built-in storage in front of the window to creating a focal point in a room. Books and accessories can be displayed in the bookshelves, while frequently-used items can be stored in the bench.
Baskets are also useful for stylish storage. They can be tucked underneath furnishings, added to closet shelving or placed in cupboards.
"Think of them as makeshift cabinets that fit perfectly into closets and shelves," Stevens said. In addition to baskets, she recommends utilizing the storage space under the bed. An old dresser could lend its drawers for storage, and swivel wheels could be added to the bottom corners.
Wall storage can be created by placing two bookshelves back to back, which also creates a room divider.
For a bit more ambitious storage solution, homeowners can add recessed bookshelves by cutting into the wall between studs to build shelving.
"When you begin to feel that things are drifting back toward disorganization, it might be because you have added new items that have never been assigned a home," Stevens said.
Once you're organized, "the trick is to stay on top of it," Murphy said. "If you buy something new or bring in something new, get rid of the old."
Murphy, with ReDesigning 4U, can be reached at 670-8110. Stevens and Patton, of Simply Divine Redesign, can be reached at 861-1717 or 661-2104.
To locate a professional organizer, visit NAPO's online directory, searchable by zip code, city/state, and organizing service, at www.napo.net.