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Why I Decluttered and Redecorated — and Why You Should Too

Three easy ways to declutter and redecorate for your mental health and peace of mind.

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I was a particularly messy child. They say that creative people tend to be messy. Then again, they also say that successful people tend to be organized and neat.

When I was eight years old I had a nightmare that there was a fire in my house, and I couldn’t get to the door to escape because I had so many toys covering the floor. I was trapped by clutter. I woke up that morning and shocked my parents. I had done what my mother previously had to bribe me to do with copious amounts of chocolate: I cleaned my room. Yeah. The previously completely disorganized and messy little girl I was woke up and decided no more. From that day on, and to this very day, I became a very organized perfectionist. All my toys were lined up perfectly on their shelves (I had long since figured out which ones were friends and placed them facing each other, so they could play while I was at school.) No more toys strewn about the room.

Everything has its place; every detail thought through. That’s me.

Why I Decluttered and Redecorated — and Why You Should Too

Me, right before I decided to organize and declutter

It sounds tiring — I know. But they say there are advantages to this way of living. A study by UCLA discovered a link between how families, particularly mothers, talk about clutter in their homes and their cortisol levels. The resulting book, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” carefully studied 32 families and investigated how they live, how they use their time, what they purchase and what areas of their home life cause stress. The book points to a trend that clutter can cause depression and overwhelm those who interact with it on a daily basis. Added to the stress is the emotional bond that connects people to their clutter and the inability to break sentimental attachments.

Why I Decluttered and Redecorated — and Why You Should Too

Me now, in my delightfully uncluttered home

Decluttering and re-decorating for peace of mind can feel intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need is a game plan and a slow and steady pace. The benefits can lead to a clearer mind, more self-esteem and even weight loss from letting go of the clutter. Here are three simple ways to declutter:

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 78 Comments

  1. Mae Little

    How do I create sacred spaces when I live in a very small apartment? I know I could just use a corner of my room but then it doesn’t sound very sacred at all. There’s only so much that you can do with small spaces.

  2. Janice Garcia

    My main mistake about keeping the house clean is that I always buy storage boxes that leads to more clutter. I always find a better way to store things, only to end up with more piles of clutter.

  3. My mom has issues decluttering. She thinks everything is sentimental. The moment I try to throw something away, she picks it up from the trash and puts it back to where it belongs.

  4. Monique Sanchez

    Just a thought, do you guys also have “The Chair” at home? That chair that never really gets sat on but it holds laundry that’s too clean for the laundry but too dirty for the closet? Even handbags that you want to keep in sight just in case you need to switch your bag for an outfit. We have that at home and “The Chair” is the hardest to tidy up because it never really ends up empty no matter how hard we try to keep it as a real chair. Clutter seems to follow me around thanks to my husband and teenage son.

    • Andrea Klein

      OMG we have that, I almost want to get rid of it the other day so that nobody will be tempted to put anything on top of it.

  5. Linda LEAHY

    Pinterest has a lot of ideas. But if you’re not a PRO at DIY, you’d be adding more clutter to your home.

  6. Dianna Ballard

    I would never date a guy who can’t keep his apartment clean. That would be very annoying once you two get married, or if it ever gets to that.

  7. Miriam Love

    When a room has no clutter, it feels less stressful. I make it a habit to clean the clutter on my desk at least 2-3x a week, and for the entire house, about 1-2x a week. Cleaning can really be therapeutic so I don’t really mind doing it. I also think of it as a workout since I’d be sweating a lot just by mopping the floors and throwing out unwanted items. What I need to work on though is cleaning my wardrobe. I always end up storing clothes that no longer fit me because I always believe that I’d lose weight in the future.

  8. Joanne Reese

    I usually sell my old clothes online, but not all. The ones that still look good or brand new are the ones I usually sell. I don’t sell anything that has holes in it because… WHY WOULD I???

  9. Leah Steele

    I love decluttering a lot but most of the time it forces me to get rid of things that I still don’t want to get rid of, especially for makeup items.

  10. I ENJOY ORGANIZING THINGS. IT’S KIND OF THERAPEUTIC AND FUN TO GO THROUGH ALL MY STUFF. IT FEELS GOOD TO GET RID OF THINGS I NO LONGER NEED AND REPLACE THEM WITH NEW STUFF. ALSO, THERE IS NO BETTER FEELING THAN SEEING THE CLEAN ROOM.

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