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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: 96 Comments

  1. Kelly Williams

    I highly recommend buying storage options that can really hold up your clutter. As much as possible, stick to a color theme too. The more colors or designs there are in your living space, the more it tends to look messy. Be strict when buying storage options too. Just because you think it looks cute but it doesn’t go well with your home’s color scheme, don’t buy it. You’ll find one soon that looks coordinated with everything. Sometimes, I find it better for cabinets or shelves to be custom made.

  2. Tasha Pope

    Hilary is so cute in that baby photo. SO ADORABLEEEE 😍

  3. Juana Gross

    I wish my kids would have a dream like that too so they can start cleaning up.😫

  4. Selling your clothes online could take a while. So I suggest that you try to list them online as frequent as you can. If it’s not sold within a month, donate it already. Unsold clothes can become clutter too. You just have to let go of your stuff most of the time. It’s also nice to host garage sales when you declutter so that people can actually see the item and it would be easier for them to buy it. If you still can’t get rid of your clutter, just give it away and donate it. Easier than anything else.

  5. Kimberly Taylor

    Cleaning up can be very tedious but I find it really nice after I’m finished doing it. I feel like I could breathe again!

  6. Barbara Pittman

    I’m a makeup hoarder but I always try to declutter atleast every 4 months to make sure that I don’t have anything that’s already expired. Sometimes, they’re just so pretty to look at and I can’t let go of them.

  7. Decluttering is a very relaxing activity for me. It feels really nice to see your cluttered space turn into something that feels like new! 😬

  8. One more thing, don’t ever forget the boxes you already stored that’s meant for donating or selling. That was my main problem. Ahahahha! 😂 Took me forever to realize that I already had a couple of boxes stored for that purpose and I was so puzzled about how I got that much clutter. I totally forgot that I already decluttered before and it piled up and piled up and piled up. 😂 The worst thing was that I had to dig up those old boxes again because all of a sudden I could not let go of what I already tried to let go of years ago!

  9. Johanna Kelly

    I teach my kids to declutter every few months especially with their toys. You know how kids are, they get too attached with their toys too even though they look disgusting already.

  10. Emily Rose

    Your home should be a sanctuary, not like a cage. If it’s becoming too cluttered, it can give out feelings of stress.

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