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The Secret Weapon of Spring Cleaning: Decluttering

Posted on Apr 25, 2019 in:
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Remodel
  • Maintain
  • Homeowners

Decluttered kitchen, credit Cindy Apple Photography for Model RemodelCredit Cindy Apple Photography for Model Remodel

Q: The days are longer and warmer and spring cleaning is calling. But it feels a little daunting. How do I organize my home and keep it tidy throughout the summer?

A: Spring has arrived in Seattle and it’s time to tackle indoor cleaning before summer arrives. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it could be due to a lack of proper organization and storage.

As a remodeling company, we’ve come to learn that the biggest difference between before and after photos is simply the amount of stuff present. Surprisingly, it’s not always about the extra cabinetry or closets; sometimes it’s just clutter. A decluttered home not only looks better, but it can reduce your stress and make you feel better too. So, don’t just organize—declutter.

Picture-perfect homes are as much a result of decluttering as anything else. Newly built or remodeled spaces have an advantage because the owners haven’t lived in the space long enough to accumulate stuff, but even a well lived-in home can look pristine with regular decluttering. Your home may never be as perfect as a Pinterest photo, but you can make some big strides toward that ideal if you know what to focus on.

The trick to decluttering is having fewer possessions and regularly keeping stock of what you actually need in your home. This makes organizing and storing items you decide to keep a lot easier. The process needn’t be extreme or painful. Just set aside a fixed amount of time—say two hours—to declutter a room in your home. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. First, take everything out of drawers, off shelves and surfaces. Then, clean and put back half of what was there before, keeping only the things you truly value. Display objects that hold the most meaning or make you happy. Put the rest in one of three piles: discard, organize, or store.

If you don’t need it, find a way to donate it before throwing it away. Goodwill, Salvation Army, consignment shops, and reuse stores abound in and around Seattle. If you do need it, organize it with similar items elsewhere and/or store it out of sight for later use. For limited storage areas such as bedside tables and bathroom vanities, consider keeping only necessities within reach. Store the rest in the linen closet or utility room after organizing those items into groups. You’ll find natural groupings such as body products, books, candles, etc. Organize first, then store together.

Once you know how much you have, you’ll be able to acquire storage solutions that truly fit. Don’t buy storage before you know what you’re storing! Bins, baskets, racks and hooks are all your friends, provided you utilize them properly. There are custom storage solutions for almost everything, so feel free to get as creative as you like. Excess items—we’re looking at you Costco shoppers—don’t look or feel like clutter when they are organized and stored away properly.

Decluttering at least once a year is ideal, so spring cleaning is the perfect time. Otherwise, things pile up and certain areas of the home become dumping grounds for items without a designated place.

If you’re still not feeling tidy after decluttering, a remodel may be your best option to achieve a layout and look you’ll love—with extra storage! Regardless, decluttering should always be your first step to spring cleaning.


Emma Zimmerman is the marketing specialist at Model Remodel, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’ nearly 2,800 members, write to

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