A Torontonian’s guide to decluttering for the holidays

Creative ways to organize and display your best pieces

With the growing trend of living in smaller spaces, people are struggling with how to keep the space they have organized and functional, especially when the holidays come around and they want to get the decorations out. When it comes to organizing a small space, decluttering is the main focus. I’ve compiled a three-step guide to help you master it.

First, curate (i.e., select, organize and exhibit) your belongings. In a society where “stuff” easily defines us, it’s important to be mindful of what we really “need” in our homes. By curating your belongings, you will feel refreshed by the new-found space and will be highly motivated to keep an organized household. That new-found space is also perfect for putting up a tree or finding a home for holiday knick-knacks.

Confront each item with two questions: When was the last time it was used? And is it worth the space it will inhabit?

Bins and baskets should become your new best friend. I’m talking about the gorgeously stylish bins and baskets on the market that add to your home decor.

I love simple and modern bins and baskets that help enhance the minimalistic lifestyle I embrace. I also love artisanal woven baskets.

Once you’ve curated your belongings, go through them and donate what you don’t need. I love this activity because it helps keep us organized, and it feels great to give — especially at this time of year when many organizations are looking for donated goods.

Second, display your favourites. One of the biggest clutter problems I see is an overflowing bookshelf. Not only is it an eyesore, but it’s awfully impractical for finding or putting away your books.

A decluttered dresser with a few styled items © Roberto Caruso

Try switching over to an e-reader to consolidate your books, and use the newly cleared shelves to display your most beautiful books and maybe some seasonal trinkets.

Now you can actually style your bookcase with picture frames, souvenirs and candles to bring it to life and add to your decor.

Finally, and for the sake of your sanity, clearly mark storage bins and containers.

I use labels wherever I can — on containers, folders, gift wrap materials, medicine cabinet items, seasonal bedding, decor and so much more — so I would advise investing in a good label maker.

The trick to successfully using a label maker is to discreetly apply labels in closed storage units or drawers (or even in kids’ spaces), so you don’t compromise your decor.

You want to be able to effectively use labels without having them stare you in the face all day long.

What I love about labels is they help keep things out of sight but never out of mind, which keeps clutter from forming. It is also super helpful when you need to quickly find something.

Once you’ve decluttered and organized your home, you’ll see you have more space even though you haven’t increased your square footage. Your seasonal decor will fit in perfectly, and once the holidays have wrapped, you’ll have an excuse to switch it up.

If you don’t want to stop there, grab a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. Her book is a constant source of inspiration for me.

Interior designer Julia Black is a home decor expert on Cityline and has appeared on etalk and HGTV Canada. She has also styled homes for Chatelaine magazine.

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