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The Joy of Housekeeping: Decluttering and organizing for a peaceful home

02/24/2016 02:52PM ● Published by Jennifer Gonzalez

Gallery: The Joy of Housekeeping: Decluttering and organizing for a peaceful home [1 Image] Click any image to expand.

By: Courtney Phillips

            Does there exist a more relaxing feeling than crossing the threshold of a clean, organized house and realizing that it is, in fact, your home? After the cardboard boxes of the holiday season have been dismantled and recycled, there is no better time than the cold, long nights of winter to go about the business of improving a home environment… all without spending a dime.


            From tiny micro apartments in big cities to the more local reality of frequent work-related relocation, sparse living has never been so vogue. All around, books, apps and media are stressing simplification.

            According to the wildly popular book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo, the rule of decluttering is simple: Keep items that elicit a feeling of happiness.  If an item fails this strict criterion, get rid of it.  

            Kondo’s navigation of a cluttered home is different than most: declutter by category, not room. She suggests beginning with clothing, as people generally assign less emotion to clothes than categories such as books or photographs. Focus on the category at hand and literally touch every item in that category. If it fails to bring joy, trash (or donate!) it.

            Display what’s left. Revel in it. Enjoy it.


            If Kondo’s method is a little ruthless at the outset, consider the impact of a purge. Imagine the girl who breathes life into a forgotten prom dress, the man who stays warm in the coat that never fit you perfectly, or the new baby zipped cozily into an infant sleeper or footed pajamas of babyhoods past.

            With a little research, items in new or good condition will find a joyful home, absolving the giver of guilt and clutter. Just a few donation resources include:

            Books:  Cumberland County Library accepts book, DVDs, CDs, magazines (especially home improvement, decorating, cooking and all children’s magazines), VHS, vinyl records and books on CD or cassette.

            Formal Dresses: The Fayetteville alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta collects eveningwear in all sizes along with shoes, jewelry, clutches and wraps for needy Cumberland County prom goers who benefit from the Cinderella’s Closet event each spring. Contact Jerial Bogan at 910.391.0498 to arrange pick-up.

            Food:  His Bread of Life food bank accepts standard non-perishable items, like canned goods and peanut butter, along with items for the Backpack Buddy program like microwaveable macaroni and cheese, ravioli or spaghetti, individual oatmeal packs or toaster pastries, peanut butter crackers, juice boxes and granola bars. Donations can be dropped at 3013 A Raeford Road, Fayetteville.

            Home Goods & Clothing: The Fayetteville Dream Center accepts housewares for individuals and families transitioning from homelessness. Furnishings, cooking and eating utensils, pots, pans, towels, bed linens, etc. Also, men’s clothing and shoes are in high demand for those served by the Dream Center. Call 910.568.3897 to schedule a drop-off time.

            Building Materials and Furnishings: The ReStore Warehouse accepts cabinetry, furniture, flooring, windows, doors, paint, lighting, fixtures and appliances. 910.321.0780.


            Stripping the meaningless begets the thoughtful task of categorizing and displaying treasured and useful items.

            Several increments of focused, planned activity can organize an already efficient home, but when the task seems insurmountable, professionals can help.  Pam Warren, owner of Carolina, Let’s Get Organized, has been in the business of organization for the past 12 years. Her team serves clients in all walks of life in Cumberland, Harnett, Moore and Hoke counties.

            For business owners with cluttered offices, busy parents and seniors downsizing to smaller homes or senior communities, she brings order to the chaos. “Some people don’t want to make the call because they are embarrassed, but never be afraid. I promise, I’ve seen worse,” she assured.

            Working on an hourly basis, she provides a consultation, then will work in a client’s home from 2 to 6 hours at a time and even delivers donations after the job is complete.

            Is the job ever complete? “Life happens,” she said of organizing for repeat customers. “Things just don’t get put back in the places they belong.”

Pam’s Tips:

            After 12 years, Pam has organizing down to a science, but for the organizer who wants to go it alone, there are three important points to remember:

            1. Organize thoughtfully. “People need to slow down. If they take time to think about what they’re doing, it will come easier,” she said. While Pam encourages aggressive decluttering and donation, she spends a lot of time with the client to decide what works for them and what areas in their home affect them negatively. “My definition of organized and a client’s definition are sometimes different, so we determine what works in their life.  If it doesn’t bother them, it doesn’t bother me,” she said.

            2. Make your home environment a priority in your life. “Think of it as time for yourself. If you don’t make yourself a priority, no one else will. Think of all of the things you do for other people. Do this for yourself. You deserve an organized home.”

            3. Be honest. “Are you keeping items because you love them, or are you keeping them out of guilt? There is a huge difference.”


            Once everything has a place and everything is in its place, formulate a maintenance plan. Rare are those who delight in the drudgery of regular housekeeping, but if the goal is to enjoy a clean home – regularly, rather than once per week (or month) - a weekly schedule is necessary.

            When paper, pencil, elbow grease and memory aren’t enough to get the job done, consider a regular housekeeping service for the “heavy lifting” or most-loathed chores. To make daily maintenance more manageable, look online for daily printable checklists or use one of many organizational and motivational cleaning applications for your telephone:

            With Cleaning Checklist, a user may check off preloaded tasks and assign chores to family members’ phones according to room or category – perfect for a family with smartphone-loving teens. Cost: 99 cents.

            Home Routines divides a house into zones and, with a timer, reminds a user to spend an allotted length of time each day in a different zone.

            Motivated Moms populates a preset list of chores each day in addition to reminders about to-dos that are often forgotten until they are overdue - from changing home air filters to clipping baby’s nails.

            Green Shine provides a checklist and instructions for tackling stains and regular housekeeping with environmentally friendly materials.


If talk of sorting, donating and scheduling fail to inspire, try one the following:

1. Invite guests to your home for coffee or a meal the following day.

2. Buy new and interesting cleaning supplies in appealing colors, designs or fragrances.

3. Play upbeat music and commit to 10 minutes of uninterrupted work.

4. Chat on the phone with a friend while cleaning.

                The road to a tidy home begins with a single step. Go!









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