One positive aspect of living in an apartment is its compact size and limited outdoor space make it easy to live a simple and intentional lifestyle. The downside is that the limited space can also cause you to accumulate things quickly and turn your home sweet home into a disorganized and cluttered mess!
Living in small spaces requires you to be creative with how you maximize every square foot. And if you have a roommate or are cohabitating, living a decluttered life can become even more challenging.
Fortunately, we created a convenient plan to help you declutter your home. We’ve dealt with living in small spaces and seeing the clutter amass within days.
Follow these 15 tips to keep your apartment in tip-top shape and easy to maintain. Your home sweet home will be ready in no time!
How to Declutter Your Apartment
#1 Create a Plan
Getting rid of clutter can be very overwhelming. We often keep things that have sentimental value or things that we think will be useful down the road. The best way to declutter is to break it down into pieces. You can do this by creating a plan. You can plan to declutter your apartment by room, sections within a room, or by different scheduled decluttering days and times.
You should not start your decluttering plan and think you’ll be done in a day. Many achievements are never conquered in a day. It’s a process and even after you are done decluttering, you’ll need to maintain your space so that it stays clean.
It’s important to create a decluttering plan that is both effective and one that you can realistically achieve. Your plan should be manageable and can also include other members of your family or roommates.
Start by grabbing a pen and paper (or Google Doc) and start writing down where you want to start and what are you are trying to achieve. Do you want fewer clothes or accessories? Do you want to get rid of a TV you’re not using? Do you want more plans for your bedroom? It is very important to create a plan and then execute it so that you do it efficiently and intentionally.
#2 Time to Purge!
The best way to declutter your home is to get rid of the things you’re not using. Sounds easy right? Let’s go into more detail.
A great way to start getting rid of things is by looking for items that are torn, broken, expired, or just haven’t been used in over 3 months. It’s most likely that if you haven’t used something in three months, it’s time to let it go.
You may also want to consider getting rid of things that you have duplicates of.
It’s easier to compartmentalize your purge into items that you need to throw away and items that you plan to donate or give away. We love giving away things in Buy Nothing groups on Facebook. We prefer to donate to Goodwill or a local women’s shelter or youth center.
#3 Use Technology to Turn Physical into Digital
For many people, physical items may evoke strong memories and make it hard to let go of an object. We keep shoeboxes and albums of photos and may occasionally take them out to reminisce in the good times.
What you can do is use technology to digitize your memories. Digitizing them also allows you to have more space in your home while still having access to those fond memories.
You can also digitize important documents such as tax forms, mortgage documents, deeds, medical documents, birth certificates, and more. There is really no need to keep physical paperwork unless it is required. And you can typically request a copy if needed.
#4 Multi-Purpose Living
Don’t sacrifice space for a dedicated product if a multi-purpose one exists. For example, if you have framed photos scattered about the house, scan them onto a USB key that plays a slide show on your television. Or install a ceiling-mounted projector and retractable screen in place of a traditional TV. You could also get rid of bulky cable boxes by cutting the cord and signing up for a cloud-based DVR. Then incorporate Alexa Echo to control your entertainment system without five remotes on your coffee table.
#5 Buy Furniture with Built-In Storage
Invest in a few key pieces of furniture with storage potential. It’s much simpler to keep junk out of your apartment when you have organization systems in place. Use a see-through bookcase with slots and shelves as a room divider, or a coffee table with drawers to hide magazines and remotes. Clean, sleek pieces of furniture with plenty of drawers and cabinet doors will help keep your apartment neat and tidy.
#6 Minimize Visual Clutter
The key to decorating a small space is to minimize visual clutter and maximize living space. Make smart design decisions with color, scale, and style to keep your small space looking neat and uncluttered. Use color instead of busy repeating patterns for textiles. Having one bright pop of color on a neutral background gives the eye a place to focus and eases the chaos. With fewer accessories, each one packs a punch.
#7 Everything Has a Home
At this point, most apartments are going to be somewhat decluttered. However, we are just getting started on our journey to make the most out of the available space you have in your home! Next up, we address how to organize all of the items that made the cut and thus deserve to have a place reserved for them in your living space.
If that last sentence sounded a bit too ambitious, consider this. Each and every square foot in your apartment should proactively enhance your life in some way, shape or form. Even if the area just looks clean and pretty.
To accomplish this, designate a place where all of the remaining items you have should go. For example, clean clothes can be hung in the closet or dresser drawer, whereas incoming mail can go on top of a filing cabinet to be sorted through and placed inside at a later date. Just be sure to do so sooner rather than later to avoid another case of creeping clutter.
Bear in mind, if there is not a place for an object you elected to keep, revisit the ‘need, donate, toss’ step before moving forward.
#8 Marie Kondo Your Belongings
We have adopted Marie Kondo’s folding system and it has allowed us to have so much space in the home! The Marie Kondo method requires you to compartmentalize your belongings by category and purpose. It also teaches you how to efficiently fold clothing so that you maximize your small space.
And what we love most is that the Marie Kondo method also keeps us accountable for preventing future clutter. If it does not spark joy, it’s out!
#10 Adopt the “One In, One Out” Rule
As time goes on, you are going to buy more stuff. It’s just what we do as humans with income.
To prevent clutter, it’s a great idea to adopt the “one in, one out” rule. Think of it as swapping out your belongings for something you want more than what you’re going to get rid of. This can be clothing that no longer fits or is out of style. It can also be clothing that is on their last leg and you need to replace it.
That said, with some items the choice on what to toss in an equivalent exchange can be tough. If you find yourself in this position, try revisiting the ‘need, donate, toss’ method we outlined above. And if all else fails, consider creating a new, fabulous storage area for the item. Just be sure it is worthy of having a place in your living space.
#11 No Shopping Until You Are Organized
This tip might be tough for our shopaholics out here, but it’s a great way to reward yourself for getting your declutter job done!
However, if you really want to succeed in your declutter quest, then it’s important that you do not introduce new items into the home until you have the space for them.
At the end of the day, everything needs to have a home in your apartment. If you continue adding distractions to your space, it can make your decluttering plan very challenging or even thwart it altogether. We recommend holding off on purchasing new items for the home until your declutter job is complete. We know you can do it!
#12 Use Your Vertical Space
Using vertical space in spaces is essential to make the most out of any home.
For example, use narrow shelves to store books and decor items. In our closet, well like to use a shoe organizer behind our closet door to keep shoes from accumulating on the ground. You can also use hooks and floating shelves to create more surface space for your belongings and keep things from living on the ground.
#13 Adopt the “Clean as You Go” Strategy
Drowning in clutter happens because people form bad habits in the home.
Adopt a “clean as you go” strategy to keep clutter from piling up. For example, while you are cooking, try to throw away trash or compost food scraps as you go. Don’t wait until you are done cooking and eating your meal to clean up. This makes the task more daunting and may even force you to clean up “another day” because of a food coma. Trust us, it happens!
#14 Have Regularly Scheduled Decluttering Sessions
Have regularly scheduled decluttering days and times for you, your family, and/or your roommates. You can also plan the sessions separately as long as they are done in that scheduled time.
We like to use Google Calendar to schedule decluttering and cleaning sessions. This ensures that everyone has a dedicated time and day to maintain the home.
#15 Think Before You Buy
Shopping can be very therapeutic and make you happy in the moment. We often find ourselves buying things we don’t need or think we may need later. You can adopt a habit of curbing your spending by asking yourself, “Do I need this item?” If you’re on the fence about it or have a resounding no, then you can skip the purchase altogether and focus on more important things in your life.
We personally love spending our hard-earned money on experiences rather than stuff. If you’re the same way, opt for a vacation as a reward for keeping your home decluttered and clean!
Break your decluttering plan into chunks so that it’s easier to manage and execute. Get rid of things you don’t need by tossing, donating, giving things away, or keeping your belongings in storage. Make sure you keep up with your decluttering plan regularly so that you create good habits to keep your home clean and spacious.
If you found our article on how to declutter your apartment helpful, please share it on Pinterest. Thanks for your support!