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Reducing Clutter Around The House

by Allison E. Beatty
Repair-Home Columnist

If your closets are bursting at the seams and every horizontal surface is filled with stacks of papers, it's time to declutter. This can be a frustrating home improvement project, but one that pays big dividends.

Preparing the Home Improvement Plan

The toughest part is deciding where to start. If you have clutter throughout your house, the process may seem overwhelming. The key to managing this important home improvement project is to make lists of areas to clean out. Then rank the areas in order of priority. Also divide the list into small and large projects.

The goal is to find a place for everything, whether that place is in the garbage can, on a new shelving unit in the garage, or in a bag you deliver to a nearby charity.

An Inexpensive Home Improvement Project

This is one of the home improvement projects with a small price tag. Unless you hire a professional organizational contractor, the only cost is your time and the price of garbage bags and cleaning supplies.

An organizational contractor or handyman typically charges by the hour, ranging from $20 to $45 per hour. If your decluttering involves tearing out old cabinets in the basement and other labor-intensive tasks, consider hiring a contractor for some of the work.

Doing the Work

You'll need to set aside a few days--or weeks--to sort through each area. Depending upon your schedule, you may have to work on it in small steps. If you're hiring a contractor to clear large spaces, get those projects done first. This will give you plenty of sorting room.

Try not to get discouraged at the size of the task. Remember that the clutter accumulated over time. And remember to give yourself credit for small steps. You may be amazed at how much you can accomplish in two-hour segments. If you only have a few hours, focus on one closet or bookshelf. If you have eight hours, then focus on a bigger area.

As you declutter, realize that the rooms might look messier as you pull everything out of the closets and begin to organize. You may have to walk around stacks of clothes and boxes filled with books and garbage bags strewn around the room. Keep focusing on the task at hand and the project eventually will be finished.

About the Author
Allison E. Beatty has been a writer of home improvement columns for 15 years. Her articles have appeared in numerous national newspapers and magazines, and on home improvement Web sites.