In Defense of Clutter

Your stuff is not the enemy. This year, keep the tchotchkes and lose the guilt, instead. 

Cluttered, Full Closet With Hanging Clothes and Shoe Shelves

Cluttered, Full Closet With Hanging Clothes and Shoe Shelves

A great way to declutter your home is to get rid of clothing you're not wearing. Donate or sell any items of clothing you've had for more than a year without wearing. You'll clear out much needed space in your closet allowing you to be better organized and have easier access to the items you do use.

By: Liz Gray
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Since I starting working here at HGTV, I've interviewed at least 20 professional organizers, who, collectively, could whip the worst Hoarders nightmare imaginable into tidy shape overnight.

But here's the thing: I like having a cluttered home. Collections. A refrigerator full of photos. Colorful cookbooks. Yes, yes and yes. For me, more is more. Do I use some of the amazing techniques I learned from chatting with organizing pros? You bet I do! But that doesn't mean I want to get rid of every item that doesn't fill me to the brim with joy. (Sorry, Marie Kondo.) It's your home, not your uber-organized friend's home. Here are 5 things to remember before you toss Grandma's antique vase into the charity pile.

Eclectic Multicolored Living Room With White Sofa

Eclectic Multicolored Living Room With White Sofa

A cheery collection of mismatched frames and artwork bring plenty of personality to this eclectic living room. The white sofa serves as a blank canvas for all the colors and patterns around it.

Clutter and organization aren't necessarily enemies. Everyone has a system. For the super-organized, that system involves color-coding, label-makers and lots of bins. For you, it might involve piles of books sorted according to your personal author ranking system and a catch-all junk drawer. If you can find what you're looking for, where you were looking for it, that's a working system. Why change a good thing?

Home Library Hits the Right Note

Home Library Hits the Right Note

In need of a home for their beautiful bass and extensive collection of books and records, the homeowners turned to designer Harmony Weihs to transform an unused corner into functional storage space.

Photo by: Cory Holland

Cory Holland

Your stuff shows your personality. You are not your stuff, but your stuff does help tell friends and family what you're about. You'll find coffee table books about Salvador Dali and a shell and rock collection gathered from travels in my living room. An empty surface is just clean...there's no backstory.

DIY Pegboard Rock Collection Display

DIY Pegboard Rock Collection Display

You know all those rocks and shells from your travels that you stuff in bags or drawers? Give them prize of place in this do-it-yourself pegboard project from blogger Joni Lay of Lay Baby Lay.

Photo by: Joni Lay

Messiness (might) promote creativity. You've likely seen the study, shared by every messy person you know on Facebook: A messy desk encourages creative thought. Hey, it worked for Albert Einstein, right? Some people thrive in a messy environment. If that's you, own it.

Small Drawers Repurposed as Desk Organizers

Small Drawers Repurposed as Desk Organizers

Not convinced your dresser is worth salvaging? Give the drawers a chance, at least. Use them to house craft supplies, your rubber-band collection or other free-floating desk clutter.

Your things reminds you of people you love. Sure, I could take a photo of Aunt Jean's quirky shot glass collection, then donate it to charity. But I'd probably enjoy it a lot more if I got to share stories about said glassware while I was imbibing with friends and family. Cheers to clutter?

Decorating With Books: Orientation

Decorating With Books: Orientation

When arranging books on built-ins or bookshelves, break up the vertical lines by alternating the orientation of the books from horizontal to vertical. Next, add personality by incorporating objects with graphic shapes onto the horizontal stacks of books. This will help break up the lines and also allow the books to serve double duty as risers.

Photo by: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

You like this stuff....remember? Tastes do change. But just because you don't love something today doesn't mean you won't long for it 3 months from now when you no longer have that family heirloom. Or a grater. Everyone needs a grater, even if it's sort of ugly.

Contemporary Workspace Tucked Under the Stairs

Contemporary Workspace Tucked Under the Stairs

Sometimes necessity brings about the best and most creative ideas. A shortage of space is an inspiring dilemma with potentially great results. In order to make use of absolutely every available space in her apartment, online lifestyle editor Briana turned the open space under the stairs into a home office. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn.

As British design icon William Morris put it, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." So if you find junk drawers useful, and old Christmas cards beautiful — and yes, I do —  keep them around. After all, it's not a magazine photo — it's your living, breathing home. In the new year, focus on visually-pleasing presentations for your collections and knick-knacks. Clutter doesn't have to be an eyesore. Start with your books:

Still feel the urge to donate half your stuff to charity? You do you. Here's how to get started.

12 Ways to Style a Book Collection

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Small Groupings

A grouping of design, art, architecture and pop culture books turn this multipurpose workspace and dining room into a cozy spot packed with personality and plenty of things to read.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Wrapped With Paper

Update torn or tattered books with a combination of pattern and color using decorative paper. Here, a collection of old books was given new life with a variety of spring-inspired papers, ranging from solid teal to a multicolor botanical pattern.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

White on White

Looking for a bright, airy and minimalist aesthetic? Curate your books down to a collection of bright whites and creams and stack them accordingly. This will add a welcoming softness to the room.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Wall-Mounted Stacks

Put a modern twist on a book display with wall-mounted stacking brackets. These are shaped similarly to L-brackets and allow you to pile small groups of books together horizontally on walls, resulting in a floating look.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Wall Display

Got a book cover you love? Put it on display as art with a wall-mounted book hanger. Similar in construction to a shelf, the display works as a sleeve, allowing the book to slip directly onto a cleat that holds it upright and in place.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions


When arranging books on bookshelves, break up the vertical lines by alternating the orientation of the books from horizontal to vertical. Next, add personality by incorporating objects with graphic shapes onto the horizontal stacks of books. This will help break up the lines and also allow the books to serve double duty as risers.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Multiple Stacks

A common way interior designers and decorators use books for decorative purposes is to arrange them in stacks slightly varying in height. To keep the overall look uniform, leave the same amount of distance in between the stacks.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions


Colorphobic homeowners may love the idea of using books to pop bold hues into their space in a removable way. Edit through your old and new books, and consider removing dust jackets to expose the original upholstery. Then, arrange the books in stacks with colors randomly placed. This idea works beautifully in crisp, white rooms as the colors read true to their values.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Coordinating Colors

If you're more of the tailored type, color-coordinated books may be the perfect fit. When styling tabletops, consoles and credenzas, try layering several shades of the room's dominant color. This will add to the overall depth and complexity of the room without looking matchy-matchy.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Neutral Territory

For a less-is-more approach, try grouping neutral-toned books together in a more subdued space. The overall effect comes across as a slight variation in tone and texture rather than one of the room's standout features.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Complementary Colors

Look to the color wheel for inspiration when it comes to arranging your books. Edit them down to complementary colors, which are hues that sit directly across from one another and have opposite values. Here, a collection of books in shades of blues and oranges adds personality to a bedside table.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Coffee Table

Add instant character to the center of your living room with a collection of coffee table books for guests to grab. To keep the overall look practical and uncluttered, try to keep the stacks of books less than eight inches tall. This will allow for a full look that doesn’t feel overpowering.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Black on Black

Add a masculine or glamorous touch to any room with a collection of black books. Although they may all seem to be the same tone when viewed individually, they'll take on different tints and shades as a group ranging from charcoal and medium gray to jet black.

Photo By: Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

50 Things to Get Rid of RN

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Cardboard Food Boxes

Ditch the cardboard boxes and plastic bags that go with your cereal, snacks and dry goods. They're ugly, take up lots of space and don't keep your food fresh. Instead, opt for glass jars (like HGTV Magazine did here) or airtight food storage containers.

Photo By: Lincoln Barbour

Wire Hangers

Mommie Dearest said it best: No more wire hangers! Ditch those dry cleaner hangers for matching plastic or wooden versions.

Your Dish Sponge

When was the last time you replaced the sponge in your kitchen sink? If it's been more than a month, toss it. In between, sanitize it with a spin in the dishwasher.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Natalie Wright

Dirty Air Filters

It’s important to schedule a maintenance checkup for your HVAC system every spring and fall, but in the meantime, filters need to be checked once a month. When they’re dirty, change them; dirty filters shorten the lifespan of your system. 

Photo By: ©

Old Shoes

Get rid of any shoes that are broken beyond repair, worn out or missing a mate. Can't remember the last time you wore a still-good pair? Donate to a thrift store.

Clothing You've Never Worn

Donate or sell any items of clothing you've had for more than a year without wearing.

Too-Small Kids' Clothing

The same goes for clothing your children can no longer wear: Unless it's an heirloom, donate or sell to free up the space.

Old Toys

Donate toys your child has outgrown, then get ideas for upcycling hand-me-downs they can't bear to part with.

Old Halloween Costumes

If they've moved on from ninjas to superheroes, go ahead and donate that old costume.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Filled Coloring Books

Display your child's favorite works of art in a gallery wall or a photo album, then recycle the rest.

Photo By: Courtesy of Jamielyn Nye and HomeGoods

Socks Without a Mate

We all have that bag of socks without their, ahem, sole mate. If you've done a full round of laundry without finding their partner, it's time to let them go.

Expired Makeup

How long have those cosmetics been lurking in your makeup bag? Mascara should be replaced every three months. Foundation and concealer are good for about a year, while lipstick, eye shadow and blush should be replaced every two years.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Melissa Hruska

Makeup Samples

Give away anything you know you won't use. That perfume you didn't like would go great in a DIY spa gift for your loved one.

Expired or Unidentifiable Medication

Dispose of old prescriptions and anything you can't identify — but — because meds are considered hazardous waste, it's important that you follow the FDA's guidelines. Also, check with your local pharmacy or law enforcement agencies, many offer year-round or seasonal drug take-back days so you can safely drop off unwanted meds for proper disposal.

Old Spices

Most ground spices should be replaced after 12 months. A simple test? Give each one a wiff. If there's no scent, there will be no flavor. Go ahead and toss it!

Photo By: Faith Durand ©Elana's Pantry

Your Toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush once every three months for maximum brushing power.

Last Year's Holiday Cards

You've enjoyed them, now it's time to let them go. Record any addresses to your phone or computer before chucking them into the recycling bin.

Last Year's Gift Wrap

You probably refresh your wrapping paper supply while Christmas shopping, anyway, so go ahead and recycle the old stuff. If you can't bear to part with it, try keeping it organized in a rolling mesh laundry basket. You can also turn last year's leftovers into festive decor.

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Last Year's Calendar

Embrace the current year by recycling last year's calendar. The same goes for a dated datebook.

Unidentified Frozen Objects

Toss any unidentifiable objects in the refrigerator or freezer.

Photo By: Andy Vinson of Loch & Key Productions

Movies You Don't Love

If you'd only give a film one thumb up or you wouldn't watch it again, give it away or sell at a used electronics store. And those VHS tapes? If you don't have a player, let those go, too.

Expired Food

Throw away any canned goods past their expiration date. If you discover still-good packaged food you didn't like or won't eat, donate to a local food pantry.

Cookbooks You Never Use

Give unused to your foodie friends who will get more use out of them.

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/ Getty Images

Take-Out Menus

You can typically find menus and numbers for all your go-tos online. Keep your favorites in one place by placing them in a plastic folder and adhering the folder to the inside of your kitchen cabinet — it also works well for recipes!

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Cristin Bisbee Priest

Take-Out Condiments

How many ketchup packets to you really need?

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Unidentifiable Keys

Most recycling centers have mixed metal bins you can toss old keys in. Make sure to remove any rubber coverings before you recycle.

Old Formal Wear

If you know you'll never wear it after the event, sell it or donate it — there are several organizations that will take that old bridesmaid, prom dress or tux off your hands to give to someone in need.

Old Glasses

When you get your next pair of prescription frames, donate the old ones.

Business Cards

Congrats, you just got promoted! And now you've got 300 unused business cards with your old title. Go ahead and recycle them.

Broken Umbrellas

The frustration a flimsy, broken umbrella brings is worth the cost of replacing it.

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Old Chargers and Cables

A friend or relative might be able to use a spare USB cable or an old charger. Anything you can't give away can usually be recycled in electronic stores or online. Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into "cubbies" with scraps of cardboard. Label each section, so you'll never confuse the camera cord for the phone charger again, and give the boxes a bit of color by decorating the cardboard with scrapbook paper.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jones

Remote Controls

Between digital video recorders, DVD players and cable boxes, most homeowners have more remote controls than they know what to do with. Get rid of extras you don't recognize anymore.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions


CD collection getting dusty? Organize the ones you really want to keep and sell or give away the rest.

Photo By: AH86

Old Paint

Properly sealed (read: air-tight) paint can last for up to 10 years if kept at an even temperature and prevented from freezing. However if, like most of us, you store leftover paint in the garage or shed, the temperature swings will cause it to break down much quicker. If you have old paint cans with bulging lids, leaky seams or, once opened, a thick layer of dried paint on top, it's time to give that can the toss. But, before tossing, research safe disposal steps by contacting your local household hazardous waste center. If the paint is still usable, you may even be able to donate it to a local charity, like Habitat for Humanity or even a local scout troop or school that could use the paint for crafts.

Photo By: malerapaso


If you think you might return it or need to keep a reciept for a warranty, try scanning the receipts and keeping copies online instead of an old shoebox.

Books That Are Falling Apart

If your favorite read is falling apart, it may be time to buy a new copy.

Curtains From Your Old Place

You brought them thinking surely they'd fit a window in your new place — your new set of windows say otherwise. If you're handy with a sewing machine, old window treatments can be altered to fit your new space.

Your Old License Plate

Appliance Manuals

Most appliance manuals have an online version. Keep really important ones together in a folder.

Super-Specialized Appliances

If you've only used that fryer once since you bought it, give it away.

Soap Scraps

Unless you're really dedicated to melting down the slivers into one mega-soap, toss them out.

From: Genevieve Gorder

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Broken Picture Frames

An exception: If you love the frame but the glass is shattered, you can get a new piece cut to size at a local glass repair shop.

Bottles and Jars

Your kitchen cabinets were meant for better things. From DIY Network: 11 Ways to Upcycle Mason Jars and Wine Bottles

Photo By: Eric Perry ©2014, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Games With Missing Pieces

It's not nearly as fun if you don't have all the pieces.

Photo By: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/

Old Maps

Let your GPS do all the hard work. Try mounting keepsake maps as wall art.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Stale Potpourri

Once the scent fades, potpourri quickly turns into a dust magnet.

Disposable Cameras

Everyone's still got a couple lying around. If you've still got some that you haven't used, turn it into a game — hand them out to family and friends then get the pictures developed to see what you get!

Old Craft Supplies

When you're crafty, supplies take up space and fast. Throw away any dried up glue sticks, old paint and paintbrushes and then reorganize the supplies you want to keep.

Instruments No One's Playing

Giving up on the flute lessons? Musical instruments can be donated and given a second life to someone who needs them.

©2010, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved/Image courtesy of HGTV Design Star

Plastic Storage Containers

If it's got a spaghetti stain that just won't come out, let it go.

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