NYNH Challenge #1 - Entryways
I’ve decided to start our challenge in the area of your home that is the first thing anyone sees, including you! The status of the entry-way of your home is the first impression made on anyone entering. You may have a foyer, you may not. Your door may lead right into a living space. Either way, it should be an area that represents what you want people to think of when they think of your home. Order, cleanliness, organization.
I’m also going to have us look at our coat closets. Mine happens to be in my foyer where my front door is. Wherever yours is, you’ll be attacking it.
Again, not everyone will have an “entry-way” so to speak, but we all have front doors. Not everyone will have a coat closet, either, but I’m sure you all have somewhere that you store coats and boots and shoes. Apply the information in this part of the challenge to that part of your house.
Remember to take pictures along the way of things that you are tossing, donating, or selling.
Look around your entry-way. Is it a dumping ground for things as you walk in the door? I know that my family has fallen into the terrible habit of dumping our work bags, dh’s laptop, the mail, and the kids backpacks right by the front door when we get home. Sometimes, our coats don’t even make it to the closet. We have a bench that overlooks the downstairs family room in the foyer, and many nights we just drape our coats over that bench because we are, supposedly too tired to take the two steps across the foyer to hang them in the closet.
Do you have a collection of shoes in the entry-way as well? I do. Again, I don’t like tracking dirt through my house, so we take our shoes off when we walk inside. However, we don’t wear the same shoes every day, so that means with each new pair of shoes, a new pair gets collected by the front door. With four of us who wear shoes, this is ridiculous.
Let’s start with the shoes. Go get an empty laundry basket and load it up with all of the pairs of shoes that you see. Then, immediately take them to each family members room and put them there. (Don’t worry…we’ll be cleaning up the bedrooms later…the shoes won’t be cluttering up the room for long!) However, the point of our challenge isn’t just to clean up, but also to change our habits so that all of our hard work isn’t out the window in a month or two. So, come up with a new rule about shoes that will work for your family. The rule I’ve created is that when we come in the house, our shoes still come off. However, sometime before we go to bed that night, all shoes should be returned to our respective bedrooms. We all pass the foyer at some point before going to bed. Picking up our shoes and taking them with us will, (hopefully), eventually become a routine.
To generally declutter the entry-way, I’m going to give you some words of advice from Donna Smallin, the author of “Organizing, Plain and Simple.”
“As you begin to unclutter your entryways one by one, use a box or bag labeled “Store Elsewhere” to collect items that belong elsewhere in your home. In another box, collect items that should go in your car so that you can take them where they belong. Such items include library books to return, clothes to drop off at the dry cleaner, and merchandise to be returned to the store. To avoid putting them in the trunk and then forgetting about them, post a sticky note on your dashboard as a reminder to deliver them or make a note in your calendar.”
Once you’ve done this, you need to immediately re-home everything to where it belongs in your home. If you don’t have plans to leave your house this afternoon or evening, I still want you to take the box of items that need to be dropped off somewhere out to your car. Put it in the passenger seat, the backseat, etc. Just don’t put it in the trunk. I don’t want you to forget about it. Make it a priority to get these things to where they belong in the next few days.
Coat closets. The final frontier of clutter. Because coat closet doors are always closed, people use them to stow clutter in a quick fix. “Oh no! Aunt Sue is coming over! Quick, take everything laying around the foyer and shove it in the closet!” And when Aunt Sue comes, where do you put her coat? You drape it on someone’s bed in a bedroom. But you never, NEVER open the coat closet while she’s there.
Take every single item out of the coat closet. Yes, EVERYTHING. Organize everything into 3 piles: Keep, Toss, Sell/Donate/Freecycle Think long and hard about every item as you look at it. Does anyone actually wear that coat in your home? Have you gone through the season that it’s appropriate for without anyone wearing it? If so, then it should go in the Toss or Sell/Donate/Freecycle pile. Is it a coat that someone has outgrown but you are keeping just in case? Don’t. There is someone out there in desperate need of a coat that is just that size. I guarantee it. Put it in the Toss or Sell/Donate/Freecycle pile.
Gloves, hats, scarves, and other miscellaneous items should be dealt with in the same fashion. Do not allow anything to enter the Keep pile that isn’t actively used during the appropriate season. Tools should go in the area of the house where tools are kept. Sporting goods should go somewhere else as well. We recently cleaned out our front closet and found two basketballs, five tennis rackets, an extension cord, a Baby Bjorn baby carrier, three pairs of too small swim shoes for the kids, a shoe shine kit, old, completely worn out adult shoes, and, of course, coats for all seasons. Once we finished with the sort, the only thing that went back into the closet were the hats, gloves, scarves and coats that were used. Everything else was handed-down to my nieces and nephews, put in the appropriate spot of the house, or thrown away. My husband was thrilled because it meant that we could now put the vacuum in the closet and get it out of the foyer, where it had been sitting for the past year!
Speaking of vacuums, before you put anything back in the closet, vacuum it out, sweep it out, clean off shelves with a cleaner and make sure that it’s sparkly and clean. Now that it will be emptier, the dirt and dust will be a lot more evident. So, clean it out, then put back what goes back and immediately toss the toss items outside into the trash. Take the donate or sell box to the place where that goes in your home (Some people like to wait until they have a full box before taking it to the Salvation Army or the consignment shop. No problem. Just don’t forget to take it when it is full!) and if there is anything you are going to give to family or friends, take it there right now.
Take pictures of what you are throwing away/giving away and post them in the picture thread.
Also, if anyone has any other thoughts or advice on cleaning up our entryways, please post them here! The more the merrier, and we can use all the decluttering wisdom we can use!
You have a week to complete this part of the challenge. Good luck!