Earlier this week, our landlord brought in floor layers to pull up the carpet in our master bedroom and replace it with wood flooring. This meant we had to get everything except for the bed frame and mattress out of the room so the flooring guys could work their magic.
Once the crew finished, we moved our dresser, alarm clock, lamps, nightstand, and a bench back into the room. Then, we made the bed, rolled out a new area rug, and stopped moving things back into the space. We didn’t move anything else back into the room because we loved the way it felt with nothing else in there. Without clutter and extraneous furniture, our bedroom felt calm and relaxing again. When talking to each other about the room, my husband and I have used the words refuge and retreat numerous times to describe it. Now, we’re in the process of finding new homes for all the other things that were in the room, such as we moved the hamper to the bathroom, relocated family photographs and books to the bookshelf in the living room, and took a box of charity donations to Goodwill. We were surprised by the amount of stuff that was living in our bedroom that we didn’t want to have in there.
This exercise was a good reminder that there are significant advantages to moving everything out of a space as the first step of a full-room uncluttering and organizing project. When you remove everything, you get to see the bare bones of the room. Additionally, you can bring items one-by-one back into a space to decide if you really want something in that room and be attuned to its presence and its best place. It’s also immediately obvious when a room looks and feels the way you want it to, and you know that everything outside the room needs to be trashed/recycled/donated/relocated because it doesn’t belong in the room.
When you’re uncluttering and organizing a full room, keep these questions in mind once the room is empty:
- Structurally, does any repair work need to be completed in the room? Do walls need to be painted? Do floorboards need to be cleaned? Do any holes need to be patched or cobwebs vacuumed?
- What are the purposes of this room? What are my goals for this space?
- Is the large furniture in its best place? Should the furniture be rearranged?
- Does all of the furniture need to come back into this space? Why? How does each piece of furniture help me to achieve the goals for this space?
- Do the decorative elements in this room add or detract from the purposes of this room? Do they inspire me? Do I find them beautiful?
- Do the other items that are going into this room belong in this room? Is this the best place for these items to live? Do I need these items to meet the goals of this room?
- Are items placed where I use them? Is there a place for everything, and is everything in its place?
- Once the room is set, decide if the items that didn’t make it back into the room need to be trashed, recycled, donated, or relocated. Be careful not to let the clutter from one room become clutter in another room.
If you don’t have the space in your home to temporarily hold all the furniture and items of another room, set down a tarp in your yard or driveway and move your things outside (obviously, only do this in good weather). If you’re in an apartment or condo, give your neighbors a head’s up, and then take over the hallway for a few hours. I’ve found that when you use a space outside your home as a temporary holding location, you’re motivated to work quickly and efficiently, which is also a good thing.
The image above is not of our bedroom, but it certainly represents how our room feels to me now.