The Downward Spiral of Clutter

Clutter creeps up on you, one cabinet at a time. Do you have too much stuff?

The problem with clutter is that it creeps up slowly when you are not paying attention. If you fall for “Buy One Get One” offers, “limited timed sales” and other such exciting deals, then you will end up with half-used bottles of products you don’t like anymore, duplicates, multiples of items you like a lot, travel sizes, free samples, etc.

Clutter grows one cabinet at a time. When all the drawers and cabinets are full (you can usually get rid of 30% of these from each drawer right away), the items (which should have been in drawers) spill over to the counters, onto the floor of the spare bedroom and unused corners around the house. The remaining items end up in the garage. Eventually, the garage gets so full that the car ends up outdoors (in warmer regions of the country). In the worst case, the car gets broken into. Then, your insurance goes up. Then you decide to rent storage space to store your extra stuff. Essentially, you pay more money just to keep the things you have already paid for. Isn’t that a terrible price to pay for having too many things? Not to mention, how very inconvenient. But it is not your fault. We are wired that way. Psychologists call it the ‘Endowment Effect’ – we value things more simply because we own them.

If you had a super easy time moving to your new home and can’t relate to the situation above, I am truly happy for you. My guess is that you live intentionally and have rules like “one-in-one-out”. But a lot of people and families especially with kids, struggle to cope up with the things they own and to have the revelation that more is not always better.

Marie Kondo says, “When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”

Most clutter falls under one of these categories:

Things that you used in the past – clothes that used to fit you, gifts someone gave you that you can’t throw away, duplicates e.g. – of bath products, worn out cooking utensils in the kitchen, things you bought because they were on sale, all sentimental items – your childhood memorabilia, etc.

Things that you plan to use in the future – clothes that will fit you one day or will come back in style, hobbies you have been meaning to pursue – guitars, treadmills, bikes, cameras, books you are planning to read, extras of everything for the overnight guests, additional chinaware, etc. These items create an expectation for the future.

All these things, take your attention away from the present and add “noise” to your mind. They are a result of not wanting to live in the present.

We tend to surround ourselves with things which are meant to be a reflection of who we believe we are and to convey a certain impression to others. There is a gap in things the society makes us feel we should do and the things we actually want to do. This gap expresses itself as clutter.

Clutter = Things you should do – Things you want to do

The more clutter you have, the more you procrastinate in life. It is an indication of trying to pack too much stuff into your life, figuratively and literally. It slows you down on a subconscious level.

Compare all those items to the things that you actively use every day – the clothes you wear the most, the books/magazines you are currently reading, the pots and ladles you reach out for all the time, your go-to shoes, handbag, necktie, watch, etc. These items are actively serving a purpose in your present life and you know exactly what these things are. It is ironic that the things that you love and use the most, get worn out the fastest and need to be replaced first. But in doing that, their purpose is fulfilled.

Don’t worry about not having things after you discard or donate them. We are moving into a sharing economy where ownership does not matter as much as it used to in the past. We are headed towards a more on-demand, community driven, mobile lifestyle with an unlimited supply of things you can buy/rent/share/resell at our fingertips. That power drill you need for an hour can be borrowed using an app. If in doubt, let it go, you will be OK without it, you can get it just as easily if you ever need it again.

At times, you will discover that the idea of letting it go will spur you into action and do whatever needs to be done – using exercise equipment, finishing up a half empty bottle of shampoo, or spices.

So, what’s next?  Start here – Where to Start Decluttering


Two Step Approach to Decluttering

2 steps Approach = Categorize items + Focus on Keeping not Throwing.

Things come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime, once you know which is which, you will know exactly what to do.

All you need to do is take the time to get acquainted with each item in your home and make a decision about its role in your life.

The biggest problem you will face with organizing your stuff is that you will have too much in each category. So you have to address each category one at a time, and reduce a little bit of everything. Instead of deciding what to throw, focus on what to keep. This is popularly known as the KonMari method (which has changed my life).

Marie Kondo has gifted the world with two groundbreaking approaches about decluttering.

  1. One is to work with categories instead of rooms.  Work with one category at a time. Start with clothes, then deal with books, papers, miscellaneous and lastly, memorabilia. It needs to be done one category at a time and each category needs to be tackled in one fell sweep.
  2. Second is to pick what you need to keep, instead of what you want to throw. Going through this process will encourage you to be more intentional about the items you choose to keep at home. It is a process that gets easier with time.

It can be the most life changing experience. You might break away from the consumerism trap. Once you have your stuff under control, you will feel liberated on multiple levels. Then the process of organization becomes super easy. You will be able to reach into a drawer or cabinet and find exactly what you are looking for.

The biggest benefit you will have is the feeling of lightness – physical, mental and emotional lightness and a sense of clarity.

In the future, make the choice of buying well-designed, functional items of daily use, so that whatever is in sight looks beautiful and you don’t feel the need to buy additional ‘decorative’ pieces.

In the end, it drives home the concept that YOU having control of what you get to keep in your life.

I would love to hear your take on this. Share your thoughts in the comments down below. Or email me at

4D Concept of Home Staging

Decrease, Declutter, Depersonalize, and Deodorize

Expecting a buyer to walk in your home and feel like buying it right away is like showing up at a fancy party in your pajamas and expecting to be complimented.

Why Staging?

The goal of staging your home is to SHOWCASE your home in the BEST LIGHT. It helps maximize your sales price and minimizing your time on the market. The objective is to make your home look bright and clean, smell fresh and feel spacious. It makes buyers want to live there.  You may not be able to afford a professional stager. You should still achieve a quick sale by following the 4D concept of staging:


4D: Decrease, Declutter, Depersonalize and Deodorize.

Decrease the number of items by 30%. I suggest that you start with the big things first. Remove oversized furniture like that leather recliner. Pull the remaining furniture away from the walls and make groupings that allow for cozy conversation. This will instantly make the space feel larger. Of course, this depends on your room layout too.

Storage space sells houses. Now let’s focus on the smaller things. Everyone looks inside cabinets and closets during the open house. The more spacious your closets seem, the more attractive your home becomes. You should start by decluttering your bedroom and your all your closets. 


Depersonalize the home. Pack away those family photos, travel souvenirs, your sports paraphernalia, and collections. Make it easier for the buyers to imagine their life in their future home, not yours. A buyer has no connection with a home when they walk in. Your items make it even harder for them to visualize their life in it.

Just take a moment to think of your office microwave during lunch time. No one likes that mixture of odors. Right?  Do you know what the best smell for a home is? No smell at all. Some homeowners become immune to the way their house smells. Other sellers are too house proud to accept that their home smells dank, and I know of buyers who don’t make it past the foyer precisely because of that ‘old house smell’. We all know what that is. So give your oven a deep clean, throw/donate/discard those old unused items that have gathered dust. Things like old shoes and coats, cosmetic samples, rusty utensils, old cell phones, broken electronics, unused hobby related projects all add up to create that old house smell. Go that extra mile to get rid of those pet odors and smoke odors. Get your carpeted floors shampooed.  Most likely it has decades of dust in it. Deep Clean EVERYTHING. It is worth the investment.

Wish you good luck and a speedy, profitable sale with this 4D method – Decrease, Declutter, Depersonalize, and Deodorize! 

It often makes you fall in love with your home again. It is a good policy to have even if you are NOT selling the home.

About The Author

Richa brings you only the most practical, to-the-point, no-nonsense information that helps turn your house into your dream home. She has a passion for simplifying design concepts that you can actually put to use. She has a degree in Architecture, over thirty published articles, a life blog and has co-authored the bestseller 'My First Home' with Shashank Shekhar.


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