June 20, 2014 at 1:00 am

The Handyman

Take it one space at a time when decluttering

Most of us have a drawer in the kitchen where we throw receipts and other small items rather than storing them in the proper place. But some of us have taken the “junk drawer” philosophy to other rooms in the house and have developed a serious case of “clutteritis.”

“What people don’t realize is all that clutter can add extra stress to their lives and become overwhelming,” said Linda Hiller Novak of RightMoves for Seniors, (855) 232-1010, rightmovesforseniors.com, a move management services company that helps homeowners declutter before they move.

Hiller Novak said when someone lives in their home for a long time, it is often easier to keep stacking things throughout the house rather than getting rid of them, leading to some serious clutter problems.

“People need to give themselves permission to throw things out,” she said. “Decluttering can really make your life better.”

In addition to accumulating stuff that the kids have left after they move out, people are often afraid to get rid of things because they think they may use them some day.

“First you have to determine which items you use and need to keep, which ones you want to keep for sentimental reasons, and then the ones you really don’t need and can sell, donate or put in the trash,” Hiller Novak said. “Coffee mugs are an example of something people have way too many of, but never seem to throw any away, so they clutter up the cupboards.”

Usually, the areas of the home with the most clutter include the basement, garage and closets. But no matter how much clutter you have in your home, you have to have a plan for decluttering. That generally means starting small and taking it one room, closet or drawer at a time. Hiller Novak said once you get an area decluttered, the rule is one item in, and one item out. You have to develop a routine every day to keep things decluttered.

Fortunately, there are plenty of storage items that can help you stay organized once you declutter. If you are storing things in the basement, use stackable plastic storage bins and shelves to stack them on to keep them off the basement floor and make it easier to find things. Rubbermaid, (888) 895-2110, rubbermaid.com, makes plastic storage bins that are perfect for most basement storage. You can also find the appropriate shelving systems for your basement or other rooms in the house at the Shelving Store, (800) 637-9508, theshelvingstore.com.

For closet organization, you may want to consider shelving and organizing systems available at many home and hardware centers. Easy Track, (800) 562-4257, easytrack.com, has a popular and easy-to-install organizing system that features a variety of closet solutions and accessories.

“Moving is often the impetus for decluttering,” Hiller Novak said. “That is especially true if you are moving from a larger family home to a smaller home or condo, where you won’t have the same amount of storage space.”

Hiller Novak said having a garage sale can be a great way to get rid of unwanted items after you declutter or before you move, but not everyone wants to spend the time to have one. That’s why you see more estate sales popping up around the area, because you can have a company like RightMoves for Seniors run the estate sale and help you sell bigger and more valuable items than you would at a typical garage sale.

Once you see the positive results of a decluttered room, you will want to keep going until your house is the least cluttered and most organized on the block.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail askglenn@masterhandyman.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536, between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.