Handyman: Discover, decide to cut clutter in your home

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

The old phrase “less is more” has a lot of applications in our lives, because often simplicity is the best way to lessen stress. That can apply to the amount of things you have accumulated in your house as well. Let’s take a 3-D look at your home. Discover. Decide. Declutter.

For most of us, decluttering a home doesn’t make the top of the list until a life-changing event occurs, like becoming an empty-nester, moving to a smaller home or even merging two families into one through marriage. But when the decluttering bug hits you, make sure you do your proper prior planning as you should with any home improvement project. So where do you begin?

The first step is to discover what you already have. Focus on areas where you store things, such as the basement, garage, closets or kitchen cabinets, and have an abundance of items that hardly get used. Do inventories of the items to determine what you use regularly or those have sentimental value, or things you hardly or never use and could live without.

Basements are often the depository for lots of items that barely or never get used. Old holiday decorations, kids’ toys, boxes of old clothes and unused furniture often dominate the basement landscape.

Garages are another decluttering hotspot. It is not uncommon to see people who have to park their cars in the driveway because they have so much stuff stored in their garage, like old lawn and garden tools and the kids’ sports equipment.

Now it’s time for the next “D,” as in decide. Go through all the items to determine what you use and what you don’t, then donate, sell or throw away the unused or unwanted items.

When people remodel their kitchen, they usually try to increase the amount of cabinet space. But you can easily increase your kitchen storage space by getting rid of those old pots and pans, coffee cups and kitchen appliances you haven’t used in years.

It also seems like we never have enough closet space, but you would be amazed how much space you actually have if you get rid of old clothes and other items that seem to accumulate on hangers and shelves in the bedroom and hall closets.

Now for the last “D” — as in decluttering. One of the keys is not to tackle more than you can handle. So take one closet or one room at a time, do an inventory of items, then get rid of what you don’t need and reorganize it. Then you will feel good about accomplishing the task and be ready to move on to the next room.

For closet organization, you also may want to consider shelving and organizing systems. Easy Track,, also has a popular and easy-to-install organizing system that features a variety of closet solutions and accessories.

In the garage, consider using pegboard and hooks that fit into the holes to hang items. There also are products designed specifically to help with garage organization, such as Whirlpool’s Gladiator Garage Works,, or Garage Werks,

Storing items in cardboard boxes on the floor of the basement doesn’t protect them from moisture or a sewer or sump pump backup. Instead, get them up off the floor by using shelves or better yet combine them with plastic storage bins with lids such as the ones available from Rubbermaid,

So whether you are moving or staying in your home or just want to reclaim your basement or one room , decluttering can be the most important home improvement project you tackle this year. And when you can finally park your cars in the garage or use your basement for entertaining again, that will be something you can brag about.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail 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.