The new year is all about embracing a fresh start and parting with objects or situations that no longer serve us. So what better time to do a full blown home cleanout and judiciously go through our belongings? Below, designers weigh in on the 10 items that absolutely must be removed from our spaces once and for all.
1. Old Cassettes, VCR Tapes, CDs and DVDs
Now that we're well into the 21st century, you're most likely streaming your music and videos. This is not only a convenient practice for those of us frequently on the go, but it can save free up of precious shelf space back home, too. As designer Dawn Heuer says, "None of us need to have old CDs or DVDs laying around... Anything that can be digitized should be!" And it should go without saying that if you’ve got cassette or VCR tapes, those can almost certainly go.
2. Themed Dinnerware
Yes, you can certainly still get into the holiday spirit without clogging up your kitchen cabinets, designer Jil McDonald says. "Do we really need that platter that has graphics of turkeys or Christmas trees on them? Let your seasonal decor do the heavy lifting and invest in white or off-white dinnerware." Such pieces can still be used to create a stunning tablescape as long as you incorporate the right accents, McDonald adds. "Simply add candles, olive branches, or flowers to your table to invoke the seasonal spirit."
3. Lifeless Plants
Yes, being a plant parent is all the rage at the moment, but if you've tried everything and are still struggling to keep a green friend alive, it's OK to cut yourself some slack. "Many of us don't have a green thumb and we keep holding on to old plants hoping they will bloom again or regenerate themselves," McDonald says. "Sometimes we just have to say, 'Enough is enough,' and throw it in the compost bin." Or, perhaps a plant lover in your apartment building or social circle will enjoy taking on the challenge of nursing your pothos back to life!
4. Excessive Reusable Bags
Reusable bags are excellent to keep on hand for grocery runs, but perhaps you've found yourself accumulating far more than you actually need. "It's time to clean them out and get creative about finding them new homes," designer Marika Meyer says. "Many homeless shelters accept donations of sturdy bags. They are very useful for distributing items! You might also consider contacting local schools, who are always looking for things that can be reimagined for arts and crafts."
5. Old Towels, Blankets, and Throw Pillows
If textiles that have seen better days are starting to get on your nerves, take a cue from Allie Mann, a designer and senior interiors specialist at Case Architects & Remodelers. "Instead of just throwing them away because of holes or small tears that cannot be repaired, we donate them to the local animal shelter or vet," she notes. "They particularly need them this time of year."
6. Unnecessary Reading Material
Are you really going to flip back through those magazines you purchased for your last vacation or re-read that book from two summers ago? "Let’s be honest, the magazines that you’re saving will never be looked at again—they’re simply collecting dust and creating clutter in your home," designer Brandi Wilkins says. Books that don't continue to inspire you can also be cleared out. "If they aren’t being read currently and they aren’t enhancing the decor of your space, let them go," she adds. "Donating old books is a great way to declutter and also share your favorite books with others who may not have easy access to buying new ones."
7. Ultra-Specific Kitchen Appliances
It's tempting to stock up on all of the latest gadgets. But designer Eleanor Trepte says, "Unless you have a massive kitchen with a large pantry for appliance storage, think about cutting back on the number of kitchen appliances you own, and instead focusing on just a few that can do double duty." And holding on to only top contenders will ultimately make your day to day meal prep easier, Trepte adds. "It will help keep your kitchen countertops stress and clutter free!"
8. Your Least Favorite Holiday Decor
Why not take time following the winter holidays to streamline your collection of festive decor? "If you're like me, not every piece of holiday glitter makes it out of the box each year," Meyer comments. "So, while you are digging through those boxes anyway, why not do some sorting and share some holiday cheer with others? You'll declutter and make someone's holiday a bit brighter!"
9. Extra Table Lamps
If they're dated, they don't belong in your home, McDonald notes. "These are tough to get rid of because they are a useful item," she acknowledges. "Donate them to your local thrift store and purchase a new, sleek table lamp, or perhaps a gourd or wide ginger jar vase in a beautiful color." Then, she advises, insert a warm, white LED light bulb that will cast a pleasant glow.
10. Unused or Broken Toys
"As a mother of two young children, I suggest getting rid of broken or old toys your kids don't play with anymore," designer Lauren Harmon says. Items that are beyond repair belong in the trash, but otherwise, pay it forward. "If they're still in good condition and your child just outgrew them, donate them," Harmon suggests.