We’ve all been there – the vanity in the bedroom starts out fresh and clean enough. But it slowly, over time, becomes a dumping ground for all the stuff we don’t know what to do with or whether or not to get rid of or keep. It’s normal and happens to everyone; I think there’s a law of physics that deals with this exact principle. Regardless of how it happens, a messy vanity is no one’s dream come true. In this article, we’ll look at how to declutter in general, using a bedroom vanity as the illustration.
Declutter Step 1: Identify place to be decluttered. The thing about decluttering is it can happen just as effectively on a small scale as it can on a big one. It’s important to scale back your decluttering efforts to match the sort of time parameters you have, as well as your own expectations. A vanity’s thorough decluttering can take hours, depending on the amount of storage in the vanity itself.
Declutter Step 2: Determine and list all the functions and expectations of your decluttering space. This vanity, for example, serves as a place to do makeup and hair as well as to store permanent markers/art stuff, first aid items, and other items that aren’t necessarily used on a daily basis but are used frequently enough that they should be easily accessible.
Tip: While you are decluttering, constantly ask yourself: “Have I used this item in the past ______?” Insert week, month, or year, depending on the type of object you’re studying.
For makeup or skin care items, if it’s been more than several months to a year that you’ve used the item, it’s time it goes away. This trash bag shows some toiletries and makeup items that are just the tip of the iceberg of the expired/unused items found in this vanity.
Tip: Let dust be your guide. Items that aren’t used regularly or often will gather dust. This can be a good determining factor for you if you’re struggling with whether or not you should keep an object around.
Of course, sometimes dust can just mean you haven’t cleaned a space in a while. Which is one of the huge secondary benefits of decluttering – a space gets deep-cleaned.
Declutter Step 3: Sort & group similar items.Sort and group all the items on and in the place (in this case the vanity), all at once. Don’t take one drawer at a time, and here’s why: When you’re working on a contained space, such as a vanity, the chances are high that objects with similar purposes have been mixed throughout the space (e.g., in various drawers).
In order to truly be able to declutter, you need to pull everything out all at once, and look at it all at the same time.
This drawer has been empties of all its random contents; items have been grouped as appropriate. Many items were thrown away; some were placed in piles to be recycled, donated, moved elsewhere, etc.
This drawer may look organized enough, but it is completely random in its purpose. (Translation: It has no real purpose.) Old checkbooks, some thank-you cards, and bandaids don’t have much to do with each other. They probably ended up together in this drawer simply because their physical properties allowed them to fit easily. This is not a good storage method, unless the objects share a purpose. Decluttering will help this setup significantly.
Declutter Step 4: Clean. When storage containers or objects are free of their holdings, go ahead and clean these as you go.
Same goes for all the surfaces of the space; in this case, the vanity top.
Declutter Step 5: Repurpose objects intentionally. This box contained blank cards; the cards were combined with another box of thank-you cards, and now this cute box is empty.
I decided to use the box to store bandaids because (a) it’s cuter than a bandaids box, (b) it’s sturdy, (c) it’s easier to open than a bandaids box, and (d) it’s smaller than the bandaids box. Any one of these reasons is valid to switch storage containers during a decluttering process.
Declutter Step 5: Replace objects strategically. Points to consider as you replace the objects you’ve sorted and decluttered include, but are not limited to, the following: Object use should be directly related to its accessibility. Object purposes, functions, and/or pairings should be similar because it’s easier to find what you need when you need it.
Tip: Just because something may not belong in the place that you’re decluttering, doesn’t mean it needs to be thrown away. Don’t hesitate to place objects where they belong, where it makes the most sense for them to be. These treasures from my kids, for example, will never find their way into a garbage can. But they don’t need to take up real estate in my vanity. They have been transferred to a special file folder I keep for just this type of gem.
Declutter Step 8: If a system works, don’t change it. With everything decluttered and looking sparkly-new, you might have a tendency to want to refresh the whole place. But that’s not always the wisest course of action. What I mean is, this vanity now looks cleaned up and well-edited, but it’s got the same basic setup because that is what works for me in my routine and in my space.
Changing the layout completely (putting all my jewelry in another place, for example) is unnecessary and would be frustrating, because this is part of my daily habit. If it wasn’t working for me, decluttering provides an excellent springboard for swapping things around to be more functional. But don’t feel like just because you’ve decluttered you have to move everything. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you know?
This is literally all I have in the middle vanity drawer now. It’s all I need, really, because everything has been stored where it’s more appropriate to be stored.
This drawer looks similar to the drawer pre-decluttered, but with a significant difference: this one is organized by physical fit secondarily. Primarily, it’s organized by use – in this case, makeup and body care.
This drawer is organized by writing stuff, with permanent markers, cards, appropriate checkbook ledgers, and notebooks.
Tip: Sometimes, you should keep something just because it’s pretty. This seashell, for example, is beautifully iridescent, and it was a gift from my son. It used to hold hairthings, but it’s not needed for that anymore. Its purpose now? To sit and look pretty.
This vanity takes up a chunk of space in our small master bedroom. It makes a big difference to have a clutter-free, pretty space here…that functions as well as it looks.
Tip: Don’t declutter a space that belongs to someone else without their permission. Half of this vanity belongs to my husband, and although I would love to get my hot little hands on what’s in three of those drawers, it would be disrespectful to do so. In the near future, we will be able to go through the things together. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my decluttered half of the vanity.
We hope you find this article on how to declutter useful. The most important takeaway might be: just go for it. Decluttering is beyond satisfying, and it is a simple (and free!) way to improve the quality and efficiency of your life.