By Whitney Coy
When you focus on getting your house in order, your bedroom is usually the last room to get your attention. After all, it’s probably not a room that’s seen by most of your guests.
But hey, the bedroom deserves some love! It’s where you go to relax after a long, crazy day. And there’s nothing all that relaxing about locking yourself in a room with piles of clutter.
In this article, we address this often overlooked area, so you can declutter this space and create a soothing retreat. It’s not as big of a job as you think it is—according to the experts we consulted, all you need is 15 minutes to get going. Here’s where to start, regardless of how much free time you have.
Got 15 minutes?
Fifteen minutes doesn’t seem long, but if you focus, you can use it to make a noticeable difference in the condition of your bedroom by clearing the top of your dresser.
A dresser has a couple of important jobs: Not only does it need to be attractive to look at — it is a focal point, after all — but it also has to be functional. If it’s covered in clutter, it’s not fulfilling either purpose.
Nancy Haworth, owner of On Task Organizing, suggests you start by taking everything off of the top of your dresser. Replace only the items that really need to be there: essentials like a jewelry box and perfume bottles, and one or two decorative items. Consider using a tray to corral smaller items — this works both to keep your items together, and to limit the number of items you can set out as much as will fit on the tray.
Got 30 minutes?
If you have a half-hour free, there are a few more bedroom projects you can try — starting with your dresser drawers.
Before you get too excited ... a half-hour is probably not enough time to clean out all your dresser drawers. Haworth says it’s more likely to take closer to 30 minutes per drawer. One drawer at a time, pull everything out and discard anything that no longer fits or that you no longer wear. Next, neatly refold everything you intend to keep, and put it away, with the items you use most in the most accessible spots. That will keep you from undoing all your hard work when you’re digging through the drawers next time.
Next, hit the books. If you like to read in bed, there’s a good chance you have stacks of books scattered all over your bedroom. Now you may consider books as decor, but that’s not the same thing as leaving books on and under every available surface. Haworth advises you to take 30 minutes and gather all the books in the room, then put them away on a bookshelf, or, if necessary, bring in a new bookshelf that can house them — anything to reduce the piles.
Next, streamline your purse collection. “Take 30 minutes to empty all of your purses and then sort, declutter, and organize what remains,” advises Haworth. This is another job whose time frame will depend on how much you’ve accumulated. “It could take up to two hours if purses are full and you need to look through all of the contents,” she says.
Got an hour?
There’s a lot you can do with a whole hour—like organize your jewelry collection. How long has it been since you’ve pared it down? Chances are, it’s been a while, and probably it needs it.
“Detangle, declutter, sort, and organize your jewelry collection,” says Haworth. If your jewelry box is overflowing and you can’t bear to part with any of it, consider investing in a larger storage solution, like a vertical jewelry box that doubles as a standing mirror.
Or, if you’re a shoe hound, go through your shoe collection and get rid of as many pairs as you can. If necessary, try them on to help you remember which ones pinch your toes, and which ones look much better in the box than on your feet.
Got two hours?
If you’ve somehow come across two full hours with nothing to do (lucky you!), it’s time to tackle your closet.
You may think your bedroom closet doesn’t really count as clutter, since you can close the door and forget all about what’s in there, but that’s simply not true. If your closet is so stuffed to the brim that you can’t put anything away, you’re more likely to set things down where they don’t belong. Getting closets organized is a key factor in keeping the rest of your room (and home) free of clutter.
If you have a standard-sized bedroom closet, Haworth says it’ll take you about two hours to get it under control. Go through each item of clothing, pulling out anything that you no longer wear for the donate pile. Consider removing anything that’s not in season and storing it elsewhere, in the basement or a garage, for example, until it’s time to pull it out again.
You can also attack your nightstand.
“I personally think the nightstand is the single most important piece of furniture in a bedroom,” says certified professional organizer Lauren Williams, owner of Casual Uncluttering, in Woodinville, WA. The reason: It’s storage for items you need immediately to start the day (eyeglasses, a lamp, cellphone, alarm clock, or perhaps some of the most urgent medicines), items for ending the day (water, book, maybe other meds), and other personal items, like tissues and cough drops.
“A good two-hour project makes your nightstand more functional,” Williams says. “You need to remove everything from on, in, and under the nightstand, making the usual decisions about what to keep and not keep. This time, however, you will also need to more carefully decide if the ‘keeps’ stay on, in, or under the nightstand — or go somewhere else. Next, consider where things go very carefully — generic personal items like tissues may not need to be as close to hand as your eyeglasses, for example.”