I recently helped clients to prepare for visitors during the Thanksgiving holiday. We further organized areas like kitchens, dining rooms and guest rooms, but one space that needed major decluttering in many homes was the hallway. The downstairs hallways, upstairs hallways and stairways were all areas of concern. While decluttering helps the spaces look more tidy and inviting, the benefit of having a clear hallway and stairs in case of emergency is invaluable.
As you deck the halls this season, also think about decluttering the halls. Halls and stairways usually become cluttered because other rooms and closets are already full, so you will also want to work on those spaces. However, to make it easier to access all rooms, and prevent tripping hazards, declutter the hallways and stairways first.
In the downstairs hallway, I often see overflow from a coat closet or front closet, or items like vacuum cleaners, that just won’t fit elsewhere, blocking the way. Shoes, tote bags, book bags and incoming mail packages can often fill this space as well. Work on making a place for these belongings. You may want to declutter the downstairs closet, hang up extra hooks on the wall or back of a door, set up a bigger shoe rack, or move some shoes to bedroom closets to better clear the space. Designate a new home for things like the vacuum cleaner, perhaps in an guest room closet or even in the garage, anywhere where it will not block the flow of your hallway. Create a routine for opening boxes that come in the mail, and swiftly moving the empty boxes to recycling.
In the upstairs hallway, I often find that things “going to the attic”, framed photos and artwork to be hung up, overflow from a linen closet, and laundry (both clean and dirty) can block the halls. Work on dispersing these things more frequently. If the attic is frequently used, schedule a time, perhaps every weekend or immediately after holidays, where you can bring things up there. Schedule a time to hang up the framed items, or hire someone to do it for you. Declutter the linen closet to prevent closet overflow from falling into the hall. If laundry is a common issue in your home, work on setting up a laundry routine, or perhaps keep laundry baskets inside each bedroom or in the laundry room, rather than in a hallway. Work on creating a flow of objects so that the hallway can remain clear.
To keep stairways clear, use boxes or bags to carry items to the rooms where those things should reside. To prevent further stairway clutter from piling up, place a decorative basket or bin near the stairs, and move things up and down on a regular basis. Once the basket is full, use that as your visual clue to disperse things to the right rooms.
Once you’ve cleared the corridors of your home, it will be much easier to move around your house, access rooms, and invite visitors over. Remember, you can always close a door to a room that you don’t want visitors to see, but the hallways and stairways are more visible. Work on creating systems and routines to help keep those spaces decluttered, so you can safely move from one room to another.