The Home Edit's Gentle Advice For Letting Go Of Clutter

Eight years ago, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin founded The Home Edit, a wildly successful brand focused on helping people find stylish solutions to overcome their cluttered homes. Decluttering, donating, and organizing your home is hard enough on your own, but what can you do when you know or live with someone who refuses to downsize their stuff? That's the question one audience member posed to Shearer and Teplin during an event on their "Summer of Fun" tour. One of House Digest's very own reporters attended the event at the Chicago Copernicus Center on July 28, where they captured some expert advice from Shearer and Teplin. "For people who are 'collectors,' it requires a little bit of tough love, but still knowing your limits," Shearer told the audience, "You cannot push them past where they're comfortable, and they have to want your help. So, getting them to let go of small, little things takes work." 

In other words, you can't force anyone to get rid of their stuff, but you can help them warm up to the idea. It can be hard to release the emotional ties that we all have with our stuff, whether you're helping a child clean up their room or convincing your adult spouse to downsize their DVD collection. Perhaps you're the one who doesn't like to let things go! Either way, here's what Shearer and Teplin have to say about clearing up clutter with kindness. 

Start small and establish good habits

You've done the work to downsize your own space, but now your friend or family member's excessive belongings are becoming an eyesore — or even a tripping hazard. When it comes to helping someone (or yourself) with their clutter, it's best to start slow. Considering Clea Shearer's advice to start small, it may be good to focus on low-attachment items, like old socks or bathroom clutter, then work your way up to more emotional items like clothing and hobby collections. After decluttering, make the organization process fun and simple for the whole family to keep up with. "We truly believe that if there is a system in place with labels then it is easier for other family members to know exactly where to put items back," the duo told The Washington Post.

For downsizing and organizing children's toys, Shearer and Teplin recommend using small furniture pieces with hidden storage, like an ottoman, toy chest, or dresser. For example, they suggest turning a cabinet into an adorable "parking garage" for toy cars and more! "Setting them up with systems that they can maintain is setting them up for success at a young age. Have large categories, so you can have all figurines in one basket and blocks in another basket," said Teplin (via Motherly).