Tag Archives: spare room

Decluttering for Guests

Prepare for house guests & accomplish your declutter goals

Prepare for houseguests & make progress on decluttering

Do you dread the thought of family or friends coming to visit because your spare room (if you even have one) is overloaded with “stuff” you’ve been meaning to deal with?

You’re not alone.  We estimate that 75% of families with spare rooms have no capacity for hosting spare people.

If you want to make a room usable in a short amount of time, you can employ some basic organizing strategies.

Your guest room is a jumble, where do you start?  Many people load up paper bags and stuff things in closets.  There may be a better way.  It involves changing your mindset from immediate gratification to long-term goals.

As you approach a pile of unrelated stuff, notice that there are usually distinct categories of things in the piles.

  • Clothes and bedding
  • Craft supplies and tools
  • Paperwork
  • Photos/Memorabilia
  • Dishes and Decor

Do a “rough sort” with the things in the room using broad categories.

Determine if some of the items just need to be donated or if there are homes for them elsewhere in the house (is there room in your linen closet for those extra blankets and comforters, for example?)

Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping, procure banker’s boxes or plastic stackable bins—just enough for this project. Consider buying a couple shallow bins (usually 6” high) for storing things under the bed.

Fill the bins with “like” things.  Label them – noting the category of items stored, the location where the stuff came from and the date it was packed.

Use space under the bed and in the closet. Or dedicate some space in the attic, basement or garage.

If there is no extra storage space, you can employ the pop-up credenza technique.  I’ve made some make-do credenzas with bins filled with off-season clothes, boxes of books, trunks full of sweaters … even masses of canned soda cartons!  The credenza is created when an attractive bedspread, tablecloth or piece of fabric is draped over it and tucked in as if wrapping a package.

If you have no room for a credenza, you may have a free corner to stack boxes.  Use a folding screen to hide the stack.

Space bags can be very helpful when you have lots of fabric/bedding.  It can be put into a large bag and, with the air vacuumed out, it takes up a third of the space.

In any case, while preparing for guests, you’ll be halfway through organizing your stuff.  After your guests have left, pull out the bins and begin making those postponed decisions.

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Filed under Bedroom, General Organizing, Holidays, Strategies

Making the Most of an Empty Nest

Your children have flown the coop.  What do you do with what they've left behind?

Your children have flown the coop. What do you do with what they’ve left behind?

Once your child is truly launched into the world as an independent adult, the challenges and opportunities of being an empty nester arise.

  • how to make them feel welcome in the home without keeping their room untouchable – a shrine
  • how to set up the space so it can be used when they aren’t there but easily host their visits
  • what to do with memorabilia – what to display vs. store vs. jettison
  • what to do with useable but unneeded items in general


  • Create new space to re-purpose for hobbies, exercise, guests
  • Provide extra income by renting out space
  • Help your child transition into adulthood. Re-defining “their room” re-inforces the idea that they are creating their own lives.
  • Re-claiming “their” room for general use reinforces their autonomy


Clearing out space helps you to take stock of the memories and the gifts you shared with your offspring.  You can step back and appreciate the work you put into being the best parent or caretaker that you could be.  What you’re left with is discerning what you own, what you want to use the space for and what new adventures might await you with this opening.

So how do you go about it?

  • If possible, have a conversation with your kid to discern what’s important to them and invite them into the process
  • If you can’t imagine tackling the whole room at once, can you approach one drawer, one closet, or one corner of the garage
  • Think of who else can get benefit from outgrown soccer shoes or an unused weight set.  You can pass on these outgrown tools of parenting to someone who could use the boost.
  • Be kind to yourself and take your time. The emotional impact of this change can be daunting and those emotions can slow the process

This isn’t usually a “fun” process, but going through it to the other side can open up new avenues for bringing in richness.

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Filed under Empty Nest, General Organizing, Kids, Strategies