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Mastering the Merge: Decluttering Strategies for Combining Households

Mastering the Merge: Decluttering Strategies for Combining Households

Combining households is an exciting step, whether we’re moving in with a partner, blending families or sharing space with friends. However, this transition often brings us an overwhelming abundance of stuff. We find ourselves surrounded by duplicate items — two toasters, multiple sofas and more coffee mugs than we could ever use.

How do we navigate this clutter dilemma while maintaining simplicity and intentionality? Explore these decluttering strategies for combining households while keeping your sanity and style.

EMBRACING THE DECLUTTERING MINDSET: WHY LESS IS MORE

Minimalism isn’t about living with nothing — it’s about living with what truly matters. Clutter can significantly impact our mental well-being, leading to stress and anxiety. Embracing a minimalist mindset can help create a serene and functional living space.

3 STEPS FOR TACKLING DUPLICATES

Merging households inevitably leads to duplicate items. Navigating this sea of extras can be daunting, but with a systematic approach, we can streamline our possessions and create a harmonious living space. Here’s a step-by-step guide to tackling duplicates efficiently and thoughtfully.

1. Make an Inventory of Everything

We can start the process by taking stock of what we all have. Create a comprehensive list of all items, categorising them into essentials, duplicates and non-essentials. This inventory will serve as a roadmap for the decluttering journey.

2. Evaluate and Decide

For each category, we ask ourselves:

  • Is it necessary? Determine if the item is essential for our daily life.
  • Is it sentimental? Some items hold emotional value. Be mindful of these, as they can be trickier to part with.
  • Is it in good condition? Keep items that are functional and in good repair.

3. Keep, Sell, Donate or Recycle

Once we’ve evaluated each item, we can now sort them into four categories:

  • Keep: These are essentials and sentimental items on which we all agree.
  • Sell: Items in good condition that we no longer need can be sold in online marketplaces or at a garage sale.
  • Donate: Many charities welcome household items. Check local organisations to see what they accept.
  • Recycle: Find local recycling programs to dispose of broken and unusable items responsibly.
Decluttering strategies for combining households

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR SPECIFIC ITEMS

Some categories of items require special attention when merging households. Here are some tips to help us manage these specific items.

1. Furniture

Choosing the pieces that best fit our new space and style is recommended when it comes to large items like sofas, beds and tables. Here’s how we can do that:

  • Measure your space: Ensure the furniture fits well without overcrowding.
  • Mix and match: Sometimes, a combination of items from both households can create a unique and cohesive look.
  • Ensure quality over quantity: Opt for the pieces that are in the best condition and have the longest life span.

2. Kitchen Appliances

Kitchen duplicates can be especially tricky. We can use these tips to streamline our process:

  • Functionality first: Keep appliances that offer the most functions or are the highest quality.
  • One of each: Limit ourselves to one of each type of appliance — one toaster, one blender.
  • Specialty gadgets: Evaluate how often we use specialty items like ice cream makers, bread machines, fondue pots, waffle irons or pasta makers. If the answer is rarely, consider letting them go.

3. Personal Items

Personal items can be the most challenging to declutter. Approach this part with empathy and respect, considering the following:

  • Sentimental value: Everyone should be allowed to keep a reasonable number of sentimental items. Taking photos of larger sentimental items before letting them go can help preserve their memory without taking up physical space.
  • Item rotation: If we have many sentimental items, we can consider rotating them in and out of storage.
  • Memory box: Designate a small box for each person’s most cherished items.
Decluttering strategies for combining households

4 TIPS TO MAKE MINIMALISM WORK FOR EVERYONE

Minimalism isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution — it’s a flexible approach that can be tailored to fit unique lifestyles and needs. The key is to make the concept realistic, ensuring it supports rather than restricts us. Focus on the principles that make sense for your situation, and enjoy the benefits of a clutter-free, intentional living space without feeling deprived or overwhelmed.

Here are some tips to help you personalise and ease into minimalism:

  1. Personalise your approach: Tailor minimalism to fit your lifestyle and needs.
  2. Be flexible: Allow for adjustments as your life and needs change.
  3. Focus on benefits: Remember the advantages of a decluttered space — more room, less stress and increased productivity.
  4. Take your time: Decluttering doesn’t have to happen overnight. Go at a pace that feels comfortable for everyone involved.

MAINTAINING MINIMALISM: 3 TIPS FOR LONG TERM SUCCESS

Once we’ve successfully merged our households and decluttered our space, the next challenge is maintaining this newfound simplicity and order. It’s easy to slip back into old habits, but with a few strategies, we can keep our home clutter-free and enjoy minimalism’s benefits.

Here are some tips to help us maintain momentum and stay organised over the long term.

1. Designate a Donation Box or Station

Keep a donation box or station in a convenient location, such as a closet or a garage. When we come across items we no longer need, we can immediately place them there. Once full, take the box or items to a local charity. This ongoing habit makes it easier to part with things gradually rather than all at once.

If you choose your garage to house your donated items, assess the space’s functionality and capacity. Be careful not to overpack this space or use it as a graveyard for duplicate items. Many homeowners don’t realise that a garage full of boxes and other items can increase the temperature of the whole house by retaining heat and preventing airflow. Stick to one donation box or station and make a habit of keeping it clear to help you feel more balanced and in control and to keep your utility bills efficient, too. 

2. Implement the One-In-One-Out Rule

To help keep clutter at bay, try the one-in-one-out rule. For every new item we bring into the home, we commit to letting go of an existing one. This practice helps us be more mindful of our purchases and keeps our space manageable.

3. Encourage Open Communication

Living with others means continually negotiating space and belongings. Encourage open and honest communication about each person’s needs and preferences. Regular check-ins can help us address concerns before they become bigger issues and ensure everyone feels respected and comfortable in the shared space.

Decluttering strategies for combining households

CREATING OUR BEST LIFE TOGETHER

Combining households is more than just merging belongings — it’s about building a life together with intention and care. A minimalist approach can help us create a harmonious, clutter-free home that nurtures our well-being and strengthens our relationships. Remember, the goal is to enrich our lives with space, clarity and purpose. Embrace this journey toward simplicity and watch how it transforms your shared living experiences.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rose Morrison is the managing editor of Renovated, a home improvement and intentional living site where she loves to share tips and advice to empower homeowners to simplify their lives and spaces. When not writing about decluttering and home projects, she loves decompressing with her beloved pony, Rami. Follow her on X and connect on LinkedIn.

Laura

Sunday 30th of June 2024

I wish I had read this article before moving in with my ex-partner. I cried when dropping off some of my beloved books for donation, because my partner insisted. In hindsight, I should have kept the books, and gotten rid of him. LOL

The moral of this story, of course, is that if you and/or your partner can't acknowledge the emotional impact of letting go of certain items, perhaps you are best off not living together. But in the unlikely event that I cohabit with someone new, I will certainly keep the wisdom in this article in mind.

Thank you, Rose, for these excellent suggestions, and thank you, Antonia, for including this on your blog!

Balance Through Simplicity

Tuesday 2nd of July 2024

Hi Laura, Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree. It seems to me that maybe relationships and decluttering share a common theme or two - compromise and keeping in mind the bigger picture when/if little niggles or challenges start to surface :-).