Expert Hacks to Declutter Your Personal Home Environment

Julie Edelman

Being the keeper of ones own personal home environment is difficult as it is. Throw a baby and a husband into the mix and it gets even more difficult.

"The Accidental Housewife", Julie Edelman

When the The Accidental Housewife. aka Julie Edelman transitioned into her role as the keeper and maintainer of all things domestic, she knew she was no Martha Stewart or Stepford Wife. Realizing there was no way she could possibly keep her house spotless while maintaining her sanity, she penned her book The Accidental Housewife. Now, Julie has expanded her happy house cleaning tips into feng shui and is teaching her readers how to "Feng shui, the Accidental Housewife way".

Accidental Feng Shui

LTK: Your Accidental Housewife books are geared toward simple and realistic organizing and cleaning tips for the home. Can you give our readers a few tips on how to feng shui high traffic areas of their homes, like the living room and kitchen?

JE: An easy way to reduce clutter and enhance the flow of energy in our house is to use the 20/80 rule - studies have shown that we only use 20 percent of our stuff 80 percent of the time, and the rest is clutter collecting dust and causing more work for us accidental ones! So take stock of what stuff you use and what stuff has become statuesque! Then keep, donate or 'regift'- just be sure the stuff you 'gift' doesn't go back to its original giftee!

Take Five and Organize

LTK: You differentiate between the "Cosmetic Clean" and the "Big Clean". Can you give some "Cosmetic Clean" feng shui advice for ones own personal home environment?

JE: A more organized house looks a lot cleaner, so if you shift and straighten; edit and empty you can achieve some accidental housewifely harmony and balance in your life. The balance comes in part from not stressing over the task but by blending it into your everyday activities such as chatting on the phone, watching TV or when the whim to organize hits. That's where my "Take Five and Organize" list of various tasks you can do in five minutes comes into play and harmony:

  1. Sort through mail
  2. Throw old magazines away
  3. Stack magazines you're keeping
  4. Edit kitchen countertop
  5. Fill dishwasher
  6. Empty garbage
  7. Clean junk drawer in kitchen
  8. Chuck expired meds in your bathroom cabinet
  9. Put toys in containers
  10. Pay a bill or two
  11. Put shoes away
  12. Clear night tables
  13. Put jewelry away
  14. Call for pickup of stuff to give-away
  15. Take a moment to look at what you've accomplished - and smile!

The Big Clean

LTK: How about some "Big Clean" feng shui advice?

JE: The very essence of feng shui is defined as the Chinese art of keeping the flow of energy clear in your home to achieve harmony and balance. I take it a step further to include your individual style, which is why I call one of the chapters "Feng Shui My Way."

What this really speaks to is doing just enough to balance out desire to have balance with the time and energy we have to get it done. When you're in the mood to do a big clean, focus on the high traffic, high visibility areas and toxic zones - i.e. the bathroom and kitchen, which are places that require the most attention to ensure the health inspectors don't show up.

Clean toilets, sinks, showers / tubs, floors, and counters regularly, as well as any cooking appliances where you may have accidentally let a sauce or soup bubble over or a steak with its fat spritzing all over! Again, it's important not to get overwhelmed, and do as I do, "clean as you go" - and do just enough so that when it's time to do the "Big Clean," it's not quite so "Big!"

The Accidental Housewife Feng Shui Tools

LTK: Do you have any essential feng shui the Accidental Housewife way tools people can use to make the process easier?

JE: Organizing isn't something that is easily accomplished with the aid of store-bought products or personal services. They can help, but only after you figure out what stays, and what goes from bills to magazines to clothes to that new shade of lipstick that you've never used. That said, there's a few things you can use to make organizing your life easier.

The Value of Velcro

Velcro is the new black! Super easy to install and use - and a perfect way to free up your counter space by putting complimentary strips around a flower pot you're not using; an empty picture frame; inside a bathroom cabinet; or any other space you believe is velcro-worthy! Use it for such items as:

  • Make-up brushes
  • Tweezers
  • Razors
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Combs, brushes

Pocket Pals

Pocket pals rock - anything that has a multitude of pockets and can be hung up will save space and shouldn't cost you much. There are lots of decorative shoe bags and travel make up bags around, but I opt for the clear ones since I usually am reaching for my bathroom musts before I put my contacts in!When you do organize, also do it by frequency of use and the order of your daily rituals. For example:

  • Row One: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
  • Row Two: Shaving cream, razor, after-shave, bandages
  • Row Three Skin creams, makeup, brushes, sunglasses
  • Row Four: Styling aids, brushes, combs


Over time I have collected store shopping bags (the way Carrie Bradshaw collected Manolo Blahnik shoes)… Clearly, they hold no real value, but for some reason I suffer separation anxiety every time I consider tossing them out! I came up with ways to slowly part with these shopping bags and repurpose them. For those who share this inexplicable attachment to Neiman Marcus, Macy's or Target bags, here are a few sanity-saving ways to help you let go!

  • Gift Wrap - One of the reasons I find it hard to part with bags is because they're pretty, so I began using them as a quick and often last-minute gift-wrapping option. Hey, you might even fool those getting the gift that it's from Neiman's and not the dollar store!
  • Stop Drafts - Use them to stop drafts under your vanity or by your kitchen sink, dishwasher or A/C unit.

Discard on a Whim

Simply line up a few shopping bags in your closet where you can see them. Then next time you put on a pair of pants that are too big (wishful thinking) or you notice your platform shoes have pointy toes instead of rounded ones or your tie is about two inches too thick, just bag it. When the bag is full, take it to the nearest charity drop off, school, or house of worship.

Finding Harmony in Ones Own Personal Home Environment

LTK: What is the goal of chaotic harmony as far as feng shui is concerned?

JE: Feng shui is rooted in the belief that clutter obstructs our ability to find harmony with our surroundings and the flow of energy (chi) around us. From time to time, I have problems getting to sleep, recently a friend shared with me that it was important to clear the bedroom of clutter. As a result, harmony was restored, and I'm now sleeping through the night. Mind over matter? I don't know, but if it works, who cares! Remember, it's feng shui, your way!

Expert Hacks to Declutter Your Personal Home Environment