Monday, August 13, 2007

Tip for Converting Clutter into Space, Time & Money

Clutter is a hotly negotiated currency in many homes, especially when one family member's treasure looks like junk to another. Clutter conflicts often develop when a pack-rat shares a home with a space-clearing maven.

I spoke to experts about how to resolve the clutter battle. Here are some of their suggestions:

• Trade treasure for junk. Trent Hamm, author of, a personal finance website, uses a barter system to cut clutter in his home. When his wife insists on hoarding treasure during a closet cleaning session, Hamm negotiates. Waving another hotly debated item, he tries to cut a deal: Keep one, trade one. From that initial bid, the dealing continues until the closets are streamlined.

• Barter with time. When the item-for-item barter system fails, Hamm and his wife trade time for merchandise. She retains her treasure and he earns a golfing session.

• Trade junk for cash. Your unwanted merchandise can be converted into cash, says Catherine Halley, web editor for Domino magazine ( and author of the Scrappy Girl Decorates blog. Your extra clutter can be sold at a multifamily garage sale, through eBay or Craigslist.

• Convert clutter into art.Halley uses household objects -- empty thread spools or an old drawer -- to make multimedium sculptures. Her art pieces have become so popular that friends have started to make requests. Halley also sells her clutter-into-art pieces at, which showcases handmade crafts. ''You can operate your own store [on the website],'' she said.

• Earn a tax credit. Many charities provide tax credits for donations of clothes, furniture and other merchandise. Some charities seek out specific items such as eyeglasses, business suits and prom dresses.

• Give it away. Create your own hand-me-down boutique by giving away the lamps, books and clothes that are cluttering closets. Halley, for example, had held onto a velvet Prada jacket that she found in a thrift store for $8 -- far below the normal triple-digit price tag. But the jacket didn't fit. A few weeks ago, Halley finally surrendered it to a friend.

This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.



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