If you really want to know what your house smells like, you can’t stay indoors. You have to go outside and get some fresh air, and when you return you’ll know if your house smells like dinner or laundry or paint.
I’ve even witnessed someone not notice a gas leak because she was so used to it.
Clutter happens the same way. You get so used to it that you don’t see it any more.
It helps to switch up your perspective sometimes so that you can see a room the way other people will see it. One way to do this is to take a photograph.
I took the picture above of the couch in a furnished apartment we rented last year (I liked the fabric).
A different time that I snapped that picture, I was surprised by the socks that someone had left on the back of the couch. I couldn’t see them at all when I was standing right in front of them. I could only see them in the picture.
Photographs help you to notice details like extension cords dangling and piles in the corners.
Another way to change your perspective about the way you look at a room is to invite people over. This never fails to make me notice the things we left on the counters or by the back entrance that I had been so good at ignoring before I knew other people would see it.
If you need to tackle something big, something like a Monica’s closet or a back room, the best thing to do is take everything out. I don’t do this for every clean-out project, but I did it for my back room makeover, and it was the best way to see what was filling up space (and to keep things from falling on my head from shelves above). Take everything out when you can’t see to assess the area because so much stuff is in the way.
The ultimate method, and this is not for wimps, is to stage your house and pack for a move. It’s better to keep up with your stuff before you have to.