How not to have a junk room

Junk room clutter

The difference between a junk room and a storage room

A storage room is for things that are useful and are sometimes used. It ideally has shelves or a set of storage bins that are neatly stacked and labelled so you know where everything is and can easily find something when you want it. It’s regularly cleaned and dusted, and looks and feels cared for.

The items you store may not be needed very often, but they are used every year, or at least every other year. Examples would be Christmas decorations, sportswear, camping equipment, suitcases, and so on. Any of these can morph into clutter over time if your life changes and they are left to gather dust, so regular clear-outs are essential.

A junk room is very different. Items are usually stacked haphazardly, and it’s difficult or impossible to get in there to clean and dust. It contains stuff that you think you may have a use for, but you won’t know for sure for a while.

Or the items may not even be your own. Many of the junk rooms I see in people’s homes contain things inherited from a deceased relative. The person is waiting to have time to sort through it all or, in many cases, overcome their grief enough to do so. Years can pass, and still it remains.

In short, you’re in control of a storage room but a junk room has a life of its own, and not a pretty one at that!

A junk room happens when a room does not have a purpose

When Richard and I first moved to the UK from Bali back in 2010, we rented a house while looking for one to buy. It had a small room near the front door that became a convenient place to put anything that didn’t yet have a home. Within a few weeks, we’d accidentally created our very own junk room.

This had never happened in any of the other places we’d lived together before, so we were very curious about how it had snuck up on us and why it had taken us a while to see it for what it was.

What we realized was that a junk room happens when a room does not have a purpose.

The room in question was lined with beautiful wooden bookshelves and was designed to be used as a library, but because we’d just moved continents and had no books with us, it had no specific function.

At the time, we thought we were putting things in there “just for now” and that that was OK. New carpets were being laid throughout the property, so it seemed the sensible thing to do.

The only problem was that most of the things that went into this room never came out again. After we’d bought furniture and set up each room of the house as we wanted it, the junk room remained. “Just for now” turned out to be a little lie we’d told ourselves. The room had filled with things that had no place in our new home and would have stayed in the junk room for the entire year we were there, if we’d let them.

I’ve since seen this same scenario in the homes of many clients I’ve worked with. A junk room is rarely planned. It happens unconsciously. The person may genuinely believe that things are being put there temporarily, but years later it’s often all still there.

The problem with having a junk room

The main problem with having a junk room is that stagnant energy always accumulates around things that are not used for a long period of time, and this always creates a corresponding stuckness in some aspect of your life.

A junk room in the Prosperity area of a home, for example, is likely to impact your finances, one in your Relationships area can cause difficulties there, one in the center of your home can affect your health and well-being, and so on. Chapter 8 of my book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, describes all nine areas of the home in detail and the effect that having clutter in any of them can have.

How to declutter a junk room

To get motivated to tackle a junk room, the first step is to give it a new purpose. What would you really like to use the space for? Perhaps it could be used as a guest room, a home office, or a study or playroom for children? Some clients I’ve worked with choose to convert their junk room into a dressing room, or use it as a dedicated meditation, yoga or gym space. At the very least, transform it into an organized storage room. Get very clear about what you want. If you share your home with other people, you may like to discuss it with them too.

If you’ve had a junk room for a number of years and have never used anything in there, a radical approach you may like to consider is dumping the lot without even sorting through it. A house clearance company will take it all away and may even pay you something for the privilege. I’ve worked with several clients who’ve opted to do this with the greatest of glee once they gave themselves permission to do it.

A slower, more measured approach is to break the room down into small, manageable chunks and begin clearing them twenty minutes at a time. Make decisions as you go about how you will dispose of things, such as gifting them, selling them or donating them to charity, and be sure to follow through and do it.

When you’ve cleared the last item, give the room a good clean and a fresh coat of paint, and put it to good use in whatever way you’ve decided. That way it won’t have the chance to gather any more stuff.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2017

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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