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Reclaim your living room

The problem with smart homes is that they can become overrun with outdated tech. The family room often ends up as the resting place for unused gadgets, mystery cords, old games and more. Here are some tech -- and nontech -- items you should consider tossing or recycling to free up more room for fun.

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Video games

When my husband started cleaning out his man cave, video games and their cases were the first to be donated.

Why? Most games today can be downloaded online and stored on your console or an external hard drive. Clearing out made a lot more room for his Star Wars collectibles.

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Board games

While you're at it, clear out and donate any board games that have been gathering dust for years.

If you're just missing a few pieces from an otherwise playable game, you can go to Amazon's replacement pieces section to find them.

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DVDs

Like video games, most movies can be bought and downloaded online or on streaming services like Hulu, Sling or Netflix. If you really want to hang on to your DVDs, only keep the ones you actually watch over and over. Donate or sell the rest to clear up more shelf space.

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Books

I love my books almost like family, but when my shelves started to bow from the weight, I knew it was time to let go.

My rule of thumb for separation was simple. If it's in a genre I didn't read, it was donated. If I'd had it for years and still hadn't read it, it was donated. If it was a book for toddlers (my kids are teens), it was donated.

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CDs, cassettes and vinyl

Saving your favorite tunes is great, but if you have them in digital form, it's probably time to toss or donate your CDs, cassettes and vinyl.

Only keep a couple that you really love for sentimental reasons -- just make sure you still have the tech to play them, though.

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Cables and cords

Before my family room clean-up, I had a whole drawer of cords and cables for tech that I no longer owned.

If you have the same problem, Taylor Martin can guide you through which cords to keep and which ones you can safely toss.

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Extension cords

While going through your cords, go ahead and toss any extension cords that are frayed, detaching from the plug or missing prongs. Here's some help for organizing the cords you keep.

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Recycle old cables

By the way, old cords and chargers can be recycled. Here's a list of the best ways to go green with your cables.

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Gaming controllers

My household seems to hoard video game controllers. The other day, my husband and I decided to go through and either fix or toss the broken ones.

If you have any with buttons that stick, chunks of rubber coming off, or batteries that don't hold a charge, it's time to toss them.

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Knickknacks

A stuffed animal here, a statue from vacation there and before you know it your shelves are overrun with knickknacks that you don't even want.

Grab a donations box and fill it will all the figurines, trinkets and gifts that you hate. They're just dust catchers and they clutter your space. Keep the ones that you love and reevaluate every few months.

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Old abandoned toys

While you roam for knickknacks, also add to the box any toys your kids -- or you -- have outgrown.

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Craft items

Hello, my name is Alina and I'm a craft supply hoarder. Well, I used to be. I've cleared out all the toilet paper tubes, empty jars, dried up paint tubes, wrinkled wrapping paper and crumpled tissue paper from my family room. If you too have had craft items for ages and haven't used them, it's time to let them go.

Don't just trash them, though. You can donate these items to a daycare or after-school program that will actually use them.

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That ancient computer monitor

Scrap the huge, boxy monitor you bought in the early 2000s and upgrade to a flat screen already. Here are our favorite monitor choices for 2018.

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Obsolete tablets

If you have a big modern phone, you probably never touch your old tablets. You can give them new life with these tips or donate them.

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Gadget accessories

While you're figuring out what to do with your tablets, scoop up all of your old gadget accessories, like phone cases, stands and earbuds you don't need and plop them in the donation pile.

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Old phones

I know you love your flip phones, indestructible Nokias and super thick first-gen Droids and iPhones, but it's time to let go. Here's how to sell or recycle your old phones, even the broken phone you just replaced.

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How to keep the clutter away

Overall, the best rule when deciding to toss something is to ask yourself, "Has this been used in the last year?" If not, bin it.

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