Plan your space
Great ideas to help you make a success of decluttering
Drawers are best for squirrelling away equipment, but include open display space for tableware that you want to show off. Bar stool, £59; rug, £25; canister, £4; vase, £6; casserole dish, £35; all George Home
Most of us have a room that, however good our intentions, could do with decluttering. In some cases, it’s the whole house! That doesn’t mean getting rid of everything, though. ‘More of us are relying on electronic devices to store important items such as photos and songs,’ says Vlatka Lake, from storage company Space Station. ‘For other items that you simply can’t throw away, removing them from your immediate surroundings and finding storage solutions elsewhere will keep your home streamlined.’
Making it happen
Consider what’s holding you back from clearing out your home and visualise how tidy your home could be. Ask friends for advice, and copy what they do.
‘When a room becomes cluttered, the cause is more than just physical,’ says professional declutterer and author, Marie Kondo, in The Life-changing Magic of
Tidying, (£10.99, Vermilion). ‘Try confronting your feeling of anxiety. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house is in order.’
The results don’t have to be perfect – accepting ‘good enough’ as a goal will take the pressure off. Work in the way that suits you best. Do you prefer setting a strict deadline, tackling junk all at once, or using a little-andoften strategy, in which case, clearing a drawer or setting the kitchen timer for 10 minutes might be more of an incentive. Promise yourself and your family or helpers a trip out, a good meal or other treat once the job is done.
Gather up bin bags, recycling bags and boxes and make a start. Decluttering comes down to decision making. Every item must be considered and judged, more easily done with a fresh mind, so limit the job to a couple of hours before taking a break.
When sorting, be ruthless: don’t stop to flick through books and magazines or reminisce over memorabilia. Watch out for those unhelpful thoughts that make you hang onto stuff. ‘I might need it one day; it was expensive; it might be important’ are just excuses for keeping broken, outdated, useless or ugly items. It’s a sad fact that things do wear out, go out of date, or no longer suit the way you live.
That mountain of mess will soon be turned into a manageable number of things ready for reprocessing. Before discarding items, consider whether they can be given a new lease of life. If you have a large quantity of goods or furniture, you may be able to arrange a collection by a charity such as the British Heart Foundation (bhf.org.uk). Companies such as Anyjunk (020 7819 9000, anyjunk.co.uk) will pick up from you, sending most waste for recycling or reuse. To sell unwanted CDs, DVDs, games, books, phones and games consoles, try Music Magpie (musicmagpie.co.uk).
‘Be wary of holding onto too much with the intention of selling it,’ says professional declutterer
Kate Ibbotson of A Tidy Mind. ‘You don’t want it to still be there months or years down the line. Try posting your bargain on local Facebook selling groups or Gumtree, or use apps such as Shpock.’
A new design
If you have time, give your streamlined home a new look. ‘To make a room feel less cluttered, paint your ceiling the same colour as the walls as it blurs the boundaries, creates infinity and will feel so much bigger,’ says Abigail Ahern, designer for Debenhams.
It’s also often worth investing in more stylish storage, but before you splash out, think about you really need.
‘We’re always expanding our wardrobes or collecting more objects, or even just paperwork,’ says Simon Tcherniak, senior furniture designer at Neville Johnson. ‘Incorporating extra space into your storage plan is essential to allow for growth.’
‘When planning a family living room, think about all the different activities that will take place in it,’ says Clotilde Passalacqua, Interior Design Leader at Ikea. ‘Ample storage is central to a well-functioning family room so that toys and other items can be hidden away.’
Boxing out wall alcoves with cupboards, adding shallow shelves and handleless doors will streamline the effect.
In open-plan spaces, low furniture such as a sideboard or tall open room-divider shelving can help to arrange a large area into distinct zones. ‘Large display cabinets are great,’ says Claire Hornby from Barker & Stonehouse. ‘Reserve the lower levels for bigger, bulkier items and keep shelves in the line of sight for decorative objects and ornaments.’
Once you’ve freed up cupboards from unused appliances and unwanted china and glassware, organise the remaining contents. ‘If you’re not using cupboard shelves to their full height, add shelves between, or use Ikea’s Variera inserts in drawers so that you can store more products,’ says Clotilde. ‘Store food and spices in transparent boxes and jars, so it’s easy to see what you’re running low on.’ For quick fixes, consider a hanging rail by the hob for utensils, extra hooks or shelves within cupboards and adjustable drawer dividers.
A calm, uncluttered bedroom is the ideal place to relax and de-stress. Though a fitted wardrobe is the ultimate solution for efficiently storing clothes, shoes and even sports equipment or spare bedlinen, some freestanding wardrobes also have flexible interiors. ‘For additional storage space, choose extra tall wardrobes with pull-down hanging rails, leaving you with plenty of room for racks for shoes, ties, and belts,’ says Simon. Sliding wardrobe doors are a great space saver for small rooms, and it’s useful to add a shallow storage box on castors beneath the bed and hooks or a rail on the back of a door.
Often the smallest room, the bathroom can still be a clear, organised zone. ‘A compact vanity unit will provide plenty of storage space to keep the area clutter-free,’ says Helen Shaw from Roper Rhodes.
‘Wall-mounted options free up valuable floor space, and can be teamed with a wall-hung WC to instantly create the illusion of a larger space.’ Fit a wall-mounted towel rail and fix rails or hooks to take smaller items. An under-basin storage unit can sit around an existing pedestal to hold bottles and supplies.
Clear the hall
If it’s always the place for pile ups, the hall needs welcoming coat pegs at high and low levels, and a long, slim unit including shelves or basket storage, with space on top for decorative items. A shoe rack, just 30cm deep (try Ikea), is the answer for outdoor shoes and trainers.
With a drawer and two shelved sections, the Bethan Gray Newman sideboard in oak, £899 from John Lewis, is a great storage option
Create a sleek contemporary look with the Royo Street unit with basin, £495, Frontline