ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Elle Decoration - Il­lus­tra­tion PAUL HOL­LAND

Stor­age so­lu­tions and dec­o­rat­ing ideas to help you cre­ate a more serene home. Plus, Ruby Wax on how or­gan­is­ing your cup­boards can calm your mind

Is a tidy house re­ally a happy house? Will or­gan­is­ing your cup­boards calm your mind? And, does your choice of bath­room dé­cor il­lu­mi­nate the darker cor­ners of your soul? Ac­tor, au­thor and men­tal health cam­paigner Ruby Wax OBE shares her thoughts on these ques­tions and more…

Your fur­nish­ings don’t lie. They’re an ac­cu­rate re­flec­tion of the state of your mind. There should be house shrinks who tell you who you re­ally are, help­ing you ‘find yourself’ some­where be­tween the floor lamp and the cof­fee ta­ble. If you live in an ex­plo­sion of clut­ter, chances are your thoughts jump from one to the next like a moth in heat. You can’t stay fo­cused sur­rounded by a mess.

I know when I’m try­ing to write, my eyes will drift to any­thing that needs to be cleaned, moved or filed. I’m able to spot a dust ball five me­tres away or the flim­si­est spi­der’s web dan­gling from the ceiling. The prob­lem is, there will al­ways be some­thing to dis­tract me. My house has four desks in var­i­ous rooms. Can I write at any of them? Nope. I have to go to crowded cof­fee shops, filled with noise and peo­ple. There can be mountains of garbage there and I don’t care – I’m not re­spon­si­ble for clean­ing it up.

Re­cently, I’ve come up with my own so­lu­tion for liv­ing a calmer life by cre­at­ing a space in my walk-in closet. I’ve hid­den the clothes by hang­ing white cur­tains in front of them, and added a mat­tress that fills the en­tire length and breadth of the floor. In there, I’m co­cooned in white; an em­bryo of tran­quil­lity. I used to write in the closet, now I sleep in it.

I now un­der­stand why the Scan­di­na­vians al­ways seem so com­posed. They live in all-white cubes, with a sim­ple plank for a kitchen ta­ble and a very chic light­bulb hang­ing above it.

If you don’t have a walk-in closet, may I sug­gest mov­ing into what­ever size closet you do have? Once you’re in there, it’s a must to or­gan­ise the clothes in neat rows, and give away all items you don’t wear or store them in boxes (which I don’t rec­om­mend: you’ll never open them again). My the­ory is that you need to be able to vis­i­bly lo­cate ev­ery­thing you own in case of a fire, so that you can grab it all quickly. My hang­ing clothes are or­gan­ised by colour, with sweaters in sep­a­rate piles ac­cord­ing to thick­ness and even un­der­wear sorted in or­der of age. (I’m very sen­ti­men­tal when it comes to pants, so I keep the old ones.)

My other ad­vice to peace-seek­ers is to keep your sur­faces as clear as pos­si­ble. You’ll no­tice each time you re­move some­thing that your pulse slows down. Also, here’s a tip: think of all your ac­ces­sories as dust col­lec­tors. Which ones do you love enough to clean daily? Only keep those that evoke a great mem­ory.

Some peo­ple col­lect things purely to show off – this es­pe­cially goes for works of art. You’ll be talked into buy­ing a piece by some hus­tler/art dealer, who ex­plains its prove­nance to you, how im­por­tant it is and how you’ll be able to re-sell it for a huge profit. You might even pur­chase the black can­vas with some mus­tard smeared on it, or a sculp­ture made of ele­phant dung (it ex­ists, I won’t name the artist). Once you’ve hung it up or placed it on a plinth, you’ll never no­tice it again. And, by the way, no one will ever buy it from you… ever.

Here’s my fi­nal ob­ser­va­tion. If you want to know how men­tally sta­ble some­one is, look at their bath­room. If they be­lieve they need a chan­de­lier and a toi­let that per­forms more than three func­tions, some­thing isn’t right. Are you ac­quainted with those toi­lets? Lift the lid and it plays Rach­mani­nov, gives you a squirt of perfume and then, when the lid goes down, says ‘thank you’ in French. (I don’t want to sit on it, I want to marry it.) Freud should have asked his clients how they dec­o­rate their bath­rooms rather than about sex. Sex doesn’t tell you any­thing. How you want your loo to look is the real gate­way to the un­con­scious. In the bath­room, no one is a star. Re­mem­ber this and you’ll be­come true to yourself – it’s the path to a more tran­quil life. Turn the page for our edit of the best stor­age so­lu­tions – bring­ing or­der to both home and mind

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