How to… declutter your home
Since the housing market collapsed, we’ve realised we need to make the best of the homes we live in. And the secret to falling in love with your own four walls is to clear out the clutter. Here, ROMAINE LOWERY, founder of The Clutter Clinic, shares her tips for making your home a cleaner, happier place.
Daily Mail BE BRAVE
Most people find it hard to throw away stuff, but you can’t attach sentimental value to everything you own. When your house is cluttered, nothing looks good. So, as you go through your possessions, ask yourself which of them you actually love or use. If not, why not? Maybe it’s a wedding present you secretly hate, a dress that doesn’t suit you. Let it go.
ONE ROOM AT A TIME
Flitting between rooms makes de-cluttering a much bigger task, one almost impossible to complete. So set aside a day to do one room and commit to finishing it. Stack everything that lives elsewhere into cardboard boxes to deal with later.
MAKE A MESS
To clear up your home, you have to turn it into a proverbial bombsite first. The best de-cluttering method is to pull every single item from your shelves, drawers and cupboards and lay it all out so you can see exactly what everything is. This tactic works well for clearing out your wardrobe; as well as gathering rags to chuck, you’ll ‘re-find’ clothes you’d forgotten about.
When it comes to reordering your house, there are two basic rules. First, store like with like: all batteries should live in one place, so when you need a new one, you know exactly where to find it. Second, keep belongings in the room where they are used because when things migrate around the house your home becomes a black hole and you’ll never find anything. As an extension of this second rule, store things as close to the place you use them as possible: washing powder next to the washing machine, tea in the cupboard above the kettle. Follow a logical layout for your house and it will stay uncluttered.
Think vertically and you solve the problem of storing things you use only occasionally, such as Christmas decorations. Stash these things in your attic and bring them down only when you need them. Going vertically again, store back-up bathroom supplies such as toilet roll and spare bottles of shampoo at the top of your linen cupboard. Holiday items, such as sarongs and ski jackets, can live in suitcases under your bed, freeing up your living space.
NOT ALL CLUTTER IS JUNK
Clearing out your home needn’t turn you into a robot. We’ve all got treasured mementoes that might not look much to other people yet they mean the world to us: cinema ticket stubs from your first date, your first Mother’s Day card, a lock of baby hair. Top tip? Pack your keepsakes in a special box rather than leave them scattered all over the house.
It’s tempting to splash out on pretty storage boxes before you’ve started decluttering. One word: don’t. You’re better off sorting your trash from your treasure and then assessing what storage solutions you need. Aplaceforeverything.co.uk is great for items such as stackable shoeboxes and wicker bathroom baskets.
TRAIN YOUR CHILDREN
Children can behave like Tasmanian Devils, charging around the house, trailing clutter wherever they go. To encourage youngsters to develop good habits, make sure you have something in which they can stash their toys. A few big, lidded containers are easier to manage than lots of little ones that can overspill.
GET RID, FEEL GOOD
For the sake of your mental health, don’t add up the cost of the money you’ve wasted. Instead, focus on how decluttering makes you feel good: offer things for free on Freecycle (www.uk.freecycle.org) or donate items in good condition to your local charity shop. As a reward for all your hard work, make money selling the best of your unwanted goods on eBay. And if that’s too much hassle, www.stuffusell.co.uk will collect your goods, sell them and send you a cheque minus their 20 per cent.
Without clutter clogging up your home, you’ll find it is twice as easy to relax. It’s even a pleasure to clean and decorate because you’re not staring mess in the face every day. Be warned: you could enter a second honeymoon period with your ‘new’ home and decide you never want to move out, even when the property market picks up.
For more advice, visit www.clutterclinic.co.uk or buy The Clutter Clinic: Organise Your Home In Seven Days (Orion, £17.99).