It can be difficult to get organised if you don’t have the right sort or amount of storage in your home. If you are in your home more often than usual right now you could certainly be noticing the areas that aren't working for you! We all want our homes to work like clockwork and be easy to keep clean and tidy. Ultimately, this will make your life easier and could save you both time and money. How often have you bought a replacement for a lost item only to find the original days or weeks later? And of course, you can’t put a price on the lost hours spent searching for elusive items!
We all have different boundaries around how much 'stuff' we can live with and what we consider tidy or cluttered but for most of us a clear surface or tidy room is quite blissful and can give real peace of mind. William Morris is often quoted as saying “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Keep that in mind as you embark on a tidying frenzy!
12 tips to de-clutter and stay organised:
1. Tackle one room - or one space/ drawer/ cupboard within a room - at a time. Attempting to clear too many rooms in your home, or even the whole of one room, will just lead to overload and unnecessary stress. Like any job - tackling it in bite sized pieces makes it feel much more achievable. You'll stay positive, motivated and see clear progress. If you need to, set a timer and keep tidying for the allotted time before taking a break and then coming back to it.
2. With each drawer or cupboard you tackle separate items into clear piles - items to keep, items to throw and items to move on. Try and be as strict as you can with yourself here - the aim is to free up space and only keep items that you definitely need and use (or bring beauty & joy to your life).
3. Give any items you are keeping a clean and make any repairs necessary. Have a good clean out of the storage area before returning the items you are keeping. Consider lining drawers and cupboards and think about what additional containers might help keep the area tidier moving forward. This might be decanting cleaning products, or pasta / cereals into pretty glass jars, using sock dividers in your drawers so you can always find your favourite pair, or adding box files and an in-tray to your home office.
4. Items you are throwing are those beyond repair or past their sell by date. It's still worth checking if any items can be traded in or sold - such as old phones. Don't forget to recycle any packaging on items you are throwing out - such as glass / plastic from out of date food. Be sure to check out the bathroom cabinet too - make-up, creams and lotions have a sell by date (look for the little pot sign with a number which tells you how many months your product is good for once opened). Unused and out of date medication should be disposed of responsibly by taking them back to your local chemist / dispensary. Old paint can be donated to Community Repaint. They work to bring your leftover paint to charities, community groups and even directly to low-income families who need it. Having a well looked-after place to live and work in can make a real difference to people’s lives, and you can help make it happen communityrepaint.org.uk/ and Dulux will recycle dry empty cans www.duluxdecoratorcentre.co.uk/blog/dulux_paint_can_recycling
5. Items to 'move on' can be sold or donated to your local charity shop. If you are struggling to give things up, then try and be realistic with yourself about when you might feasibly use the item. It's fine to keep some things for special occasions (the Christmas outfit or China set you use every Easter) but make sure you have a good storage solution. I have Christmas cushions and made an extra cover for them so they could be in use year round - so they got to stay - but keeping 3 tea pots 'just in case' I had a tea party was using up space I needed for everyday crockery - so 2 went to the charity shop. It can be difficult to fess up to the clothes loitering at the back of the wardrobe with lables on but never worn. Recognize you made a mistake and move them (and yourself) on - you don't need the guilt every time you see them in your cupboard. Acknowledge your lifestyle might have changed too - if you no longer throw monthly fondue parties then move the dusty fondue set on!
6. Clothes. If you have the space then having storage for out of season clothes is a game changer. It frees up drawer and wardrobe space and makes finding an outfit or piece of clothing easier - just make sure you wash and dry them properly before putting them in storage. When you come to get the new seasons clothes out it can feel like you have a whole new wardrobe. Some clothes will, of course, work year around but this can help with bulky jumpers or light weight summer dresses. Weeding out clothes than no longer fit or suit can be hard. I have used the services of www.instagram.com/kateevansstyle/ to understand where I was going wrong with my wardrobe. Kate can help you find your style, explain how to create a capsule wardrobe, and show you how to be savvy when shopping both your existing wardrobe and the new seasons offerings.
7. Children's treasures. Often the hardest of possessions to let go - from the baby clothes, the favourite toy or the artwork. How you tackle this will depend on whom is most attached to the item. Encouraging children to be involved in tidying up their toys - and giving them appropriate boxes and baskets to do this - will help. Some parents go through a clear out exercise with their children - others rationalize the toys when the children are elsewhere (and often they don't notice!). Depending on their age it might help if they understand that donated toys can go to children who have less than them. If your fridge or the walls in your home have become an art gallery of sorts then consider how much you really need to keep. Perhaps have a 'picture of the week' per child on display? If you want to keep additional pieces of school work or art then consider photographing / scanning them and making a photo book for you or your child to keep. You could also make a small memory box for your child - with one small pair of booties, a favourite hat, toy and piece of baby clothing and so on.
8. Don't under estimate the emotional impact of de-cluttering. I find a good tidy up liberating but some of us find it harder to let go of things than others. Generally there is an emotional connection to the item - or a longing for a life that never was or has since passed. It's important to recognise this and, if you need to, get support when you are decluttering or professional help, counselling or life coaching, if you think there may be deeper seated issues. Be warned, whilst a friend can help you rationalize your thinking - do you really need that avocado slicer? - don't let them bully you into parting with something before you are ready. For items that you can't let go of - yet! - put them in a box and come back to them in 6 months and see how you feel. I find it helps to follow the mantra 'Let someone else have it and love it now' - rather than waiting for the day when it might possibly fit or be of use to you, or clinging to the memories of something. You've had your turn and loved it - now let someone else find the joy in that item.
9. Consider built-in storage which is 30% more efficient than a free standing piece of furniture. This is particularly useful for eking out additional storage in under utilised spaces such as under the stairs, in alcoves or rooms with sloping walls & ceilings. Bespoke cabinetry or a fitted bench seat with storage in a bay window, conservatory or boot room adds extra capacity. Bespoke items not only look great but can really maximise the space you have. When you think of storage - think laterally. The idea of any storage solution is to make your life run smoothly - less stress and less time spent tidying or looking for lost items - but it needs to work for you and how your family live.
10. Storage containers. Most houses have a “junk drawer” but it’s much more efficient to corral & label like items to make sure everyone knows where to return stuff and to find things when needed! It is unbelievably much easier to keep on top of things and stay organised when everything has a home. Use storage containers to make it easier to keep on top of clutter or have a quick tidy should guests drop by unannounced. It doesn’t have to be boring - use a vintage hat box, glass cannisters or an old trunk - and include storage in your decorative scheme as a punch of colour, pattern or to add texture (try wicker, felt, knit or metal).
11. Consider different storage solutions for your home. This should include "hidden" storage. Whilst an open display is great for treasured pieces like art and photographs, general paraphernalia should be hidden for less visual clutter. Make efficient use of what you have. Add an extra shelf to cupboards and bookcases or an additional rail in a wardrobe for hanging shorter garments (this works particularly well for children’s clothes). Hooks are a neat way to stow items – from coats & dish towels, to keys and dog leads. It gets things off the floor & surfaces and allows you to place items just where you need them.
12. Use multi-functional furniture to get the most out of your space. For example use an upholstered storage stool as a coffee table – with belongings kept inside, it’s also comfy enough to put your feet up on! Or put furniture like a cabinet or sideboard on wheels so that it can easily be shifted out of the way - this is useful for staying tidy but also making a space more flexible - great for an spare room / office or gym / play room.
You can find great storage solutions in many high street shops as well as on-line - try Wayfair, IKEA, John Lewis, The Holding Company and Dunelm. If you are looking for inspiration and ideas then try online sites like, Instagram, Pinterest or Houzz.