Clear the clutter
Overwhelmed by clutter? Why not get set for autumn with a fresh start, says Louise Baty
Do you find you can’t move for books, old clothes and random charging cables in your home but can’t seem to sort through your junk? Then you’re not alone. According to research, the average UK adult hasn’t decluttered their home in two-and-a-half years.
A staggering 67 per cent of 2,000 people surveyed confessed to clinging on to items just in case they were needed one day in the future, while 14 per cent felt that they didn’t have time to declutter.
Clutter is an issue for many of us, but don’t wait for spring to get cleaning. Autumn is an ideal time to sort out your home. As temperatures drop and the nights draw in, it makes sense to get your house in order for the cosy season.
You probably use the same few pots, pans, utensils and crockery daily but have cupboards of unused ‘just in case’ china and gadgets. Face facts – if you haven’t used something in the last year, you probably never will. List kitchen items on local Facebook selling groups or give away on Freecycle… that unused saucepan set could be ideal for a teenager heading off to university. For items worth keeping but only used occasionally, such as at Christmas, store in the loft. You’ll clear space for everyday items and leave worktops free for cooking and preparing food. Anything broken or damaged should go, along with out-of-date food. Donate anything unwanted but edible and within its use by date to the local food bank. Organise cupboards so that frequent-use ingredients (oil, salt and pepper) are within easy reach andheavy things are in lower cupboards.
A multi-use living room can easily become a jumble of books, toys and tech. IKEA’s KALLAX storage system consists of different-sized cube units that fit a variety of fabric, wicker or cardboard boxes and can be placed in alcoves. Habitat produces a similar system, Squares, available at Argos. Designate one box for crafts, one for toys, one for tech, and label with pictures to help children put things away. Sell unwanted consoles, phones, books, magazines, DVDs and CDs on musicmagpie.co.uk; download the app and scan items before sending. Wilko sells bamboo magazine files (£7) for storing your favourite magazines… don’t forget Candis! A digital Kodak photo frame (£69.99) allows you to display all your digital photos in one place, without having to print them out. Ornaments are notorious dust collectors. Decide which bring you joy and donate the rest. Don’t keep ornaments received as gifts out of duty; this is your home and you get to decide what stays!
It’s the first space anyone sees when walking through the front door, yet hallways unsightly clutter, including unworn shoes and coats. Once you’ve cleared unwanted items into recycle/donate/sell piles, consider investing in a space-saving shoe cabinet. IKEA’s budget TRONES cabinet (£29 for two stackable units) has shallow foldaway sections, which also store documents. The top section is ideal for keeping glasses, keys and loose change in one place. Only keep out coats suited to the season. IKEA’s PLOGA vertical hook rack allows you to store several coats neatly. Store all other coats out of sight in vacuum bags until they’re needed. Organise post with a wall organiser by mDesign, which offers space for letters as well as handy key hooks.
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary, but a space crammed with clutter is not conducive to rest and relaxation. Wardrobes are often crammed with unworn clothes. Take out each item, asking yourself honestly if you’ll wear it again. If not, someone else may love it, so list it on a selling site such as vinted.co.uk. Postage is paid by the buyer so anything you make, you keep. Store out-of-season clothing in vacuum bags and organise underwear and socks with Dunelm drawer organisers (£4.50 a pack). Sort through bedding and donate anything in good condition to charity. Remove ornaments and toiletries from your bedside table and reduce it to the essentials – a book, alarm clock and beside lamp. Now, doesn’t that feel better? And… relax!
Your bathroom should exude calm, as the place you can retreat to for a bit of ‘me time’ after a long day. Having to clear out grotty toys and empty bottles from the bath before you fill it is hardly ideal. First things first, go through all the bottles of toiletries languishing beside your bathroom sink and bath. Recycle any empty bottles. Anything unwanted but opened can be donated to charities and women’s refuges. Check toiletriesamnesty.org for information on where to donate locally. Donate bath toys your children no longer use. If space is tight in your bathroom but you’d like to invest in decent storage, an under-sink unit could be the answer. Made to fit around sink pipes, a unit such as Dunelm’s classic Nautical Under Sink cupboard (£79) provides storage for essentials such as shampoo, soap and toilet rolls, while also concealing unsightly pipes – a win-win all round!
Stick to the rules
1 Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much in one go.
2 Choose one manageable category or area, such as your wardrobe or kitchen items.
3 Pick a day when you have uninterrupted time and you’re not feeling distracted.
4 Lay everything out from your chosen category or area so that you can easily identify duplicates… five TV remotes? Time to streamline!
5 Decide whether something should stay by asking: “Is it useful?” and “Does it bring me happiness?” If not, get rid.
6 Set a decluttering target. Aim to clear 50 per cent of items from your chosen area or category.
7 Avoid unnecessary waste. If an item is unwanted but could be used by someone else, sell or donate it. If something is broken, check if it can be recycled at your local centre.
8 Label four large boxes – keep, donate, sell and recycle – and put items into them. Do what the boxes say!
9 Clean the decluttered space before putting back your ‘keep’ items.
10 Decluttering is an ongoing process. Try a ‘one in, one out’ policy to avoid build up.