Top tips to declutter your home
Living in comfort and style doesn’t have to mean spending big. By clearing clutter and making the most of your space, your home can be transformed into a decorator’s dream.
Modern Australian building designs are light and airy, with lots of clean lines and open plan spaces. But any home that’s overflowing with furniture and possessions is going to feel cluttered and cramped. So if your dream of a modern, minimalist home is being ruined by having too much stuff, here are some tips to help you work through the clutter and get organised.
Get in the right mindset
Sorting through your stuff to decide what stays and goes can be a tall order. To keep yourself motivated, get a picture in your mind of how you’d like your home to look. Take ideas from magazines, Instagram or Pinterest and keep referring back to them to remind you of your goal. You can even take pictures of your own rooms to help you identify which areas to concentrate on and help you see the ‘before’ and ‘after’ benefit. Then make some time in your schedule that you’re committed to spending on your organising project so you don’t end up putting it off forever.
When you’re fired up to blitz the house, start by asking yourself the hard questions about what you do and don’t need or use. Think about what your most important priorities are in the present and keep this in mind to help you let go of things that aren’t useful to you any more.
Have a process and stick to it
Working through your house one room at a time stops you from feeling overwhelmed. Take it one box, drawer or cupboard at a time and then move on to the next. Choose an area of your home where you can get a quick win to encourage you in your de-cluttering mission. The lounge or bedroom can be a really satisfying place to start, as they’re rooms you use a lot so you can enjoy the results of your hard work before you tackle the next room on your list. You can even break it down still further to stop it feeling overwhelming by committing to a time limit and sticking to it without distractions.
The four-box challenge
Sort everything into four piles before they’re boxed or bagged: keep, bin, sell and give away. Definitely resist the temptation to move your discard boxes (i.e. everything that’s not ‘keep’) into a spare room as a temporary measure. Chances are they’ll be there to stay, getting in your way and stopping you from using the space for guests, or to set up that home office you’ve been promising yourself.
Sell valuable items on Gumtree or eBay and schedule trips to charity shops at sensible intervals, depending on how fast the piles are growing. And make sure that once you’ve decided on what to donate, you take an extra couple of minutes to carry them to the car so they don’t hang around in a corner for months!
Target common clutter
There are a few categories of items that always seem to hang around your home for years. Things like small appliances that are broken or never get used, plastic containers without lids, old spices, toiletries and cosmetics, out-of-date tech gadgets and CDs of music you now store on your computer can take up valuable space in your drawers and cupboards. Instead of doing it bit-by-bit, empty out the entire drawer or cupboard at once and sort the contents out into what stays, what goes somewhere else and what gets chucked. All these items can go straight on the junk pile.
Garages and spare rooms are often a goldmine of larger bits and bobs that can be discarded or donated. Clearing out old cots and car seats, unwanted toys and books, old pots of paint and broken tools can make space for some well-organised storage. Challenge yourself to fill at least one big garbage bag at a time.
Most of us, if we’re honest have plenty of items in our cupboards that we rarely wear and which could be sent to the op-shop instead. One clever trick to identify these is to hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. Whenever you wear something, return it with the hanger the right way round. After six months you’ll be easily able to tell which clothes to keep and which to donate.
And if you want to get really ruthless just pretend you are going on holiday. Bring out a couple of suitcases and ‘pack’ the clothes you want to keep, with the rest going to charity. This doesn’t just work for clothes but also all the toiletries and cosmetics cluttering up the bathroom.
When you’ve pared back your possessions, you’re ready to get your storage sorted for easy access to the right things in the right place. Here are six easy, low-cost ways to maximise your home storage:
- Create storage space in a smaller room by installing shelves right up to the ceiling. Keep a stepladder handy to take items or boxes down when you need them.
- A hanging rail or hooks in even the narrowest hallway can help you create a neat, welcoming entrance to your home.
- Keep a stash of of storage boxes of different sizes so you’ll always have one ready when you need it.
- Colour code and label your storage boxes to make it extra easy to find what you need.
- Make storage for kids toys, books and clothes accessible so they can easily tidy things away on their own. Low units with storage boxes are ideal.
- Use every inch of space in your drawers by fitting compartments or dividers to keep items in the right place.
- Create ‘grab bags’ of items you know you’ll need for regular activities and organise them by season – sunscreen, towels and bucket and spade for summer; gloves, gumboots and warm gear for winter.