Like many professional organisers, I tend to focus on each room individually and often a different approach and mindset is required for each space.
Certain areas tend to be magnets for excess possessions and storage solutions in particular will certainly vary according to the function of the room.
The loft, garage and cellar
If you don’t have one of these, you may want to count yourself lucky! They are the obvious place to keep “just in case” items or things you don’t have the time or inclination to make a decision about. But it's often a case of 'out of sight, out of mind' and these spaces quickly become dumping grounds. They're not always easily accessible and it's common to feel overwhelmed at the mere thought of sorting them out.
However, although it may be far from enticing, these rooms might be the best place to start.
As they contain the most storage room, it makes sense to clear them out before you begin the rest of your house so that any important but infrequently used items can be moved there.
- Make sure the garage can actually fulfil its core function – to lock away a car. Numerous households park on the drive or road because excess stuff prevents utilisation of the garage and this can negate insurance. Are the things you're storing worth compromising security for?
- In garages and sheds, consider wall storage for tools/garden equipment and shelves with containers for smaller items, utilising the full height of the space, whilst keeping the floor clear.
- If you have to keep paperwork or clothing in a loft, protect them by containing in airtight containers and label clearly (on all sides of each box) to ensure easy retrieval.
- Cellars are often damp and it can damage what you store there. Why not clear it out and value to your house by converting this space? Remember you can use the BHF collection service to donate furniture and other large items.
Often overlooked, a bathroom is one of the most vital parts of a home. It’s where you get ready to face the world in the morning and where you wash away the day and wind down in the evening.
It can also be a sensible place to start decluttering if you don’t have a loft/garage/cellar or if they seem too overwhelming to tackle first. The bathroom is manageable so you can make an impact quickly, which will encourage you to keep going.
- Toss any empty toiletries or those you don’t like or don’t suit you. Bear in mind that new toiletries can be donated to charity shops.
- Don't buy in bulk unless you have a lot of storage space. The savings often aren't huge and most of us don't live very far from a shop where we can replenish our stock if we run out.
- Use open containers to separate items in under-the-sink drawers and consider attractive glass or bamboo storage for items on show.
Often described as “the hub” of a home, the kitchen should be social and welcoming. But so many activities may occur in the kitchen – cooking, eating, entertaining, laundry, work, study, crafts and general hanging out. All of them have the ability to create mess and disorder so it’s important to keep on top of this area and ensure ease of cleaning.
- Keep counter space clear enough to make food preparation easy, only allowing daily used items and appliances to live there.
- Ask yourself whether you can get rid of some crockery and cutlery. Question whether you own multiple items which do the same job and declutter the duplicates – good quality homeware makes great donations.
- Organisational systems can really come into play in a kitchen. Hang up a dry erase board as a way to note shopping list items as soon as you discover you are running low and move older food to the front of the cupboards and fridge before you unpack new shopping.
Bedroom and wardrobe
It’s common for the bedroom to become a dumping ground for laundry, unpacked bags and miscellaneous items.
It’s generally not a room guests see so it may be the last place you tidy and declutter. But in fact, it’s the last place you should let clutter accumulate. Its functions are simple – sleep and relaxation – and it should be a peaceful retreat.
The number of possessions stored here should be low in volume but high in quality.
- Bed side tables often have built in drawers which are a useful double function but don’t overfill them. Hidden clutter can still impact on wellbeing.
- When it comes to clothes, a well organised wardrobe can make all the difference to how you start your day. Minimising clothes that you don’t wear is always the first step – most people wear 20% of their clothes, 80% of the time. Even clothes which can't be sold will still make your local charity shop money through the 'rag trade'
- Avoid holding on to too many clothes with the intention of selling them. It's easy to procrastinate and the return can be disappointing. Remember that charity shops need great quality donations to entice customers into the shop. The British Heart Foundation also has an eBay shop which generates more funds for the charity.
Family and living room
80% of people report spending most of their time at home in the living room so decluttering this room will have the biggest impact on you and your family. It's important to create a calm and restorative environment in this area which, after all, is designed for relaxation.
- Firstly, ensure the furniture fits the size of the room – too large and it creates a crowded feel. Donating furniture to charity is a great way to support them - just ensure upholstered items have the fire label intact.
- Using boxes and bins to gather TV remotes and video game controllers gives them a “home” when not in use.
- Glass display cabinets can be used to store treasures or collectables with the advantage of reducing the necessity for dusting. In these rooms, creating a daily routine of clearing out old magazines/newspapers and putting away items which don’t belong there, is a necessity.
Find a local donation point