Whether you’re a disciple of Marie Kondo’s methods or just desperate to be clutter-free, there’s nothing more satisfying than a good spring clean. Our homes are our castles, and an orderly space can help us think more clearly and even get rid of stress.
When it comes to learning how to declutter your home, it all begins with the interior design. This step is so important. Because if your space isn’t imagined for your needs, how can you keep it neat and organised day to day?
We’ve asked the experts to reveal their top design, decor and tidying tips so you can create peace, joy and relaxation in every room. Marie Kondo, you may have some competition here!
Tip #1: Choose a minimalist lifestyle
Simple and clean interior styles aren’t just a trend. The minimalist home is very much a mind-set. A way of life. One that celebrates quality over quantity, and utilises unfussy design to embrace light, air and space.
When it comes to designing a minimalist room, it’s important to maximise what you have instead of adding more. Use the available natural light as much as possible, squeeze every last inch from hidden nooks and crannies for storage, and select furniture and decor with much consideration. When shopping for items, ask yourself whether something provides value. Will it add something to the space? Can it make it more comfortable?
Mural in photo: 'Harmonic Waves'.
Of course, don’t hold onto clutter. That’s the most important rule of all. According to Marty Basher, Home Organization Expert for Modular Closets, successful decluttering is all about being aware that we live in a materialistic world. He shares his advice:
“Before you start the decluttering process, it’s important to shift your focus on living more simply. Remind yourself often that life is so much more than the material items you collect. Many times we buy stuff to fill a void or for instant happiness. But the void is not filled and that burst of happiness passes quickly.”
We all know that getting rid of sentimental items isn’t always so easy though. But sometimes it’s essential for keeping our sanity. A fair trade-off in the grand scheme of things, wouldn’t you agree? Here are Marty’s tips for parting with possessions:
“Be realistic and honest with yourself regarding the likelihood that you’ll use the item in the future. If you’ve owned it for a year and have yet to use it, chances are you’ll never use it. If you have convinced yourself that you’ll use it, set a deadline for yourself by which you’ll have used the item. Make sure the deadline is in the next few months. Create a calendar reminder and promise yourself that if you haven’t used it by that date, you’ll get rid of it.”
After decluttering, you can focus on creating a beautiful minimalist design. But minimalism isn’t always a picture of white and grey. Scandinavian design trends now incorporate many colours. It’s all about using colour wisely and achieving the right placement.
Choosing colourful wall murals or designing a feature wall can be a great way of injecting a bit of personality into your home. Some of our favourite trends of the moment include watercolours, marble wall coverings, or playing around with textures such as metals, stone and brick.
Tip #2: Customise your space
A decluttered home can be a bit of a pipedream when your house is ergonomically challenged. Not everyone is lucky enough to have spacious rooms with tall ceilings and endless cupboards. This is especially the case for city dwellers living in cramped apartments, or busy parents trying to juggle careers, chores and school run.
When you consider the purpose of each room, you’ll realise that they also need to double up as a storage space. Your bedroom isn’t just a place to sleep. It’s also your dressing room. This is why it’s important to customise, to make a house work around you – not the other way around. The use of modular closets can be such a great way to exploit high walls or hard-to-reach areas, giving you ample storage for clothes and accessories.
Top Organising Expert, Rachel Rosenthal, gives us her thoughts on decluttering small spaces:
“Maximize your vertical and hidden space. The back of rooms, under the bed, and wall space are valuable real estate. Storage bins and boxes come in every design under the sun and price point, so find options that meet your aesthetic and add to the design of your room. If you have extra floor or under-the-bed space, consider adding storage ottomans, vertical shelving, or plastic drawers to keep anything from extra clothing to snacks controlled and contained.”
Put simply, it boils down to ensuring everything has a place to live. Somewhere to go back to – rather than your floor or thrown over chairs and banisters.
If you want to make a small room look bigger, you should also think hard about lighting if you don’t want it to feel suffocated by shelves and wardrobes. Choose light colours, add spot lighting or extra lamps, and avoid wallpapers that are busy with patterns.
Tip #3: Be strict with new purchases
It was 19th Century textile designer, William Morris, who famously said: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
This is a good motto to live by. If you have high standards for the friends and lovers you let into your life, have the same standards for objects you let into your home. Because let’s face it – even after a thorough spring clean, clutter can still creep its way back in. For those who have a habit of buying things on impulse, this is a common problem, so tackle the problem at the root instead.
We asked Ann Zanon, Certified Professional Organizer® and Hoarding Remediation Specialist, what her tips are:
“I am constantly recommending that clients ask themselves lots of questions. When shopping, ask "where will I put this item in my home? Is this a need or want? Do I have the cash to pay for this?" Or wait 24 hours to see if you still want it. Most of the time, you will forget that you even wanted it.”
Buying well and choosing objects that can truly bring happiness not only helps you learn how to declutter like a pro, but it can save you money. Instead of buying little and often and collecting cheap items, save up for something you really need and love. That way, your house will ooze style and quality.
Tip #4: Declutter by having a place for everything
If you really want to know how to declutter for good, you should observe the movements in your home. Think about every walkway, the areas that get the most footfall, and the entrances and exit points where ‘things’ often get used, picked up and misplaced.
For instance, your hallway. Where do you keep car keys and spare change? Do you have a place to keep the mail? A sideboard could come in very handy here and what about kids’ bedrooms? Dirty socks, toys and school bags are often strewn on the floor. Beautifully woven baskets and storage boxes can be a great solution for tidying everything away. They’re portable too, which is ideal for busy households where kids are never stationary for long.
Amy Bloomer, from @let.your.space.bloom, is a big advocate of using baskets to keep homes organised:
“I encourage clients to keep a basket at the bottom of their stairs. This becomes the ‘catch-all’ for things that have migrated downstairs and are out of place. Once a day, preferably in the evening, make it a habit to put back everything you’ve accumulated in the basket. It won’t take long and it will help to maintain clear, calm spaces before retiring for the night.”
She also has a super simple solution for coats, bags, accessories, and items that need to be accessed daily:
“Another one of my tips is to utilise hooks, especially Command Hooks. They used to be just white and plastic, but now make them in all different shapes and finishes that look and feel like real hardware. I use them to hang backpacks, handbags, coats, towels, umbrellas, etc. It keeps things easy to find, within reach, aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t involve any special tools to install them.”
If all of your things have a place to call home, you’ll be able to make yours a clean, comfortable haven to live in. Constantly picking things up off the floor or wading through piles of junk can take away quality time from your family. So giving things a proper place – a designated spot – will work like a charm. It’s all about clever design, smart use of storage, and being practical with your choice of decor.
Ready to declutter your home? Let us know if the comments below if these interior tip and tidying tips work for you!