The beginning of a new year is a great time for a clear-out, so here are our top tips for creating a minimal haven with minimum hassle...
Clutter-free surfaces and organised cupboards create a sense of order and calm. Our large Belmont weathered oak sideboard is perfect for storing cutlery and crockery in the dining room.
1. Do it now
Procrastination is the enemy of decluttering – so don’t put it off. Lockdown restrictions might work in your favour by giving you more time to get things done at home, while if you’re juggling home schooling and work, even an hour’s decluttering once a week can help you to feel more on top of things.
2. Enjoy it
Decluttering can actually be quite therapeutic once you get started – think how satisfying and rewarding it’ll be to look at newly organised living areas, to open a kitchen cupboard or a wardrobe and find everything you need without hunting through all the detritus you never used (or wore). Decluttering is surprisingly liberating and will make you feel lighter and less stressed as well as help you be more organised and productive. Put on some of your favourite music while you're decluttering and it'll feel less like a chore.
3. One step at a time
The best way to declutter your home is to take one small step at a time so it’s less daunting and more manageable. Combined, small steps will lead to big improvements that will be easier to maintain in the long term. Approach the task methodically. For example, if you only have an hour, don’t empty your whole wardrobe. Instead, choose a section in the wardrobe that you think you’ll be able to complete in the amount of time you have. Another manageable task would be a chest of drawers.
Tackle decluttering drawer by drawer if that's all you have time for... at least our St Claude weathered oak chest has plenty of storage space.
4. Create three piles
Allocate your belongings to three categories: keep; donate; throw away. If you haven't used or worn something for more than a year – do you really need it or are you just keeping it for the sake of it? At the moment under government restrictions, most charity shops and recycling banks are closed, and we're not able to meet up with people to swap, share or sell – so this pile will need to be packed away somewhere (in the shed, under the bed?) until it's possible to offload it!
5. Quick start
One way to start easily and quickly is to clear any items that are lying around on the floor. Another is to tackle straightforward items that don't have any sentimental or practical value like threadbare old socks, make-up, toiletries and medicines that are past their use-by dates and old magazines.
6. Have a checklist
If you're dithering over whether or not to keep something, ask yourself a few key questions: Do I use it (or have I used it in the past year)? Do I like the way it looks and fits in with my decor? Does it work? Is it the only one I have? Would it be impossible or prohibitively expensive to replace? Does it have huge sentimental value? If the answer to all those questions is 'no', you can probably do without it.
7. Discarding old furniture
When decluttering, it's also a good time to think about clearing the decks of any worn or rarely used pieces of furniture. Try to avoid falling into the trap of thinking how much you paid for it. The price you paid for the item (possibly many years ago) is a “sunk cost”— you can't recoup it, even it was expensive back then! Keeping it around (or paying to repair it if it’s showing wear) won’t necessarily add more value to your life. Consider whether keeping the item will positively impact your life. If it won’t, it’s time to let it go, whether you want to sell it or donate it.
For organised storage, our three-drawer St Claude weathered oak bedside table is hard to beat.
7. Tackle surfaces
Flat surfaces like coffee tables, kitchen counter tops, desks and dining tables can be magnets for junk piling up. It's easy to use them as de facto storage spaces for everything from keys to coins to hats, phone chargers and paperwork. Think of how you can organise all these everyday items so they're not scattered around the house. Key racks, file boxes for letters and bills that can be neatly stacked away and rustic storage baskets for ottomans with shelves are all useful for items that need to be kept to hand, such as remote controls and glasses.
Keep displays decorative and your surfaces will look beautiful rather than cluttered.
9. Make sure you have enough storage
Since a big part of de-cluttering is being able to put away those items you do need to hang onto... it's mission-critical to have enough cupboard/storage space to do this effectively. This is where a sideboard can be a worthwhile investment. Fortunately we have three beautiful weathered oak sideboards to choose from, the large Belmont (183cm wide), our new mini Belmont (118cm wide) and the Abingdon media unit, which also doubles as a TV cabinet. Check out our collection here.
Our new small Belmont weathered oak sideboard is a stylish storage solution for smaller spaces.
10. Keep on top of it
Clutter builds up. Even with the best of intentions, it's hard to keep on top of it all the time. If you can commit to regular mini de-clutterings and clean-ups, whether that's once a month or twice a year, it'll be easier than having to cope with a bulk operation having left it too long! Another good tip is to throw away as you go – so if you buy another can opener, electric toothbrush, hairdryer etc, dispose of the old one without delay!