How can I best use storage to keep my home clutter-free?
Decluttering is essential to maximising available space and feeling in control of your home environment. It might seem like a herculean task on the surface but the great news is, with the vast range of storage solutions available, a clutter-free home can be achieved affordably with relative ease.
Here are some steps to get you started...
Before even worrying about storage solutions, take stock of what you already have. From the bathroom to the bedrooms to the laundry to the kitchen , run through every item in your home and decide whether it's staying or going.
Be brutal - if you haven't juiced with it, blended espresso from it, ironed with it, deodorised the house with it, worn it to the footy, vacuumed with it or watched DVDs on it, do you really need it? Can it go in a storage container or unit? Is it destined for the bin? Can it be recycled or repurposed in some way? If you lost it, would you care? Is it in good enough shape to be donated to charity?
Separate your items into different piles - keep, discard and donate. Making the tough calls as you go from room-to-room will help you sort the trash from the treasure and give you an idea of the amount and kind of storage space you'll need.
Planning a comprehensive overhaul can take a bit of time. You may also change your mind, so it's worthwhile segmenting the task over a few days or weekends. Making the job seem insurmountable by trying to get everything done in one day will have your house appearing even more disorganised and claustrophobic than it might already be. This could crush your motivation.
Likewise, as you're going through cupboards, drawers, wardrobes, tallboys and so on, you may find you need to pause and reflect on keeping or discarding things that have sentimental value for you or other people in your home. Feeling like you're under time pressure, or that you're not making any headway, will lead you to decisions you could regret later down the track.
Think clearly, think wisely and be patient. Remember, once you're on top of your storage, it's just a matter of tweaks and adjustments in the coming years.
An easy win when it comes to decluttering is storing by season. Going room-by-room and looking at what's needed, and what's not, depending on the time of year will help free up space and make the decluttering process so much simpler.
Is there space in the garage, outdoor sheds, storage cages and so forth for the bulkier items that won't see much use in the coming months? This isn't an 'out of sight, out of mind' cheat - it's about making smarter use of the space you have available, and keeping the things you need right now in easy reach.
Take stock of what you have and what you don't need. Seasonally adjust your wardrobe so the clothes you won't be wearing this season can be stored away. Store shoes in shoe racks. Boxes, storage tubs and products like vacuum-sealed storage bags (that can be stored flat in the home or off-site) will go a long way to freeing up valuable space and helping you with your declutter mission.
Additionally, offload any furniture in your bedrooms that is broken, or has become obsolete or unnecessary. Being able to, literally, see more floor space in your bedroom, or any room for that matter, is a great way of making that room both look and feel bigger.
Follow a similar process with your household manchester as you did with your clothing. If you have sheets, pillowcases, quilts and blankets designed to perform better in the colder months, store them in baskets or vacuum-sealed bags during the warmer months. When the weather turns cold, bring them back into circulation.
Hint: Any linen sets that are no longer being used can be repurposed as kids' art smocks or cleaning rags around the house and in the garage.
When it comes to decluttering your lounge and kitchen areas, keep flat surfaces as clear as you possibly can. You're no doubt familiar with the saying 'a place for everything, and everything in its place' - apply this to your kitchen, lounge and dining areas as a way of giving you more space in which to operate.
Establish household rules:
- Kids' schoolbooks and bags should no longer be left on the kitchen/dining room table unless homework is actually being done.
- Bills, envelopes and advertising catalogues are filed out of the way but are easily accessible e.g. on a pinboard.
- Keyrings are hung on hooks instead of having them scattered on kitchen benchtops or dining tables.
- Spare wallspace becomes a blackboard for writing notes and work/shopping lists rather than scribbling on pesky pieces of paper.
There are some must-have items that will take your declutter endeavour from a nightmare to a dream. Here's what we suggest:
- Storage boxes - make sure they're stackable, especially if they're being packed away out of sight. If they form part of your decor, you can get many different boxes and storage boxes that look great and will complement your furniture.
- Coat racks - wall-mounted coat racks are a space-conscious way of ensuring coats, hats and gloves can be dumped when entering the home and easily grabbed on the way out. If you have the room or want to make a statement, consider getting a freestanding coat rack.
- Photo ladders - it's amazing how photo frames can clutter the home - not to mention the amount of dust they collect! A photo ladder not only displays your photos more practically, it can also act as the perfect place to display greeting cards at special times of the year.
- Laundry baskets - the best way to encourage the family to sort out their clothes is to give them a laundry basket to dump them in. Consider putting a laundry basket in the bathroom for dirty clothes, and one for clean clothes ready to be packed away in the bedroom.
- Magazine rack - magazines, newspapers and other reading materials (like brochures, pamphlets, etc.) can get scattered all over the place. So why not give them their own designated nook in the form of a nice-looking magazine rack? Placing a magazine rack in the living room is obvious but a lot of homes also have them in the bathroom for those longer toilet breaks.
- Shelves - for those items you want to admire on a daily basis, shelves are a great way to showcase them properly and utilise spare wallspace. Plan out your shelving carefully to maximise its potential.
Your initial decluttering might be a big task but the end reward of more space and a neater home are well worth the payoff. Once you get the big declutter out of the way and a family routine in place, regular declutter 'sessions' will help keep your home tidy with little fuss or energy on your part.