There are a couple of times in the year when everyone’s home could really benefit from a good clear out, and post-Christmas is one of them. Your house is probably groaning with newly-acquired stuff so it's the perfect time to clear out all the things that have been accumulating over the years that only take up space. Architect/Interior Designer Denise O'Connor has tips on how to start...
I’m pretty ruthless when it comes to getting rid of things but I know that parting with possessions can often be a struggle for people. Keeping things because they may be useful one day, or for sentimental reasons, can lead to a huge amount of surplus unused objects in your home that take up precious space. If you do struggle with getting rid of things, this gentle approach will help you achieve the kind of organised, clutter-free home you thought only existed on Pinterest!
Here’s how to start: Place a box in an out-of-the-way place (behind a door or in a corner) and start to fill it with the items you don't need, don't love or just aren't sure about. Once you have filled the box, or indeed boxes, let it sit for a week so you become fully detached, and then you'll know whether to toss it, donate it or give it away.
Once you’ve identified the bits and pieces you don’t want think about putting them up on a site such as Done Deal or Buy & Sell – your unwanted things could actually be a way of making a few extra euro. We’ve had many clients who have successfully sold entire kitchens and bathroom suites. You’ll be amazed at what people would love to get their hands on.
Now that you have removed all of your unwanted items, you need to stop more ‘stuff’ coming into the house. This is where the discipline kicks in! To help you to control what comes into your home, create a space by the front door where you can drop your belongings and sort your post when you come home. A console table with a bowl for keys and tray for mail, a mirror, hooks for coats and hats, and - most importantly - a waste basket, will help you to control the flow of items coming into the house. A ‘no junk mail’ sign is highly recommended if you don't have one already.
Now, this is something that I can't stress enough: try to get as much of your stuff up off your floors as possible. Most homes – big and small – have lot of unused vertical space, so add some shelves or storage options that take advantage of those high walls and keep the floors clear. This is particularly effective in utility spaces - things like ironing boards, brushes, mops and clothes-drying apparatus can all be hung up on the wall or on backs of doors, freeing up valuable floor space.
Now that you have tackled the clutter you need to put some order on the things that are left. Creating designated storage solutions for your items is far more effective than creating lots of general-purpose cupboards where things get put without any real thought. It will mean that you know where to put things and most importantly where to find them. After a recent clean out of my kitchen I realised how many jars, cans and bottles had been forgotten about at the back of the cupboards and were now out of date. I don’t have a very large kitchen, so every bit of storage space is incredibly valuable. I decided to shelve out a wall in my utility room with shallow shelves just deep enough to take tins, bottles and spices, creating a kind of larder. Now everything is easy–to-access and always on view. Best of all, I have gained an entire cupboard for extra storage.
Photo Credit Jason Leung, Unsplash