For the first Ask Apartment Apothecary of 2015 it seems appropriate to focus on decluttering, which I always feel is a priority at this time of year, especially if you have had your house full of house guests and lots of decorations over the festive period. January is all about stream-lining and refreshing my home, ready for a new year and new beginnings, and I’m also desperate at this time of year to let more light in, which inevitably means getting rid of ‘stuff’. So,when Mary emailed me asking for tips, I decided to try to put a post together.
Coincidentally, as I wrote this post last week before I had seen it, this topic very much ties in with Heather’s and Sarah-Lou’s new project #TheEverydaySpruce. Pop over to Growing Spaces and Lapin Blu to read more and look out for the hashtag on Instagram – I can’t wait to see more, they are both women after my own heart so I’m super excited about it.
On a separate note, and another coincidence, I was inspired by the lovely Florence who blogs over at Flossie Teacakes to begin a decluttering spree just before Christmas. She posted a picture on Instagram (pop over and have a look at the pictures of her dog – Nell is Otto’s twin!) of her newly decluttered kitchen cupboards and so I went on a day-long decluttering mission myself, knowing that we would be away all over Christmas and New Year and how lovely it would be to return to lovely organised cupboards. The coincidence is that I had linked to her in this post when I wrote it last week and then I saw that she had linked to me on her blog last week and said so many nice things that I was blushing all day. So, thank you for the wonderful mention, Florence, and thank you for inspiring me to declutter!
Anyhoo, back to today’s tips…
1. Tidy the room you are decluttering
This is the absolute key to successful decluttering. You must have a clear space otherwise the stuff you are trying to get rid of will just get mixed up in the mess and you will end up in one big mess. This is when people lose the will to continue and you can end up in more cluttered space than you started with. You need a clear floorspace and clear surfaces so you can declutter in an organised, neat way and having a tidy room will make you more aware of not making a mess. If you only follow one of these tips, you should follow this one.
2. Be focused on what you need to declutter
Don’t just wander around your home aimlessly, plan exactly which cupboard, which wardrobe, which shelf you want to declutter. I usually hone in on those areas that aren’t functioning well (you know, the cupboards that you are scared to open because you know the contents fall on your head every time you do).
3. Store similar items together
If you are clear about what type of items should be in any particular cupboard , drawer or shelf then you can more easily clear out the dissimilar items that need to find a new home.
4. Give yourself time
Lots of people suggest doing tiny areas at a time, but I find that giving myself a whole morning, afternoon or even a day is much more effective, as otherwise I can’t focus on what I am doing; I am more concerned about where I need to be or what I need to do next.
5. New homes
Line up four boxes next to the area you are decluttering: rubbish, charity/giving away, recycling, selling. As soon as you remove one item from the shelf or cupboard decide where it’s new home should be and put it in the appropriate box. This way you will not create one huge mess, which is very daunting and stressful. Remove the boxes that you fill from your home immediately!! If not, they may hang around forever creating more clutter and after a while you won’t even notice that every time you need to go to the bathroom you have to step over the ‘Charity’ box.
6. Declutter in daylight
Use the light to help you feel motivated and it just makes seeing what you are doing that much easier.
7. Know when you have decluttered enough
If you want spaces in your home to function well then it is crucial to know when you have decluttered enough. Lots of people make the common mistake of thinking that as long as they can use evry last inch of a cupboard, drawer or shelf then they have done a really good job of decluttering. This is not the case. You need to get rid of enough stuff so that there is room to manoeuvre, which makes a space truly useable.
7. Declutter one space before you move to the next
Do not flit between declutttering lots of different spaces or cupboards in your home. Focus on one particular area, get that done, fill your four boxes and then move to the next space. if you don’t finish the first space, you probably never will and you create more problems for yourself.
8. One in, one out
When deciding what to get rid of start with the rule that if you have new items then you should replace the old and get rid of them. For example, I was given new wine glasses for Christmas so I gave away the old set to my neighbour. Don’t hold on to things for the sake of it or because one day you might need 24 wine glasses because if you don’t have enough space to store them, you home can not function properly so it is not worth keeping them. One in, one out!
9. Don’t get others involved
I know this is controversial and you may not be as brash as me, but often I will declutter without telling Jules anything about it. I won’t ask his opinion or his permission to get rid of certain things, even if they are his belongings! Harsh, I know, but some people, like Jules, can’t say goodbye to totally pointless items even if they have totally forgotten they own said items. I can be safe in the knowledge that with some things I can get rid of them and Jules will never even know because he hasn’t touched them for years. I hope he doesn’t read this!
10. Don’t get stuck down memory lane
If you schedule in seasonal declutttering sessions, which is what I do, clutter doesn’t build up too much but more importantly you don’t get stuck down memory lane every time you try to declutter. If you have been through those old photos or rifled through the knick knacks just a few months ago, you won’t be utterly overwhelmed by nostalgia. Get into a routine with each change of season to get rid of the surface build up and then you won’t have to delve too deeply, which is the danger zone.
Any plans for a declutter this month? Start small, be realistic and be organised about it and then the decluttering joy will begin!
P.S. If you would like to ask me a design or interiors related question, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or post on my Facebook wall.