Follow our room-by-room guide and learn how to take the stress out of your mess
‘If you regularly spend time searching for missing items in your home and feel overwhelmed and out of control of your possessions, then clutter has become a problem for you,’ says Romaine Lowery, founder of The Clutter Clinic (www.clutterclinic.co.uk).
‘There is no doubt that clutter causes tension and stress in everyday life. Most of us simply own too much stuff and making the decision to lose the items you no longer need or want is very therapeutic. Instead of wishing you had a bigger house, you can clear the clutter and reorganise your home with the right storage so that everything has a place. Recycle unwanted possessions to charity, or turn clutter into cash on eBay. Simply by de-cluttering, you will transform your house into a successful living space that you are happy to come home to,’ advises Romaine.
First impressions really count, so you need to find a place for all the mundane but necessary items that come in and out each day with the family.
Watch out for the clutter
Post – letters and bills – newspapers, shoes, bags, hats, coats, umbrellas and keys.
Buy a letter rack or fix a box-type holder for post on the back of the door. Make it a daily habit to open and discard what you don’t want, and put the rest in a designated space (such as bills in the office, local flyers and takeaway menus in a file).
Invest in a narrow bench box with a lift-up lid that doubles as both a seat and storage. Put footwear, gloves, bags, hats and scarves neatly away inside.
Buy a shoe rack and insist everyone puts their shoes neatly together on it.
To keep umbrellas from dripping onto the floor, use a tall, sturdy vase or galvanised flower bucket.
Organise keys on hooks or put them in a bowl by the door on a hall table. If you have lots of different keys, buy a special key cupboard and label what each key is for (but code neighbour’s house numbers, just in case you are broken into).
A stylish coat stand or a wooden or metal rack with hooks is essential to prevent coats being strewn over banisters or thrown on the floor.
The kitchen is the cosy heart of the home – and a magnet for extraneous bits and bobs.
Watch out for the clutter
Cooking utensils, crockery and bowls, tea towels, spices and oils, books and wine bottles.
No kitchen ever has sufficient cupboard space, so put up hanging racks for pots and pans on free areas of wall – unobtrusive stainless steel racks suit most decorating styles. Tea towels can go on stick-on hooks concealed inside cupboard doors.
Big stew pots and jam pans take up room and are rarely used, so stack the largest pan with as many smaller items as it will take and stash on top of kitchen units.
Around the sink is a prime area for clutter, so buy a sink tidy that will hold your scrubbing brushes and mops, washing up liquid and J-cloths.
Most of us don’t have a larder, so food should be organised in an easy-to-reach cupboard. Special stacking shelves and racks that optimise space are available on the high street. Decant spices into airtight containers and put them in a spice rack on the wall. Oils always leak, so store on a wipe-clean tray or in a Tupperware container in a cupboard.
Wine bottles should always be stored flat to keep them at their best, so invest in a wine rack.
A bookshelf with pretty metal brackets erected over the door will hold your cookery books.
The bedroom should be a tranquil haven, devoted to peace and rest – so all those clothes dumped in the corner have to find a home.
Watch out for the clutter
Clothes (clean and dirty), shoes, books, magazines, spare bedlinen and duvets, jewellery, perfume, toiletries and hair products.
Anything lying on the floor needs to be hung up in the wardrobe or put in the dirty clothes basket. Organise wardrobes using hanging containers for jumpers or shoes that strap over the rail. Keep socks together and knickers separate with attractive drawer tidies.
Store bedlinen and duvets under beds. Choose your divan with care so you can actually open it – they’re available with drawers either on the side or at the end. Alternatively, store in inexpensive, under-bed vac-u-packs deflated with the vacuum cleaner, or wooden drawers on castors.
Leave just one or two books on bedside tables.
Store jewellery in boxes to keep it tarnish-free and safe from chipping. Display one or two pretty scent bottles on dressing tables and keep toiletries and make-up to a minimum – there are some gorgeous cardboard boxes around if you need to keep them close to hand.
THE LIVING ROOM
This room is used by every member of the family – from relaxing and watching TV to entertaining and game-playing. Often it is also our smartest room so clever storage is vital.
Watch out for the clutter
TV/video/DVD/CD and other hi-tech equipment, magazines, newspapers, games and toys.
Clear junk off coffee tables and other open surfaces. Put magazines in a rack – if floor space is limited, go for a wall-mounted one. Leave one or two interesting magazines and coffee-table books out for decoration. Keep bookshelves for handsome volumes, and put tatty novels and orange-spined Penguins in a less public spot.
Videos/DVDs/CDs all need their own storage area. A TV cabinet isn’t the most attractive option but it hides away associated clutter. A wall-mounted CD rack in wood (for period properties) or steel (for contemporary homes) is an effective solution.
Display cabinets are great in living rooms. They can hide away everyday items in drawers and also display special pieces behind glass, safe from prying fingers.
Where space is quite tight, a coffee table that includes storage is useful. It needn’t cost a fortune though. Use a painted antique wooden trunk or a glass-topped table under which you can display small treasures, or simply adapt a cut-down dining table with drawers.
This room is a key area for relaxing – something you can’t do with dirty clothes and wet towels hanging around. Watch out for the clutter Towels, soap, shampoo, dental hygiene and sanitary items.
• Screw a soap rack and a toothbrush rack over the basin or buy one that sticks to shiny tiles with suckers.
• If space is limited, consider a built-in cupboard. It can form the back of a shower, for instance, giving it a dual use – pipework will be hidden away and towels can be kept warm in the cupboard behind.
• A waterproof seat with storage underneath is useful for storing towels, as is a vertical, wall-mounted rack. Up-and- over door hooks will take towels and bath robes.
• Use baskets for sweet-smelling or pretty toiletries.
Hang it all
Hall – This pretty aluminium coat rack has eight pegs, so it’s big enough to accommodate everyone’s gear!
Available from The Holding Company, £90
Kitchen – Try retro-style polka dot storage tins to brighten up the room. Available from The Emma Bridgwater collection at John Lewis, £4-£22
Wood be nice
LIVING ROOM – When you put your feet up, you want your magazines and newspapers to hand. Your wish is granted with this stylish hyacinth rack!
Available from Clutter-Non, £9.99
Bathroom – Introduce a touch of pharmacy-chic to your home and keep bathroom essentials under lock and key with this distinctive circular medicine cabinet. Featuring a bright aqua cross, it’s just what the doctor ordered!
Available from Heal’s, £36
BEDROOM – Sort out your bedroom with this versatile white wood, wicker drawer unit. Each drawer is lined with gingham lining. Great for a quick ‘country’ look!
Available from Clutter-Non, £88 Photos: Shutterstock