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Clutter Busters

Follow our room-by-room guide and learn how to take the stress out of your mess

THE HALL
First impressions 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, coats, umbrellas, keys.

Storage solutions  

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/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 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 vital to prevent coats being strewn over banisters or thrown on the floor.

THE KITCHEN
The kitchen is the heart of the home and is a magnet for clutter.

Watch out for the clutter
Cooking utensils, crockery and bowls, tea towels, spices and oils, books and wine bottles.

Storage solutions

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 a lot of 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 which optimise space are available on the high street. Decant spices into airtight containers and put 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, so invest in a wine rack.  

A bookshelf with pretty metal brackets erected over the door will hold your cookery books.  

THE BEDROOM
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 and magazines, spare bedlinen and duvets, jewellery, perfume and toiletries, hair products.

Storage solutions  

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 either drawers 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 or magazines on bedside tables.

Store jewellery in boxes to keep it tarnish-free and safe from chipping. Display just 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.

Storage solutions

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 a great idea 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, a glass-topped table under which you can display small treasures or simply adapt a cut-down dining table with drawers.

THE BATHROOM
The bathroom is a key area for relaxing ‘ something you can’t do if there are loads of dirty clothes and wet towels hanging around.  

Watch out for the clutter
Towels and flannels, old soap, shampoo and conditioner bottles, dental hygiene and sanitary products.

Storage solutions  

Get rid of anything that has been hanging around for a while ‘ almost empty bottles of shampoo and ancient cakes of soap.  

Site a shallow cupboard over or near the basin so everyday items such as toothpaste are within easy reach. 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, see if you can find room for 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 also useful for storing towels, as is a vertical, wall-mounted rack. If you don’t want to drill holes in your door, up-and-over door hooks will take towels and bath robes.

Where space isn’t at a premium, use baskets for sweet-smelling or prettily-packed toiletries. These can look attractive on windowsills or even in an empty corner on the floor.

Linda’s storage ideas

Hall ‘ The prettiest wooden coat racks come from Chic Shack in a variety of designs featuring cut-out hearts or trims, starting from £98.

Kitchen ‘ The Housekeepers’ Collection at John Lewis features retro-style enamelware in green, blue or white, including laundry boxes, pails and storage tins. From £12 to £20.

Living room ‘ Try the box coffee table with a lift-up lid and 12
drawers, £450 from Laura Ashley. Available in dark chestnut and honey wood.

Bathroom ‘ Keep medicines safe in this wooden, red cross cabinet from Country Cream. It has one shelf, a lock and key, is lined with red gingham and costs £68.

Bedroom ‘ For clever wardrobe solutions, look to Dwell. Their large sliding door oak wardrobe, with a frosted glass inset, has two hanging rails, two shelves and a sliding trouser rack, all for £495.

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