After Christmas has been and gone, guests have departed and all presents have been unwrapped, clutter can sometimes creep up on your space. It’s often hard to know where to begin and what to do with all that new ‘stuff’.
We asked interior design experts, Clare Morton from Studio Morton and Amelia Carter for their words of organising wisdom.
So, take a deep breath, open all the windows – and take note.
If you had to pick just one area to declutter, what would it be?
Clare: I always, always work on one room at a time. Don’t try to declutter the whole of your home at once or you’ll feel like you’re not getting anywhere. My priority is keeping my living space clutter-free because it’s where I go to relax and be revitalised by possessions on display that have meaning to me. By clutter-free I don’t mean minimal, I just mean that everything in a room should have a purpose; whether it’s a light for reading or a work of art that remind you of a favourite place. It's not about getting rid of everything – just highlighting the things you love.
Amelia: Rooms vary in sizes and the purpose of the room will determine how best to approach the space and storage. I would choose kitchens and living rooms to start with. These rooms can afford to have a bit more going on, with ornaments, books, art pieces and pictures all on display but one room that you should always keep on top of is the bedroom, this should be a clutter free zone.
How do you decide what to throw away and what to keep?
Clare: There is some logic to declutter but I tend to take the emotional approach. I am a big fan of Marie Kondo, the famous Japanese decluttering guru. When you’re deciding, focus on one item at a time, look at it and ask yourself “does this bring me joy”. It sounds a bit silly but you’ll know right away. For example if it’s an ornament you found at a great antiques fair that is in a colour that you love, it will likely make you feel happy. If it’s an old side table with a wobbly leg that you bought because it was in the bargain corner even though you don’t like the colour then it probably won’t fill your heart with joy. Equally, that gift from your ex is only going to bring back bad memories!
Amelia: If the item has no purpose and you haven’t used it in over a year, I would throw away. If the item is sentimental then definitely keep it but maybe have one draw or box that is just for these items.
Which part of the home should you start with?
Clare: Whichever part of the home that’s stressing you out by the amount of clutter that is in it. If you tackle the hardest task first, you’ll feel so good when it’s done that you’ll be happy to take on other areas.
Amelia: The kitchen is often the heart of the home, and inevitably contains the most stuff. An effective kitchen that not only looks good, but works hard too, requires careful consideration. Storage here is key and when planning I find it’s best to work from the cooker out.
Is there an easy fix to avoid clutter accumulating?
Clare: Don’t bring anything you don’t need into your home that you don’t like or don’t really need. As an interior designer, I do tend to collect things, I get sent lots of samples, booklets from trade fairs, magazines, new products etc.
Are there any tricks or quick fixes to get a decluttered look or feel in a space?
Amelia: There are some really clever ideas for storage in smaller spaces, utilising the space under the stairs or downstairs cupboard is easier than you think and can make a real difference. Embracing decorative storage solutions will help too, if you have a large book collection, why not make a display of them in an unused fireplace, it’s practical, stylish and space-saving too. Ottoman beds and blanket boxes are great choice for smaller bedrooms, these can hide a multitude of items and a great way to keep a nice clean bedroom.
For more decorating advice from the experts, check out Dr Dulux: How to Decorate Awkward Spaces or check out 5 Storage Solutions for Post-Christmas Clutter for smart tidying ideas.