When you move into your dream home, you imagine all the great times you will spend there, and you think about décor and how to make the most of the space. You do not picture all the possessions you will accumulate over the years and how they might limit the home you have just bought.
It is a modern-day problem of the developed world that we can end up just owning too many belongs. Particularly as we grow older, and have collected souvenirs from various trips, held on to the drawings, creations, and mementos of our babies and children, and have purchased all sorts of items that we used once and ‘might come in handy one day’, we might find that our houses have areas that are completely out of use as they are too full of things.
It is a great idea to go through any areas in the home that may have accumulated too much stuff, especially as we age. If the home is clutter-free it is safer for us as we grow older as the items we need will be more easily to hand, there will be fewer trip-hazards and valuables are less likely to get damaged. Add to this the thought of mobility difficulties making it too hard for you to sort it properly so the job would fall to someone else – a carer or your adult children – and it might spur us on to do the job sooner rather than putting it off.
The Rewards of a Clear-Out
Make the most of your space by having a declutter and find that there can be lots of rewards. One major reward can be in rediscovering ‘lost’ treasured mementos that bring back memories. Plan to display these or put them somewhere safe that you can enjoy them more regularly. However, do not fall into the trap of letting these items side-track you from the decluttering task. It is easy to let a whole afternoon slip by, just reminiscing rather than taking on the job in hand.
It is possible that by selling unwanted furniture, items or old nick-nacks you may be able to make some money. There are lots of selling websites that you can use, and if you do your research and price them at the right amount you can find that people will come to take away your clutter, making the job easier for you. If you have collectable or valuable items, it might be worth seeking out a dealer to ensure you get the right amount of money for your treasures.
Having a clear-out is a good chance to be mindful of the environment. Often your unwanted items can be used by others, and will stop them going to landfill. Take your unwanted things to charity shops, or put them on your local free recycyling website to be collected by someone who wants them. But perhaps the biggest reward is finding that you have space in your home that you can now use as you wish, be it being able to put the car in the garage, clearing an area so that you can take up an old hobby, or having room for visitors to come and stay comfortably. We look at the common clutter-filled areas in the home, and consider the best way to clear them.
1. Reclaim your garage
Often the garage is the best place to start. When buying a house with a single or double garage, generally the thought is that it would be the place to store the car. However, all too often it becomes a convenient dumping ground for garden furniture, decorating equipment and camping supplies. By adding lots of tall storage shelves and boxes and by making sure that anything broken or unused is disposed of, valuable space can be freed up. By cleaning out the garage and by painting the walls and floor a light colour, often the space becomes much more suitable for storing things from the rest of the house in an organised manner.
Organising the garage can be dirty work and the equipment stored in a garage can be heavy, so people often find it easiest to tackle the garage along with another person.
2. Make your attic accessible
The attic is another common problem-area for storing unnecessary belongings. Attics have the benefit of being out-of-sight and out-of-mind, but this all too often means that boxes of random items get put in the attic and forgotten about for decades. Attics can also have the added disadvantage of being hard to get to if there is not a built-in ladder or easy-to-access loft-hatch. But as an attic is such a valuable storage space it is worth making sure that you are only storing what needs to be kept, and clearing out everything else, to make the most of the space.
Set aside a weekend or a few days to take everything down, go through it, and sort out the things to be kept and things to go. As attics are often great habitats for pests, consider investing in heavy duty plastic storage crates with lids. If they have the advantage of being transparent it means you will be able to see the contents, but do label each box to make it easier to find what you are looking for in the future.
To make the most of your loft space, why not board the attic to give you a greater surface area, install lights on the rafters to make finding things easier, and fit a pull-down loft ladder with a handrail so that access is much safer.
3. Rediscover your guest room
A spare bedroom is a real selling point for home buyers, with visions of guests staying and fun weekends. However the reality is often that a room that is not in constant use can become a dumping ground for belongs that don not have a home elsewhere in the house. Make it a project to go through everything in the guest room and make sure you really need it. If not, take it to charity. Those things you do need, find somewhere else for them to live permanently – maybe your newly organised garage, or stored safely in the tidy attic!
If you need to give yourself real motivation to get started, why not invite guests over in a month’s time. There is nothing like a deadline to get started. Once you have organised your guest room and made it fit for visitors you will not want to fill it back up with clutter, and you will have gained a whole new room.
4. Sort the garden shed
The shed, like the garage is a classic place for gathering unnecessary clutter. After a day in the garden it’s tempting to shove the tools, old compost bags and garden toys away in the shed without organizing them properly. Before you know it the shed becomes a no-go-zone as it is too untidy to be a useful space.
Choose a sunny day and take out everything from the shed. Give the shed a proper clean and maybe even a lick of paint, add shelving if you don’t already have it, and a work bench if you have space. Only put back the items you definitely need and throw out everything else. With a tidy shed your gardening jobs will be made so much more simple.
Declutter the kitchen cupboards
It is a truth that no matter how many cupboards there are in a kitchen, over time the food and utensils will increase to fill the space. We may clean our kitchen surfaces every day to stay hygienic and healthy, but the insides of our kitchen cupboards are often neglected. Make it a regular household job to go through each cupboard, cleaning the shelves, and look through the groceries. Check the use by dates, as often the oregano at the back of the pantry that you bought five years ago is a few years out of date and has been taking up valuable cupboard space in your kitchen for far too long!
Only keep the essential equipment that you can actually remember using. Why keep an egg poacher, when no one in the house eats poached eggs? Once your cupboards and shelves are decluttered, it will be much easier to find what you are looking for when you are in the midst of a complicated recipe.
Restyle the wardrobes
One of the most common areas that needs a good sort out is clothing storage. It is easy to buy the latest fashions and move between the seasons without noticing that you have stopped wearing your favourite green jumper, or that your old jeans are no longer quite in style. Getting rid of clothes can be really hard because we often create emotional attachments to what we wear. The result is drawers that no longer shut properly, wardrobes stuffed with clothes that don’t fit or are out of fashion, and maybe even piles of clothes on the bedroom chair that don’t have anywhere to go.
It is often best to sort clothes in short bursts of time, as otherwise it’s easy to get decision fatigue. Get rid of anything you’ve not worn for a year. Sort clothes into seasons so that your wardrobe only contains clothes suitable for the weather, and store the other season’s clothes away.
It is possible to sell clothes that are in good condition on selling websites. Of course charity shops welcome bundles of clothes for them to sell as well. If you have very old clothes or clothes with holes in them charity shops can recycle these as ‘rags’ and get paid an amount per kilogram of cloth. Once your clothes are sorted and easier to find, choosing your outfit for the day will be more inspiring and your bedroom and dressing area will be peaceful and clutter-free.