Decluttering Your Home This Summer

If you’re like most people you probably received a lot stuff, otherwise known as gifts, over Christmas?  And like most people you’ll probably find a place for your stuff in your home, while acknowledging you need to get rid of some old things.  And that’s it, you have the thought but don’t know how to follow through on decluttering.

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Reasons People Hoard

People hoard all sorts of objects from food, to paper, antiques, clothes, toys, all the gifts they’ve ever received, so understanding what kind of hoarder you are may help you take the first step in decluttering.

There are many reasons why people don’t declutter, firstly; it takes time.  Everyone is time poor or prefers to spend their time doing something else.  Secondly, it’s emotional, we attach a lot of sentimental value to objects in our home and for this reason find it difficult to get rid of. 

Thirdly, if you live with a partner you might have very different ideas about your stuff and how to get rid of it.  This disagreement will inevitably hold up or completely cease your decluttering efforts. 

And finally, many people just don’t know what to do with stuff they don’t want any more, do they sell it, chuck it, donate it.

All these reasons are big roadblocks in clearing your home of unwanted objects.

As an interior designer many of my clients struggle with this problem and it really impacts on important interior design elements such as functionality, harmony, balance and of course aesthetically it’s unattractive.

It’s also not uncommon that all your stuff could be causing you to feel unwell as your stuff attracts dust and may impact on your respiratory health especially if you suffer from allergies and hoarding may attract rodents.  Hoarding may impact your mental health and the state of your relationships.

That’s why it’s important to declutter.

Types of Decluttering

There are many ways to declutter your home from Marie Kondo to Peter Walsh.  But the process starts with some self-awareness.  For example, understanding what kind of shopper you are?  Do you buy on impulse or are your purchases researched and considered?  Do you keep things ‘just in case’ or ‘maybe I’ll use it when…’? 

While self-awareness is important, it’s also possible, you may need professional help from a therapist, especially if your hoarding is a result of psychological issues you’re dealing with or simply you may just need a professional sorter or organiser.  In the first instance it might be a good idea to get a professional sorter’s help to kick start the process for you.

Once you’ve decided to declutter your home, you can start by listing the ‘hot spots’ in your home.  Spaces such as wardrobes, home offices, kid’s rooms, garages, kitchen etc.  Because decluttering is such a big task you need to break it down first and focus on one space at a time.

Let’s say you decide to start with your wardrobe, dealing with clothes is easy enough as there may be clothes that don’t fit, aren’t fashionable or need repairs, these factors make it easy to make a decision about each item. 

Get 4 buckets, to keep, donate, sell or throw away/recycle.

Take an item of clothing and decide to keep, donate, sell or throw/recycle and place it in the bin.  Once it’s in the bin, leave it there.

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I believe the key to success is to not think too much about each item, simply ask yourself  do I want to keep, donate, sell, throw/recycle answer quickly and honestly and move on, no regrets, no second thoughts.

Whatever you do don’t ask why?  Don’t reminisce?  Remembering what you wore on your first date, but only wore it once, doesn’t help.  Let’s be practical.  Have you worn it in the last 12 months?  Does it fit? Done!

They key is to remember that you’re only getting rid of the object, the memory stays with you, in your heart and mind.

Importance of the Right Storage

An important part of this process is to have the right storage solution for your objects.  With clothes it’s easy enough as you’re likely to already have a wardrobe.  But you may need a shoe rack or some shelving for jumpers or a jewellery box, it’s important for everything to have a place to live harmoniously and to avoid future clutter.

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For storage to be successful observe your needs and behaviours, for example how do you use your kitchen? Do you have a collection? How many pair of shoes do you own compared to how many you actually wear? Everyone is different so by observing your needs you can better plan for your storage.

Once you understand your habits and know what you have and how you use it, you can plan and implement suitable storage solutions.  There are so many to choose from baskets, cupboards, hooks, shelves, endless options. An interior designer can assist in helping you decide what storage solutions suit you, your style and your home.

Since you have observed, planned, bought and installed the right storage option for you, it’s a good idea to use it as intended. No point buying something for a specific collection for example and dumping pieces of your collection in random places around the house. Would you put cutlery on a bookshelf? The old design adage form follows function is critical with storage.

After your big initial clear out, stay on top of your stuff by regularly, for example once a year, clearing out the various storage crevices in your home.  A regular clear out is the only way to keep on top of your stuff and avoid clutter, unless you embrace the minimalist movement.

People are both habitual creatures but also ever changing, over time for various reasons for example, a new hobby, a new home or new additions to your family means your storage needs will change. Adapt to these changes by reviewing your storage solutions to ensure you maintain a positive flow of energy and movement in your home.

One of the biggest challenge in your decluttering exercise is finding the time, that’s why I think finding only an hour a day over the holiday period, enables you to enjoy time with your family at the beach, cinema, playing cricket in the backyard.

Making Time & Money

Chipping away at your stuff feels less overwhelming than going through hundreds of objects in one go.

You might also make some money, it’s easy to sell things on Facebook Marketplace these days and with the additional cash you could spend time with your family or an experience you love doing.

There is value in decluttering and relatively speaking it is cheaper than refurbishing or restyling your spaces, tackle your stuff first and you will see your home in a whole different light, you will feel happier and enjoy your home more.

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Our work, Living Room Coburg, 2019

There are lots of resources, list, challenges, videos on decluttering all over the internet, find something that works for you and click into action. But we’re also happy to have a chat. Good luck.