Be Nice and Tidy - de-clutter

Why wait until spring for a clear-out? Decluttering with some clever storage solutions could bring calm and harmony into your home.

Why wait until spring for a clear-out? Decluttering with some clever storage solutions could bring calm and harmony into your home.

It’s not unusual at this time of year to feel as though your possessions are winning the space war and you’re being squeezed out.

But of all the aspirational (if unrealistic) goals we set ourselves, decluttering and getting your house organised is, arguably, the most achievable.

“Nothing acts more like a tonic for the hung-over soul than a jolly good tidy,” says designer Barbara Genda.

“Ample research suggests that clutter and mess causes us untold stress. Stuffed cupboards, dishevelled drawers, haphazardly strewn and displaced possessions without a designated ‘living’ space all culminates into a loud, unrelenting visual ‘noise’ that can make us feel boxed-in, overwhelmed and even anxious.”

Luckily, there are a multitude of solutions for organising mess - particularly if you’re a natural hoarder - from stackable boxes to sophisticated storage systems.

“Pack all of that mess away and immediately you’ll discern the positive effects. You’ll have a calmer environment in which you can relax, be productive and at the very least, think straight,” she says.

So on your marks, get set, store!

Under-stairs sort-out

“Under the stairs is the definitive dumping ground for assorted, unused odds and ends,” says Genda. “Often, you can’t seem to open the door without a golf bag spilling heavy clubs onto your feet, or a sea of shoes tumbling out.”

Top tip: As a short-term solution, put hooks inside the cupboard door for hanging up bags and get transparent boxes for larger items, so they stay dust free and you can view contents without having to rummage.

Free-up living space

“Decluttering isn’t about throwing everything away,” says Simon Glanville, managing director of storage specialists, Store.

“It’s about losing what’s useless and ugly in order to have space for things that are useful and beautiful. But it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and keep putting off that clear-up,” he adds.

“Start with one single drawer or shelf at a time. Set a timer for 20 minutes and stop when the alarm goes off. Always tidy up first thing in the morning, so once the chore’s done you’re free to enjoy the rest of your day.”

Top tip: Always de-clutter before buying new storage, otherwise you won’t know the right solution for your needs. Explore under-utilised spaces, like landings, and consider boarding a loft so you can store seasonal items.

Book lovers

“Books can look beautiful when displayed properly so avoid stacking them two deep, or leaving them in piles everywhere,” says Marianne Shillingford, creative director and head of the design service at Dulux.

“You can work on the principle that if you haven’t looked at individual titles in a couple of years, you’re probably unlikely to read them again, and some could be consigned to a charity shop.

“Order books so you can find them easily - alphabetically, by genre or those you’ve recently read. Look for different ways to display them; shelves over and around doorways look particularly effective.”

Top tip: Paint an old bookcase, or look on eBay or local charity shops for second hand ones and do a make over. Fashionable, low mid-century sideboards work well too.

Dulux Made By Me paint collection is designed specifically for furniture and small projects and there are online tutorials at www.dulux.co.uk

Uncork a solution

Those who take their wine seriously realise the need to store bottles correctly, while even if you have half a dozen bottles kept aside they can take up room.

A recent survey by self storage service, LoveSpace, found around 20% of Irish people have wine storage on their wish-list and nearly 18% want a mini-bar.

“Streamlining your interior to make the best use of your space will work wonders on a room,” says stylist Claire Hornby.

“A crate, or a bespoke wine cupboard if you have room, will avoid breakages and allow you to manage a growing collection which can gather dust and look unattractive if it’s just standing on a shelf or cupboard surface.”

Top tip: Don’t overlook inventive ways of showing off a collection, like putting a rack in an empty fireplace, or using a wall hung bottle display.

Play for space

“The ‘sock monster’ is a myth. Instead, it should be renamed the ‘DVD and CD monster’,” says Genda. “These seem to replicate themselves, spill out of drawers and crowd shelves. Think about multimedia systems that include handy storage - perfect for concealing or displaying your library of DVDs.”

Top tip: Ensure you bring lots of white and neutral colours into your cabinetry and furniture, to enhance the illusion of space.

Design for dressers

“A bed is the functional heart of a bedroom and also harbours the most overlooked source of hidden storage,” says Simon Glanville at Store.Top tip:

Paint shoe boxes, use PlastiKote Twist & Spray Colour bel with photos of contents