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How to streamline your stuff

by Andréa Childs
How to streamline your stuff
Image: Getty Images

You don’t need to be a disciple of Marie Kondo, the Japanese diva of decluttering, to feel weighed down by too much stuff. Drawers, cupboards, wardrobes and filing cabinets – most of us will have at least one place that’s bursting at the seams. If your clutter’s not concealed, chances are it’s collecting in the corners of your home. But there are simple ways to clear your space (and your mind). And by getting rid of the things you don’t want, you can put the focus on the items you really love.

Farewell ‘fantasy you’

Our homes are full of possessions we’ve collected for the person we’d like to be, rather than the lives we actually lead. ‘If you have a treadmill, yoga mat, Pilates equipment and a wardrobe of exercise clothes but your idea of a workout is taking the stairs, that fitness clutter belongs to your fantasy self,’ says Francine Jay.

‘If you have boxes of fabric and beads, but rarely sit down to make something, that craft clutter belongs to your fantasy self.’ Her solution: let go of that fantasy self and its real and emotional baggage, and make space for your true passions. As Jay says, ‘It’s not giving up on your dreams, it’s making way for real ones.’

Clutter hotspots

The hall

Have hooks for coats and racks for shoes; put hats, scarves and gloves in boxes; sort mail immediately. Add a lamp and a picture – dull, dingy hallways invite clutter.

The kitchen

The key to kitchen karma is streamlining, says Dana White

Put away all your dishes. If there isn’t enough space in your cabinets, keep your favourites and get rid of what doesn’t fit.

Tidy and declutter existing storage, rather than automatically buying more.

Follow the one-for-one rule. If you get a new saucepan, discard an old one. Don’t keep it for ‘just in case’. Duplicate utensils? Ask yourself how many wooden spoons you really need.

Check expiry dates on all foods, and bin any out-of-date items.

The living room

Get your family to commit to a tidy-up blitz before going to bed or leaving the house. Plump cushions, put remote controls in an agreed place, take cups into the kitchen, tidy newspapers.

The home office

Thin out your filing cabinet. Download digital versions of appliance manuals. Opt for online instead of paper bank statements and policy documents. According to, you should hang on to bills and bank statements for two years, and tax-related paperwork for 22 months after the end of the tax year they relate to.

Tidy your desk. Ikea  has a great range of cable management accessories. Fix a half shelf beneath your desk for storing modems, printers, etc.

Find your flow. Arrange drawers so the things you use most are closest

to you. Then organise your desk with in-trays for ‘new paperwork’, ‘being worked on’ and ‘ready to file’ piles.

The bathroom

Only keep on show the lotions you’re using; keep everything else in a cupboard.

Add a high shelf or rack for folded, unused towels.

Search out tall, narrow cabinets that add valuable storage in a tight space.

Invest in a radiator that doubles as a towel ladder.

The laundry

If you have the space, buy two laundry baskets and sort clothes instantly into whites and colours. ‘To keep things tidy, I need to complete the entire task: wash, dry, fold or hang, and put away,’ says Melissa Michaels in Make Room For What You Love (Harvest House Publishers, £13). ‘I don’t believe in adding extra steps, such as piling clothes on the sofa first.’

Start a ritual

Melissa Michaels suggests starting a weekly ritual of clearing clutter and restoring order.

Pick a different area of your home each week and set aside a block of time to tackle it.

Get inspired. Find stylish photos of how you’d like your space to look when it’s clear.

Play some tunes and turn tidying into a celebratory event.

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