It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to spring cleaning and streamlining our stuff. But if your usual strategy is to shove items into cupboards, then stop. Research from storage company LOVESPACE found that 80% of us say our mood is affected by mess, with more organised spaces leading to a happier mindset. Meanwhile, figures from blinds retailer Blinds Hut reveal that more than 17% of us feel that clutter almost always increases our stress levels. To help you avoid that stress, decluttering professionals share their advice on what to banish from your cupboards and how to effectively store what you do keep behind closed doors…
Where? Hallway cupboard
“Only keep shoes in your hallway cabinet what you and your family wear every day. Anything that’s out of season or that you wear only for going out, doesn’t need to take up precious hallway space. The same goes for coats, hats, gloves and scarves,” says professional declutterer and founder of A Tidy Mind, Kate Ibbotson. She recommends storing occasional stuff in your bedroom. “Ideally, use shelving above or below the wardrobe or, if there’s space, cubby holes or a shoe rack within the wardrobe,” she says.
Where? Airing cupboard
If your stash of threadbare towels could give Gwen from Gavin & Stacey a run for her money (“It’s like drying yourself with Ryvita!”), then it’s time to take stock. “Pull out all your towels and bed linen and be honest about which items you love and really use,” advises Gill Hasson, author of Declutter Your Life: How Outer Order Leads to Inner Calm. “You need a bed linen set for each bed in the house, some spare sets, a bath towel for each person, plus around three extras for guests and a couple of hand towels. Donate anything you don’t need to an animal charity such as St Francis Animal Welfare or RSPCA which always need towels and bedding.”
Where? Kitchen cupboards
“I never keep crockery, cutlery or glassware for ‘best’. Use this stuff every day and get as much enjoyment out of your belongings as you can,” says Kate. “Think about the maximum amount of crockery you’ll ever need. For most people, it’s six of everything and if you have a dinner party for a larger group you can always hire items.” For clever storage, Kate is a fan of in-cupboard racks which maximise the available space. “Plate racks are brilliant because they use the whole height of the cupboard and ensure easy access. Likewise, try under-shelf baskets which hook onto cupboard shelves, creating an extra shelf underneath,” she says.
Too many books
Where? Bedside cabinet
“Avoid keeping a pile of books in your bedside cabinet as your sleeping space should be about calm and simplicity. Just keep the book you’re reading and, perhaps, one other,” says Kate. “I prefer to store pyjamas in my bedside drawers. It’s a nice place for nightwear and it stops you from filling those drawers with other things.
Piles of paperwork
Where? Home office filing cabinet
No one needs a filing cabinet bulging with bank statements from the last decade and instruction manuals for never-used kitchen gadgets. “Keep important documents such as birth certificates, passports, your driving licence and insurance documents in a box file with dividers,” says Gill. “Cut down on the amount of paperwork you need to file by opting for electronic billing and statements with your bank and utilities, and recycle any instruction manuals for electrical goods such as your oven, washing machine and dishwasher – you can easily find these on the manufacturers’ websites.”
Every single picture your kids have ever drawn
Where? Back of the wardrobe
While it’s lovely to hold onto your children’s creative endeavours through the years, few of us have the space to store every single piece. “Start a memory box for each child. Every couple of months, select pieces that are special enough for the memory box and write on the back the date it was done,” says Kate. “Pick boxes that you’re happy to have on show on top of the wardrobe.”
3 for 2 toiletries
Where? Bathroom cupboard
“Toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, cleaning supplies – 3 for 2 deals may be enticing but if you don’t have the space for them then they aren’t really bargains,” says professional home organiser and founder of This Girl Can Organise, Nicola Lewis. “It’s far better to buy products as you need them as you won’t waste time and effort trying to find a home for the stuff you’re not using. Try under-the-sink storage boxes to neatly stash your bathroom products.”
Where? Living room cupboards
“More and more of us are doing fitness at home but if you hide your yoga mat or weights away in a living room cupboard, there’s a chance you could forget about them,” says Nicola. “For easy access to home exercise equipment, I recommend keeping it in nice baskets or under the sofa storage. Give your belongings proper homes, so that you can easily put them back in the right place.”
And finally… the annoying junk drawer
Where? The kitchen
Let’s be honest, every home has one. The drawer where batteries, spare keys, rubber bands, post-it notes and suchlike get shoved. “By adding some organisation, you can make the junk drawer far more user-friendly and accessible. The first step is to empty it out and assess what is genuinely useful. Sort out the stuff you’re keeping with drawer dividers or you could even reuse plastic takeaway containers to create sections for all those random bits,” says Nicola.