A key trend emerging from this pandemic is the urge to declutter and organise our homes – after all, this is where we’ve been spending most of our time! It’s also a natural side effect of our lives becoming simpler over the last year and a half. Besides making a space more organised and look better too, decluttering also has another effect: it can improve your mental wellbeing.
By ordering the things you can control, like your own possessions and the space around you, your mind instantly feels calmer, and has a better ability to focus, process information and see the bigger picture. And for many of us, these traits have been in short supply given the turbulent times we’re going through as a collective.
But while you may be feeling the urge to declutter, you may also be feeling a bit overwhelmed about how to start. Here are five steps to get you going:
- Have a vision
Before you start tossing things into cardboard boxes, start with a vision of how you want your space to look. Even if you don’t have specifics yet, imagine the feeling you’d like when spending time in the room once it’s decluttered. Grab your favourite home décor mag or start pinning a Pinterest board to get you inspired and really visualising your new space. Having a clear idea of what you’re after can make you more motivated to start.
- Start small
If like most of us you’ve spent years or even decades accumulating stuff, getting rid of it can feel like too much to face. But rather than pushing that drawer closed for the hundredth time and ignoring the problem, approach your decluttering mission as you would with any other big project: take it one step at a time. Try dedicating an hour or two a day to the task that you’d normally spend scrolling through your phone, or start with a single drawer or shelf in one room. Breaking it down into bite-sized chunks can help you break that first mental barrier and really get going.
- Tackle the space that bothers you the most
Whether it’s your bedside table that’s driving you crazy, the “catch-all” kitchen drawer overflowing with takeaway menus or the garage that’s harbouring dusty DIY tools you bought during lockdown but never use, start with the part of your house that causes you the most anxiety. By facing your biggest problem area first, you’ll feel more satisfied to continue through the rest. Another option is to start with the area that impacts your daily life the most, such as that Tupperware cupboard in your kitchen, or your bathroom vanity.
- Don’t forget the big stuff
Many people focus on the small items when decluttering, such as papers, books, ornaments or toys. But too much furniture in a room – or objects that are too large for it – can also make it seem crowded. Jocasta von Merveldt, owner of interior design company Curtain Drops, advises you think about your room in terms of spatial balance. “Make sure your bedside tables are proportionate to your large king-sized bed, for example,” she says. “And in your lounge, couches and chairs should fit in a way that you can still move around them easily.”
If you can’t change your couches, maybe a solution is to swap out your large coffee table for a smaller version, or perhaps take out your multiple chests of drawers and replace them with one sleek bookshelf? Mable are a local furniture company who manufacture modern bookshelves made from Baltic birch plywood, and they can be completely customised to your space. With this one item, you can store everything you need for one room, while making sure the dimensions exactly fit your space so it doesn’t feel overcrowded.
- Declutter by category, not room
In her KonMari method, decluttering queen Marie Kondo recommends you sort your possessions by category rather than by room. So when it comes to your clothes, for example, create a pile of every single item of clothing you own from every location in the house – whether it’s your wardrobe, your coat rack, or that forgotten storage chest – and then sort from there. The KonMari method specifies five categories for your possessions: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items and sentimental items, which can be notoriously tricky to let go of!
While the pandemic has been a challenge for all of us, there have certainly been some positives to come out of it. One of these is a simplification of our daily lives, by appreciating what we have and living in the present. In a practical sense, the urge to declutter is part of this, and can help to make our living spaces – and our minds – more peaceful in 2021.