Tackle these four areas of the house and live a clutter-free life
Keep hall and utility room clutter-free and put the ‘junk room’ to better use
A “No Junk Mail” sign on the door is highly recommended. Photograph: Getty
There are a couple of times in the year when everyone’s home could benefit from a good clear-out: early April, for the annual spring clean; post-Christmas, after the influx of gifts, hampers and guests; and September, marking the end of summer and back to school. Along with spring, and the annual post-Christmas clutter clear-out, September heralds the onset of winter and thoughts turn to getting the house in order for the long nights ahead. Here are some tips to tackle four major pressure points in the home, and keep them free of clutter.
This is the first area of the home guests see, and more importantly the first place you see when you come in after a long day. Unfortunately, it is also the area where coats, shoes and bags pile up along with a variety of post, junk mail and other bits and pieces with no fixed abode.
The key to getting this area of the house in order is to control what comes in to your home in the first place. Take note of everything that gets dumped in your hallway over the course of a week. This will help you to make a list of the items that need a storage solution. A typical inventory might include storage for bags, coats, shoes, post and keys.
Create a space by the front door where you can drop your belongings and sort your post as soon as you come home. A console table with a bowl for keys and tray for the post, hooks for coats and hats, and most importantly a wastebasket, will help you to deal with the flow of items coming into the house. Baskets or boxes are a great idea for shoes and a “No Junk Mail” sign on the door is highly recommended if you don’t have one already.
The kitchen table, island or countertop
These surfaces tend to be a magnet for clutter and in particular any paper that makes its way into the house. Everything from letters and bills to school correspondence and receipts slowly build up over time.
Take a few minutes to relocate what doesn’t belong in the kitchen and make sure to assign a permanent home for items such as mail or other things that get dumped on your counters or table and turn into clutter. The best way to deal with paper is to create an in-tray, basket or even drawer where these items are stored.
For those who like to have things on view in order to remember them, a magnetic whiteboard or pinboard is a great idea. Everything from kids’ art works to school timetables can be pinned up here, helping you free up your surfaces and making it easy to locate things when you need them.
The spare room
I’ve visited countless homes over the years and those who have the luxury of a spare room often refer to it as the junk room. This overlooked space is so often a casualty of “out of sight, out of mind” practictioners, that soon becomes a general-purpose dumping ground.
My advice here is to set aside some time and give this room a ruthless clear-out. I know parting with things can often be a struggle for people. Keeping things because they may come in useful one day or for sentimental reasons can lead to a huge amount of surplus unused objects in your home that take up precious space. So it’s vital you take the plunge and start sorting.
Once you’ve identified the bits and pieces you don’t want, decide whether to dump, donate or give them away. You could also think about putting them up on a site such as Done Deal or eBay – your unwanted things could be a way of making a few extra euro. You would be amazed at what people would love to get their hands on.
Then try to give the room a purpose, a home office, study space or even laundry/ironing room. By clearly defining what the room is to be used for, you’ll be less inclined to think of it as a storage area and allow things to pile up again.
The utility room
This is a really important room in any home, but it tends to be the place where things are stashed, especially when guests are coming over and you want to do a quick tidy. Over time you may find the room becomes a jumble of stuff and your precious space is rapidly running out.
Most utility rooms are not large rooms so it’s vital you optimise the space you have. Try to get as much stuff up off the floors as possible. Most homes – big or small – have a lot of unused vertical space that could be put to good use. Install some shelves or hooks that take advantage of those high walls and keep the floors clear. Things such as ironing boards, brushes, mops and clothes-drying apparatus can all be hung up on the wall or on the back of doors, freeing up valuable floor space.
“Sheila maids” have become very popular in recent years – these are a mounted laundry airer. It’s fixed to the ceiling on a pulley system meaning it can be pulled up out of the way when not in use, ideal if you have high ceilings.