A Dozen Tips For De-Cluttering Your Home Create Display Style

2020 fireplace and mantlepiece with 'lime wash' paint effects by Amanda Howse

2020 fireplace and mantlepiece with white washe paint effects by Amanda Howse

This year I have been considering the benefits of 'less is more' and following the philosophy getting seriously organised in a manor made famous by Marie Kondo. I have been heading towards living in a a Zen of minimalism in a practical step by step fashion.

The Queen of de-cluttering recommends beginning with your wardrobe and then methodically re-assessing each area of your house and then your life, until you are all completely sorted. At the KonMari website you can purchase the Japanese expert's latest book 'The Life Changing Magic of Magic of Tidying Up' or you can get ahead of detoxing your stuff by downloading the digital podcast version from Audible. (1) (2)

The aim is to love everything you keep and free up your thoughts, time and soul to embrace all the wonderful activities life has to offer without becoming weighed down by ones own baggage. Like many people I share my life with some amazing and creative individuals.

De-cluttered Sitting Room  Ready for Guests Interior Design by A Howse

De-cluttered Sitting Room Ready for Guests Interior Design by A Howse

My personal team include some fabulous collectors who really enjoy owning lots of interesting and useful stuff. I also spend time with close friends and family who are known for being so minimalist they are quite happy with just a suitcase and who have proven that they are happy calling a sailboat home for years.

I sit somewhere in the middle of this spectrum I believe, as I once moved from London to Florida with only a big suitcase. When I returned nearly five years later myself and my life partner relocated to the South East of England with just 10 bags between us and some help from a very kind best friend who was flying back to the UK with us that day.

Detail of Sitting Room with neutral scheme Interior Design and cushion design by A Howse

Detail of Sitting Room with neutral scheme Interior Design and cushion design by A Howse

However since then as a qualified designer with a passion for retro and antique furniture, textiles and anything to do with fashion I have happily snapped up many vintage bargains and unmissable pieces that I just knew would be fabulous in our modest sized home.

With my creative family 'onboard' I have been fortunate to have been able to add into the mix enough tools and gadgets to build our own extension and pursue a super range of outdoor pursuits. We are lucky to have invested in some half decent equipment of various sorts and enough second hand musical instruments to form a rock band. So we definately have a home fit for a 'KonMari' field day.

Its early days on the complete minimalist shakedown project for us. There have already been some small successes along the way. There is no point reinventing the the wheel when trying to reclaim precious space in your home. Therefore the first thing I did was to consider the six KonMari basic rules of tidying that are recommended in her book and on her website:

Rule 1 is “Commit yourself to tidying up”

Rule 2 is “Imagine your ideal lifestyle”

Rule 3 is “Finish decluttering first”

Organised interior inspiration: Hotel room in Valencia Penya-Roja

Bedroom with upcycled storage bed, vintage art and handmade cushions Interior by A Howse

Bedroom with upcycled storage bed, vintage art and handmade cushions Interior by A Howse

2020 has been a difficult and crazy year for nearly everyone on the planet. My 'big sort out' actually started last year in Spring 2019 when I took two car loads of clothes and good quality things to our local Cancer Research charity shop in our nearest city.

There is a link below to their website quickly locate your nearest store. The 'low hanging fruit' was relatively easy. Of course you can select your favourite organisation to benefit from your pre-loved possessions.

I now reguarly swap clothes with my sisters, Mum and friends too which is a lot of fun.

Not buying any unnecessary extra things has been an important part of my transition to some sort of minimalist lifestyle. I now shop 'intentionally' and aim to only ever buy what is on my shopping list. This applies to everything from M&S sale bargains to fresh market food shopping. I now strive for quality over quantity in all departments.

We were all given a crash course on just buying a few essentials and editing our diary to exclude shopping as a pastime in March when Boris Johnson announced a full lockdown of shops and food stores began limiting the amount of items you could buy of many basic goods. Even a family pack of loo roll became a wish list luxury for a couple of weeks. The upside of all these restrictions is that most people have had time to assess what they have and use what they already own.

Homegrown crab apple sauce and oat breakfast in Vintage 'Queen's Shape' Wedgewood bowl

Homegrown crab apple sauce and oat breakfast in Vintage 'Queen's Shape' Wedgewood bowl

During these months where 'staying in has become the new going out' most of us have had time to consciously analyse what possessions we surround ourselves with and what we really need. We have had a chance to also consider what actually gets in the way of us making the most of the space in our house and what helps or hinders us in the pursuit of living our best lives.

My advice with this initial stage of de-cluttering would be to:

  1. Give yourself time in your diary to devote to this process.

    Allocate some time every weekend (if you can) to going through the house and discovering what you can quickly clean, sort, give away, donate, reuse, repurpose or throw away.

  2. Encourage other family members to join in with a little 'tidy time'. Show them how you 'divide and conquer' your things into neat shelves, simply divided drawers and tidy cupboards. Put on some upbeat music if this helps get you all moving in the right direction.

  3. Keep a bag or box in the hallway labelled 'take to the charity shop' ready to drop into town. Have it ready to pick up and drop into town when you next going to your nearest retail centre.

  4. Stick to purchasing essential toiletries, groceries, gifts for others you know they want. Purchase new 'urgent items' only while you sort out the 'wheat from the chaff' to avoid buying duplicate items. Shop as intentionally as possible in every area of your life. Think about enjoying experiences with family and friends rather than buying eachother 'more stuff'.

  5. Focus on indoor sorting when the weather is bad and quickly go through the garden and any garages and sheds when the weather is fine.

  6. Empty all your bins as often as possible. Order a green bin to collect garden waste from the local council if you need to.

  7. Put away clean washing quickly so it doesn't add mess to your bedroom or any other rooms unless you are lucky enough to have a dedicated laundry area.

  8. Decanter toiletries and larder cupboard staples and label up if needed as you pack away your groceries. Recycle any packaging from groceries and post parcels quickly to avoid it lying around. This all gives a minimalist look to your space.

    I like to use Avery labels I order for my office. Number 21 blank labels are 64 x 38mm which is big enough for labelling boxes in storage clearly and they can be easily cut down in size for smaller bottles. Just add clear tape over the top to make your pots moisture and splash proof. Make swing tickets from cereal box packaging and a hole punch easily and tie onto baskets and bags with left over wool, string or ribbons.

  9. Use beach bags, shopping bags and baskets you already have to help you organise your items and save buying the perfect container for when you know exactly what you need.

  10. Enjoy flowers, plants and produce that come from the garden or local nursery or is in season to help motivate you and cheer your progress at this stage.

  11. Use the 'posh crockery' etc. if you have some, what are you waiting for? When on on your home management mission think about the minimalist mantra "quality not quantity" and the quote by the architect Le Corbusier that "Less is More" .

  12. Just do one maintenance, sewing, DIY or craft project at a time during this phase to help minimise visual clutter and extra 'stuff' to find a place for.

To quote Marie Kondo the famous Japanese tidy expert; we hope you can "find joy" in some of the things you own and in the process of what can be a surprisingly therapeutic and unexpectedly rewarding process. Good luck with phase 1 of sorting out your stuff and heading closer towards living in the pad of your dreams. We will have more top tips as we go along too!

Organised interior inspiration: Hotel room in Valencia Penya-Roja

Organised interior inspiration: Hotel room in Valencia Penya-Roja

Over the next few weeks I plan to bring you some more updates, tips and tricks on tackling the different zones involved with a 'major home de-clutter'. We will let you know about some of our successes and our areas for improvement too. I will aim to add some home interior inspiration for good measure. We would love to hear about your new tidy lifestyle adventures as well, so do get in touch by email at our contact page


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Keep creative and happy sorting!

Marie Kondo website https://shop.konmari.com/
Marie Kondo books https://shop.konmari.com/collections/books/products/the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-1
Avery website https://www.avery.co.uk/
Cancer Research Shop https://shop.cancerresearchuk.org/
Primus Hotel Valencia https://hotelprimusvalencia.com/en/