The Story of Stuff | Decluttering Your Home
WORDS Anya Kussler
If you’re planning to renovate your home, it’s an indication that your lifestyle needs have changed. Perhaps you’ve decided to extend your dwelling as your family has grown, or to make it more compact since your offspring has left the nest. Or maybe a fresh, trendy design is just what the doctor ordered to celebrate a new chapter in your personal development.
In order to fulfil your changing lifestyle needs, it’s inevitable that some of your existing material belongings will have to change too (read: be disposed of or re-used differently). And while it can be hard to part with some ‘stuff’, for the majority, purging yourself of some ‘over-matter’ is set to take a big chunk of stress out of your renovation.
For a start, you’ll be putting order back into the chaos by making your belongings visible at a glance. Not only will this give you better oversight and reduce the risk of items getting lost during the renovations, but it’ll also make items easier to move around without damaging them. Better still, your home is likely to feel more spacious without the clutter, which is a godsend, especially if you have to live in it while you’re refurbishing.
Decluttering will also help you determine what it is that you really need and want to feature in your newly improved abode, and white existing items match the theme and functionality of your new home. And, as you clean out the old, some of your most treasured items may actually inspire a creative idea or two for the overhaul.
Making tidying up fun
So where to start? After all, the act of decluttering is usually quite painful, right? On the angst over what to throw out and what to keep…just in case you might need it ‘one day’!
Well, if you read Japanese organising consultant Marie Kondo’s international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising, you will be easily convinced that decluttering can actually be enjoyable.
Her KonMari method encourages a dramatic and transformative one-off decluttering event that is completed methodically, lovingly and swiftly in no longer than six months, leaving you surrounded by things that provide clarity (Including bright home décor ideas) and devoid of baggage, such as unwanted gifts.
There are only two main tasks involved in the process – discarding and deciding where to keep things. Basically, Marie considers tidying a cheerful conversation in which you focus on keeping the things that make you happy, while those that don’t spark joy are touched, thanked, and sent on their merry way to a better life elsewhere (preferably with a new owner who will truly cherish them).
“If you haven’t communed with your socks lately, thanked your shoes for their hard work or bowed (at least mentally) to your home in appreciation, maybe it’s time to consider doing so.”
Making joy the prime focus of both the kept and discarded items, Marie argues, means it’s easier to discard of items (yes, those unwanted gifts…) without feeling guilt. Besides, taking the unwanted pieces to a charity and recycle outlets is not only liberating but also rewarding, as you know that they’re likely to bring joy to someone else in the future.
Clearing by subject versus room-by-room
Another reason the KonMari method is so well received by thousands of dedicated followers around the world, is that it’s exceptionally speedy. Why? Because rather than tackling one room after another, Marie employs the rule of tidying by subject, for example books, clothing or furniture. This, she says, is to prevent items ‘you’re unsure of’ from just being transferred from one room to the next without actually being decluttered.
To make the elimination process easier, she also suggests beginning with items that don’t have much sentimental value and so are easier to part with, such as clothing, and finishing off with those of a more emotional nature, like photographs or furniture that has been passed on through generations.
Re-organising the keepers
After joyfully discarding of what no longer serves you, the second big essential task at hand is to reorganise your treasured items in such a way that they remain visible at a glance, accessible and easy to take out and put back. The key here is to store things mostly in drawers, and to steer away from stacking them – as the ones at the bottom are easily forgotten and less accessible. This is worth remembering when you’re renovating too – storing stuff KonMari style means you’ll keep things in order and clutter-free in the future.
Clever storage tricks
When you’re giving your home a makeover, it’s a great idea to make organising your joyful’ belongings a part of your creative action plan. Take your pick from the following.
Create a kitchen hangout
Do you lack drawer or cabinet space? Why not grab a coloured pegboard at a hardware store, attach it to the wall, and loop in metal hooks from which to hang up your most-used tools. This will not only keep your utensils tidy and visible in one place, but also makes for a funky, industrial-style display. If you prefer a more rustic look, find a piece of interestingly-shaped wood on the beach, treat it with linseed oil, attach some chunky nuts and bolts to hang utensils from and attach it to the wall.
Utilise wasted under-stair space
Do you have a staircase? Transform the dead zone behind it into easily accessible storage by either installing custom-made shelves with a groovy basked or box for each family member to store their daily essentials in, or install a cabinet and countertop from where to serve drinks.
Use air space
Every home has one of these annoying drawers that seem to be a bottomless pit crammed with junk – notes, keys, pens, shopping list, pins, torches…Storing these items at eye-level inside a cupboard door, in a clear-view file with pockets will make them easy to spot (rather than having to turn the drawer upside down and rummaging through the contents).
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