Are you looking around your house wondering where you’re going to put the Christmas tree? If your house feels a little like it is bursting at the seams and you know that adding the Christmas decorations is going to make it feel cluttered, then you need to do a clear out before you drag those decorations down from the attic.
I’m tackling my house at the moment. It started because we’re swopping bedrooms around so it’s the perfect excuse to do a clear out when emptying wardrobes but now I’ve extended it to downstairs too. Here’s my tips for doing it as painlessly and quickly as possible.
1. Decide what you define as “clutter”. Clutter really is all the stuff that takes up space and doesn’t add any value to you or your home. Remember William Morris’s mantra “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” and follow it.
2. This is a good time of year to give to charity shops so don’t bag up all the stuff and leave it in the garage for weeks. Put each bag or box into the car as you fill it and drive to a charity shop the next time you’re in town. The clothing banks also take clothes and blankets and are usually placed in recycling centres or town car parks. Alternatively, make some money by advertising nearly new products on Done Deal or eBay or go along to a car book sale. If you haven’t worn a dress in two years, it’s probably time for it to be donated. If you’ve never used that kitchen gadget and it’s taking up valuable cupboard space, give it away. If an electronic gadget hasn’t worked in months, either get it repaired or get rid of it.
3. There may be some things that have sentimental value but if you just want to keep them for posterity, store them away in the attic. I have childrens books that I read as a child and my children have read. They are taking up space in our bookshelves but as my children have outgrown them and I’m too sentimental to give them away, they’re being packed away in boxes and are going to live in the attic for a couple of decades until grandchildren come along!
4. Decluttering can be a little overwhelming so make your goals realistic. Do you have time to tackle one room each day? Or if you only have half an hour, tackle one desk or one drawer. You need to feel a sense of accomplishment so make it achievable. Setting a timer will keep you focused if you’ve a goal of clearing out a dressing table in an hour. Finish one room before starting another or the house will be in a “it gets worse before it gets better” state for days and you’ll start to despair.
5. Work out what created the most clutter and devise a plan to prevent it happening again. What are you in the habit of hoarding? Do you have too much storage space or not enough? Storage containers, ottomans and trunks are great for storing things but they should be things you use on a seasonal basis, not things that you store away for evermore.
6. Moving furniture around, even if it’s just changing the position of the sofa and armchairs in the living room, can give it a fresh feel. Adding a couple of Christmassy cushions to the sofa will give it a festive touch without going overboard. Is there a corner of the living room that tends to become cluttered more quickly than anywhere else? Work out why – maybe moving the furniture around will change people’s habits of putting the newspapers, magazines, and other clutter in that corner.
7. Clear the surfaces of the mantelpieces, hall tables, side tables, coffee tables, the tops of bookshelves and windowsills. You need to create room on them for the Christmas decorations anyway. Are there things that are taking up space and you don’t like them any more or they don’t add anything to the decor or atmosphere? Are there things that can be given away? Some things could be stored away over the Christmas period to make way for the decorations and you can assess whether to keep them or not when you take them back out in a month’s time.
8. Before you decorate for Christmas, apply some decluttering to the decorations too. Are there any old ones that are really past their best? Just how many decorations are in the box and never ever make it up onto the tree as they were made by the children ten years ago? Is that mantelpiece too cluttered? Remember that less is more. Living our lives “the hygge way” is very fashionable at the moment but it really is about taking the time to ensure your home is as calming as possible by removing clutter and creating a cosy atmosphere during the winter months with candles and blankets and cheerfulness.
Right, I’m back to the next thing on my “declutter” list which is the very large and very deep cupboard under the stairs. I may be some time! When are you putting up your Christmas decorations?