Top tips for decluttering our homes
From Nordic minimalism to the KonMari method, we look at why 2019 is the year for decluttering our homes and lives
With the onset of spring comes an air of optimism – it’s out with the old and in with the new as we look for fresher, brighter interiors. While 2018 was all about sleek and minimalist interiors as gorgeous images of Scandi-inspired designs flooded our Instagram feeds, this year, we’re feeling inspired by a more extreme version of minimalism as the likes of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method take our screens by storm. The popular Netflix show surfaced in January and has been encouraging us to ditch the clutter that doesn’t ‘spark joy’ by categorising our possessions. The result of this trend not only impacts our homes, but our mental health – an extreme version of ‘tidy house, tidy mind’.
Says Gemma Howell, declutterer and home stylist, whose company Streamline and Style organises homes across south London and Surrey: “Minimalist design has evolved quite a bit over the last decade. There has undoubtedly been a strong rise in demand for streamlined, polished interior design and Instagram and Pinterest continually feed our desire to live the serene dream.”
Gemma notes that there are many benefits of living in a calm space. “Our lives have never been busier, and we are constantly juggling 100 different challenges at the same time. We demand functional yet stylish spaces that are clutter-free to help us go about our daily lives as stress-free as possible.”
London-based certified KonMari consultant, Katrina Hassan, of Spark Joy London, also acknowledges the positive effects of a tidy home, with one study finding that it can lead to a healthier body. “When we live in a tidy environment, we generally eat more nutritious foods, get better sleep and are more active.”
“Our lives have never been busier, and we are constantly juggling 100 different challenges at the same time. We demand functional yet stylish spaces that are clutter-free.”
So where do we start? Gemma’s number one tip is to be realistic. “Don’t think that you have to have the whole house sorted in one day, it’s amazing what you can achieve just while the kettle is boiling.” Advises Katherine Blackler of SortMySpace Ltd, and president of APDO, the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers: “Focus on just one space at a time. Choose a room, or even a drawer, and don’t get distracted by other areas. Take before and after photos – you will be surprised by how far you have come.” She also advises that you declutter before buying any more storage so you can see what you really need. We often have more storage than we think.
Once you have a decluttered home, keep it that way. Says Katrina: “Introduce the phrase ‘don’t put it down, put it away’ to prevent space becoming crowded with items that don’t belong there.”
Like Marie Kondo, Katrina urges us to consider the necessity of hanging on to sentimental possessions. But should we really be disregarding our meaningful belongings for the sake of a decluttered home? Katrina argues that it’s not about being ruthless, but making peace with your past and letting things go to make way for your future.
“People find it hard to say goodbye to some items but KonMari focuses on expressing appreciation and gratitude towards the items that no longer fulfil a purpose,” she says. “Every item has taught you something about yourself; part of my role is to teach clients about how to achieve a sense of closure in letting go of things. Once they’ve finished decluttering and are surrounded with only the items they truly love, I feel excited for them, as I know just how life changing this process can be.”
Gemma also adopts a realistic attitude to sentimental items: “I fully appreciate that the decluttering process comes easier to some than others. Sentimental items can be especially difficult to part with. “Decluttering doesn’t mean you have to chuck everything in the bin, it is a process that helps us realise what we do have, what we need, what we use, what we love.”