Spring cleaning. The phrase has assocIations with a time when women spent all day washing, ironing, sweeping, and thumping carpets with sticks, and then, just for fun, once a year, took everything outside and thumped and washed and cleaned some more. These days people hardly ever clean, despite the fact that books on housekeeping are on bestseller lists, supermarket shelves groan with ever-more-specialised cleaning products and microfibre cloths are walking out of shop doors.
To live well, you have to do more than fantasise about cleaning. Set to work with a game plan. All you need to do is a big chuck-out. Clutter slows you down and creating more space for things to have a proper home means they are more likely to be put away and found again in good condition.
Don’t share your life a minute longer with anything unwanted (this means everything you no longer need, like or use). Remember your objective: to get the best out of your space and possessions.
The biggest single thing you can do to improve the look of your home is to get things out of it. Do you really need five dictionaries, five staplers, and five calculators? Bin, bin, bin. Once you have chucked as much as you can, sort the things you have left into categories.
2. PUT THINGS IN THEIR PLACE
Store items where they are used based on the frequency of use. Keep the sticky tape next to a pair of scissors and close to the wrapping paper. Store knives near the chopping board.
Group similar items together. Make-up with make-up. Pens with pens. And put items that you may use once a year – such as sleeping bags or tents – in the storeroom or garage.
3. SORT PAPERWORK
Avoid volcanos of unsorted paperwork. Sort things immediately, from bills to receipts, tradesmen’s quotes, and school newsletters. Assign each family member a folder or drawer. If you collect magazine clippings, rip out the pages you want to keep, put them in a three-ring binder with labeled sections and then recycle the magazine.
4. PUT YOUR WALLS TO USE
Short on storage and cupboards? It’s time to make good use of your blank walls. Pull out your good china, glassware and porcelain, and put it on display. Bang a few good-looking shelves to the walls. Not only will they create an instant art installation; if you see your things, you will use them – win, win.
5. THE BEDROOM
A great place to begin. Head straight to the wardrobe. Sort your clothes into ‘keep’, ‘good Samaritan’ and ‘bin’. Everything torn, shrunken, old, mouldy, melly or stained goest straight into the wheelie bin. So do all those wire coat hangers. Every piece of depressing underwear belongs there too – even if no one sees it but you. Keep only things that fit you and present you in the most flattering way. Colour-coordinate what is left, hanging it neatly in your wardrobe – this will make it easier to get dressed. You’ll probably find you’ve doubled your storage space.
6. THE LINEN CLOSET
Pull it all out and keep only the things that are beautiful as the day they were brought. Don’t hold onto stained sheets or cardboard towels. Nothing can brings a stiff towel back from the dead. Bury it in the bin. Accept the fact face washers have a short lifespan. Toss them out and spend very little on a big, new pile of new ones. When it comes to bed linen, be ruthless.
Go shopping: Linen is at a design high, and a price low. You can buy a fabulous duvet for no more than a night out, and your night in will be more fun with that on your bed.
7. SECRET STORAGE
Invest in a hollow ottoman or wicker trunk (which can double as a coffee table) to maximise your space and get smart about storage. Two-in-one has never looked so fab.
8. GROUP THEM UP
Massed together, even mundane things achieve drama. Gather smaller pieces such as candles, vases and accessories onto a tray to simplify the space and make for easy relocation when extra room is required. This will also create a statement piece it itself. How chic.
9. DISPLAY YOUR POTS
Bulky pots and pans can quickly eat up a lot of your valuable kitchen space so don’t be afraid to put them on display. Hang on S-hooks on a suspended rack either behind your cooktop or above an island.
10. EMBRACE THE DIVIDER
Adding dividers to top drawers throughout your home—your bedside table, the kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity—will create tidy hubs for all of those loose, miscellaneous items (think stationary, remotes and beauty tools, cooking utensils) and most importantly, keep your surfaces clutter-free.