While we stay at home to limit the spread of Covid-19, it seems another enemy is lurking within — lockdown clutter.
At a time when we are desperate for more space indoors, the excess mess is impacting on our wellbeing, mood and productivity.
According to a Homebase survey, the average UK home loses a staggering 50sq ft to clutter — and almost half of Brits have admitted to boredom buying during lockdown.
‘This is a time when we need more space, not less,’ says interiors therapist Suzanne Roynon.
‘With an increase in clutter comes an increase in tension, sleepless nights and anxiety, which put huge strain on health, work, relationships and happiness.
‘Good storage is a solution, but first, get rid of the stuff in your home that is not enhancing your life.’
Here’s Suzanne’s room-by-room checklist to what needs moving out of your home — whether sold, given away or just binned…
Impulse buys: Got a pasta maker or spiralizer still in its box? If you have ‘useful’ gadgets you never use, they are taking premium kitchen space, so sell online or donate to someone who will enjoy them.
Chipped crockery: Chuck it out — you deserve better than that! Lots of cupboards are filled with ‘posh’ stuff for special occasions… start using it! Smash up chipped crockery and put at the bottom of plant pots to create good drainage for the soil.
Out-of-date food: You’ll be amazed how many old food products are festering at the back of your kitchen cupboards. Get rid and reclaim the space — it will make cooking less of a chore and stop you repeat-buying things you already have!
Junk drawer: Filled with old keys, rubber bands, single chopsticks, cotton bobbins, odd screws. Throw away anything that doesn’t work. Then compartmentalise the drawer with dividers so you can see everything at a glance — a good time to use all those plastic takeaway containers you’ve been keeping ‘just in case’!
Top tip: Use the inside of cupboard doors for useful extra storage for pan lids, herbs and spices.
Badly fitting clothes, crippling shoes, bags, jewellery: Look at everything you wear from a new perspective — how does it make you feel? If it’s never fitted, generates sadness, irritation, self-confidence issues or is uncomfortable, then it’s time to say goodbye.
Work/workout gear: Keep exercise equipment and paperwork out of the bedroom as the primary focus should be rest, romance and relaxation. If you have to use your bedroom for work during lockdown, put everything out of sight at night for stress-free sleep.
Top tip: Use under-bed storage for out-of-season clothes, spare blankets and bed linens. Don’t store shoes or paperwork here as they will interfere with your sleep.
Get organised: Many living rooms are doubling up as gyms, classrooms and offices right now. Put as much as you can out of sight at the end of the working day, so you switch off. A coffee table or ottoman with storage is great.
Make space: Now is the time to lose that rickety chair or side table you bought on sale but never really liked.
Free up bookshelves: Send old DVDs to a specialist recycling company and donate books you’ve read to your local library. Chuck games or jigsaws with missing pieces!
Lose photos: Go through your drawers and keep only the photos that make you happy. The blurred, sad memories and images of people who hurt you have no place in your life.
Sports equipment: Get real … if you’ve bought a rowing machine on a whim that’s now permanently covered in wet washing, it’s time to sell.
Décor: Remove ornaments and artwork that don’t fit your style or bring back bad memories.
Top tip: Put up shelves solely to display the things that matter to you and that you are proud of.
Bin the dumping-ground status: This room is often rammed with clutter you can’t be bothered to sort, stuff you’ve inherited but don’t know what to do with and items you don’t need — or even like. How is it adding to your life? Are you ever going to use it and if so, when?
Top tip: Define your spare room with a proper purpose. Right now, a study is a good bet. A sofa bed will give you space, plus respite from the desk. It can also have dual use as a guest bedroom post-lockdown. Get a sofa bed with storage to house the bedding.
Unused toiletries and medication: Cabinets are a haven for rejected toiletries and out-of-date medicine.
Top tip: Use a small washable container (or drawer) for each member of the family to store their bathroom items like shampoo, razors and make-up.
Desk tidy: Clear out old batteries and pens that don’t work. Shred paperwork you no longer need, including tax and financial records older than the obligatory retention period. Also obsolete books, training manuals and files from courses which have no relevance to you now.
Use a lockbox: For passport and papers you are legally obliged to keep, including tax and work records, birth certificates, divorce and change of name documents.
Top tip: Clean the surface of your desk each week to encourage tidiness. If you have to work on the dining table, make sure you clear it every night to eat to stop you overloading it with clutter.
Outgrown toys, clothes and equipment: Give them away to friends or charity. Bin any broken ones.
Top tip: If you are planning another child, simply then box and label the toys you want to keep and put in the loft. Keeping baby stuff in the room of an older child is not good for their self-esteem.
Give your clutter a new home
Donation: Although charity stores are closed due to lockdown restrictions, both the British Heart Foundation and Give Back Box Give Back Box offer Freepost donation by post options for quality clothing and a range of other items. Refuges and homeless shelters are worth a call if you have clothes and children’s toys to donate. Some local authority recycling centres are open for furniture and household goods.
Selling: eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are a good start. Or specialist auction houses if you have something of high monetary value.
Rehoming: Phone a friend! Someone you know might make use of items you don’t need any more. Or put unwanted items on freecycle.org.
Suzanne’s interiors therapy book Welcome Home is out now. Follow her on Instagram @interiors_therapy, or check out her website interiorstherapy.com.
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