If you spent the majority of 2020 curled up on the couch watching Seinfeld reruns and neglecting anything remotely resembling home maintenance, you’ve probably got a few odd jobs on your to-do list.
Between a wardrobe full of clothes you haven’t worn in years, countless jars of expired stuff littering the pantry and a bombsite which is meant to be the plastic container cupboard, it can be overwhelming, to say the least.
The trick? To take a room-by-room approach, instead of trying to tackle the whole house.
Starting with: The kitchen
Pantry, fridge and freezer
One of the ways declutter coach and professional organiser Amy Revell from The Art of Decluttering tackles the pantry, fridge and freezer is to set clients an ‘Eat Yourself out of House and Home’ challenge to encourage people to use up all food items in the house and avoid wastage.
“Before you take everything out and put it all over the bench and try to figure out what to do with it, get creative. Have a look at what you already have and, tomorrow night, cook it for dinner. It’s a natural decluttering because the best way to declutter the food is to use it,” Revell says.
Once you’ve done this, pull everything out on the bench and group like with like – all of the pastas together, meal bases together, baking supplies together. Next step is to figure out what containers will best work for you and your spaces.
“In the kitchen, more than any other room in the house, containers are really important. They’re important for freshness, but they’re also important so you can see everything,” Revell says. Clear-sided, stackable containers are best in the fridge, freezer and pantry.
The key to sorting the cutlery and utensils drawer is to minimise duplicates – how many pairs of tongs or sets of serving spoons do you really need? The answer is: not as many as you have.
“A good trick to do if you have lots of utensils and you just don’t know what you use most is to put them all in a box somewhere else in the kitchen and only pull out what you need [as you need it] and see after 12 weeks what you actually use,” Revell says.
Revell suggests to keep those items that you do use regularly in the drawers, but leave the single-use tools tucked away elsewhere so they’re not taking up precious space.
Chantel Mila posts clever home hacks and instructional videos to her 60,000-plus Instagram followers and says kitchen drawers can be easily organised with quality drawer dividers.
“To store baking trays, chopping boards and pot lids vertically, I use office file racks. They are perfect for vertical storage and make finding items a breeze.”
Then onto: The bedroom
Revell suggests going through your wardrobe category by category, focusing on one at a time so to avoid overwhelming yourself.
“You can do one category of an afternoon; it doesn’t have to be a whole-day wardrobe declutter,” she says.
“Get rid of things that don’t fit and aren’t in a good condition first, and from what’s left, ask yourself, ‘Am I actually going to wear this anymore?’”
You want to keep things in a logical place and hang everything you can, including tops, pants, jackets, jumpers, T-shirts and singlet tops.
“It’s effectively a natural filing system – instead of having to dig, you just flick through the clothes to find what you’re after,” Revell says.
Carmen Strong from Little Strong Home has a clever home hack to sort the wardrobe trash from treasure and make a yearly clean-out more manageable.
“Start by having all the hangers facing one particular way. When you wear something, place them back [on the hanger] and turn them around the opposite way. After six to 12 months if, you haven’t turned the coat hangers around, consider whether you need the items in your life.”
Next stop: The bathroom
The most important thing when it comes to decluttering the bathroom is to toss the products that are out of date.
Revell says to store items in your bathroom like you would a first aid kit, keeping similar products together for quick and easy access.
Again, stackable containers or drawers will be your saviour in this space, as will labels.
Strong says she “absolutely cannot live without labels” and that they’re “a huge time saver for everyone”.
“They are the brains of my home, any space I organise includes labels. They help hold the family and me accountable to put things back exactly where they belong.”
Then, the linen cupboard
It’s an age-old debate in many households across the country: should you roll or fold your towels? Well, according to Revell, there is no right or wrong.
“The best way is whatever way you will put them away – whatever gets them out of the washing basket is the best way.”
Revell says the number of towels many of their clients have is “out of control”.
“You don’t need extra sets ‘just in case’,” she says. “As a general rule, have two to three towels per person and two to three sets of sheets per bed.”
Another top tip is to store the sheets in the room that the bed is in, rather than a central linen cupboard. This will make it easier when it comes to changing the beds and stop the linen cupboard from overflowing.
“Laundries don’t need to be pretty, they just need to function well,” Revell says.
Stick with one type of laundry product that you like to use and get rid of anything else. There’s no need to have multiple different lotions and potions for the one job.
“Keep that bench clear – if you can keep the bench clear in the laundry it will make all of the processes of laundry so much quicker,” Revell adds.
If you don’t have a broom cupboard, use sticky hooks on walls or the back of doors to keep walkways clear.
And finally, the garage
Be realistic when it comes to storing items in the garage and ask yourself what you’re actually going to use and what you really need to keep.
“Open shelving in this space for clear containers is excellent,” Revell says.