The Lakeland Guide to Decluttering

How to Start Decluttering with Lakeland

We can’t all be Marie Kondo and for many of us the thought of paring our belongings down to the bare essentials is the stuff of nightmares. The truth is, while we might aspire to the elegant simplicity of a boutique hotel, we fear we’ll leave feeling bereft, living like guests in a soul-less empty space mourning the loss of our much-loved clobber and wondering why we ever gave away that old black jacket from the back of the wardrobe because it really was our favourite (and obviously an absolute investment piece that we should never have parted with).

There will always be casualties in any clear out of course, but dispensing with almost all our worldly goods in one fell swoop is verging on madness and would be taking minimalist living way too far for most households. And unless you have really severe hoarding tendencies, chances are you won’t need to be quite so ruthless when it comes to clearing the decks to bring order and harmony to your home.

No, thankfully like most things in life, there is a natural middle ground somewhere between the two extremes of all and nothing. A somewhat safer space for most of us, where common sense and just a bit of routine house-keeping can help us get to grips with the dirty business of decluttering our homes.

But first we need to get our heads in the game – which is not so easy to do, especially if the very thought of a largescale clear out is making you break out into a cold sweat.

A happy compromise

Well the good news here is it doesn’t need to be traumatic and really you should approach decluttering as you would any other household cleaning job. There’s no point punishing yourself with painful farewells to past-their-prime favourites or guilty goodbyes to those impulse purchases that sadly never lived up to their promise of sparking joy. Instead take comfort in a happy compromise and prepare to perform a simple balancing act between the sentimental and the sensible as you divvy up your possessions.

In other words, plan to keep the things that make you happy and find a place for everything that you keep. After all, if your aim is to restore calm to your cupboards and your head, you won’t get far in your bid to banish clutter unless you’re ready to let go just a little so you can see the benefits of the bigger picture – which in this instance means a well-ordered home and a happier you.

So dispense with the emotional blackmail and prepare to moderate your panic with a modicum of practical thinking. Sounds easy, right? Well, do-able at the very least – so while you’re feeling altogether more chilled at the prospect of re-establishing a sense of order to everything you own, let’s get started…

Be aware of what you have

We’re constantly adding to our stockpile of stuff – be it clothes, shoes, toiletries, make-up, books or gadgets – and, as a general rule, very few of us offset these new possessions by offloading the items they should really have replaced. It just doesn’t cross our minds if we’re honest – we’re far too preoccupied with thinking about our latest acquisition to spare a thought for how to make room for it – with the result that our storage space becomes increasingly burdened and every surface, cupboard, drawer or cubbyhole gets more and more crammed.

So how do you break the cycle and where do you begin? Well the obvious place to start is by being aware of what you already have – look at your home and its contents with a fresh pair of eyes so that, before you introduce any new item you qualify its presence in your home by asking yourself “Is this something I really need and want?” and, if so, “Where will I put it?”.

There will always be a few things that slip through in a moment of weakness, but at least you’ll have set some ground rules for the future. And before you say it, yes that does still leave a lot of ‘stuff’ lurking in your home in the here and now, so what about all the things you already have languishing in your cupboards and drawers?

A holistic approach to the task

First things first, don’t be put off by what you already have. We all have junk and treasure in varying measures and actually there’s no-one better than you to decide which items fit into which of those two categories. The size and scale of the problem may differ from home to home, but once you’re ready to take stock of your situation and tackle your very own mountain of stuff head-on, our advice is to be methodical and break the job down into manageable chunks. And by this we don’t mean work through your house room by room because often all that happens is you blitz a room only to transfer the ousted clutter into another room.

Instead we recommend taking a more holistic approach to your belongings by identifying all the different types of clutter that crop up in more than one location in your home and then dealing with them one problem at a time. Targeting certain sorts of clutter like clothes or shoes will help you feel focused on an objective and mean you’re more likely to succeed in eliminating the problem throughout your home rather than just tidying up by moving clutter into another part of the house.

Choose your battles wisely and go with your gut
If you’re not a naturally tidy person, the experience can feel daunting before you even begin, so choose your battles wisely, identifying what will make the biggest difference to your living space. A great place to start is all those bulky seasonal items that you need at certain times of the year, but don’t want clogging up your cupboards or stealing valuable space from under the bed.

Gather all those soft but space-hungry items like spare duvets, blankets, pillows and cushions together then quickly weed out those which are worth keeping, those which need cleaning and those which can go to charity or straight to the bin. Put those that you’re keeping straight into dust-proof protective vacuum storage bags like Pack-Mate Vac Bags – they’re available in different sizes and in flat or gusseted versions. Ideal for cupboard or underbed storage they safely store spare bedding, clothes or skiwear as they reduce their contents down to take up only quarter of the space. Easy to use, just fill the bag, seal and extract excess air by attaching the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner to the valve.

Gaining back valuable space in cupboards and under the bed guarantees an instant win –freeing up additional storage space and improving organisation, as well as making it much easier to clean!

Be decisive and finish the job

Once the bigger items are out of the way, the next focus for decluttering is everyday clothing. As with bedding, the fastest way to begin is to get a system so divide your clothes into three piles – ‘keep’, ‘dry-clean’ and ‘charity’. Try to make decisions quickly and keep moving on –  any single item that causes you to really hesitate can be left until the end for a second pass so it doesn’t distract you in the middle of your downsizing mission. Having a plan of attack and being decisive will help even the slowest sorter feel completely in control of their clothing clutter and mean that you’re less likely to waver, lose interest and leave the job half-done.

Once you have a ‘keep’ pile you’re happy with, sort the seasonal stuff out first so you can pack away anything you don’t need right now. As with other seasonal items, these clothes can be packed into protective vacuum storage bags then safely stashed under the bed or stacked neatly in a cupboard, easing the pressure on your wardrobe and drawers and saving this more accessible storage space for the clothes suitable for the current time of year.

What you see is what you wear

When it comes to organising what’s left to go into your wardrobe and drawers, it’s key to keep every item visible because otherwise it just won’t get worn. Remember that old black jacket at the back of the wardrobe you forgot about? Helping you organise and present your clothes beautifully so it’ll feel like a real treat every time you open a drawer or your wardrobe, invest in some simple solutions to establish and maintain order no matter how messy you are. From adjustable drawer organisers – so you can section your sweaters, socks or underwear – to space-saving hangers to keep trousers, skirts, jackets, scarves and more crease-free and in easy reach, you’ll find we have plenty of cost-effective ways to improve the way you store your clothing, plus a selection of really effective moth-stopping products to keep every garment safe from harm.

And if you have a shoe collection to rival Imelda Marcos and it’s currently spoiling the streamlined look of your newly sorted wardrobe, we also have lots of fantastic options for practical shoe storage – from free-standing shoe racks or over-door racks to see-through, drop-fronted stacking shoe boxes that will keep every sort of footwear paired and sensibly stored where you can easily find them.

Next, the little things…

Once clothing and shoes have been brought to order, toiletries and make up are your next port of call. They might be little, but all those bottles, tubes and packets are just so easy to slip into your trolley or basket that inevitably we all end up with way more products than we can possibly ever use. The first cull is a real dose of common sense… check the dates and discard any items that you never use so you’re left with only the products you need and none that are out-of-date or can’t justify the space they take up.

Bath and shower products can be stored in situ in your bathroom using a handy storage caddy so there’s no clutter in your shower tray or lining your bath; toothpaste and toothbrushes – even electric ones – can be popped into a special toothbrush holder next to your sink for neat but accessible storage; and other toiletries like hair products, deodorants, cleansers, toners and moisturisers – as well as make-up and nail varnishes – can be neatly stored in a combination of our attractive but very practical wipe-clean polypropylene storage trays, tubs and drawer sets.

And before you call time on the toiletries, don’t forget the ones in the bedroom! Lots of lotions and potions find their way into the places where we like to relax or get ready, so if you’re looking for a range of more refined options for storing makeup, jewellery and accessories that will not only look elegant on a dressing table or chest of drawers but will also suit any décor, we can help with that too. And let’s not forget all those awkward appliances you use to style your hair – whether you have a hairdryer, straighteners or tongs, or all three, that need a smart home of their own, there’s a tidy solution to suit at Lakeland.

Better home habits for a happier home

We’ve got plenty more helpful storage ideas – including solutions for sorting and storing food, kitchen clobber and cleaning kit – and as you get the hang of decluttering, you’ll soon be able to enjoy the benefits of living with less mess and hopefully be all the happier for it.

And the good news is once the hard work is over, it’s easy to maintain this new status quo going forwards – it’s simply a case of making sure you don’t fall back into bad habits by keeping on top of what you buy and how you organise every cupboard, drawer, wardrobe and surface.

Regularly sifting and sorting from hereon in doesn’t need to take much time at all and sticking to a regime means you’ll soon realise when you’re heading into the danger zone so you can correct and streamline your course. But if the worst happens and you do find yourself back at square one, at least you can draw comfort that this time around you’ll know exactly what to do to get the clutter back under control!