Tidy house, tidy mind–it’s one of those clichés that actually makes a lot of sense. But with houses being divided into ever-smaller pieces of the property pie, more of us are facing the challenge of keeping a compact home tidy and cool. Finding room for all your stuff can feel like trying to cram a four-bedroomed peg into a two-bedroomed hole.
“Coming back to a cluttered home where you feel overwhelmed can have an impact on your mental health,” says Declutter Me’s Sally Walford. “Your home should be your haven, somewhere you feel calm. And life is stressful enough already.”
But even if your living space is pretty petite, there are simple changes you can make to transform your pad. We asked three decluttering experts to share their top tips to help you keep your beloved small spaces ship-shape.
1. Focus on your eyeline
‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is never truer than when you’re trying to find storage space in a small home. “What you can see at your eyeline is really important – if these areas are cluttered, it can make you feel more stressed,” says Kate Ibbotson, of A Tidy Mind. “Lots of people put things on top of cupboards to make the most of their space, but instead of shoving things there in a jumble, look for attractive storage that fits your style.” From pretty boxes to wicker baskets, and ottomans that double up as seats, there are plenty of ways to make storage part of your overall look.
2. Get creative with storage
Once every cupboard and shelf in your home is full, it’s time to think outside the box. “Two of my favourite storage solutions are over-door hangers and adhesive hooks,” says Sally. “You can use them to hang your ironing board on the back of a door, and brooms and mops inside cupboards.” Kate, meanwhile, recommends looking at spaces in your home which you might not have considered using. “Make use of dead space, such as putting open shelving in the corner of your rooms,” she advises. “You can also fit cupboards that go as high as you can reach, and storage suspended from the ceiling.”
3. Multi-task your furniture
When space is at a real premium, you can start resenting your sofa and wondering if you really need a bed and a wardrobe. When that happens, it’s time to look at clever ways to make your furniture work harder. “In small spaces, design and layout are critical, but there are loads of neat ways to maximise them,” says Helen Sanderson, author of The Home Declutter Kit. “You can buy coffee tables that raise up into dining tables, and study beds that will function as a desk by day, and a bed by night.” Space-saving solutions such as tables that fold up against a wall will give you more floor space and make a compact room feel bigger, too.
4. Stay on top of your clutter
Helen suggests treating your house like a garden. “You have to weed, plant and maintain a garden to enjoy it, and it’s the same with our homes,” she explains. “Decluttering is like weeding. Have a clear out, think minimal, and ask yourself, ‘Do I really need this?’” Finding a place for all your stuff is the equivalent of planting. “Work out what things you use the most, and keep them within easy reach,” Helen says. “Those you don’t use so often (such as your winter wardrobe) can be kept in spaces that are less accessible. And as you bring in more clothes, books and shoes, you need to keep an eye on maintenance, weeding the older things out–otherwise your home will become jam-packed with clutter.”
5. Never walk empty-handed
As well as adding to your daily step count, being mindful as you walk from room to room can keep clutter at bay. “Once you’ve allocated a space for everything, try to take something from one place to another whenever you can,” says Kate. Heading to the bedroom? Now’s the time to put away the cardigan you took off and flung on the sofa as soon as you got home. “Instead of spending hours tidying up all at once, you can do it as you go along, so it doesn’t feel quite so onerous.”