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NEW YEAR, NEW HOME:

THE WINTER DECLUTTER

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by Bespoke Living Chiswick

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It’s a new year, the nights are still drawing in too early, there’s no hint of Spring and it’s even started snowing. And as we start to break our well-intentioned New Year’s Resolutions as surely as we’re still finding pine needles under the sofa, here at Living In Chiswick we’d like to suggest a good deed that will serve you and your household the whole year long, and need only take a couple of days: Welcome to the WINTER DECLUTTER.

We all know about the Spring Clean. Traditionally this was the time when the lighter evenings revealed all that dust and grime those dark, candle-lit nights had left hidden over the wintery months. And it’s so much easier to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into sorting through old clothes and paperwork when the sun shines. But there are countless benefits to a proper declutter, as daunting as it may seem.

How many of us are happy to show friends and family (and even potential buyers) our kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms even, but wouldn’t feel quite as happy if they wanted to look inside that giant closet in the back bedroom where you’ve stacked those yet-to-go-to-charity charity shop clothes, broken old toys, one-stringed guitars and never-used but still-working fax machines? How nice, we think, would it be if we were minimalists, if we knew where everything was, and had plenty of room in the cupboards for all those new clothes we probably should buy while the sales are still on?

Decluttering is daunting, there’s no doubt about it. It is also thrilling, satisfying, rewarding… and fascinating, as you discover long-lost glasses, textbooks, favourite jewelry pieces, and old letters. Most people start with good intentions, but sort through just enough to be able to shut that closet door properly, only for the clutter to build back up again in no time. So in order to really do it right, and streamline your homes (and lives) yourself, here are some tips to a successful Winter Declutter.

BIN BAGS: these are essential. Try to buy different coloured bags – Green, Black, White and Blue, say, and give each a category. For example: Black = Charity/Ebay, Blue = Rubbish, Green = Storage, White = Keep in the home. But be careful not to just put everything you’re not sure about into Green! If you’re not sure about something, leave it out to decide later. But into a bag it must go, in the end. Be strict with yourself.

BOXES: Have some large boxes to hand, if you have things that may go on Ebay, to an antiques seller, or head to a loft or garage. If you really can’t bear to part with something now, try to make some of the boxes Charity or Rubbish “Maybes” – write a question mark on them, perhaps, and put into storage. My rule is that if after a year I can’t remember what’s in them and haven’t missed anything, they have to go to Charity or the dump!

PHONE A FRIEND: It’s a lot easier to be strict with yourself if you have a partner or friend helping out. You can always take them out to dinner as a thank you for their work (and a reward for yours!)

BE THOROUGH: Don’t just grab the clutter you always see at the front of the cupboards or drawers! You’ll still know the rest of the mess is there, but not what’s in that mess.

When you’ve prepared your bags and boxes, clear a space in the middle of your room and get every single thing out of those cupboards, corners, drawers, and shelves. Take everything you can find out, looking behind settees, under furniture, inside messy desks. Take it room by room, bookcase by bookcase even, but leave no stone unturned. You’ll be faced by a daunting and messy pile in your room, but don’t be discouraged: bit by bit, as you sort, you’ll really start to notice the difference. Soon you’ll see the pile go down as the bins fill up. And then – after a quick wipe or hoover - you get the fun bit: putting back your favourite clothes, books, and décor wherever you want, just as if you’re moving in again for the first time!

And finally, of all else fails…

CREATE A DEADLINE: If you really need motivation, try booking a rubbish removal firm so you know you’ll need to have sorted through everything by a certain date. Nothing gets one motivated quite like a deadline, and the feeling of satisfaction and freedom from mess will be totally worth it in the end. Make sure the firm you choose is flexible though, as your declutter might take longer than you planned. As writer Douglas Adams said: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

colleen@bespokelivingchiswick.co.uk

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