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Tidy shelves

Is your home strewn with chaotic piles of stuff? Are your cupboards and rooms overflowing with mess? Mess can be be completely overwhelming, and contribute to a feeling of burn-out and stress. To restore your home to a haven of calm, here are top ten tips for decluttering and organising.

1. Make an impact

My first tip in tackling a home is zeroing in on the area that will make the biggest impact. Which space or zone makes you cringe every time you look at it? That’s your starting point.

2. Lay Out

Pull everything out of the space you’re organising – empty every shelf, cupboard and drawer and then arrange everything into categories for ‘Keep’ ‘Donate’ ‘Bin’ and ‘Belongs Elsewhere’. I always provide a large, sturdy bag or tub for each category and encourage my clients to be ruthless.

3. Is it useful or beautiful?

To help make your assessment of what to keep and what has to go, I like to follow the advice of 19th century textile designer, William Morris: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” If you haven’t used it in 12 months or more and/or you don’t love it, then it has to go.

4. Assessment

Consider how you use the space and ensure that all items pertaining to a zone are kept where they’re used. For example, dining tables and kitchen bench tops often become catch-alls, piled high with bits and pieces because there isn’t a designated spot near the entrance for keys, coins and letters or to hang coats, umbrellas, hats and dog leads.

5. Double Trouble

In most instances, having more than one is just adding unnecessary clutter. If you have two or more of something, pick the best one and donate the others. In the kitchen this applies to cake knives, can openers, identical baking trays and cake tins, soup ladles and so much more.

6. Measure Up

Grab a tape measure and notebook and measure the insides of available cupboard, wardrobe or under bed space. Then spend time searching online for the right storage baskets/boxes or tubs that will fit perfectly in that space. Too many times I see clients with baskets or tubs that are far too small, or the wrong height and so much of the available space is wasted.

Beautiful matching jars

7. Matchmaker

I’m all for creating an eclectic look and love vintage finds and antique treasures, however, most of the time, cupboards, shelves and drawers look better when items of the same type are all matching. Nobody really likes opening their cabinets to see a bunch of cheap mismatched mugs. Or a jumble of glassware in different shapes and colours. Donate the outliers and take a shelfie of your neat, 6-8 matching, well-made mugs or glasses that you enjoy drinking from.

8. Recycling

We often hold on to items purely because we can’t bear for them to end up in landfill, but you’d be surprised how many donation and recycling centres there are. Obviously there’s the charity shops we all know and love, but did you know Officeworks will take E waste such as old computers, Ipads, phones, cables and CDs. Community Recycling Centres take paint, batteries, gas bottles and light globes. Find your local CRC here overview/find-crcs-or-hcco. For a small fee you can have your old mattress collected for recycling by Soft Landing and Cleanaway will take refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and other items. You can even donate your pre-loved prescription glasses and sunglasses to Specsavers who have partnered with Lions Recycle for Sight to deliver quality glasses to people in need.

9. Label Me

To maintain an organised space, I always provide custom labels for all storage containers so that the whole family knows where everything goes. For efficient labelling on plastic tubs, you can’t go past the handy label maker, but if you’re after a more stylish look, you can use Avery labels and print your own in a font that you like. You can find clip on label holders in most major household stores for attaching to baskets or boxes.

10. Do a little each day

Create a habit of putting things back where they belong each time they’re used and at the end of each day. Even if you just do one central area like the kitchen bench or dining table and ask the rest of the family to pitch in too. Just 10 minutes will restore your space and lead to less mental clutter, helping you feel calmer and more relaxed.

Gemma Del Vecchio is a Sydney based interior stylist and home organiser. Find out more here:. and



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