The rules of decluttering are simple: get rid of any unwanted stuff, find a handy place for the items that remain, and endeavour to keep it there – how hard can it be?
1. Organise the chaos
Limit yourself to one small ‘dumping tray’ or ‘junk bowl’, where you keep odds and ends that don’t have a place. Think odd buttons, business cards and loose change. Choose something decorative so you’re more likely to keep the mess to a minimum.
2. Use tubes
Hang onto those cardboard tubes when you use up your paper towels or kitchen foil, and use them to store reusable plastic bags tidily in a drawer. You can also recycle wet-wipe canisters for this purpose.
3. Minimise your paper trail
Reduce paper clutter by taking photos of takeaway menus or flyers from local businesses. Likewise, download user manuals, credit card agreements and health insurance policies, and save them in a folder on your computer.
4. Kitchen tips
Free up bench space by attaching a magnetic strip under overhead kitchen cabinets to hold spice jars with metallic lids. Store frying pans, baking sheets, pot lids and cutting boards on their sides, using a filing rack or organiser.
5. Invest in a Lazy Susan
Who has time to rearrange the pantry or cupboards every time they want to reach something at the back? Invest in some lazy Susans for instant access to your items in just a spin. They’re also handy in the bathroom or laundry.
6. Utilise your fridge
Limited pantry space? Most dry goods can be kept in the refrigerator, too.
7. Try hidden storage options
Invest in double-duty furniture with hidden storage options. Think ottomans where you can hide throws and cushions, coffee tables with slide-out drawers for magazines, colouring books or puzzles, bench seats with shelving underneath or tall bookshelves with inbuilt cabinets for surplus vases and candles.
8. Bar carts
If space allows, set up a dining cart or station close to your dining table, much like they do in restaurants and cafes. Cutlery, placemats, napkins, glasses and condiments can all be stored in a small cupboard or trolley on wheels to save you making multiple trips to the kitchen every time you sit down to eat. If you’re up for some DIY, follow our guide on how to create your own trolley.
9. Store on the door
Over-the-door shoe hangers can be repurposed for kids’ belongings such as soft toys, craft supplies, dolls, action figures, cars and more. Reserve the higher pockets for any items that you’d like to keep out of reach.
10. Get creative with bathroom storage
Don’t have a built-in bathroom cabinet? Repurpose a dresser or drawers to keep extra towels and products on hand, or look for other storage solutions such as a ladder, stacked crates or a kitchen trolley on wheels. For the DIY-ers, follow our guide on how to build a handy storage shelf.
11. Out of sight
Conceal office supplies such as folders, tax receipts and files inside a storage chest. Storage chests can also double as a great bench seating option.
Buy a pack of shower curtain rings – they’re surprisingly useful! Loop onto a hanger or piece of dowel to store belts, scarves, ties, handbags, hair ties, baseball caps, necklaces and more!
13. Colour code
Help little people find – and more importantly, put away – their belongings by assigning each child a different colour. Then you can buy them a storage tub with a toothbrush, towel, etc in that colour, or use coloured dots or thread to ‘label’ their belongings.
14. Brick tricks
Save your soles from stray Lego with clever storage solutions. Think a toolbox with pull-out drawers, storage tubs with colour-coded labels, compartmentalised craft organisers or a play mat and storage sack in one (a drawstring turns the mat into a sack!).
15. Book nooks
Not enough space for a bookshelf? Use picture ledges as floating shelves to display beautiful books.
16. Memory lane
If you’re guilty of hanging onto a high volume of things for nostalgic reasons but don’t have the storage space – take a photo of the keepsake and display the pic in an album or a frame.
17. Ice cube trays
Ice cube trays and kids’ paint palettes/trays are the perfect size for sorting small items such as earrings, rings and buttons.
Use a corkboard or pegboard to hang earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces.
19. Magazine holders
Secure magazine holders to the inside of bathroom cabinets to store hairdryers and straighteners or under kitchen shelves for cookbooks and boards or oven mitts.
20. Shelf life
Install some shelving over your bathroom door to store everyday items for easy top-ups. Think toilet rolls, cleaning products, bars of soap and towels.
Store your clutches in a kitchen organiser rack. Meanwhile, a spice rack is the perfect little spot for nail polishes, lipsticks or essential oils.
22. On a ledge
Attach floating shelves to a timber bedhead to hold miscellaneous items such as reading glasses, books, a clock or framed photos.
23. Bath system
Store kids’ bath toys in wire fruit baskets suspended from your shower rod or frame.
24. Shoe shuffle
Sort your shoes into pairs and store in clear boxes stacked vertically on the floor of your wardrobe or on open shelves.
25. Use pegs
Hang your kids’ paintings rather than cluttering up the fridge. Set up a simple string-and-peg display system on an empty wall or along a window.
26. Use dividers
Tip your underwear drawer out onto the bed and discard any odd socks, worn-out bras or undies that have lost their elastic. Put everything that’s left back in the drawer, using dividers to keep items in their categories.
27. The coat-hanger trick
Try this Oprah-approved trick: hang all the clothes in your wardrobe with the hangers facing inwards. After you wear an item, hang it back up the opposite way. Every six months, do an inventory of the items that haven’t been worn and sell or donate them.
28. Limit your sheets
Cull your linen closet down to two sets of summer sheets and two of flannelette (if needed) per bed, plus two full sets of towels for each person. That’s seriously all you need – one set in use, one in the wash. Store each set of sheets in its matching pillowcase.
29. Car clutter
Keep a rubbish bag or empty box in the car for coffee cups, used tissues or gum, and empty it once a week. Likewise, a basket in the boot can come in handy for on-the-go items like hats, balls, picnic rugs, sunscreen and kids’ toys.
30. Road trip
Speaking of kids and cars, hang a canvas shoe organiser over the back of the driver’s or front passenger’s seat to store their (many) travel belongings, such as electronic devices and headphones, playing cards, colouring books and pens, dummies, snacks, sunnies, drink bottles and a few favourite toys.
Shop the look
Words by: Stephanie Hope. Photography by: Bauer Syndication.