Declutter and train your house wreckers
Come on ‘fess up your clutter is out of control. It could be that yours is confined to the ‘junk’ drawer – a black hole where buttons, screws, drawing pins, random keys, cracker gifts and plastic bendy things gather cling together for moral support. Well, my house is fast becoming the supersize version of that drawer. The stuff gets bigger and the mess has been spreading like a virus. It started with the drawer, moved to a room and now seems to occupy everyone space.
It is impossible to keep on top of it with three house wreckers tearing the place up like a pack of Tasmanian devils. I was days aways from being found slumped in corner with an empty bottle of gin rolling around my feet (largely because it was a Monday).
Realising that gin wasn’t the answer (ahem) I decided to call in a professional. Adam Turner of Live Tidy is a decluttering expert based in Berkshire. I know what you’re thinking why do you need someone to help tackle the problem of decluttering, it’s just tidying up? But sometimes the task is too darn big. It’s hard to know where to start and Adam tells me it’s a mental block as much as it is a physical block (literally, when you can’t open a door to a room). Brace yourselves… It’s BAAAAAD!
So how does it work? Well, Adam starts with an initial consultation and comes back a few days later to perform a miracle. We entered the room of doom. We had a chat about the problem in hand (it was obvious, as you can see from the pics). In my case, it is the study/ den used by Mr Muddy and my little Mudders. I love this room with its woodburner and countryside view. It’s cosy, relaxing and deserves a better life – one with me in it, necking a large glass of wine and binge watch something on Netflix. But it has endured years of abuse.
Adam’s approach is similar to Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s KonMari method. There has been a real buzz about her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying since it landed in the UK. To achieve a clutter-free space forever, you work through a system of categories: clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous and sentimental. In that order, Kondo’s technique has a heavy dose of spirituality attached to it. Adam takes a more practical approach.
You are supposed to tackle the entire house to ensure that a home is given to all of your stuff. If you can achieve this then will be achieve tidiness for life. I can see the benefits, but without moving everyone out for a month, I’m yet to be convinced how that would work in real life. For now, we are doing a room (breaking the rules already, plus ça change) but have identified its use and what should live there.
We start on the bookshelf. We take all the books off and put them in the middle of the room (it’s going to get real ugly). Then I have to pick up each book and decide why I have it. Does it ‘spark joy’ to use a Kondo phrase. It was easier than I thought. It’s not about deciding what to ditch but deciding what you want to keep. For the first time I see what was there and 70 per cent of it was off to Age UK. The ones I kept were old, beautifully bound titles given to me by my grandparents, classics read during my uni years and great books we would like our children. I found myself stroking the books I loved like a Bond baddie. Adam says this is a good thing.
We moved on to the movies – all belonging to Mr Muddy. Anything on DVD (unless it was rare) was out. BluRays could stay but only if they were good. Games got the same treatment, old or rubbish titles were gone. I had magazines dating back to 2006. Not rare copies of Vogue but random mags. Gone. Documents: only papers that need to be kept forever, are legally required to be kept for period of time or are current, are filed. The rest incinerated. Old broken toys, binned.
The process took all day, but the room is transformed. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Everything does have a place. I feel happier and the room looks happier too. The many boxes and bin bags were gone before the end of the day. There is no going back. Anything that doesn’t belong in the room is removed.
Yes, we can all tidy up, but Adam helps you identify the things you’re happy to live with. I would not have discarded anywhere near the amount of stuff that I did. The clutter would have remained. What is left deserves to be there.
My plan is to do the rest of the house. It will be done room by room (sorry, Adam). It will probably take all year. Life will certainly get in the way of achieving tidy anytime soon. But it will be done. Watch this (clutter-free) space. Now where is that wine?
Adam Turner is a Decluttering and Lifestyle consultant @ Live Tidy. Tel: 07727 223044