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DECOR: Clean sweep on chaos

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An expert suggest ways and means to tidy those cluttered areas, deal with sentimental items or clear out baggage before a move will spur you into action

EXPERT: Jane Kotze, local decluttering whizz and owner of

1 What are the best tricks of the trade to help someone overwhelmed by a decluttering process?

The best strategy for overcoming the decluttering hurdles is to start small. Choose a single drawer or small cupboard, for instance, your bedside table. Firstly, remove everything from the space and give that area a good clean with the appropriate detergent.

The fresh smell will encourage you to finish what you started. Categorise the items into what you will keep, what needs to be donated, recycled and discarded. Decide on the outcome of each item and stick to it. Group the objects using small containers to maximise the space between any shelves.

It does not matter how long the process takes because once it’s done you will enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that will push you to tackle other areas.

2 I’m moving home and while packing have found a stack of memorabilia from my youth tucked away in boxes in my garage. It seems I’m going to be moving boxes there that I will never open, and yet I’m quite sentimental about my past. What to do?

Lay out your memories on a large surface, use good lighting and take photos of your memories. Arrange your collection in an order appealing to you. Take snaps from different angles and, you can even set the timer on your phone or camera to take some shots of you holding your memorabilia.

Move your photographs on to an external hard drive for safe keeping. This way, you can refer to your photographs whenever you are feeling nostalgic. If you choose to hold onto your physical memorabilia, especially stored in boxes, remember to use of a repellent to keep away fish moths.

3 I have a cupboard in my home in which anything that doesn’t have a home ends up. Now it is one big mess, but I (almost) need everything in there. How can I straighten it up?

Remove everything from the cupboard, sweep out the corners and thoroughly clean the shelves. Add several cupboard fresheners and some bug juice to repel insects. Sort all the items into suitable groups of similar size or used for the same purpose.

If you already have a number of shelves in your cupboard, choose lid-less containers that fit comfortably on the shelves. For a large open cupboard, stackable containers work best. Consider using labels on your containers to help the decluttered cupboard stay organised.

A “miscellaneous” crate is the perfect space for general items that can’t be categorised.

Picture: Supplied

4 I use cotton shopping bags to store things. As you can imagine, my place looks like a cluttered mess. Have you got better storage ideas for me for crafty things?

The ideal storage solution for arts and crafts is clear, stackable plastic crates or containers. The transparent finish enables you to see exactly what is stored in each box. Select a proportionately sized container relative to the items.

Group the items that have similar functions and related projects in the same compartment. Avoid overfilling the containers to ensure a hassle-free move from the cupboard to the workspace. Another practical idea for tidying up crafty goodies is a wall-mounted pegboard. Install hanger-hooks for all your scissors and “S” hooks to hang little buckets for glues, bobbins or small scrap-booking trinkets.

5 We live in a bachelor’s pad and while I’m really tidy, my partner is so messy. I feel I’m always picking up after her. Is there a way to maximise space in such a small spot so I can make it easier for her to have designated places for things?

If an area looks amazing after a decluttering session, it’s easier to keep it that way. Choose a colour scheme for your storage solution that suits your style. Use matching containers that fit in between the shelves for storing everything appropriate to that space.

The use of containers such as baskets, plastic boxes or tubs maximises the space between the shelves. They also provide hiding space for the mess, since it’s not always easy to neatly pack the boxes. Be sure to use an easy labelling system on your chosen storage solution that works for both of you.


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