And we’re back. Series II of The Great Indoors launched this morning and, as usual, here are some notes to what we talked about with any relevant links to help you. In this episode we discussed January Decluttering, the return of Chintz and How to Plan the Home Office.
New Year Decluttering
Always a popular subject in January and I see that Marie Kondo, on whom Sophie and I were both agreed that her militant approach to decluttering wasn’t for us, now has a television programme which seems to be dividing opinion in much the same way as her books do.
Anyway, the keys tips for successful decluttering and tidying were that you must have a system so that everything has a place to go. Without that you haven’t got a chance of keeping on top of it.
Then you need to make sure that it’s as accessible as you can make it. I have some things stored in baskets on shelves and to get to them to put things away or take them out I need to stand on a stool. This turns it into a faff and means that I either don’t use those things or, once I have used them I don’t put them away again. Now I know that we can’t all have our storage at eye level but this is where your system comes into play – just make sure the high stuff is stuff you really don’t need very often – likewise the stuff at the back of the cupboard.
The issue, as Sophie wisely points out, is often not that our houses aren’t big enough but that we just have too much stuff. And it takes real discipline to get rid of it. For example, I once read that we only ever need six mugs. And yet I, like many of you I’m sure, have about 20. There’s an instant declutter right there.
However, getting rid of stuff is an emotional process and Sophie says her mother hired a professional when moving from her large marital home to an open-plan new build in her daughter’s garden. The key, advised the expert, is to create three piles – one that you know immediately is going, one that you know immediately is for keeping and the other for things you aren’t sure about which you can take the time to think about and process.
Further to that I would suggesting storing things under the bed, or in suitcases and you often find that if you don’t see them for several months you live quite happily without them and can then get rid of them. Or at least some of them, which will free up more space.
Once you have decided what is going then you need to work out where you can take it. Good things can be sold either or eBay or at the Fashion Reboot events run by Ciara Elliott and Erica Davies. If you don’t want to sell it and the local charity shop doesn’t want it then try Freecycle or you can look at this post I wrote before Christmas.
Finally, when it comes designing a room remember to be realistic about what you need to store and build in options for that. Towels and bedlinen all need to live somewhere and there usually isn’t room in the bathroom. Be honest about what can be on display and what needs to be hidden away in the sitting room. And are you really going to use that juicer once January is over? Putting gadgets in cupboards often means you won’t use them and is one of the reasons I have never succumbed to the lure of a breadmaker – waistline notwithstanding – I don’t have room for it on the worktop and I’ll never use it if it buried in a cupboard.
Bring back the chintz
Next we spoke about the newly emerging fashion for all things chintz. It’s over 20 years since Ikea told us all to chuck out the chintz – in favour of its new (to us then) modern Scandinavian look but it’s been staging a quite comeback. H&M collaborated with GP & J Baker last year to create fashion forward clothes in chintz.
But, as with all these things, it’s about how to use it in a modern way this time round. So you have to either go full on – walls and furniture but in more modern colours – like the House of Hackney or use it as an accent. If you stick to the pale ochres and russets that are the traditional colourways you will end up with the traditional English country house look. So look for bold florals in unusual colours – black and teal or neons to keep it contemporary. To put it another way – take the classic country look and put it in urban colours.
Or, use it in unexpected ways. I covered just the arm of my chaise longue last year rather than the whole thing. I would also love to wallpaper a ceiling in it but keep the walls themselves plain and simple.
And check this image from the Ikea instagram feed a few weeks ago. They may have started out telling us to chuck the chintz but it looks like they’ve changed their minds.
Planning The Home Office
Continuing our room planning series we talked about planning the home office and I include a few pointers here.
Firstly – in line with the decluttering at the top of the show do think about how paperless you can be. Sophie has gone from about 20 ring binders to one or two. These days you can scan documents and store them in the cloud or online so you don’t need to keep all those bits of paper.
The other thing you can do, if you don’t have a room available for an office, is to build one in a cupboard. Russell and Jordan, of 2LG Studio, have created the one above in their kitchen but you can easily reduce it to fit in an alcove in a bedroom for example. It’s also a good idea for kids and teenagers – you can add more shelves, leave a stool or chair pushed under and even store a printer or any other bulky items on the floor. Don’t forget to add sockets for charging and desk lamps and perhaps you can even persuade them to shut the phone in there overnight so the blue light doesn’t disturb their sleep.
Lastly the office chair. It’s so hard to find one that doesn’t look – well officey – which, in a home office that might be in a corner of another room is the last thing you want. Sophie had a good idea – buy a good office chair on eBay and have it re-upholstered in some funky material. Obviously she’s thinking chintz. Here is a tutorial I found on how to do it yourself from simplystylings.com and the result pictured below. It’s a really good idea.
Thanks as ever to DFS for sponsoring The Great Indoors.