365 Objects Of Design

Podcast Notes: Series 2 Episode 1

10th January 2019
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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.


stacked storage from muuto

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.

haze wall cabinet from ferm living

haze wall cabinet from ferm living

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.

bathroom storage at madaboutthehouse.com

bathroom storage at madaboutthehouse.com

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.

HM collaboration with traditional firm GP & J Baker

HM collaboration with traditional firm GP & J Baker

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.

limerance by house of hackney

limerance by house of hackney

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.

sofa upholstered in spring drifting by arley house on the arm and matching cushion

sofa upholstered in spring drifting by arley house on the arm and matching cushion

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.

ikea cushions

ikea cushions

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.

office in a cupboard by 2lg studio

office in a cupboard by 2lg studio

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.

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  • Anna 14th January 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Me again. Just listened to the Podcast…such fun and up lifting! Typography is an irritation but far worse are HEARTS…hearts everywhere you look. They are truly a design crime!

  • Anna 14th January 2019 at 12:09 pm

    Been thinking about this post re decluttering. We had a major move, big and little house….to a rather lovely flat with not a lot of space!
    Our family wanted so much of our furniture, china, bedding etc and when I read that the young do want to incorporate the styles of their childhood homes and to take familiar elements from houses they have grown up in, it rang true.
    I so enjoy seeing our things again when in the homes of our family.

    Of course it does depend upon the taste of the giver!!

  • Sonia 14th January 2019 at 10:44 am

    Loved the podcast especially the genius idea of recovering your office chair.

    One thing – Kate, I think you said you hadn’t read Marie Kondo’s book. It really is worth a read as 95% of it reflects what you said about decluttering! Her approach is that you must be able to see and access your stuff easily. She says almost word for word what you say in the podcast about baskets in wardrobes etc – if it’s not easy to get to, you won’t ever go looking in there or put stuff away there. Recognising that we don’t have infinite space in our homes, the “sparking joy” bit is one way of culling a huge pile of possessions, so you retain and enjoy using what matters to you (and maybe buy less stuff going forwards, which she considers very important). Not so very different from what a professional declutterer might encourage you to do.

  • Velvet 11th January 2019 at 6:15 pm

    I like the idea of the office inside a closet, but definitely not that office chair. Sorry, but I think it’s hideous. You’re right, it’s hard to find an office chair that doesn’t look like an office chair but it’s do-able. For instance, I found a chair on small wheels with brassy fenders, made of fibre glass ages ago and had it re-upholstered and it looks terrific in my designated home office! (You can see part of it on a post I wrote on home office inspiration). Another option is to go for the classic all wooden desk chair that draftsmen/women used to use while working on design drawings… I guarantee you that they are super comfy (I’m old enough to know first hand) even if they don’t have any padding, they look really quite vintage and a bit industrial chic. I’m telling you they are perfect! I used to have one before I got married but sadly had to give it away due to lack of space 🙁

  • Claire 10th January 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Looking forward to listening to the latest instalment. The Husband and I are in negotiations about what is staying and going in our post build de-clutter. I am all for chucking the lot. He on the other hand is not…

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