Clear out the clutter: How to put your house in order

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The tree's come down and the decorations are back in the loft, but your home is still as full as ever...

Christmas brings clutter and clutter will ruin carefully crafted interiors. What's more, clutter attracts more clutter. The good news is that storage solutions have never been more practical and chic, making a new year clear-out more worthwhile than ever. "Start small," advises Sylvia Bennett, a specialist in clutter management and space clearing. "Begin with one drawer, rather than a whole room or your entire home. Once you've made a start, you will quickly become enthusiastic to tackle more."

Living room

"If you can afford it, have a wall of floor-to-ceiling push-click cupboards painted the same colour as the walls," says Romaine Lower, who runs The Clutter Clinic. "This can be subdivided with shelving to accommodate toys, DVDs, books and so on."

A quick transformation can also be achieved with a sideboard, such as the Content by Conran Wave Sideboard (£1,595, www.johnlewis.com), on which your telly can sit. Check out the Balance Shelving in the same range (from £375) and for existing shelves, use matching containers or rattan basket sets to stop all your belongings hanging off.

"Invest in a storage solution that's flexible enough to develop with your needs," advises interior designer Jamie Hempsall. "The modular USM Haller system has been available for over 40 years but still looks stylish and contemporary" (from £2,350, www.scothoward.co.uk).

Consider boxing in a bay window with a lidded window seat, and opt for coffee and lamp tables with storage, such as the Rectangular Storage Coffee Table (£349, www.dwell.co.uk) and the Stonyhurst Lamp Table (£749, www.leekes.co.uk).

For a super-cheap way to store magazines, try the Storage Crate (£18, ww.aplaceforeverything.co.uk).

Kitchen

"The key to an organised kitchen is to keep work surfaces clear for food preparation," says Lucy Inskip, who runs The House Doctor. "To achieve this, your cupboards need to work very hard."

Be ruthless with crockery, storing special-occasion china and accessories elsewhere, and throw away any out-of-date foodstuffs, old mismatched or chipped china and recipe books you never use. Then maximise cupboard space – Lakeland will become your new best friend for this job. Its innovative range includes Adapt-a-Shelf (£12.99) and Undershelf Basket (£9.99, www.lakeland.co.uk). Recycle or sell unused gadgets and invest in a triple bin, such as the Home Recycling Triple Bin (from £98, www.mydeco.com) to avoid overflowing boxes.

Be sure to match ease of access to frequency of use, says Cassie Tillett, founder of the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers. "Don't use up valuable desktop space with an ice cream maker that gets used twice a year."

Children's artwork can be the biggest culprit of kitchen clutter, but keep an eye out for The Articulate Gallery frames, new for 2011 – a simple, fun way of storing and showcasing kids' pictures (from £14.99, www.tesco.com).

If you're designing a new kitchen from scratch, be sure to include a pull-out larder and corner unit.

Hallway

Don't let your hallway become a dumping ground for hats, coats, shoes, post and keys. "Even the smallest hallway can usually house a slimline console table, so get one with drawers and a shelf underneath," says Lower. Have a pretty bowl on top to drop keys in as you come in, she adds, and if you only have room for coat hooks, make them a feature. The Bronze Ribbon Coat Rack (£75, www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk) is an attractive possibility.

If you have room, consider the vintage steel locker units upcycled with a plank top (£425, www.theoldcinema.co.uk) and the Byholma closed basket for hats, scarves and gloves (www.ikea.com). If space is limited, the Oak Floating Mirror – which can be swivelled round to reveal either shelves or a mirror – from the Futon Company (£195, www.futoncompany.co.uk) is innovative.

Line your understairs cupboard with shelves, and for the cupboard floor invest in one of the vast range of creative shoe storage solutions from www.houseofbath.co.uk.

Study

"Be completely ruthless with the ridiculous amounts of paper you have accumulated," says Lower. "Keep only what you really need and

categorise it before filing it away. A noticeboard for reminders will help clear your desk, and use an intray for work needing immediate action."

For the rest, Tillett recommends magazine files. "They keep masses of stuff tidy and under control – not just magazines, but stationary and all types of paperwork."

For stylish office storage furniture, try the Snow Office (£1,215, www.twentytwentyone.com) and Alex range from Ikea (from £79, www.ikea.com).

Bathroom

Bathrooms never have enough storage space. "But you'll probably find that at last half the contents of the bathroom cabinet are out of date, so before you do anything, have a good clear out – and this includes the first aid kit," says Sam de Mello, founder of Waste of Space.

Buy the largest wall cupboard you can fit in – or several smaller ones – and make sure they have lots of shelves to house all your lotions and potions, none of which people want to see. The Inside Out Bathroom Cabinet (£275, www.wheredidyoubuythat.com) offers a quirky alternative and the Bali modular furniture range (from £150) and the Rotating Mirror Wall Cabinet (£453.72) are stylish options, both from www.shadesfurniture.co.uk.

Invest in a smart laundry bin, such as the Birch (from £125, www.heals.co.uk) and if floorspace is limited, hang a laundry bag behind the bathroom door.

Bedroom

Tackle your wardrobe first. "Everything you have not worn for two years is clutter," says Bennett. "Once you chuck it out, your other clothes, shoes and accessories will look a million times more appealing."

If you still lack space, separate your clothes into a summer and winter set and store away the set you don't need now, says Ingrid Jansen, founder of Organise Your House. Pack-Mate VacuSac Bags (£11.99) will shrink them down to practically nothing and the Underbed Box (£19.99) comes on wheels, both from www.lakeland.co.uk. "Shoes belong in the bottom of the wardrobe and if you have a lot, buy clear plastic boxes so you can stack them but still see what's in them," she adds. The Holding Company does stacking drawer boxes for shoes at £10 each or six for £43 (www.theholdingcompany.co.uk) and the Shoe Lounge sells clear shoe boxes for just 74p each (www.theshoelounge.co.uk).

A large bed on high legs, such as the Squigalina (from £825, www.andsotobed.co.uk), gives you plenty of under-bed storage. Better still, buy a bed with drawers.

"Do your bedside tables have storage space? A table without any drawers is a wasted opportunity," says Tillett. "And if you read a lot in the bedroom and have books scattered everywhere, the Argos Value Range White Effect Baby Bookcase (£12.99, www.argos.co.uk) is an instant solution. If you're a magazine and paper junkie, get a magazine rack in the bedroom – they're not only made for living rooms."

A blanket box or ottoman with cushions on top gives you a seat with space underneath for bedding.

Children's bedroom

Children's areas are a whirlwind of activity. To contain the games, toys and homework projects, keep things simple and fun, and make sure there is plenty of it. Start with built-in storage, then make sure you have plenty of baskets, canvas bags and plastic tubs so you can tidy quickly and easily, and just possibly persuade them to as well.

Lego Storage offers lego-shaped tubs in primary colours (from £8.99, www.firebox.com), while Ikea's highly practical Trofast Storage Combination adorn many a children's room (from £74, www.ikea.com). Rooms You Love does a great range of themed children's toy bags in 100 per cent cotton (£34.95, www.roomsyoulove.com) and if you're really lacking space, Room to Grow offers a wide range of cabin beds (www.roomtogrow.co.uk), while Mamas and Papas does some timeless tallboys and tall shelving systems (from £202.50, www.mamasandpapas.com), which take up l floor space.

For older children, the Library System from Aspace provides a stunning combination of shelving units, cupboards, desks and drawers (from £1,055, www.aspace.co.uk).

Top tips

* Store like with like so you can find things easily.

* In a small home, buy furniture that doubles up as storage.

* If you buy something new, get rid of something old.

* Remember beautiful baskets and racks can be part of the decor and don't need to be hidden away.

* Why not start decluttering by getting rid of unwanted Christmas gifts?

* Some of the handiest storage solutions are the simplest – an old fashioned plastic-bag dispenser, for instance.

* If you're wondering whether to keep something, ask yourself, "Does this have any positive value in my life?"

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little