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10 ways to gain valuable space back in to your home.

Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor - Its anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living

Clutter is the main issue to address here. Some of us have it for sentimental reasons, some due to laziness... Either way it's loosing you valuable space! Don't get me wrong, I'm not referring to those who have serious issues related to hoarding. This is more about the majority that just can't part with heaps of stuff or just don't ever get around to sorting out, and getting rid of things they no longer need. Trust me when I say you will feel so cleansed after a good cull. It's like a detox for your home! I think the major problem for most is how overwhelming the task gets. The problem is almost too big you don't know where to start. Then this job gets put in the too hard basket and gets bypassed for other things... meanwhile the problem of clutter keeps growing! Most think time is the issue but really it's not. You would be amazed at how easy it gets once you get the hang of it. Tips to get started - start somewhere, anywhere! Just start! Start with an easy room and make your way through your home/ office one room at a time. Plan it so you have one room to tackle each week and hold yourself accountable to completing the task. 1. Linen cupboard - I looked at my linen cupboard one day and it was incredible how much I had. It tends to accumulate as the years go by. The sales with their irresistible marked down prices really adds up. My system is quite simple - check how many beds you have in your home. Then decide how many sets of linen you want for each bed. I recommend not more than 3 but personally prefer 2 sets. One set on the bed and one swap over when wash day comes along. Put each set folded and stored in to the pillow slip of the same set (so you can identify it easily). When you buy a new set of linen make sure you donate/ discard one you already have. This prevents build-up of future excess. As my linen storage, affectionately known as 'The cupboard' is limited, I do tend to store my linen in their respective rooms. For example, kids linen in their wardrobe, tea towels and table linen in the kitchen etc.

2. Cleaning cupboard - Think about it seriously. How many different products does one household need? Maybe it's time to make the decision to go green. Make sure that decision comes when you run out of the products you already have (would be more environmentally unfriendly just to chuck it all out right?) Try and minimize to the basics. Something for the floors, a general cleaner, glass cleaner and a toilet cleaner. If you are going green all you need is a big bottle of vinegar and a box of bicarbonate soda! Invest in products that are good for the environment that last you a long while.

3. Kitchen utensils - This can be tricky so be as ruthless as you can. Limit yourself to one of each essential. You really don't need five bottle openers! Get a non slip liner and line the base of your drawer.

Organise your utensils in a way that each item is easily accessed and in close proximity to where it will be used within your kitchen. Yes, I may have a touch of OCD!

4. Kids toys - Make sure you do this job when your house is kid free! What kid doesn't love having lots of toys right? However they can't help but be board all the time. How frustrating! If you have the space put some toys away and interchange them periodically. When the toys turn over, its like they got a new one! Also get rid of all the broken toys and puzzles with missing pieces (this is always an ongoing process). It might also be a good practice to donate to charity. If your kid gets a new toy at Christmas, it may be time to donate one from the toy box. We have a little tradition in our house - The birthday boy (I have two sons) is allowed to pick two or three gifts from the pile he might receive. The rest are happily donated to a good cause. The child learns to be selfless and giving, and I end up with less mess in the play room. Its a win win situation!

5. Kids clothes - This is a very big problem in my household. My kids are blessed with many older cousins and I gladly accept their pre-loved clothes. In actual fact I very rarely go shopping for my kids. Still, I feel we always have far too many clothes! Again this is an ongoing process but we can make it as easy as we can to maintain. Clothes outgrown by the oldest can go down the line to younger siblings. When you run out of smaller kids to cloth have a box in the wardrobe that collects up undersized items. When the box is full donate it to charity. It may also be a good idea to put a cap on the number of items you keep. For example you could have a limit of 5 pairs of shorts and 10 T-shirts per child etc. Then it's your job to make sure you stick to it!

6. Books - Personally, I'm guilty of stockpiling! This seems to be an area I find the hardest to be ruthless. Start with the easy stuff. Magazines. How realistic is it that you will ever find the time to read all of them again? If there is some important article you want to keep, scan it and store it digitally. Donate books you really know you don't need, eg. If your done having kids, it might be time to pass on all those pregnancy books. Books are also something that need to be stored appropriately. If its all in a box in the store room or crammed into one massive book case, high probability you will not be reading them anytime soon. Store all your cookery books in the kitchen, work related books in the study/ office, novels in a bookshelf next to a comfy chair in a quiet corner. Make a special effort with kids books. Perhaps they could live separate from the toys and closer to their beds to encourage good reading habits. Don't forget to provide good reading light in these spots.

7. Hobbies - I love to collect jewellery, but until I got organized it used to do my head in every time I tried to wear any of it. If you look hard enough you can always find a solution for your particular problem. Your collection might be craft, sewing, fishing, jewellery making, scrapbooking etc. The key is organizing it to provide a place for everything and it's all easily accessible. Your time is valuable and less of that time you spend looking for things, the more time you will have to spend enjoying your hobby.

I ended up building myself a cupboard to store my jewellery but I know there are many organizer's on the market to suit any individual. For anyone thats interested this is what I did -

8. The garage - similar to how you would organize your hobbies, the garage needs to be a place of order and calm. Most garages are sadly a mangled mess that could cave in any second! Racking Racking Racking! I love industrial Racking. If you have the space get some Racking and lots of large storage boxes (preferably transparent). The idea is to have each category stored in a separate box that is clearly labeled, eg. A Christmas box with all the decorations, camping box with all the camping gear, gardening box with all the fertilizer and smaller tools etc. Also if you don't have a garden shed, try organizing your equipment on a free wall. Large industrial hooks can hold up to 30kg or more so make use of them. Your garage would typically hold items you require rarely so organise it in such a way you don't need to roll your eyes at the thought of getting something out in a rush.

9. Pantry - It's amazing how much food we waste just due to poor organisation! As a working mum with a couple of kids I'm constantly trying to do better in the kitchen. Trying to get in to better systems to feed my family healthier while being conscious of the household budget. Having your dry foods such as pasta, pulses, rice, flour etc all in well labeled boxes saves you from having multiple opened packets of rations that always spill at the worst possible time. Try and store ingredients that you use regularly in airtight containers (when buying them make sure the container can hold a mininum of 2kg to avoid having to store the excess). Always good to use containers that are transparent so you can easily see what you have and how much you have of it. Organise your pantry into sections and have the ingredients you use all the time at close reach to where you need them. For example, separate out the baking items so it's all in one spot; spices, oils and sauces close to the stove. If your pantry is accessible to little people, make sure all the treats are stored up high so you know how much the kids eat. If you prefer to have snacks for kids to help themselves, maybe they can be healthy snacks like nuts and dried fruit. 10. Laundry - Be ruthless! The laundry is quite often not a very large room and as it's a purely functional space and it needs to be as efficient as possible. Ideally you should have plenty of natural light and ventilation to the space, together with direct access to an external drying area.

To cover the basics, try when possible to fit your dryer above your washer, with sufficient space inbetween to house a laundry basket. Also have shelves /cupboard to hold detergent (high enough to be out of reach of little ones) close to your washer. Dont cho0se the cheap and nasty laundry tub & faucet. Spend just a little bit extra and get a high gooseneck tap and a tub that has drawers and decent storage underneath.

Depending on where your laundry is located in terms of your floor plan i.e close to the front door or rear of the house, its functions may vary slightly. My laundry is located close enough to our main point of entry. For this reason we have a shoe rack to hold the family's day to day footwear. We also have lots of shelves that hold a seperate boxes for each sport, so its quick enough to grab the required gear for each activity and be on your way.

Your laundry doesnt need to be large, but it definite needs to fit in a lot! So organisation is the only way to go.

Organisation should not be done on a whim. If you invest in getting it right the first time, you will reap the benifit always. It will truely enhance the way you live! Remember -

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