How To Minimise the Past And Maximise the Future

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If I told you minimalism and self-growth is straight-forward and easy, I would be lying. 

Minimalism requires lots of hard decision-making, consistency, and dealing with memories both good and bad. 

Self-growth requires confronting and accepting hard truths about ourselves and our situations and learning to move forwards while becoming better people in the process. 

Because that’s what it all is. A process. A journey. And a bumpy one at that with twists, turns and long stretches of smoothness.  

I used to be what I call a tidy hoarder (although I didn’t realise I was a hoarder at the time). Candles, mugs, trinkets and figurines lined shelves and window sills while cupboards and drawers were bursting at the seams and collapsing under the weight. Boxes hid under my bed collecting dust and the top of my wardrobe towered with boxes, storage containers, and soft toys. 

My hoarding habits were a source of frequent arguments and discussions about my ‘trash’ in the home.

I kept all sorts. Masses of keyrings collected over the years, old party invitations, old school work, old defunct cables, those little badges you can get with rebellious statements on, old jewellery, old stationary, little notebooks and relics I’d got from cereal boxes as a kid (including a Rugrats flip book). 

I’d even kept a ring from when I was seven years old, simply because I’d worn it at primary school.

As a person I was angry, unfulfilled, lost, and confused, with severe identity issues which caused massive problems in my relationships. Until I discovered minimalism, I didn’t realise that the state of my stuff reflected the state of my mind, and my past. 

Just like with my drawers and cupboards, I kept parts of myself hidden away in dark dusty corners of my psyche, and every so often, bits would burst out and everyone around me would be left picking up the mess, only for it to end up back in the box it all burst from. 

I’d grown up with such a turbulent school life among other things, that by the time I got to college and made the life-long friends I have now, I’d become a master of wearing a mask of silliness and extreme cheer. I was so skilled at this it became a genuine part of who I am today. 

The first time I got confronted with my hoard was a wakeup call for me. I was renting a house with the man who is now my husband, when mum brought over all my old stuff from their attic. Bags and bags of stuff. Bin liners stretching with the weight of the memories inside them I’d carelessly stowed away. 

Photo by Onur Bahçıvancılar on Unsplash

At first, I just saw it as a monumental physical task I needed to work through. I couldn’t escape it because there was nowhere else for it to go. The attic was already rammed with game consoles, Christmas decorations, old memories, and other paraphernalia I’d just shoved up there when we moved in. 

But as I emptied the bags and started to work my way through them, I felt all kinds of emotions, even over innocent things like soft toys.

Sadness, grief, nostalgia, warmth… such a mixed bag of feelings all attached to these objects, many of which I’d owned since I was a child. There were several piles of old school work, even my old school planner, complete with sad, angry scribbles. 

To the people around me, that was all junk. Why hadn’t I put it in the bin ages ago? Why was I storing all that garbage? But to me, they were feelings and parts of me.

That school planner represented the part of me that expressed my feelings when nobody else would listen; proof that I experienced those feelings.

My school work was a trove of teacher praise, writing, and essays which I’d poured my soul into. I’d even kept hilarious pieces where it was clear I hadn’t understood the task or concept. 

I found gifts from people who’d long since left my life, and a tower of children’s books I used to treasure.

By the end of the day, I charity-shopped about 90% of the bag’s contents, and I felt so light that I could have floated a metre above the ground. It was as if those bags had never been stowed in the attic but been tied to me the whole time. 

I also felt emotionally drained. 

That was my first step into self-growth and into what would later reveal itself to be the path to minimalism, but it took a long time for the universe to make me and the concept cross paths. 

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Since discovering minimalism, I’ve not only unearthed many parts of myself that I didn’t realise existed, I’ve discovered and reignited my dreams, and have worked persistently to accept the past and make way for who I’m becoming.

Clearing the clutter in my life was the same as clearing out the drawers of my heart and the closets of my mind. It took a lot of soul searching, confronting parts of myself and re-discovering where I wanted to go.

I had spent a lifetime living in the past, believing that I was worthless, and that the feelings I had were nothing but a lie if I got rid of the stuff I associated with them.

Without going into too much detail, this is because I grew up unable to express my feelings. It was taboo. It was wrong. It was weird. So I ended up attaching them to tangible objects. 

When my heart got too heavy and full, it got emptied into cupboards and boxes, instead. 

Of course, minimalism isn’t a cure-all and I’ve had to do a great deal of self-growth. Self-growth is something which never stops and should never plateau because people are forever experiencing life and taking on new beliefs and values. 

For me, minimalism is the foundation to grow a new successful self. One not weighed down by stuff, the past, and outdated subconscious beliefs. 

It’s my hope to help you on your journey, too, whatever your values or your past may be. It’s deep, hard work, but you can get there.  

Remember, just as you don’t grow from toddler to adult in a day, you won’t change and grow your core values and beliefs overnight, either. 

Since we’re entering the festive season, let’s consider Scrooge from ‘A Christmas Carol’. He changes from a lifetime of being cruel, miserable, greedy and selfish, to jolly, charitable, fun, and caring. All in one night. 

While the story is great and has a powerful message, in reality, Scrooge would have taken years to change because his persona would result from various factors throughout his life; beliefs instilled into him by his parents, the people around him, his circumstances, and his environment. 

Every single person has their own story, background, and beliefs. You can’t change a lifetime of beliefs and behaviours overnight, no matter how much you want to. And while throwing them out with the trash is freeing, you still need to do the emotional work to prevent returning to old habits and circumstances. 

With consistent action, you can and will get to where you want to be!

Photo by Ev on Unsplash

The Minimalist War – What Minimalism Is and Isn’t

Photo by John Mark Arnold on Unsplash

Last week, I talked about how success isn’t about wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. This week, I will be applying that same concept to minimalism. It isn’t all about sparse furniture, zero belongings, and white rooms. 

I’ve lost count of the times people have said things to me like, “But you own all these books, that isn’t minimalistic!”, or “How come you’ve bought another game? I thought you were a minimalist!”

But here’s the thing: minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself of having the things that make you happy or bring value to your life. It’s not about white furniture and empty shelves. And it’s absolutely not a competition.

Minimalism is about living a simple and clutter-free lifestyle. It’s about finding what’s important to you and minimising the less important things so that you can maximise your time on the most meaningful.

For me, that’s family, friends, writing, reading, relaxing, watching anime, and gaming. For you, that might mean baking, working out, creating, hosting parties, or spending less time online.

Everybody is different. That’s what makes the world so interesting. 

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

Telling someone they can’t be minimalist if they own a certain thing is as crazy as saying to someone, “You play sports? No you don’t because you’re a tennis player, not a footballer. Football is the only real sport!” 

See how silly that sounds? 

I’ve also seen, in several minimalist groups, people posting a photo and asking “Should I get rid of this?”, or posting a photo of a room in their house and asking, “Is this minimalist enough?”

But there’s no such thing as ‘minimalist enough’. Nobody else can tell you to get rid of or keep that penguin figurine collection because nobody else knows the significance of them in your life. 

Only you can answer those questions because only you know the story behind your stuff. Only you know what holds meaning in your life and why. Only your heart can tell you when you’ve reached that level of satisfaction. 

If you rely on others to tell you what to keep and what to throw, or what looks ‘minimalist enough’, you can’t grow as a person because you won’t be developing those crucial decision making skills that come with minimising and decluttering. 

And if the decisions don’t come from you, you will end up living someone else’s version of minimalism. Someone else’s life. 

I once shared an image of my minimalist living room. Some loved it, some thought I had too many books, some thought I had too many photos, some people found it inspirational, and some went as far as to say they what pieces of furniture they would change.  

None of the people who commented were either right or wrong. What I got what a diverse snapshot of other people’s visions for their own lives. 

What you need to ask yourself when minimising or simplifying is, “Is this perfect to me?”  Not, “Will my uncle Pete like it?” And certainly not, “Does my house look better than Amy’s on Instagram?”

Minimalism isn’t a war. It is a means to live a simple, more peaceful, and more intentional life. 

Photo by Alex Ortlieb on Unsplash

Comparing your minimalism, or your home to others will not do you any favours unless you’re using it purely for inspiration. In fact, it will drain you and make you miserable and resentful.

Once minimalism becomes a competition it loses its meaning. You become no better than you were when you were subconsciously, or consciously, comparing possessions or status, which is as far from minimalist as you can get. 

So, minimise in a way that feels right for you. Inspire others by becoming genuinely happy and satisfied with your own life. Be simply you. 

The Treasure Map of Minimalism

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Decluttering is good for the soul. Not only does it create more space and lessen stress, sometimes you can find unexpected treasure. 

One of my closest friends was telling me how they were having a decluttering session, and that it made them feel so good that they were going to carry on the next day. But what they didn’t expect was to find was a soft toy that used to be cuddled by a much-loved relative who had passed.

Coincidentally, during one of these sessions, my friend happened to be having a terrible day. Finding this toy brought them a lot of comfort and found a new special place in their heart. 

If it wasn’t for decluttering, that treasure might have remained hidden for many more years, unable to offer the comfort that was so desperately needed. 

How many times have you tidied or had a spring clear out, only for your jaw to drop and you to shout , “So that’s where that went!”

How many times have you discovered something which warmed your heart, but was found among meaningless objects?

When was the last time you felt guilt for finding something special tucked away in a cold, dark place or buried under piles of clutter?

That’s because through minimalism, you can discover what’s important to you, which can, in turn, help you realise that maybe those other things aren’t as important as you first believed.  Sometimes, the recovered space might be your treasure.

On the flip side of the coin, you might also find objects which trigger pain or sadness: a letter or gift from an ex, for example. If you find anything which makes you feel bad, consider letting go to carve a path to the future rather than treading back over the past.

Photo by Hari Panicker on Unsplash

If thoughts about finding and dealing with such objects make your stomach churn, then this post on decluttering sentimental objects is for you.

In the meantime, here’s a simple list of things you can start decluttering today. Perhaps you will find a hidden treasure…

Living room/Office/Junk drawer

  • Old paperwork
  • Junkmail
  • Old magazines (unless you happen to be collecting a certain one)
  • An excess of books – keep only the ones you love or are definitely going to read. Beware of ‘someday’. If ‘someday’ creeps into your mind, donate. 
  • Pens – they multiply like rabbits, disappearing and reappearing in random places seemingly at will. 
  • An excess of notepads 
  • Old receipts

Bathroom/Bedroom

  • Out of date medicines
  • Out of date makeup
  • An excess of cleaning supplies or half-used ancient products.
  • Half-empty but unused toiletries
  • Freebies that never got used
  • Out of date toiletries

Bedroom/Clothes storage

  • Jewellery you’ve fallen out of love with
  • Clothes you’ve fallen out of love with or that no longer fit
  • Handbags – do you really need one for every outfit? 
  • Shoes – too many lead to decision fatigue and lack of space. My shoes are nice enough to be useful both for evenings out, and for a casual summer day in town. I also have a pair of Vans I use purely for casual wear. 
  • Coats and other outerwear (if you’re one of those people who has a coat for every outfit in their wardrobe and at slightly different thicknesses for every type of weather)

Electronics/Technology

  • CD’s you no longer listen to or that you own digitally
  • DVD’s you no longer watch or prefer to just watch digitally
  • Videogames you no longer play, or that you own digitally (unless you’re a collector)
  • Cables – do you really need 20 USB cables?
  • Broken or extremely outdated technology that’s useless

Kitchen/Dining area

  • Plates and dishes
  • Cutlery and other utensils – watch for duplicates 
  • Cups and glasses. These tend to build up over the years until you could run your own cafe/bar
  • Out of date food and condiments, or food that people don’t seem to eat. Certain types of food can be donated to foodbanks as long as it’s all in date and unopened. 

Airing cupboard/Under bed

  • Old towels – animal centres often need these 
  • Old bed sheets, or an excess of bed sheets- once again, an animal centre or homeless shelter could make use of them. 

Miscellaneous

  • Old school work 
  • Old toys your children outgrew
  • Gifts that you’ve never used or secretly didn’t want or need
  • Photos – ones that trigger bad memories, are bad quality, or have a hundred duplicates
  • Anything broken that you said you would fix ‘someday’ 
  • An excess of tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, spare screws etc. Watch for duplicates. 
  • Souvenirs from holidays that mean little to you (often, it’s the actual memories that bring you joy, not the mug with the landmark or country on)
  • Keyrings (I used to have about 6 on my house key, plus a few more to choose from). Now I have one for my key, and another on my favourite bag. That’s it. 
  • An excess of ornaments and trinkets. These can be a source of hidden stress without you even realising. They take up loads of space and make cleaning tasks take double or triple the time than if that surface was clear.

I talk about some of these things in more detail here

But what if I actually want to refill my space, or bring life to that empty corner?, I hear you panic. In that case, let me tell you; It’s far more uplifting to get plants, instead. House plants give you a sense of being in nature and will help to filter and oxygenate the air. Just don’t be like me and forget to water them.

Photo by Huy Phan on Unsplash

Have you found any hidden treasure from decluttering? Let me know in the comments. 

 



Clutter Culprits: How to Remain Vigilant

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Even the most seasoned minimalists will end up overwhelmed with more clutter if they don’t regularly keep on top of what comes in and what goes out of the home. Left unchecked, it’s easy to become complacent and end up back where you started. 

Below, I’ve listed some of the clutter culprits which you should be especially vigilant of. 

Pens

These get everywhere because they often get bought in packs. Unless you work at a school or in an office, don’t buy pens in packs because you’ll never get around to using the rest before they dry up and they will make your drawers messy.

Pens are also numerous in gift shops and are the next most common keepsake along with keyrings. Don’t be afraid to discard old pens, and if there’s one you love, see if you can buy refills instead of retiring it to a drawer. 

Notebooks

People are suckers for brand new, fresh notebooks or journals – myself included. I have so many journals from the past that are half-filled because I got fed up and wanted a new one. The same thing happens with notebooks, but people keep the old ones ‘just in case’, and before long there is a pile of half-full notebooks.

If you use physical notebooks, avoid buying them in packs unless you work at a company or school.

You can also consider using apps and take notes electronically, but this option isn’t for everyone. I’m a pen and paper person myself as the notes stick in my mind easier and I get more creative. 

Celebration cards

Recently, I recycled piles of these after discovering boxes full in the attic, some with names of people I no longer knew.

Cards multiply very fast because we appreciate the words that people write inside them, or people pass away and we can’t bear to throw away their handwriting.

When it comes to cards, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a select few  (I keep some beautiful and thoughtful ones in a photo album), but be sure to recycle the ones that just say ‘to’ and ‘from’, or from people you no longer recognise. You can also take photos of old cards and do away with the physical copy. 

Invitations

I once kept a hoard of old invitations in my bedroom drawer. They were so pretty and I was so honoured to have been invited to events that I kept them as a reminder. Ultimately, however, all I was keeping was junk and they got in the way.

A great event will stick in your memory so there’s no reason to keep an invite. But if there’s one you simply can’t get rid of, you could always place it into a photo album or a memory box. 

Newspapers

There’s no reason at all to keep newspapers unless there’s something valuable to you inside it. Even then, you should cut such a thing out rather than keep the whole thing. Nowadays, the same information is available online so it’s highly unlikely you’ll miss out by recycling. 

Magazines

Magazines cost more money than a newspaper, are eye-catching, and over-spilling with information. It’s no wonder that we find it so hard to throw away old magazines in case there is something great inside that we’ll never be able to read again.

But do you really ever go back and read that old information? I doubt it.

That being said, you can cut out the stuff that really interests you and recycle the rest. If it’s a collectable series, however, you can buy magazine binders which will make them beautifully presentable and read like a giant book. I took the latter option for my ‘Writers’ Forum’ collection. 

Junk Mail

Unless you’re genuinely interested in an advert or service, trash it as soon as it enters your home. Be fast and ruthless. 

Receipts

These end up yellowing in drawers and wallets until they become invisible. Bin old receipts, and better yet, if a shop offers you a digital receipt, opt for that, instead. 

Bills

Out of a sense of security we keep old paperwork and old bills, but more often than not, we don’t need them and they pile up into a miniature towers. It’s so simple today to scan and digitise anything you’re unsure of, or even to go paperless with companies.So ditch any old paperwork unless it’s very important. 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Keyrings

These get bought as gifts and holiday souvenirs more than anything else. But they’re so common as gifts we can end up with a whole haul.

Just a few weeks ago, I was travelling with a mass of about six keyrings on my house key, yet didn’t even notice until my husband stopped me before leaving for work and asked “Emma, why on Earth are you carrying such a heavy mass of keyrings for one bloody key?”. I didn’t know, either. Somehow, they had become invisible to me.

Once I realised the absurdity of it, I chose two favourites and used one to identify my house key, and another to give my bag some character. I donated the rest. 

Cables

Eventually, cables end up making a mini jungle. In today’s tech heavy world we own so many devices and all the cables and spares that come with them. Sometimes, we think we lose cables so end up buying even more, only to find the old one but keeping them ‘just in case’.

Years of this will not only make specific cables or parts hard to find, but you will end up with ancient, mysterious ones which are no longer relevant to anything you own.

As a gamer and a previous gadget addict, I have been to cable hell and back, once discarding of about three large carrier bags of unknown cables and ten USB leads. I’d say it’s fine to keep one spare, but any more than that and you’ll be lost in the cable jungle before you know it. 

Photo by Nick Dietrich on Unsplash

Batteries

Batteries end up all over the house or breeding in the ‘junk drawer’, especially if you have kids. Old batteries can explode or leak battery acid if they aren’t stored correctly, and can eventually drain of their power. Not to mention, they are extremely hazardous for small children.

Only keep the batteries you need and don’t bother holding on to any mystery batteries that don’t seem to fit into any device you own.  

Toiletries

Old half-full bottles of shampoo, freebies, Lynx gift sets and other toiletries will take over your bathroom if you don’t throw the old stuff away. If you have unused gifts, consider either using them before you buy more of a similar product, regifting or donating them. 

Medicine

Seasons come and go, and with them, coughs, colds and other ailments. One thing I’ve noticed with medicine cabinets is that nobody tends to throw old medicine away, keeping them ‘just in case’. Yet more medicine gets stockpiled every month or so until we are prepared for an apocalypse.

So, whenever you acquire new medication, discard of any old ones – it’s not healthy to have old medicine anyway, and they can also lose effectiveness over time. 

Makeup

Like with medicine, new makeup gets added but the old tends to stay in the back of the drawer. Always throw away old makeup because it’s the perfect hangout for bacteria. 

Mugs

People buy new mugs yet still hold on to scratched or chipped mugs ‘just in case’. People also like to prepare for huge tea parties that never happen, so every cup is a keeper.

Cups and mugs enter the home as gifts at various times of the year, as holiday souvenirs and as classy new kitchenware, and over time they fill every cupboard and end up stacked haphazardly.

Only keep the mugs you use and never keep scratched or chipped mugs because bacteria will thrive in them. 

Drinking glasses

These are another thing which enter the home as gifts, souvenirs and new kitchenware. I’ve seen families of three and four with enough glasses to host a party of a hundred, yet only a handful of them are ever used. Consider donating or recycling unused glassware. 

I’m sure I will have missed a category or two out, but as long as you keep an eye on most of the stuff mentioned above, you will have a fighting chance to keep your home calm and clutter-free.

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash

Next week, watch out for ‘living with another person’s clutter’.


Decluttering Your Attic

This week I’m taking you to a dark place in the decluttering process: the attic.

There may be several reasons you want to declutter the attic: you might want to let go of the past, you might dread going up there every time you need something, like my mum, you might feel that you’ll be too old one day to access your stuff. Or perhaps you just want the satisfaction of a nice airy space above your head.

Whatever your reasons for tackling the attic, they’re one of the most terrifying places to start the decluttering process, and not just because of the cobwebs and spiders. The attic should be the last place you declutter because, for many, it’s such a monumental task that it can drain all motivation before you even start. Just looking at years of accumulated boxes, mystery bags, and cramped walkways is enough to make most people retreat back down the ladder and vow never to look at it again.  Attics also tend to be full of emotional and sentimental objects, including those from loved ones who have passed. Items like these will need significant time to evaluate, which is another reason this room should be dealt with last.

Because attics can be so claustrophobic, and it can be difficult to know where to start, I recommend starting with one corner and bringing the contents down to be sorted through immediately. Notice I didn’t say ‘later’ because the temptation will be to just ‘pop it into the storage room for now’. And ‘now’ becomes days, becomes weeks, becomes years, until your spare room has become a second attic. This is because dumping clutter into one spot tends to act as a magnet and attract even more clutter. Therefore, it’s imperative that you sort the attic bit by bit, just like every other room, but quick enough that it doesn’t become a pile of procrastination.  

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

So what kind of stuff do you usually find in an attic?

  • Festive Decorations
  • Photo albums
  • Old journals
  • Baby and kids toys
  • Old school work or art from yourself or your child
  • Old books
  • Bags of cables
  • Objects that never got used eg.old workout equipment
  • Old furniture
  • CD’s, DVD’s and videogame paraphernalia
  • Family heirlooms and sentimental objects
  • Unwanted gifts
  • Rolls of leftover carpet or wallpaper
  • Old clothes
  • Suitcases

First things first, lets deal with the most common stuff.

Photo albums

I could go right ahead and say that these days everything is digital, but I am a minimalist who loves to flick through a good physical album, so I’m not about to tell you to scan your photos and bin the rest (unless you feel that would be best for you).

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably got a stack of photo albums boxed up, some of them not even completely filled.

To minimise a physical photo collection, invest in a high-quality photo album which holds as many photos as possible, then sort through your collection in chronological order. To free up even more space, feel free to discard of duplicates or those which didn’t turn out very well. How many photos you have will determine the time it will take, but in the end you’ll find that you’ll be down to just one or two high-capacity albums and can donate or recycle the rest.

If you still intend to keep your photos in the attic, be sure to store them in an acid-free storage container which can withstand extreme cold, damp and heat.  

Old furniture

Furniture, especially wood or fabric, won’t keep well in attic environment and is vulnerable to mould and mildew. Dismantle and recycle old furniture which isn’t looking so great, and sell or donate pieces which are still in tip-top condition. If they’re in the attic in the first place, let’s face it, it wasn’t likely you were going to use them at any time in the near future.

But what if that dresser belonged to your dearly departed grandma? In that case, have a long, deep think about what it really means to you. Is it doing any service to you in the dark confines of the attic, never to see another sock or trinket ever again? If the answer is no, and you’re never going to use it, think: was my grandma personified by this dresser or was she a human being who lit up my world for who she was? If the answer is no, take a photo of it and donate it to someone who will love it just as much.

If, on the other hand, you have great memories attached to said dresser, it makes you smile and you can’t bear to part with it, consider replacing a piece of your own furniture with it. And if you have trouble blending it in with your current decor you could even repaint it, breathing new life into an much-loved piece.

Whatever you decide, don’t keep it up in the attic where it will be subject to the extremes in temperature and humidity. It’ll only lead to guilt and upset when you go back to find it damaged.

Festive Decorations

Festive decorations, whether it be for Christmas or some other holiday can mysteriously grow in size over the years. Before you know it, you’re bringing down bags and boxes every year with no idea which decoration is in each. Every Christmas I would just rifle through my lucky bags of tinsel, baubles and other Christmas themed trinkets, some broken and some yellowed with age.

Empty out all your decorations and only keep the ones you consistently use every year. If you add any new ones to your collection then remove an older one. By doing this you will pare down your decorations and keep them at a consistently manageable amount.

Baby and kids toys

If you don’t have children you can skip this part, but if you do have kids, it’s inevitable you will end up storing outgrown toys, books, and perhaps their cot and old baby clothes. There’s a myriad of reasons you might do this including ‘saving them for baby number 2’, or being unable to let go of their babyhood, although the latter is harder to admit.  It happens, and it’s completely normal.

The thing to remember is that children grow up and you want to enjoy them as they are in the present rather than clinging onto objects from the past. The years are fleeting and are gone before you know it, and those old baby clothes and toys will get damp in the attic when they could be serving a less fortunate family.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping one or two things from that period in their lives (I have a beautiful baby memory box with the special things in which are warming to go back to). A potential issue arises when you are keeping a hoard of their old stuff which they have no chance of returning to. Just as your value as a human being is not tied to your stuff, your child’s true essence is,ultimately, in their personality, actions and love for you.

If, however, you’re keeping the stuff for another child, you’re best not to keep these things in the attic unless they’re tightly sealed in an acid-free container which has no chance of damaging the contents.

Photo by Lauren Lulu Taylor on Unsplash

Old school work or art from yourself or your child

I used to keep every bit of my old schoolwork in several boxes. I rarely looked back on it but it was there because I was clinging to that painful part of my life. I liked to look back on the praise I had got from teachers because I had such low self esteem, and I liked to imagine a happier school life and what I would do differently.  More on this part of my story here: https://minimalistmojo.blog/2019/02/04/anchors-of-the-past-my-hoarding-story-and-how-i-woke-up-to-my-mess/

If you’re keeping old pieces of your own work, keep only one or two pieces which really mean something to you, otherwise just let it all go. I guarantee you won’t miss any of what you do let go, but you will appreciate the lightness, especially if it was linked to unpleasant memories or being used to fill a void.

When it comes to your child’s schoolwork (if you have children), keep a few meaningful pieces or curate it all into a scrapbook for pleasant viewing. I recently bought my child a scrapbook and printed a personalised cover for him and he loves it. When they get older you can ask your child which pieces they want to keep and then arrange them into a beautiful, personalised scrapbook which they can browse at their leisure or show off to friends and family.

When special pieces of work are kept in a beautifully presented way, they don’t even have to be kept in the attic and can be kept on a bookshelf, in a cupboard or in your child’s room. As always, if you choose to keep it in your attic, keep it in an acid-free storage box just like you would with photos.

Objects that never get used eg.old workout equipment

You know the kids of stuff I’m talking about here: those weights you kept ‘just in case’ you decided to work out, that guitar you’re saving for when you take those lessons you will get around to ‘someday’.

Here we are again with the ‘just in case’ words that derail every attempt at decluttering and simplicity. If such items are in the attic, the chances are extremely high that they will still be there for the next generation to sort out after you’re gone. Such items are kept for the ‘dream version’ of yourself (which we all have to some degree) and quite often doesn’t align with who you really are. I kept my work out clothes for a few years, seeing a version of myself jogging through my neighbourhood with headphones on and my running trainers pounding the pavement as I got fitter and fitter. It never transpired, and I realised that with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, it wasn’t viable for me. I’m not saying it’s not doable for anyone else with a chronic condition, but for me, personally, that vision didn’t align with the gentle pace I have set for my body.

Do away with anything you’re keeping from the you in an alternate reality and breathe in the space for the person you really are.

Unwanted gifts

I know how hard it is, when you receive a gift and feel too guilty to get rid of it so you keep it on display for a while then stow it away in the attic.

By storing unwanted gifts you are storing negative emotions including guilt and obligation. In most cases, the giver wouldn’t want you to feel this way, and it’s mostly in our minds. If you know that the giver would be offended, it might take some more careful consideration and some gentle words, but you should never be forced to keep something which doesn’t add value to your life. People who are easily offended when it comes to gift giving may well have issues with showing their emotions and attach their feelings to the stuff they give and receive, so do be sensitive and mindful about the process if you’re in that kind of situation.

Otherwise, lift the burden by regifting to someone you know will love it, or by donating to a charity for the less fortunate.  

CD’s, DVD’s and videogame paraphernalia

This kind of stuff, particularly discs, will not do well in an attic. For starters, discs eventually get what’s known as disc rot, and will eventually cease to play. Being stored in an attic speeds up the process as I discovered when I looked at some of my old PSOne games. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-dvd-rot-1845719

Electronics that are of value to you shouldn’t be stored in an attic if you can help it due to the extremes in temperatures. Recently I decluttered my gaming room https://minimalistmojo.blog/2019/04/04/how-i-minimised-my-gaming-room/ and that gave me the space to bring down and display my beloved Sega Mastersystem II.

If you don’t have any such space, and you know you rarely access or even love the item ,then sell it on or donate it. Otherwise, invest in decent storage that will protect it in a harsh environment.

Old clothes and books

Over time, in an attic, clothes will get damp and grow mildew, and books will rapidly yellow.

Last year I came across some bin liners of old quilts and maternity clothes, and they weren’t in any fit condition to be donated. Not only were they damp, they stunk. Even the seasonal clothes I had been keeping in plastic containers had a funky smell to them.

For that reason I suggest you keep seasonal clothes on top of your wardrobe in a wicker storage box or under your bed. And for any clothes you’re keeping for the ‘alternate reality you’, don’t. Just get rid.

As for books, if you’re keeping them in the attic, you’re not likely to ever read them and they will quickly degrade if not stored in an acid-free container. Books are there to be read, to impart knowledge and entertain, and they aren’t doing much of that in your attic – donate them.

Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash

I could go on with the many other categories of stuff you find in an attic, but some, like sentimental items and heirlooms, deserve their own post.

The benefits of decluttering an attic are whatever you make it. You can revel in the newly created space, relax in the knowledge that your family won’t have to deal with it all when you’re gone, feel the lightness as you live for the future, and enjoy accessing your treasures.  If you wanted to and you had the money, you could even convert your attic into a study or a spare bedroom for guests.

I hope this post has given you the boost you needed to climb that ladder and come back down it a lighter person. As always, if there’s anything you want to ask, please drop me a message in the comments session. In my next post, I will be talking about dealing with sentimental items.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash


Curating your Kitchen

Kitchens tend to be one of the most clutter-filled rooms in people’s homes. They should be a pleasant space to cook and make drinks; instead, they end up as stress hotspots with rammed drawers, bursting cupboards and barely any space for food prep.

But how and why do our kitchens end up so cluttered in the first place? The answer is simple: unneeded cumbersome appliances, barely used cookware, clones of accessories, an excess of silverware, food or condiments you rarely access, and an overwhelming amount of cleaning supplies.


Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

So much clutter in the kitchen can make mealtimes into a nightmare and make you much more likely to spend money eating out or ordering takeaways. It’s hard to find what you need, hard to access what you use the most, and hard to decide what to cook. Deciding what to cook is an extremely common issue with couples and families, but most people don’t consider that it might be due to decision fatigue and the stress of an overbearing kitchen. To jump-start you in reclaiming back a harmonious space you can’t wait to get cooking in, let’s start off with the simplest place: surfaces.

Surfaces in a kitchen should be spacious with as little clutter as possible as they are used for serving and preparing food, and can even be used to host a spread at parties. Lots of surface clutter is also hard to clean under, so could be harbouring more grime and bacteria than you care to imagine. Things you may want to consider removing are:

  • Breadbin -bread can be stored in a carefully curated cupboard.
  • Tea and coffee caddies – teabags, coffee and sugar can also be stowed away in a cupboard in their original packaging.
  • Keys, notebooks and pens should never grace a kitchen work surface. Instead, invest in a nice wipeable board for the wall, and hang keys up in the hall or keep them in your bag.
  • Recipe books or folders – Keep just one and store in a cupboard where it is easily accessible.
  • Medicines-These should never be kept out on a surface and should be kept locked up in a suitable container, but I’ve encountered exposed pills and bottles many times. Due to fluctuating temperatures in the kitchen, medicines are perhaps best kept in a lockable bathroom cabinet.
  • Hair products – Believe it or not, I’ve come across hair and beauty products being kept in the kitchen. For hygiene reasons, keep styling and beauty products in the bathroom or bedroom.

Things that are fine to keep on the surface include kettle, microwave, and toaster. Although, I could argue that if you have a grill, you could easily get by without a toaster. If, like me, you’re prone to forgetting that you have food under the grill , by all means keep it. Your most used appliances will depend on yours and your family’s personal preferences.

“Are you mad?! I can’t possibly stow any more in my cupboards!”, I hear you panic. If that’s the case for you; you could be pleasantly surprised or even flat-out shocked by how much you’re keeping in your cupboards that you don’t need. Once you’ve cleared your surfaces as much as possible, it’s time to evaluate everything behind those doors and become ruthless.

Clear out:

  • Outdated food, spices and condiments (goes without saying).
  • Food you don’t think you’ll ever touch but has a long sell by date – donate to a food bank. There’s much less fortunate people out there who could be delighted by your unopened, unused consumables.
  • Ingredients you swore you’d get round to using ‘someday’ but are still waiting for that day to arrive.
  • Unused appliances that haven’t been touched for over a year. Things like toastie makers, and novelty appliances made to save you time that only end up taking space.
  • The partyware that comes out once every few years – that includes cake stands, paper plates, plastic cutlery and beakers etc.
  • Cups and glasses which are rarely used, if ever. Think: How many cups and glasses do you really need? Consider how many people are in your household and how many visitors you entertain at any one time. And do you really need a glass for every type of alcoholic beverage? Too many of us keep enough to host our own mini-bar and cafe, and as a result we run out of space.
  • Plates and cookware. Evaluate what you use the most and how many plates you really need for your household. For sentimental crockery that you don’t like to use, either start using it for its intended purpose, or display across a wall. Get rid of old pots and pans if you have since acquired new. If you have a tonne of baking equipment, think about how often you use it and for what.
  • Cleaning supplies: you’ve probably got spray polish, bleach, a dozen cloths, furniture spray and just about everything you can think of under your sink for every probable scenario. Just like with bathrooms, whittle down your supplies and seek all-in-1 solutions that can do just about every job. You might want to consider using all natural products which are less harmful for the environment, safer if you have kids or pets, cheap, and easily concocted 1.

Lastly, we get to the drawers. When you get to editing your drawers, it might be easier to dump everything out and go through everything piece by piece. Kitchen drawers can be nightmarish to rifle through the dozens of spatulas, speciality knives, cutlery, medicine spoons, bottle openers, cheese graters, pizza cutters, ladles, corkscrews, and every utensil in the cooking world. This is because when people buy new cutlery, they tend to keep the old ‘just in case’, or buy a duplicate because the original was hiding beneath clutter. It’s also too easy bend to the mindset of ‘I spent good money on that’ – cookware can be costly, after all. But, if you’ve been reading my posts up to this point, you already know that is a dangerous and limiting mindset that ensures we remain trapped and weighed down by our possessions. Realise that you’ve had your use out of the object (or that you made a mistake)  and either let it go or donate it. Remember: things rarely hold their monetary value, especially once used. And even if there is something of value – if you don’t use it, your time and space is far more valuable.


Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash

As with most other rooms that get minimised, one of the immediate benefits you will notice is how effortless cleaning is. And once you know where everything is and exactly what you own,  you will likely feel more inclined to meal prep, and therefore, become healthier and calmer. With space to be more creative, you might even discover a new joy for cooking.

How I Minimised My Gaming Room

It’s been a busy week – one of selling my excess on Ebay and frantically going and back and forth to the post office. This is a direct result of purging the excess that was in the gaming room,and the attic. Despite this post being about decluttering games, I can assure you that it applies to anyone with any hobby that involves collectables. I recognise that there are minimalists out there who list gaming as one of the many time sinks alongside Netflix and social media, but I believe that as long as your hobby is intentional and brings true value to your life, there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’ve always had a passion for gaming, so I had a grand library of games and figures permanently on display. Even though I thought I had already sold or donated the ones that no longer held value to me, I recently had another look around at my collection. Beautiful and organised, but still too much.

There were more games that I could never hope to play in a lifetime, and it wasn’t all adding value to my life like I had originally thought. You see, I’m not perfect, but the more stuff I purge on my journey, the easier I am able to see the things that don’t matter.  

I came across games I hadn’t touched in years, games I had bought years ago for the sake of collecting, games I already owned digitally, and games that I owned improved versions of. There were also figurines that had long since been out-favourited, and a few shelves of CD’s I hadn’t opened in years. So, I went through the usual process of evaluating every object, and as I went along I started pulling things out and piling them against the wall where it eventually formed a mountain.Then I did something that my old self would have found abhorrent just a few short weeks ago – I put all of my treasured CD’s and their booklets into a CD binder, and threw all of the cases away; even the ones I’d had since I was a teenager. One might argue that there’s no point in keeping CD’s at all in an age where everything is digital: that’s down to you to decide. But I will say this: if one of the services ever went down or one of the companies decided to revoke licensing for any of the tracks, I still have access to my favourites on those discs. It also prevents me from repurchasing songs if I can’t find them on Spotify.

A curated shelf in the gaming room

Going back to my mountainous sell pile; it was astonishing to think of the weight these items were adding to my life, both physically and metaphorically. All of them had been sitting on shelves collecting dust, or hibernating in storage boxes never to grace another surface again.

Through further minimising the gaming room, not only did I find myself not needing my CD tower anymore, I made a nice amount of cash out of the items which were worth a significant amount. Cash which I’m learning to be mindful about. While on the subject of money, I’d just like to remind you not to get caught in the trap of keeping things due to a made-up monetary value in your mind. Do your research, and if it’s not worth the effort to sell it, donate, instead. Let go of the guilt of spending money from years in the past and make a new start, today.

Since freeing up all that extra space I’ve been able to display things which do mean a lot to me, that I had no space for before. Things like my Sega Mastersystem II which has a lot of happy memories attached and makes me smile whenever I see it. After all, why should my treasures have been collecting cobwebs in the cold, dark attic, while superfluous things took the spotlight? There may come a day when I decide I no longer need half the stuff that I find valuable to me now. And that’s OK. Because when it comes to letting go I will be ready and,hopefully, so will you.

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Reclaiming Power For Your Future Self

While decluttering and pursuing minimalism, you may notice that you think about your stuff more than you ever did before. Not only do you find yourself evaluating every object in your home, but when you go shopping, you’re hyper aware of everything in your basket and turn the willpower up to max. But it’s only temporary -you’re aiming for your future self to live a much simpler and more serene life by doing the hardest work in the present. The mindful shopping will become far more natural over time and the decision making will become faster and faster until it’s almost instant. Depending on your mindset and circumstances, it can take a few months to a couple of years to reach a state you’re happy with. Once you’ve reached that state, all you need to do is remain mindful of future purchases and stay vigilant with the things which enter your home, be it junk mail, takeaway menus, paperwork or a new set of knives. Today, for example, I bought a new bag, but I did this with the bag in mind that I was going to get rid of. In fact, when I brought it home, I ended up purging two bags in its place. I always aim to do this for every new thing that I purchase; books, clothes, shoes, and recently, my video games.

As time goes on, I find myself purging more and more stuff that no longer complements my lifestyle, but sometimes it can be difficult and take a significant amount of time to let certain things go. Quite often, these are objects with an aura of sentimentality or gift status attached. Such decisions often require a plentiful reserve of emotional energy and inner calm, but it is amazing how once the decision has been made, said object will usually lose the hold of guilt or nostalgia it had over me.


Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

With perseverance and a calm mind, you too, can reclaim that power and one be step closer to a freer, happier, more mindful you.


Making Space to Live: Clutter and Living Rooms

What do you see when you imagine a living room? Most likely, you think of an organised and stress free room for being with family and entertaining guests. A place to put your feet up, make memories with the ones you love, and not have to be tidying every five minutes. Yet living rooms are usually the one room people overwhelmed by clutter most want to do something about. Magazines, letters, kids homework, books, kids toys, DVD’s, games consoles, spare cables, shoes, trinkets and photos, are all stuff which tend to take over most living rooms. And with so many things, there’s usually many pieces of furniture to accommodate it all, leaving little space for living.  Quite often magazines, books, letters and small miscellaneous items such a toys or pens end up strewn all over the coffee and dining table, so it becomes a like a game of chess, negotiating your next move so that you can place your cup down or make space to eat.

However, before you read any further in this post, I want you to think once again about why you are minimising. I’ve listened to so many people rejoice in having tidied their living spaces, only to throw their arms up in despair when they’re back to the same old mess in the space of a week. “I give up!”, they say. “It’s a waste of time and energy!”. This is because people tend to tidy and organise, but don’t confront the main issue: too much stuff. Precious spare time gets spent on cleaning under and around objects, maintaining them, and tidying up again and again and again. Meanwhile, invitations and other more fulfilling endeavours get turned down because things inside the home end up taking priority.

Think about what it is you want from your living space? What does it mean to you? What value will the increase in space provide to you?  Why have you been holding on to the objects that keep taking over your space? Without answering these questions, you’re likely to end up throwing your arms up in despair once again as your space gets taken back over.

Back when I was renting a house,  I used to have several consoles hooked up and video games displayed in the TV unit -there was nowhere else for them to go.  I had a bookcase which was so full of books, the books started acting as a shelf for more books, and so many DVDs and Blu-rays that I ran out of space. Yet I rarely watched or played any of them. My window ledges were lined with too many photos and candles. Cleaning took forever because I had to move and manoeuver under and around all the stuff I owned. The one place that was always clear, though, was the dining table, because as an adult I’ve always strongly believed that families should be able to come together to eat. Growing up, the only time my own family tended to use the dining table to eat together was at Christmas;the rest of the time everyone would just gather around the TV and sit on the sofa to eat.  As you know, before I was forced to confront my hoarding, everything was rammed into drawers and cupboards – anywhere that was out of sight. I started to clear up my act but hadn’t yet discovered minimalism, and as a result, I still had far too much stuff. That much became apparent when my family moved from renting to owning our own home.

When we bought our home we entered into the unique situation of cohabiting with my parents. So that everyone continued to have their own space, we had a 2 storey extension built which would be our living room and bedroom. Those rooms now occupy where the side of the house where the garden sheds used to be, so as you can imagine, they are long and very narrow. At the time, all our excess belongings were being stored in the attic until we had furnished the rooms. Where on Earth would I put all of this stuff?

When I was searching for new furniture for our living room, I saw so many photos and showrooms of beautiful living spaces, and I always thought ‘Why can’t mine be like that?’. I’d gaze at the photos or walk around the showrooms and imagine myself totally relaxed on the sofa with a book in my hand, and with a clear mind, then I’d look at all my unpacked books, DVD’s and trinkets and come back to reality, thinking,  ‘It’s for show, of course it isn’t realistic, my living room’s too narrow, and it’ll never fit all my stuff’. I was wrong.

My problem was, I was more focused on the decor and on the furniture pieces themselves, than on the real reason these rooms were so appealing; the airy amount of space that was being showcased. Dressers with nothing on them except for a small lamp, coffee tables with a single decorative piece or nothing on at all, a bookcase with just a few books which were shown off by carefully selected ornaments. The rooms were completely clutter free.

It took me so long to figure out that simple concept because I was still so attached to my things that I couldn’t imagine being without any of it. While I’d successfully cleared out the relics of my childhood, I couldn’t imagine my shelves and surfaces being completely clear of all the mugs, soft toys, books, DVD’s, gothic figures, candles, and Disney snow globes that lined them. And it was horrific for me to even think about parting with any of my books. All I could think was  ‘I need a bigger room so that I can get more furniture to space my things out more’. I was stuck in a consumerist trap, looking to buy the illusion of more space instead of create it.

It was while I was researching the best way to organise my stuff yet again, that I discovered the term ‘minimalism’. Fascinated and delving further into it, I came across a whole plethora of books, websites and groups dedicated to this way of living. Excited and intrigued to discover that there was a much simpler and fulfilling life to be lived, it wasn’t long before I found myself filling up bag after bag with stuff for the charity shop. I didn’t need all those candles and every single photo on display. Nor did I need the sheer amount of books I was keeping, most of them yellowed with age. That familiar feeling of weight lifting from my shoulders, of being able to breathe like I’d never breathed before was immensely exhilarating. And I found that the more I donated, the more stuff I realised I didn’t need.

At first, that set of statuettes on your window ledge may not seem like clutter. But when held in the hand and evaluated, you realise that not only do they not match your current theme, you bought them on a whim in an ‘end of year’ sale. Those books which are using the books below them as a shelf: how many of them have you read? Did you enjoy them and will you really read all of them again? You can enjoy a great sense of accomplishment by donating books you won’t read, or books that are pre-loved so that somebody else can enjoy them. I found that by donating so many of my books, I was actually reading more than I’d ever done with three shelves full. Now I only keep the books I will read again that added something special to my life. The rest I either buy on Kindle or do the ‘one in one out’ method where if buy a book I get rid of an older one or I donate it when I’m finished. It’s the same story for DVD’s. In an age where most movies are available digitally, do you really need five shelves crammed with them? When was the last time you put a disc into your machine? And do you intend to watch them again? If you do, and your joy comes from being a movie buff and showing off your collection, that’s totally fine. But if you said ‘someday’, realise that word is one of the top reasons people end up overwhelmed with their possessions. Magazines are another thing which can turn into unruly piles. You can get rid of old issues, but if there’s a series you can’t bear to part with you can buy magazine cord binders which will keep your collection pristine and like a giant book. I did just that with my Writers Forum collection, now it sits proudly on my bookshelf where I flip through for occasional bouts of inspiration.

Part of my living room. Since this photo was taken, I removed one of the photo frames on my room divider so that I was only displaying the photos most important to me and moved the nut bowl (which was being kept away from my dog).

Remember: minimalism isn’t about getting rid of the things you love, but about only keeping the things which add value to your life in the present day.

By going through every object in your living room, it’s possible you might end up not needing as much storage or as much furniture as you first thought.Through evaluating and donating so many of my possessions I was able to get rid of two large pieces of furniture which were being used for storage and display. Now, despite the living room being so narrow, there is plenty of airy space to relax, to be with family, to pursue hobbies, for my son to play, and to entertain guests. And there’s nothing I like more than to put my feet up at night, light a candle and read a good book. None of that would be possible if I still had all of my possessions from before. What’s more – cleaning and tidying is effortless and takes a third of the time it used to.

You may be wondering where the ‘how to’ guide is in this post. The truth is that living rooms are such personal spaces that it’s hard to write a specific ‘How and what to declutter’ guide. Walking into our living room, one can instantly tell that I love books, specifically books about writing. One can also instantly tell that we love our family and our space. It is my hope that you will come away from this post better equipped to think about what is truly important to you, and therefore, discover what isn’t. Only then can you make true and lasting progress.

In my next post, I will talk about the bedroom, and how to make it into a haven of peaceful sleep and relaxation.

Entrancing Entrances

How to declutter and create a welcoming entrance to your abode

When people first think about decluttering they automatically tend to think of the living room; the knick-knacks, newspapers, books, toys, mystery objects and paperwork left laying around. What people rarely mention is the hallway or entrance to their home. The entrance to your home is the first thing you see after a long, hard day, and the last thing you see after leaving. It makes an impression on everyone who walks through it, especially you.Therefore, your hallway or entrance should be one of the most welcoming places in the home, there to remind you that you will soon be able to put your feet up, be yourself, and spend time doing what matters. Walking into your home should be like a warm embrace, yet I’ve seen a lot of these spaces being used as open-storage for things which don’t otherwise have a place, or being overrun by eight coats and twenty pairs of shoes.

Hallways and entrances should only contain the things that you need for leaving home such as coats, shoes, hats and umbrellas. Of course, you can have decor which adds a vibe of your choosing- everyone has their own style. But there shouldn’t be an overabundance of clothing or objects.

Let’s talk about the issues with having too many coats and shoes. You and I both know, that such attire tends to take up a lot of space – so much, in fact, that when guests arrive, you just tell them to sling their coats over the stair post, or leave them draped on your dining chairs. Not to mention, each time you leave the front door you have to make a decision about what to wear, which takes precious time and energy.

Imagine walking into a spacious hallway with plenty of free coat hooks and space for guests to leave their shoes. The feeling of airy spaciousness and nothing for you to tidy when you walk through the door. Imagine being able to quickly made a decision about which coat and shoes to wear when you leave, no visual clutter stressing you out and no worrying about the impression on visitors. Relaxing, isn’t it?

So if you find yourself drowning in your hallway and rushing through it to escape the clutter,it’s time to take action. I realise that many people have issues with their families’ belongings when it comes to the decluttering process, but unless your significant other or family member is already on-board with the idea, just focus on your own stuff for now.

Firstly, take down all your coats and evaluate each of them. Ask yourself; how often do I wear this coat? Do I enjoy wearing it? Do I really need three different coats for a rainy day? If you struggle to get coats to match your outfits, the trick is to get a coat that is neutral and will go with most things you wear. It may even be worth checking your wardrobe for the clothes you wear the most (more about wardrobes and clothes in later posts).   

One of the best methods you can adopt when it comes to clothing is an ‘in with the new, out with the old’ philosophy. That way, when you buy a new pair of shoes or a new coat, you do so knowing that you intend to donate, sell, or trash the old one. Failure to follow that simple rule will ensure that you’re always drowning in decision making, tidying and searching. And nobody wants to live life like that.

Aside from coats and shoes, there’s another thing that tends to clutter up hallways and imbue a feeling of dread or procrastination  -paperwork and unopened mail. I’m not talking about the mail that simply lands on your mat as it comes through the letterbox, but the mail that is left to pile up in the next available space. Some people leave it lying around on hallway consoles and on window ledges so it is bugging them as they leave for work and greeting them with a ‘to do’ list as soon as they re-enter the home. My recommendation for mail, is to have a specific drawer, cupboard or folder where everything can be effortlessly accessed at a moments notice. “But I need a reminder to pay my bills”, you say. In that case, I recommend using a calendar, either physical or digital. Personally, I use a physical diary, preferring to cut down on the digital cacophony that has become part of modern life.  Everyone’s methods will be slightly different.

Lastly,  don’t leave kids toys, rogue bags, receipts or any other miscellaneous items hanging around your entrance. If anything is out of place, put it back where it belongs immediately, preferably before you even leave your home. That way, you know you’re leaving the place exactly as you want to return to it (unless, of course, you have messy family members, in which case, further posts about living with other people’s clutter might be for you).

But what about creating a relaxing vibe that you’ll always be happy to walk into? If you’re worried about things looking too sparse or are worried about other issues such as lighting, there are several things you can do:

You can’t go wrong with some healthy, homely greenery
  • Plants and greenery do wonders to spruce up any room, and having one or two in your hallway can make the environment feel fresh and airy.  You can also use a diffuser to ensure you are constantly greeted by a pleasant aroma of your choice, although you’ll want to keep them in a spot where they won’t get knocked over or explored by tiny hands.
  • Personalise with photos of friends and family, or give the walls some character with a few select pieces of art – don’t go overboard with this, however, as too much can make a room feel cluttered.
  • Furniture doesn’t have to be boring – for example, you can buy stylish and decorative umbrella stands for a very affordable price. Having an umbrella stand will also take away the temptation for people to leave wet umbrellas draining over the floor.
  • Think about lighting – a hallway struggling for light may benefit from a strategically placed mirror. Mirrors can also help make narrow spaces look a little wider. Failing that, a beautiful or stylish lamp can make a big difference. In my own home, we had the living room and kitchen doors replaced with glass panelled ones so that the light from those rooms would filter through.

The most important thing, however, is to treat the entrance to your home with love and respect. Doing so can and will make a big difference to your mood and your attitude to the rest of the house.

Next, I will be talking about how to declutter your living room and make the perfect respite for you and your guests.

If you have any questions or if there’s something I haven’t covered, feel free to leave a comment.