2020 was a pretty crazy year, and we’re all looking for a fresh start in 2021 – and that starts at home! We’ve been spending more time indoors than ever, so it’s no surprise if mess, clutter, dust and dirt have been a constant battle this year. A big clean and tidy is the perfect way to start the new year.
We’re not just talking about shoving stray items under the stairs or finally mopping up those Christmas wine stains – this is a top-to-toe revamp of your home.
That might sound daunting, but we’re here to make things easy and help you navigate the four stages of a total New Year refresh: decluttering, cleaning, organising and styling. Read on for our step-by-step guide to tidying away, cleaning out and styling up!
Piles of paperwork, bags and shoes where they shouldn’t be, ironing not put away. Sound familiar? This is partly due to our busy lifestyles and ineffective storage, but a major problem is having too much stuff to start with. To shorten time spent cleaning and create harmony in your home – and head – you need to thin out your stuff.
Take inspiration from the KonMari method, devised by renowned organising consultant, Marie Kondo, and declutter on the ‘spark joy’ principle. Kondo advises to choose what to keep by holding, feeling or wearing each item and if it doesn’t bring you joy, thank it and get rid of it. This is a cleansing process and it works, but it can take time.
For a quicker way to conquer the clutter, try the 12-12-12 Challenge. Find 12 items to throw away or recycle, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home. Make it fun and set up the challenge for each family member and you’ll blitz your space in no time.
If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with the ‘four-box system’. Label four big boxes ‘store’, ‘keep’, ‘donate’, ‘bin/recycle’, and get to work. Just don’t be tempted to ‘store’ too much, especially if you never use it or it’s not of sentimental value. Remember, you have to be ruthless at this stage. Once you’ve decluttered, stay in control by adopting the ‘one in, one out’ system, and be dedicated with this approach to prevent recluttering.
Clothes in particular can build up over the years, so once you’ve edited your wardrobe, keep it in order for the future by folding and ‘filing’ your clothes. Categorise by colour and season, and use boxes and baskets for smaller items.
The expert says…
‘If you’re fed up with looking at the same clothes in your wardrobe, hold a clothes swapping party with your friends. This is a great way to update your wardrobe without spending a penny and recycle all of your items.’
Rachel Burditt, owner of The Declutter Darling
Once the decluttering is done and dusted, it’s time to actually get dusting and get started on that deep clean! Don’t panic – it’s not essential to spend all weekend in rubber gloves to get your home in tip-top shape, but what does make cleaning much easier and faster is great tools for the job.
It’s worth investing in a good-quality vacuum cleaner (HEPA vacuums are fab as they catch particles you can’t even see), as well as a decent extendable spray mop and a multi-purpose microfibre cloth. When it comes to cleaning products, the choice is yours – whether it’s the latest ‘miracle’ potions or old-fashioned white vinegar – but we’re big fans of Zoflora, which can be used on pretty much anything and comes in a variety of refreshing scents.
If you’re unsure of which areas of the home to tackle first, make a checklist and prioritise. Here are a few of our guides to specific problem areas:
- Seven bathroom cleaning hacks using two natural ingredients
- How to deep clean your oven
- How to tackle each of the most stubborn household stains
- How to clean and maintain a leather sofa
And don’t forget those little cleaning jobs that are so important, but all too easy to forget!
Short on time? Then save the big jobs like cleaning the fridge and scrubbing the oven for a rainy day and concentrate on the large areas that are immediately visible such as windows, walls and tiles – a good wipe down of these often neglected areas will spruce up your space – benchtops, sinks, sofa covers and floors. Getting these areas gleaming will make the space sparkle on the surface and make you feel happier.
To stop the clutter creeping back in, you need to get organised and stay organised. How? Practical storage solutions:
- Boxes and baskets are your new best friends. If you can, repurpose items from around the home – shoe boxes, empty jars, pretty plates and trinket dishes can all become practical storage solutions.
- Labelling is an effective way to keep things in their place and for you to know what you’ve got and where it is.
- Colour coding is another go-to organisational method, and it’s a fun and visually pleasing way to get your things, particularly clothes, books and crockery, in order.
- Expandable drawer dividers are a must-have for organising small items, especially in that overflowing ‘junk’ drawer.
- Stackable racks inside cupboards can utilise wasted space, as can installing a shelf in the dead space above a door, and don’t forget how handy hooks can be.
- Use a ‘clutter box’ to quickly tidy away odds and ends, and make time to go through it at the end of each week
- Hang up a pinboard as a practical solution to get paperwork off the benchtop and onto the wall where it won’t be forgotten
Once you’ve got your storage sorted, take a few minutes each day to neatly put items back where they belong, and think of it as therapeutic as opposed to a chore. The only challenge now is to convince your family to do the same!
Styling your home for spring will not only revitalise your interior but it will give you a boost too. Luckily, we’ve got tons of ideas inspired by 2021 trends – check them out for our guides to using hot looks from global style to cottagecore.
Textiles are a budget-friendly way to create a fresh look for the new season. Pack away the heavy curtains and replace with soft, lightweight blinds or sheer drapes. The laid-back elegance of a voile panel will let in more sunlight and create a carefree vibe that’s perfect for the warmer months.
If your cushion covers are made from fabrics like velvet or suede, switch to a material such as cotton or canvas. A beautiful rug is an instant update that will transform the look of a room without the need to redecorate – here are our ideas for decorating with rugs.
Choose a statement design that expresses your personality. Tea towels and tablecloths are affordable buys that can change the look of your kitchen without any major commitment, and new glassware or crockery in bright colours or pretty pastel shades will lighten up your dining area.
The expert says…
‘Take the opportunity to create a seasonal display indoors. At the first sign of blossoming buds appearing on the hawthorn hedge and magnolia tree in my garden, I find a long stem to cut and display on my mantelpiece in a glass bottle vase or jug’ – Selina Lake, stylist and bestselling interiors author
For a more permanent makeover, use wallpaper and paint an accent door or even the window frames in an uplifting shade; be inspired by nature’s palette and pick a scheme that invigorates you. In the bedroom, replace woollen blankets and duvets with crisp white sheets and lightweight linen or cotton throws.
Decorative ornaments, vases, lampshades and wall art, are fun ways to update a space without making major alterations. Think glass instead of ceramic, lively bright colours and floral motifs for a real spring statement.
If flowers aren’t your thing, play with pattern or mix fresh neutrals with different textures. The most cost-effective way to give a room new energy is to move the furniture around. Even simple rearrangements will change the look and feel of the space and it costs absolutely nothing. And, it’s surprising how little touches like updating your coffee table books can make an impact on the overall look and feel of a room.