By Arwa Lodhi
For most, living in any big American or European city means living in a small space. Space is at such a premium in cities like London, that you can pay up to £14,000 per square metre in some areas! Apart from moving to the countryside, the only logical solution is to downsize your life in order to maximise your space. There’s simply no room for packrats in the likes of Rome, Paris or New York.
You don’t necessarily have to move to find new space for your family members and their belongings. Instead of spending time and money moving into another home, try these 5 Decluttering Tips to add space to your home.
1. Don’t Be A Pack Rat
This is the most obvious point, but one that most people overlook or procrastinate about – people, we need to downsize our stuff. We tend to hold on to old clothing, furniture, crockery…all kinds of stuff that we think we ‘may need one day’…but never do. That also goes for boxes of paperwork we all think we may need ‘just in case’. With regards to papers and receipts, check your country’s minimal legal requirements for keeping tax and other kinds of paperwork (usually 2-3 years), and toss out anything that’s older. If you’re like me and use a an online tax program (mainly for their no charge tax tools), then you can typically download a copy of your tax return directly from there.
As for your personal belongings, if you haven’t used an item within the last two years, you probably won’t use it again. I mean, how many handbags do you actually need? And what about that skiing equipment you bought but only used once in the past 5 years? Consider donating it to a local charity or selling it in a yard sale.
If you have some designer items that you need to get rid of, you can even sell them at consignment stores or online at sites like Vestaire Collective or Hardly Ever Worn It. What’s better than making a little money while clearing up some space in your home? Bonus: people who live more minimally tend to be happier. Yes, really! You can learn more about that here and get some tips for Zero Waste Living here.
2. Use Multi-Function Furniture With Storage Space
Even after getting rid of unwanted items, you may still have a tough time finding places to store all of your remaining stuff. Instead of stuffing your closets fuller, why not store your belongings in multi-function furniture? There’s a lot to choose from, including hollowed out ottomans, tables with built-in drawers and shelves, bed divans with built in drawers, and nested tables you can take apart when guests drop by. Can’t afford new furniture? You can still get tidy up on the cheap with things like multifunctional hangers, such as those pictured below, or by adding storage space to the back of doors and closets by screwing in some hooks, racks and pegs. It’s easy!
3. Don’t Overlook Potential Storage Spaces
Loads of great storage spaces are hiding in your home. Think: behind doors, under stairs, in nooks, behind bathtub panels – all of these places can be used to maximise your space through the use of shelves and hangers. Also consider adding a plank of wood across surfaces such as your washer/dryer to create more shelving. And speaking of shelving, don’t be afraid to stack up cupboards and shelves high – even if you can’t conveniently reach them, higher shelves are a great place to store things you rarely use.
Get more ideas here.
4. If Possible, Avoid Having Radiators & Heating Ducts
I know this is a weird one, but the radiators, as well as heating and cooling ducts installed behind your walls can take up a lot of room and block potential places for furniture and storage. Although they may look super cool in large, industrial warehouse spaces, if you’re planning to remodel a part of your smaller apartment or house, consider removing radiators and ducts altogether and installing a ductless heating and cooling system instead. You could add a lot of space buy installing underfloor heating, too – there will be no radiators to work around.
Bonus: in addition to saving space, a ductless heating and cooling system could help you save money, because instead of turning on a large HVAC system that serves every room in the house, you only need to run the heating or air conditioning in the rooms you use, as you use them.
5. Get Organized
Smart organization is essential to adding space to your home. Get creative when finding better ways to organize your belongings. If you don’t have much cabinet space in your kitchen, for example, you might want to move some of your food to jars, spice racks or baskets that hang on the wall. Secondly, ensure your shelves and closets maximize every inch of possible space by custom-making them to reach the ceiling. If that’s too hard or expensive, try using baskets on top of wardrobes, cupboards and closets for extra storage. Also note that ceiling and wall lights take up way less space than floor or table lamps – so ensure your lighting is tucked away in the walls rather than consuming floor space. And let’s talk about plants: they’re a great thing to have in the house, as they clean the air and look great. But the problem is that plants can take up an awful lot of shelf or floor space. Solution? Try hanging them from the ceiling instead, as in our main image. More tips for that can be found here.
There are dozens of creative ways to organize your home better, and no matter the size of your home, you can almost certainly find ways to add space without spending much money. The next time you feel frustrated because you can’t find a place to store an item, take a look at your home and think creatively about how you can add space – and better yet, think about what you really need – and don’t need. The answer may surprise you!
Pictures 3-9: BHG / All other images: Pixabay