After much lolling on the sofa (so last year) I decided to take action and start my first major declutter of 2013. The kitchen seemed like a good place to start.
In one day I tackled crowded cupboards and a festering fridge. I emptied and cleaned every drawer and cupboard and made quick decisions about what to keep, skip, donate to charity or store somewhere else. I didn't relish the prospect of a day spent decluttering but I didn't want my kitchen to remain cluttered. I knew action was needed otherwise things would remain static. The reality of decluttering is that the job is never done but it does get easier each time and results can happen FAST.
The kitchen is a great place to start a decluttering project. Having a more organised and streamlined kitchen can greatly improve the quality of your daily life.
So here are my tried and tested tips for getting quick results when decluttering your kitchen.
Before you begin have a goal in mind. Are you decluterring because you're preparing for a house move or do you just want to free up some cupboard space? Could you give some of your unwanted items away to friends or a charity? Maybe you're looking to make money and you could unearth dormant items to sell at a car boot sale or on eBay? Ignore the state of your kitchen now and visualise what you would like it to look like when you've finished. Make sure you are in the right frame of mind - feeling positive and ready for a challenge is the perfect attitude for conquering clutter. Determination and having a goal in mind can help you to purge and be ruthless and will give you quick results. Don't see decluttering your house as one huge task – break it down into bite sized chunks: one room at a time or one cupboard at a time. This will keep you interested and motivated as you declutter.
Then prepare yourself. Get everything ready that you will need: bin liners, cleaning materials, step ladders and cardboard boxes. Most importantly make sure you have set aside enough time to get the job done.
Make your own rules
You don't have to declutter your whole kitchen in a day (it is physically tiring and emotionally draining so be warned). Maybe it's better to focus on one cupboard at a time and get that job done really well. If you've only got an hour or two to spare maybe you could just clear out your fridge and food cupboards and leave sorting your cooking implements and dinner sets for another session. It's up to you but decide how much you can realistically get done in the time you have available.
You don't have to get rid of too much either. Start gently if you have a lot of clutter. Simply emptying, cleaning and removing one or two items in a cupboard can make a big difference. Just by going through your cupboards you will be aware of what you own and can make decisions about more difficult items to give up another time.
Work quickly and to a set time limit
Now you've decided how much time you're going to spend decluttering and what you're going to tackle you're ready for action. Focus on the job in hand and avoid all other tasks such as washing and telephone calls. Take everything out of the area and give it a good clean. As you contemplate what to put back in this area try and make quick decisions – put back, bin, donate/sell or relocate. Consider which kitchen gadgets you actually use, how many condiments and food items you regularly use, which cleaning products you really need and try and lose a few. For those undecided items either put them into a maybe box (to label and look at again in a few months time) or decide to keep them for the time being. If you're not ready to make a tough decision leave it for another time. Sleep on it. You can easily get distracted when decluttering and waste time. It's best to stay focused and keep the process moving. To help yourself make quick decisions about each item ask yourself “When was the last time I used this item?” Consider if rarely used items really earn their keep in your kitchen. If it is used occasionally (and if it is large) could it be stored somewhere else such as in the loft?
Don't forget to plan in clearing up time. There is nothing worse than having to abandon your decluttering mess because you've run out of time and have to tidy it up the next day!
Have a critical eye
Remember one of the main aims of decluttering is to create space. Try and create some clear worktops and unadorned surfaces. Keeping worktops and your kitchen table clutter free will make mealtimes much easier. Consider the amount of visual clutter surrounding you. Does your fridge door need to be adorned with fridge magnets? Does your kitchen window sill have to be so crowded? Could your paperwork be stored in a box file? Imagine you are selling your house and remove items from sight that are not visually appealing. If you have a noticeboard, or use the fridge as one, edit down leaflets and reminders to those that are most relevant.
Try and make decluttering as pleasant a task as you can. Sip a cool drink or a refreshing cup of tea as you go along. Listen to your favourite music or radio show. If you need further motivation plan a treat for when you've finished such as lunch out, a read of your favourite magazine or a glass of wine. Keep your eye on the clock, avoid distractions, work hard and you'll be enjoying your reward in no time. If decluttering is making you feel anxious take a break to regroup. Or be kind to yourself and call it a day if you are not getting anywhere – you might simply not be in the right mood.
Enjoy organising and styling
Make your kitchen work for you. Decide to store your kitchen items in a logical manner. If your mugs aren't near the kettle move them to a nearer cupboard. Watch out for stray items that don't belong in your kitchen or in certain cupboards and relocate them. Try and keep related items in one area to make your kitchen easier to use and maintain.
Consider which items you really love in your kitchen and use them for display. Introduce a plant to your kitchen or a decorative item from another room to give the room a lift. Choosing what to display in your kitchen is fun and can make so much difference to the feel of the room. It is also up to you to decide on the balance between empty space and displaying decorative items. You will see from these photos that I like some bright touches (and birds) in my white kitchen but that's just my taste. Check out ideas on line and in magazines and see if there's a look that you could recreate.
Assess your work
When you have finished your decluttering take time to reflect on your achievements. Look around, open your tidy cupboards and appreciate your new calm, airy space. Delight in the items that you have decided to keep. Contemplate further reductions in the kitchen - could you live with even less? Are you less emotionally attached to stuff than before? Consider buying less impulse purchases in the future and possibly less groceries. Make plans to do more decluttering soon and encourage everyone in the household to keep the kitchen tidy on a daily basis.
Be proud of your achievements and the progress you've made. Have a well deserved rest and enjoy your new improved kitchen.
As I post this I'm just back from dropping off the debris of my decluttering at the recycling centre and my favourite charity shop (bin bags of rubbish, excess glasses, a pretty but unused milk jug and an unused garlic press). I'm feeling tired but lighter and happier. The greatest reward I get from decluttering is the daily pleasure of being able to find things and put things away easily. I don't love decluttering but I do love the results I get!
I would love to hear from you with your decluttering stories or queries. Happy decluttering!
Making Room (decluttering room by room), my new series, will be back soon when I have tackled the next room in my house. I hope you've enjoyed it. Now where's my glass of red?