If you’re having to self isolate, concerned about finances, working from home in an uncertain future it may help to focus on your home. After all, more time than ever is going to spent there. What can you do to improve your surroundings, with little cost, now you may have the time to do all those jobs you never got around to. To feel you have control over something in your life, clear out the clutter, clean, repair, making the most of what you already have, in readiness to move forward when life improves. It could be just the therapy you need.
Spring is a good time of the year to have a good clear out, sort out and clean. A ‘tidyish’ house is calming, easier to clean and helps the space appear larger. I say ‘tidyish’ because if you have a family you do not want to make everyone’s lives a misery by being anal about it, it’s a home too, but isn’t it a joy and surprise to find something (like scissors and sticky tape) where they are supposed to be, without wasting time and energy hunting for it, only to find it in some obscure place.
Lack of storage is the bane of most people’s lives, with some resorting to external storage companies. However, there are clever storage solutions to meet your needs. So when having a major clear out and tidy up have three bin bags or boxes in the room with you, one for items to be kept, one for charity or eBay and one for rubbish. This completed, you can then see what you are left with and consider what you need to store, the type of storage you require and how you would like it arranged. Take measurements of the space available for items to be purchased. Determine materials to satisfy your needs and budget.
Bedrooms -Built in wardrobes make maximum use of space. These need to be a minimum depth of 24″ or 60 cm and can include not only hanging space but drawers, shoe racks, trouser rails, all of which can be hidden behind doors, leaving the room tidy. Shelves can be added or pull out baskets for toys or books. There are many companies who offer this service, and are brilliant if you have awkward shaped ceilings or walls. Although reasonably priced, be prepared to pay a premium. A built in unit behind the bed, incorporating shelves for easy access to books and bedside tables (with drawers providing more storage) and high level cupboards for items less frequently used. Lighting inside a wardrobe is an asset, which must be wired by a professional. However, there are lights available from the high street which can be stuck onto the inside of cupboards (run by batteries) and automatically switch off when the door is closed. Provide user friendly storage whereby the toys are easily accessible, making it easier for them to be put away. A storage box or basket is ideal for soft toys, but terrible for Lego! Teenagers are the biggest challenge as living in a disorganized tip seems to be par for the course. Science experiments growing in cups under beds, stray socks all gathering dust. Get their input (if you can) on their individual storage problems and how best to resolve them.
Kitchens – The hub of the household where most congregate, and used as a dumping ground for post, newspapers, coats slung over the backs of chairs (as it’s easier than hanging it up on an over crowded coat hook). Work surfaces and tables soon become the filling system, and everything has to be moved when the space is need for it’s intended use. If the kitchen doubles as an office with computer, designate an area just for this purpose. A small table with shelves above and filing drawers below, or a bureau which can be closed when not in use. Designation of space and storage is vital in a kitchen, cooking area, with everything in close proximity. Choose storage accordingly, drawers for pots and pans, utensils drawer, herbs and spices to hand instead shoved to the back of a cupboard. If you don’t have a utility room make an area for this, so as not to encroach on cooking. Place the washing machine and dryer together along a wall, install cupboards or shelves above for cleaning products and baskets, you may even have space to slide in your ironing board or have a drawer in which the ironing board pulls out when needed.All this can be enclosed behind sliding or folding doors when not in use.
Halls – Depending on your available space, try and keep a coat rack or cloaks cupboard for visitors coats, with the minimum of family everyday outer wear. Hang less worn coats and jackets in wardrobes. Likewise shoes, store less worn pairs in wardrobes or utility rooms. Place a small shelf or table for mail and keys.
Bathrooms – Vanity units with below basin storage (I favour drawers as this makes it easier to find things) if possible. But if you only have a pedestal basin and are short of floor space use the walls, hang cupboards or shelves. A chest of drawers can be put to good use, if you have space, or a tall slim cupboard 16 – 20″ or 40 – 50 cm deep is good for storing extra towels or linen, making the items easy to find. Vanity mirrored cabinets are great for medicines and items to be kept out of the reach of small children.Build a cupboard under the bath, making a bath panel door access, to store toilet rolls or bath toys. Again, if space is available a stool or bench seat with storage below.
Make your storage design to fit your needs, activities and lifestyle. It’s no good tidying something away which is in constant use, as the storage will not be used, despite your best intentions. Storage must be functional, and make use of every nook and cranny, alcoves, under the stairs etc. but do ensure that it is functional for it’s intended use.
Don’t forget your exterior space either, however small, there is always room for improvement. I love this storage idea for unsightly wheelie bins. if you’re handy, then perhaps one could be made from discarded pallets.
A lot of items can still be ordered online, and if money is tight now, spend the time planning for future projects. A home for everything, especially for you!