When you feel like there’s not enough space at home, it can really drag you down. Moving house to somewhere bigger isn’t always an option, and neither is building an extension.
The only real solution is to take a harder line with what’s inside the house, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get rid of stuff. Possessions, in some ways, define us. They give us comfort, hold the key to cherished memories and come together to create the save haven we call home.
Except sometimes they start taking over. When that happens, it’s time to do something different.
Take a Minimalist Approach
We’re not talking about selling all your possessions and living in an empty room, but rather being stricter about what’s stored at home or kept on display.
Really, it’s about controlling all those little things that start out being loved and end up being clutter. Clearing cupboards, cabinets and surfaces has a clearing effect on the mind too, so the benefits aren’t all physical.
There are lots of tips around on how to achieve better mental health, and some of them are doable while a lot are out of the reach of many of us. Improving mental health by keeping a tidier home is something we can all do without too much effort.
Start with a small clearing project if you find it all a bit overwhelming. And there’s no such things as ‘too small’ either. If all you can face at first is the junk drawer everyone seems to have, go for it. Give yourself half an hour and make sure at the end of it, everything in the drawer is at least a useful piece of junk.
Achieving success with a small area is motivation and encouragement to tackle something a bit bigger. So maybe move on to kitchen cabinets, your wardrobe, the bathroom, or living room.
When you’re dealing with a multifunction room like a living room, it can help to mentally sort items into categories before you start:
Sort the books
Sort the video games
Throw out old magazines or junk mail
Go through the toy box
Empty the sideboard or cabinet drawers
It’s useful to have three different piles of ‘stuff’ as you’re working. One for good things to keep, one for broken things to toss, and one for the things you want but have nowhere to store or display.
Those items you don’t have room for, but which you love and want to keep, need somewhere else to live and a self storage room could be the answer. You can get locker-sized storage spaces as well as larger rooms so you can choose your storage unit according to your needs.
What’s important when you’re tidying up your home is to not move items from one room to another – unless they actually belong in a different room. That just shifts the problem rather than solving it.
Home Storage Ideas
Consider replacing some standard furnishings for ones with built-in storage.
You can have coffee and side tables with shelves or drawers, storage stools or decorative chests in the living room.
In the bedroom have beds with storage like divans or ottomans.
In the bathroom, if there’s space, fit a vanity unit round the sink or place a hanging rack on the back of the door if space is tight.
In kids’ rooms, fit more shelves at a height they can reach.
In wardrobes you can get extra space by doubling up your hangers with connectors, fitting a rail inside the door for your accessories, ties, or belts, and maybe installing one of those plastic drawer towers as extra space for folded items or smalls.
Follow the Seasonal Trend
There’s no rule that says all your possessions must fit inside your home at the same time. When the family home is small, having extra storage away from home makes perfect sense.
You can use a self storage room on a seasonal basis, rotating what’s kept in there according to the time of year. Doing this means you only have what you need inside the house at any one time of the year, and because self storage is everywhere it’s easy to go and fetch something if you happen to need it.
Dividing your possessions by season is quite instinctive, so it’s not too tough to get organised the first time. Sort your clothes into the seasons, putting away everything you know you won’t wear for a few months, such as winter coats and boots, heavy jumpers etc. Include other winter stuff, such as winter sports equipment, snow shovels, leaf blowers or vehicle protection items.
As the seasons change, switch things around. Bring home your winter gear and replace it with summer things, including your garden furnishings, barbecues, mowers, and other garden kit that fills up sheds and garages.
You can take the same approach with toys the kids no longer play with. It’s better than getting rid of them as there’s a good chance they’ll be wanted again sometime. But also, if you have younger children, you might want to save things to hand down.
Get Everyone to Help
Once you’ve got some space and control back by sorting out what you need and what you don’t, ask everyone at home to help keep it that way.
Little things can make big differences, such as having somewhere by the door to hang keys, so they don’t keep getting lost, or having a shoe rack in the hall so you’re not tripping over the kids’ trainers.
It takes a bit of effort for sure (and maybe even a tiny bit of nagging to start with), but hopefully everyone will enjoy having more space and do their bit to maintain the new status quo.