Functional furniture: helping your home work for you

If you’re struggling to find space in your home for all of your belongings, it might be time to declutter! But what happens when you’ve whittled everything down to what you need and you still can’t find enough space? Professional APDO Organiser Krista Thompson (Zen Den Oxford) is here with her top tips on buying functional furniture, to help your space work best for you.

Whether you’re on the market to replace an old piece of furniture or looking to add to your current collection, furniture shopping can be really exciting. Colours, trends and size are all really popular criteria when it comes to getting that perfect piece, but one thing that often gets overlooked is storage. With stores like IKEA at the forefront of practical design, other companies are beginning to see the importance of multi-functional furniture and we are a bit spoiled for choice.  So whether you’re struggling for shoe storage or can’t find anywhere to put the spare linens, check out the list below to see my recommendations.

Bedroom

Bed Storage: This probably seems like the most obvious one, but a bed that has drawers in it or lifts up to reveal storage space is key for things like spare bedding and seasonal clothes. Since this extra storage tends to be relatively small, it can be useful to use vacuum bags to make big piles of clothes a fraction of their size to fit better.

Loft/bunk Beds: These are usually more useful for children as you can have a whole desk and wardrobe area under the bed while still having enough space above to function, but if you have high ceilings and limited square footage this is a great solution. They are a huge space saver, especially in single box rooms and studio apartments where having a bed, wardrobe and desk would be too cramped.

Living Room

Coffee Table: A coffee table doesn’t have to be just four legs and a flat surface. In fact, a coffee table doesn’t have to be a coffee table at all. We bought a large wooden chest that we up-cycled which looks great in the space and holds all of our guest linens. If you have collections that you want to put on display, you can get a display table where your valuables can be seen under the glass, keeping your other surfaces clear.

A glass coffee table displaying a book collection

Ottoman/Footstool: There are so many options for ottomans and foot stools that have storage under the top. We store our table clothes, napkins and place-mats in ours, as we have a living-dining room combination without any built in storage. Other ideas might include seasonal decorations, spare candles or even kids toys.

TV Unit: This one may also seem a little obvious, but it’s very handy to have a TV unit that has a few drawers and cupboards. DVDs are on the decline and we’re starting to move towards streaming everything, but it’s still quite convenient to have a place where you can store your movies, video games and other electronics. We use ours for spare candles, board games and puzzles, which is perfect because we use them in the same room that we watch TV.

Office

Fold Up Desk: Whether or not you work from home, it is very handy to have a space in your home where you can accomplish your “life admin”. If you don’t have a space where you can pop a full sized desk, there are desks that drill into the wall and fold down into a small desk that can hold a laptop. When you’re finished, you can pop it back up and out of the way again. Just search “floating desk” or “foldaway desk” in your search engine to find the best one for you.

Entrance

Shoe Storage: Shoes seem to be one of the biggest struggles that we all have, and the tiny little wooden slatted shoe racks are not doing it for anyone who doesn’t live alone. One way to store your shoes while also hiding them in a classy way is using shoe cabinets. This conceals them, while also using very little space horizontally, allowing for more room to move around in a small entryway. The other useful thing about these is that you can pop a small tray on the top for keys and post. Another great piece of furniture for this purpose is a good sitting bench that has shoe storage under the cushion.

If you’re thinking about getting some new functional furniture, have a think about what it actually is that you need storing. Once you know how much storage you need, you’ll have a better idea of what functional piece works in your home. If you need help with this research, feel free to reach out to a Professional Organiser near you by using APDO’s Find an Organiser Page. If you’re looking for tips on how to organise the storage properly, check out our recent blog post on 5 top tips on making the most of your storage.

Author: Krista Thompson, APDO Blog Manager (Zen Den Oxford)

 

APDO Redecorating

Re-decorating your newly decluttered space

You’ve decluttered, you’ve reorganised and you are almost completely happy with the end result; but something is not quite right. You may find that after doing a big declutter your space has become a more relaxing and attractive place to be, but needs some re-decorating to bring it into its full potential. Below we have compiled some tips for redesigning your space in order to capture the newly found tranquillity and practicality of the room.

  1. Design your organisational systems first

While picking out new furniture and accessories can be the best part of re-decorating, start with your organisational systems first, so that you don’t design yourself into a corner. For example, if you have decided you no longer want to have a chest of drawers in the room think about where you will put the items that are currently in it. Will you need some open shelving on the walls? Some decorative baskets in the corner? Have a really good think about how you’re going to re-jig the items in the room so that you’re not left with a pile of items with no home.

  1. Use natural materials and colours to promote tranquillity

If you’re hoping to keep the feeling of a calm, organised space, natural materials should be used over plastics and other man-made items. Wools, linen, cotton and wood will give your room that spa-like softness that many people are looking for. It’s essentially the same with colour. Be careful with bold colours as they can stimulate a subconscious response in your brain, making it hard to relax in your space. Colour is a great way to inject some of your personality into a room, but pair them with more neutral, relaxing colours to water them down a bit. If you don’t have an eye for design, it can be very helpful to create a mood board with natural materials as a reminder when you are shopping for the room.

  1. Trendy accessories tend to end up as clutter

When it comes to putting the final touches on your design, it is important to remember not to go too crazy on the accessories. Staged homes and bedroom set-ups in department stores often have little statues and trinkets sprinkled around. While they do look nice in a de-personalised space, in a real home these will end up collecting dust and getting donated several years later. This is the perfect opportunity to put things on show that you saved during your decluttering sessions. Putting up photos that never made it to a frame, displaying your souvenirs from trips you’ve been on and your children’s hand-made gifts can be great finishing touches to a space. House plants and a candle or two are also good accessories that add to a room without being overbearing.

  1. One final declutter

At this point you’ve probably already spent a lot of time decluttering, and maybe the thought of it isn’t that exciting to you. However, once you have your new space there may be things that you were unsure about keeping that you realise you no longer need. You can do this as you unpack your things back into the room so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Once it’s all done and put away, light a few candles and snuggle up with a good book to enjoy your brand new oasis.

The most important thing to remember when you’re decluttering, organising or re-decorating is that your space should work for you. You should be trying to create a room that is both functional and personal. If you follow the above tips, you should be able to create the best space for you and your family.

If you’re interested in re-designing a room but need some help decluttering first, check out our Find an Organiser page to find organisers near you!

Krista Thompson

Article written by APDO Blog Manager Krista Thompson (Zen Den Oxford

APDO Organised Shelves

5 top tips on making the most of your storage

There has been a lot of buzz recently around decluttering, and how we can improve our homes and mental health by letting go of what we don’t need anymore. While the charity shops fill up and we’re left with only what we need, some of us are left feeling a little lost on how to organise what is left. Have no fear, as Lynda Wylie (Tidy Rooms) is here with her top tips on how to make the most of your storage!

There are 3 golden rules for buying storage which I always share with my clients from the beginning:

  1. Never buy storage until after you’ve decluttered – You’ve just gotten rid of a bunch of things you don’t need anymore, don’t add more!
  2. Store items where you will use them – Not only will items be easier to find, but it’s much easier to put them back.
  3. Label everything – You’ll be able to find what you’re looking for quickly and easily.

Now you’re ready to organise, what type of storage do you look for? Aside from your personal style and taste, you’ll need storage that neatly contains your things and allows you to retrieve them without frustration.  Here are some tips for some of the most common areas that benefit from an organised touch:

Inside drawers

Drawer dividers allow you to group similar items together such as tights and underwear so the contents don’t get mixed up. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get organised in your drawers though; shoe boxes and other empty boxes such as phone boxes and toiletry gift sets are perfect at doing the job. File folding clothes and standing them upright in a drawer allows you to see everything available, as opposed to piling things on top of one another. As an added bonus, it is easy to slot things back in when it’s time to put the washing away.

On the wall

Using the wall to maximise storage potential is often overlooked, but shelving and hooks can really transform a cluttered area. They’re a simple and effective way to keep things off the floor and provide a permanent home to return things after they’ve been used. They are particularly good in hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Use hooks for coats, scarves, kids school bags, work bags, cycle hats and scooters. Shelves with baskets are fantastic for gathering lots of things together that might otherwise end up spread over the floor, such as accessories, hair and make up supplies or stationary.

Under beds

Some people prefer to keep the space under their bed clear, but if you’re short on space, this can be an invaluable storage area when organised well. Shoe bags allow you to keep several pairs in a compartmentalised bag whilst the Ikea Skubb zip bag is great for storing out of season clothes, bedding or your children’s next sized clothing, all dust free. If you don’t have much height under your bed vacuum bags are an essential item. They compress your clothing or bedding to allow them to sit neatly until you need them. If you still need some help learning how to downsize your clothes, check out our blog post on moving towards a minimalist wardrobe.

In the kitchen

Some of the go to products I suggest to clients to help maximise their cupboard storage space, can be found in Lakeland. The 3 most popular products for my clients are:

  1. The expandable shelf organiser, allows you to see what’s stored at the back of a cupboard so ingredients don’t get re-bought
  2. A shelf insert helps you make the most of a tall cupboard
  3. A bakeware organiser allows you to stand your baking trays upright for easy access

An important tip for the kitchen is to keep what you use most often close to the front of the cupboard. Machines and crockery that are only used once or twice a year should be kept at the back of the cupboards or in the spaces that are a bit more awkward to get to. This is because we’re much more likely to spend the effort putting it back once we’re finished with it if we know we don’t need to take it out for a while.

In the loft

Lofts are ideal for things you need infrequently such as Christmas decorations, seasonal sports equipment and suitcases. Storage needs to be dust and moisture proof and sturdy clear boxes with a solid closing mechanism are often the best. Remember not to overfill them or they’ll be too heavy to lift up the stairs and make sure they’re small enough to fit through the hatch! If you want to be extra organised, put a list or map at the entrance so you know what to find where next time you’re looking.

If you need help decluttering and/or organising your space, you can find your nearest professional organiser on our Find an Organiser page! 

APDO minimalist wardrobe

The Minimalist’s Wardrobe: How to move towards having less clothes

As a professional organiser and declutterer I have become a sort of decluttering addict in my own home. When I get bored the first victim of my purging tendency is my wardrobe. If I were to rate how large my wardrobe is I would probably give it a 5 on 10. All of my clothes fit inside a single small wardrobe and a set of three drawers, and I wear almost everything that I have. For some reason though, I have that looming thought of “I don’t really wear that but what if…” that plagues almost all of my clients. So, I decided to do some research on Minimalism to see if I could come up with a few basic rules and whittle down my wardrobe. Minimalism is much broader than just having less clothes, but I have compiled the following list as a way to help the non-Minimalist purge their wardrobe:

1. Intention in what you own

One common theme that I found in my research was that the items you own need to have a real reason to be there. If there is an item in your closet that you justify with a “I might wear that again”, it should go. The clothes that you have in your wardrobe should be clothes that you wear all of the time, are comfortable and suitable for your lifestyle. If you’re like me and you don’t always know what you need until you don’t have it, keep a running list and stick to it when you’re out clothes shopping.

2. Finding freedom from societal standards

Another point that came up a lot was that consumerism and society shouldn’t come into play when you’re making decisions on what to bring into your home (and in this case, wardrobe). Minimalist or not, I think we can all agree that society makes us believe that we need to look a certain way and wear certain things in order to be accepted. This is simply not true, and we can free ourselves from that mindset by being content in having only what we need. When you’re going through your wardrobe, ask yourself if it really brought you happiness to buy that piece, or if you bought it simply because it was trendy.

A lady folding clothes on as bed

3. Valuing yourself and your time

One thing that every Minimalist blog, website and article I read mentioned was the total shift from a distracted cluttered life to one with more time and value. When we stop seeing clothes as an important personality stamp we’ll spend less of our free time shopping for them and rifling through outfits in the morning. Also, when we wear the same things on a regular basis we become more attached to them, helping us to appreciate what we have instead of taking it all for granted.

4. Helping the environment

This wasn’t mentioned in a lot of the Minimalist material but it was an underlying theme that I connected to what they were saying and my own deep values. We are harming the planet and other humans by buying fast fashion that pollutes our earth and encourages slave labour. A recent blog post records two APDO members wearing only six items of clothing for six weeks in order to prove that we don’t need fast fashion. If we added up the value of every item in our wardrobes and divided it by six, we would probably be left with quite a big number that could have been invested in a quality item made locally with natural materials that will last much longer. I’m not suggesting that we all live with only six items of clothing, but I’m definitely suggesting we end our addiction to fast fashion and start investing properly in our wardrobes.

What I’ve learned from this is that Minimalism is a way of life and a practice that is taken very seriously by it’s delegates. I don’t intend to become a minimalist, however I am inspired to use their practices intermixed with my own values to create a home that is perfect for me and my partner. The above list is easily transferred to any part of the home, and I encourage you to give it a try!

This article was written by Krista Thompson of Zen Den Oxford.

Krista Thompson

If you think you could use some help organising your wardrobe, visit our Find an Organiser page to find help near you.

APDO Back to School

Getting organised for back to school: 10 top tips

It’s almost back to school time!  September means a return to routine… so here are some tips from APDO member Mel Carruthers from More Organised to kick off the new school year as your most organised yet!

Declutter bedrooms / toys

Sofa forts, indoor camps and LEGO cities stretching through multiple rooms were all fun at the time, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t want them to become permanent features of your home’s interior design now that the holidays are drawing to an end.

After all the play and creativity of the holidays, now is a great time to encourage your children to review and declutter their toys. Work with them to decide what toys have been played with and enjoyed the most, and which could be donated for other children to have. Lead the way by choosing a category of your own belongings to declutter and make it a fun process by setting a timer, a target or a reward together!  

Sort out artwork and school papers

A new school year will bring new artwork, new crafts and new schoolwork home; make sure you have a system in place to deal with it all. You can’t keep everything, so set some criteria for what you will keep ahead of time and work out a storage method that works for your family.

Children's painting aprons hung up in a row

A hanging file box with a file for each school year is a simple solution – simply pop the papers into the correct file and you’re done!  A scrapbook for favourites (or photos of favourites) can work well if you are feeling more creative and can keep on top of it. You could even scan the work and email it to a special email account if you want to keep the memories without the clutter. But always remember… your love for your children is not measured by the amount of school papers that you keep! 

Family command centre and calendar

It’s not only homework that comes home in school bags… with all the letters, invitations, slips for signing, dates for the diary and requests for money, you’ll need a way to keep yourself organised as well as the children. Designate a tray, box or file for everyone to empty their papers into, add a family calendar and a hook for your keys, and you’ll instantly feel on top of things.

Get into the habit of dealing with the school papers and checking school social media at the same time each day, and you’ll never miss a dress-up day or bake sale again. I like to grab us all a drink and a snack as soon as we get in from school each day, which is the perfect time for us all to review homework, deal with papers and prepare the school bags for the next day whilst catching up on the news from our day.

Homework area

Whether the children are working on homework, their own projects or catching up on reading, an organised space will help them to focus… and tidy up after themselves more easily. Dedicate a cupboard, shelf or cart to keep supplies tidy and close to hand. Encourage children to unpack their homework as soon as they get home from school and help them to get into a routine (which will help set positive habits for their future work life, as well as keeping them in the teachers’ good books!).

Little girl doing her homework at a table

After-school activities

A new school term means new after-school activities, so don’t forget to book these as early as possible and mark them on your family calendar as your new schedule takes shape.  Check with local Facebook groups for pre-loved supplies and uniforms, especially if it is a new activity that may not last. You can always upgrade equipment and uniform once you know that your child will stick with their new hobby.

The earlier you book the activities, the more time you have to co-ordinate with other parents and work out shared schedules (i.e. could you look after their child for a play-date and tea before Brownies each week, in return for their help on swimming nights when you already have to take your other child to karate at the same time?)

Check uniform and supplies

Just because it’s a new school year, don’t feel under pressure to buy everything new again, despite what the campaigns in the high street stores are telling you.  Before setting out for the shops, check what you already have and what still fits. If your school has a pre-loved uniform scheme, you could pick up what you need for a fraction of the cost, and then pass it back around when you have finished with it too.

Wash and iron everything ready for your first week and make sure it’s labelled. My More Organised top tip for labelling clothing is to use hair straighteners with “iron on” name labels (you can read more of my Back to School hacks here!)

Time for bed!

Routines will probably have been a little less rigid over the summer holidays, so early school starts may come as a bit of a shock unless you prepare.  Use the last week before the new term to transition bedtimes and wake-up times back to the term time routine. Starting the bedtime routine 15 minutes early each night will help your family edge gently towards their new bedtimes.  Start waking up earlier too, in preparation for those early morning starts.

bedtime

Clean out your car

If you use the car on the school run, now is a great time to make sure your service history is up to date, that oil and water levels are good, and that you have enough petrol. Clean out the inside and pop a few useful items in there to help you keep the school run organised:

  • The right parking permits or enough change for parking if needed
  • A folder or box to transport precious art and crafts home in one piece
  • Tissues
  • Emergency snacks for hungry children on their way to after-school activities

First day photos

You’ll probably want to take a few “first day back” photos before school on the first day of term, so leave some extra time in your schedule. And don’t forget to charge the camera!

Celebrate!

Every new school year is an important milestone, so with all the preparations and organising, don’t forget to celebrate! Start your own tradition and plan a “Back to School” treat to mark the start of a new school year. It could be a family movie, supper at your favourite restaurant, or a simple trip to the park for some back to school photos. Whatever you decide, make it a celebration to look back on all those fun summer memories, and look forward to a successful school year ahead!

Getting the children ready for back to school can feel really overwhelming, but if you stick to these tips you should be ready to take the 2019/20 school year head on. You can get more tips for keeping an organised home when you have small children here.

Article by Mel Carruthers of More Organised.

If this list seems a little too overwhelming, your local organisers from APDO are here to help. Find help in your area on our Find an Organiser page.

APDO clutter

Clutter: out of sight, but not always out of mind

Imagine this: your home is sparkling clean with no clutter in sight, ready for your evening guests. You look around proud of your home, but something is not quite right. Could it be the 10 pairs of shoes, 3 coats, junk mail and broken lamp that you’ve chucked in the spare closet to clear the space? Emily Wapples of Simply Sorted is here to tell us all about why hiding our clutter is not the answer.

We all have that one area of our home where our belongings go to, never to see the light of day again. The area that amazes us with its insatiable storage capacity and which we affectionately refer to as “Narnia”, or “The Tardis”.  Maybe yours is in the loft, under the bed, the spare room, or (for people who don’t live in London) in the garage. These areas are crammed full of things that we no longer use on a regular basis or, possibly, at all. But it’s fine, because at the end of the day, we can close the doors and forget about them. Except, often we don’t.

These items may be out of sight, but they’re not always out of mind. In fact, we mentally and emotionally carry this physical clutter around with us all day, fretting and stressing over how long it will take us to sort it out.

This clutter consumes important brain space and clouds our judgement. We perceive the task to be insurmountable, so we put off trying to tackle it, which encourages negative thought patterns. As a result, we are more likely to procrastinate in making changes in other areas of our lives. While we may be able to escape the physical clutter, it is more difficult to escape its psychological effects. Constantly ruminating on the situation can cause, or contribute to, poor mental health. This in turn can make us increasingly unmotivated to tackle the area and to make those life changes we so desperately crave.

So why don’t people just bite the bullet and tackle their clutter?

The most common reason I’ve heard is that they don’t have time (or at least, they think they don’t). And even if time isn’t so much of an issue, they would (understandably) rather be doing something more interesting. Some may be overwhelmed by the perceived size of the task at hand, while others may just be lacking motivation to get started.

But whatever the reason, help is at hand. You just have to ask for it.

I’ve worked with many clients to help them declutter and organise the problematic areas of their home which they can’t stop worrying about. Some have accumulated belongings over 30 years that are now tightly packed into their loft. While others have unopened boxes of things in their spare room, or under the stairs, left over from a house move.

The intention was never to leave the items in these spaces forever; they were all placed there as a temporary solution, just to keep them out of the way. But months, or years pass and the items remain boxed up (if they’re lucky) behind closed doors.

Clutter breeds clutter.

And not only do those original items stay there, additional pieces join them. Because, once we designate an area as an unofficial “dumping ground” for items we no longer need, want or use, we are more inclined to add to the clutter collection, thereby perpetuating the problem. It may take a few hours to a few days to declutter and organise the area concerned. However, once we’ve finished, clients have overwhelmingly reported that they feel an immense sense of freedom and relief.

The space it creates isn’t limited to square footage.

Clients are able to think more clearly and have the capacity to make decisions and bring about changes in other areas of their lives. They feel empowered to take action; the process often motivates them to declutter other areas of their home or to start that project they’ve been putting off for years. And although it is too simplistic to expect that the process is able to cure mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, it may help to alleviate some of the symptoms; even if the benefits are experienced on a more long term basis.

So what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

  • Don’t try to avoid it – Accept that you need to declutter and organise these belongings to bring about positive changes in your life. Yes, the process will be physically and emotionally exhausting, but its benefits will be felt in all aspects of your life going forward.
  • Learn how to recycle – Sometimes the thought of an item ending up in a landfill is the reason people avoid decluttering. To learn about recycling more difficult items, take a look at 6 Ways to Avoid Waste While Decluttering.
  • Enlist help from a supportive friend or family member or, ideally, a professional organiser via the APDO website to help you tackle the area.
  • Break it down into manageable tasks if you are feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project, and take it one task at a time.
  • Speak to your GP if your clutter is causing you to feel anxious, depressed or stressed. You may also want to investigate other strategies for maintaining good mental health such as yoga, mindfulness, exercise and healthy eating.

A picture of Emily Wapples of Simply Sorted

You can learn more about Emily and her business at www.simply-sorted.co.uk 

 

 

Folded clothes.

FASHION FAST: What the #SixItemsChallenge taught us about our relationship with clothes

How many items of clothing do you have in your wardrobe? How many of them do you actually wear? And how much do you care about where they come from?

These are some of the questions two of our APDO members considered recently when they took part in the Labour Behind The Label #SixItemsChallenge earlier this year.  Mel Carruthers of More Organised and Rosie Barron of The Tidy Coo both took part, each choosing six items of clothing from their wardrobes and wearing only these six items for the six weeks of the challenge.

Mel and Rosie were both interested in the aims of Labour Behind the Label, a campaign which works to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry. Their annual #SixItemsChallenge asks people to embark on a fashion fast, to rethink their wardrobe and really question their shopping habits.  So, when APDO President Katherine Blackler suggested members give it a go, Rosie and Mel both volunteered.

This is what they learned along the way!

Why did you decide to take part in the #SixItemsChallenge?

  • Rosie: I wanted to raise awareness of the impact that fast fashion has on garment workers.
  • Mel: Over the past few years I have tried to keep only items of clothing that I really loved and wore regularly. Having been a fan of Courtney Carver’s #Project333 for several years, the #SixItemsChallenge seemed like a way to challenge my relationship with clothes even further.

What were the clothes that you picked and why?

  • Rosie: Here in Aberdeenshire I live a fairly outdoor life, but I also had two conferences in London to attend during the six weeks, as well as clients to help, so I had to pick clothes that would be warm enough for home, but also smart enough to take away with me. In the end, I chose:
    – a dress I could wear to the conferences and clients
    – a cardigan
    – a jumper
    – a pair of jeans
    – 2 T-shirts

 

6 items of clothes that are file folded

Rosie’s 6 items

  • Mel: Like Rosie, I live in a rural setting so needed “outdoor” clothes as well as outfits suitable for client work and more formal occasions. I chose:
    – a black and white short-sleeved dress
    – a pair of dark skinny jeans
    – a black and white jumper
    – a black long-sleeved T-shirt
    – 2 striped Breton long-sleeve tops

 

Mel's 6 items file folded on the bed

Mel’s 6 items

What was the hardest part of the challenge for you?

  • Rosie: With four home-educated children, 11 horses, five dogs, a cat and poultry, keeping clean was by far the biggest challenge! I went to one business meeting in a damp dress and cardigan…
  • Mel: The challenge was in March/April, as the weather was very changeable. We’d had a warm spell in March when I was choosing my six items which fooled me slightly… later in the challenge it became very cold again and I wished that I had chosen a couple of warmer items for my capsule collection! It made me realise that in our uncertain Scottish climate we need a variety of clothes for different weathers.

What did you learn?

  • Mel: That clothes don’t interest me as much as I had thought. The relief of not having to choose what I was going to wear each morning saved so much time and stress – it was so freeing to simply grab what was clean out of the six items, get dressed and get on with my day!
  • Rosie: My experience was the opposite! I realised that I care for clothes more than I thought I did, and that I like wearing dresses.

Were you surprised at this?

  • Rosie: Yes, I always had myself down as someone who wasn’t bothered about clothes and I was surprised by how much I missed some of them.
  • Mel: I was surprised too. I love pretty things and trying on clothes when out shopping. So it was a real epiphany for me to realise that I don’t need lots of clothes to make myself feel good, and that beating “decision fatigue” when getting dressed in the morning really made up for any feelings of deprivation that I was expecting to have.
4 side-by-side pictures of Rosie wearing a combination of her 6 items.

Rosie wearing 4 combinations of her 6 items.

How has the #SixItemsChallenge changed your view of your own wardrobe and shopping habits? Will you be doing anything differently now?

  • Rosie: I ended up updating my wardrobe a bit after it. Having to use only six items really made me consider how each item in my wardrobe worked with all the others. For someone who usually only shops once or twice a year, this was out of character! Apart from that, I will continue as I was before, buying quality over quantity and keeping my shopping to once or twice a year.
  • Mel: I thought that I had a fairly minimal wardrobe (about 40 items in my wardrobe and another 30 stored under the bed for better weather/a thinner Mel). The challenge helped me to decide what I really loved out of those items, and I donated the rest. I then shopped for a few more items to really complete my wardrobe and make it work better… but I did it all from local charity shops and eBay. I have definitely changed my shopping habits after learning more about the distress and waste of our society’s addiction to fast fashion and I don’t want to be part of it.

How has the challenge helped you to better support your clients?

  • Mel: I have done a few wardrobe sessions with clients since completing the challenge, and I have been able to share my experience with them which has led to some interesting conversations! At the end of the day though, our clothes say so much about us and are such a personal choice, that I will still coach my clients through their decluttering journey, rather than dictate to them based on my own feelings about clothes and fashion. But I hope that through my experience, I can raise awareness of the misery and destruction of fast fashion and help people to make better choices.
  • Rosie: I think it has made me more aware of how some people view their clothes. I am not sure I have the skill to help clients rebuild their wardrobe after a declutter, but fortunately I can refer them to someone who I trust to help them. I know my limitations!

Mel & Rosie’s’ 6 ways to beat fast fashion:

1.      Buy pre-loved clothing – charity shops, eBay and social media are rich picking grounds!

2.      Share with and borrow from friends – especially for clothes for one-off occasions.

3.      Pass children’s clothing to others when they outgrow them.

4.      Buy quality over quantity, focusing on more ethical brands.

5.      Hold a clothes swap evening with your friends.

6.      Develop your own style and rely less on the media to tell you what to wear.

If you would like to find out more about Labour Behind The Label and the #SixItemsChallenge, head to their website at www.labourbehindthelabel.org  Perhaps you could sign up to the challenge next year!

Feeling inspired by this post, but need some help with the process? Visit our Find an Organiser page to find support near you.

Recycle Logo

6 ways to avoid waste while decluttering

After several generations of accumulation and prosperous consumerism behind us, decluttering and minimalism is on the rise. With climate change and plastic reduction a normal part of our everyday thoughts, items getting added to landfills are becoming a hurdle for people looking to have less. Professional organiser Jodi Sharpe from The 25th Hour in Inverness is here with her top tips on avoiding waste while decluttering.

One of the statements I frequently hear from people who get in touch with me for help on the decluttering front is that “I can’t part with xxx, as it’s just so wasteful”. We’ve all done it; made that irrational, unnecessary purchase, left a piece of clothing with its tag still on at the back of the wardrobe or “lost” a sauce in the cupboard only to find it passed its use by date! We often hold onto things because we feel guilt that it is somehow wasteful, but leaving items to collect dust in your home is wasteful because they could be getting used by someone else. So here are my 6 ways to avoid waste while decluttering by passing on your items:

1 – SHARE & BORROW

Loaning an item can save both space (from storage), time (for upkeep and maintenance) and money (initial purchase). Things like drills, a car roof box for a one-off camping trip or even a squash racket to try out a new sport are all things that can be easily passed around a group of friends. Over the last few years there has been an emergence of centres which facilitate sharing. One such venture is “The Library of Things”. As the name suggests it works like a traditional lending book library but has a much broader collection of things available. Even if you don’t live near a “borrow” shop of this ilk, you can still make an effort to find a possible solution from friends, families and neighbours. You also get the added bonus of social interaction, something often missing in our communities.

2 – PASS IT ON

Charity Shops accept a whole host of things that can be given a new life. Some will even come to your home to pick up your donations. Most donations are expected to be in good condition so they can be resold, but many larger charities will also take stained, torn or very worn clothing and sell them on as rags for recycling. Old textiles can be turned into carpets, cleaning cloths and even insulation. If you are unsure what your chosen charity will take, then just give them a quick call.

Cloths on Display

3 – SET IT “FREE”

Freecycle” & “Freegle” are just 2 good examples of online platforms that allow you to offer items that may not quite fit the criteria required for charitable operations, but are still in great usable condition. I have used these websites to easily pass on used paint, hangers, magazines and padded envelopes. Another great option are animal sanctuaries who welcome bedding like pillows and blankets to help their furry friends feel comfortable.

4 – RECYCLING

As well as your limited standard kerbside home recycling, there is an ever increasing range of things that can be recycled. “Terracycle” are an organisation aiming to eliminate the idea of waste by recycling the unrecyclable ! They have free programmes for crisp packets, contact lenses, pens, coffee pods and more. Not all areas are covered so pop over to https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/ to see what is available near you. Another fabulous opportunity that is often overlooked is plastic bags such as bread and veg bags and even bubble wrap, that can now be collected at most major supermarkets. Last but not least, don’t forget to look into your local recycling centre options that can take mattresses, electronics, scrap metal, batteries and much, much more.

5 – SELLING

Although this can take a little longer than donating, it can be very fruitful. Online auction sites such as ebay, car boot sales and social media “buy & sell” pages, allow access to large audiences. If you have an abundance of dvds, books or games, then organisations like “Ziffit”, “Music Magpie” or “World of Books” will buy them directly from you.

Money

6 – REPAIR & RENEW

Keeping things in action longer is vital for all of us to embrace as we seek to increase the sustainability of our planet. It is often the case that repairing something is expensive, time-consuming and sometimes not possible. Fortunately, as environmental and ethical considerations are increasing, we are starting to see good solutions sprouting up. Repair cafes are mostly free to use (you have to pay for the parts you need), and are an exciting option to gain knowledge with a helping hand to repair all sorts of things. Sewing and darning are also having a resurgence to extend the life of our favourite clothes. “Visible mending” is becoming more popular, whereby the pattern created from the sewing repair is now part of the appeal. This is not dissimilar to “kintsugi” seen in Japan where, rather than disguising breaks in pottery, the cracks are enhanced with golden seams. Upcycling is also becoming increasingly more mainstream and accessible with Pinterest arguably being a leading source of inspiration.

In order to maintain a well-organised home, it is absolutely essential to have considered how you will stop the onslaught of “stuff” that keeps on sneaking in. Make sure you’ve considered how you’ll deal with junk mail, gifts and freebies – the major contributors to clutter. When you’re out shopping, stick to your list, and think about the hard work you’ve put into removing clutter from your life.
It is possible to part with “stuff” responsibly and not feel guilty about letting it go. It does take an extra bit of thinking and a shift of mindset, but it is so worth it.

Jodi Sharpe

Jodi Sharpe of the 25th Hour

Professional organisers and declutterers are experts in finding efficient ways to give your clutter new life.

You can find your nearest organisers in the  “Find an Organiser” section on the APDO website.

Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson smiling

Interview with an organiser: Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson

Have you ever wondered what being a professional organiser is like beyond the Facebook page? You might wonder if their homes are spotless, why they started their business, and of course the ultimate question; how do they stay so organised? APDO sat down with Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson to talk home, business and top tips on what it’s like to be a professional organiser.

What does being organised mean to you? What does being organised look like?

Being organised has given me more time, better physical and mental health, improved productivity, and reduced anxiety. It really has changed my life. Having a home that is easy to maintain means I can concentrate on the things that really matter to me – my family, my business, and my well-being.

What is your favourite thing or area to organise?

I love organising living rooms and playrooms. Helping a client create a welcoming and calm living space that they enjoy being in, and are happy to invite guests into, is really satisfying.

What habits have helped you to be more organised?

Having a goal! Setting goals for my home keeps me focused and disciplined in my organising. I’m always looking to find more time to spend with my daughters and myself; having an organised home helps me do that. Having a goal keeps me motivated and accountable.

You’re a professional organiser – does that mean you live in a perfectly organised, neat-as-a-pin home?

Ha! My home looks like any home that has two young children in it – there is Lego on the floor and there are clothes to put away.  But living with less and being organised means that it doesn’t take long to ‘reset’ our spaces. All items have a home so even when the house has become messy, it doesn’t take long to put it all away.  Our house is organised so that is functions well and my family can relax and enjoy being in it, but it certainly doesn’t look like a show home!

What benefits do your clients experience from becoming more organised?

The biggest benefit is that they no longer feel a sense of dread when they enter their homes. They describe feeling calmer and less anxious. Often clients say that they have gained extra time in their day as they can easily find things, and it’s quicker to tidy up. Most importantly, clients say that they are now able to move forward with other aspects of their lives that they have previously felt stuck in. Removing clutter and getting organised gives them the space (both physical and mental) to take the next steps in their lives.

When you are going to a client, what essentials are in your organising bag / toolkit?

Sticky labels and pens are useful to keep track of items that need to be taken to the charity shop; recycled; or re-homed elsewhere. I also take a folding board to fold clothes neatly and a label-maker to label boxes. Most importantly, I bring with me a calm demeanour and stacks of empathy. Clients need to be listened to without judgement and for me to hold space for them while they work through their organising challenges.

What’s the most memorable collection you’ve seen? (What did you / the client do with them)

I came across an impressive Harry Potter memorabilia collection. The reason the client wanted to organise their home in the first place, was to get rid of clutter so that their HP collection could take centre stage.

What’s the best outcome you’ve ever seen?

I’ve helped several families get on top of their clutter and get organised when they have been very close to their baby’s due date! It’s wonderful to instil a sense of calm in the client and their home before such a momentous occasion.

Who’s your dream client? Who do you most like to help?

My dream clients are wonderful, creative, passionate people who are time-poor, overwhelmed and have become stuck. They often feel alone and anxious and are looking for a steady hand to help them. They are big-hearted and always have something to teach me too. All my clients have it in them to make change for themselves, they usually just need someone to motivate, empower, and most importantly, believe in them.

What’s your top tip to share?

Getting organised requires motivation and discipline. On the days you feel motivated, use that momentum to tackle an organising job you’ve been putting off and tackle it in small chunks so you don’t get overwhelmed. On the days you don’t feel motivated, try to be disciplined; you know you will feel better when you tackle that stack of post for example. Set yourself a timer, and reward yourself with a stroll around the park, or a coffee and a pastry when it’s done.

If you’d like to get in touch with Hannah about her services, you can do so by contacting her on her website here.

If you’re interested in becoming a professional organiser, and want to learn more about APDO, visit our Why Join APDO page.

APDO Hoarding Conference Birmingham

National Hoarding Roadshow 2019 – Birmingham

This week in the UK it is National Hoarding Awareness Week and the week was launched with the National Hoarding Conference in Birmingham, which took place on Monday 20 May.

APDO was delighted to exhibit at this wonderful event, raising awareness and understanding around hoarding behaviours and the sort of help which is available.

Our President Katherine Blackler ( SortMySpace ) was joined by our Head of Membership Lisa Pantling (Clutter Free Living), Claire Birnie (The Tidy Life Project), who had come all the way from wonderful Scotland, and Lynsey Grundy (Tidy Homes Tidy Minds at Southway Housing) to field questions from delegates struggling with their stuff as well as those keen to join the industry and help. APDO was well represented at the event as a number of members attended as delegates and others were also exhibiting on neighbouring stands.

National Hoarding Awareness Week logo

Hoarding behaviour is a complex and emotive subject. Almost everyone you talk to has some experience of their own hoarding difficulties, or those of someone they know and love. Even a lawyer I met in the hotel lift on her way to check out of the hotel briefly shared her personal experience! As soon as I mention what I do, I am invariably met with the response ‘Oh, my mum/dad/auntie is a hoarder’.

The conference opened with with a real treat: a filmed excerpt from the play ‘Stuff’ by the Women’s Theatre group. This superbly captured the thought process that people go through when they are trying to let go of things in their home. Each item has a story, a memory or a purpose, it brings joy, sadness or potential and this is why it so often feels truly impossible to let it go.

APDO member Lisa Panting standing with APDO Banner

Professor Paul Salvoskis gave a powerful and uplifting presentation around showing empathy, understanding and, most of all, compassion. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution or treatment, but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. By showing respect and genuine care, we can help and support people to improve their situations.

We also heard from Lee, a retired Fire Officer of 30 years, who now works closely with people who hoard. He talked us through the process of assessing the highest risks of fire, and stressed the importance of really getting to know the person you are working with so that they can make progress.

Many APDO members have a wealth of experience of supporting people with hoarding behaviour. A growing number of members have been attending specialist training and developing their skills so that they are able to support people exhibiting hoarding behaviour. You can search for members with this specialism on www.findanorganiser.co.uk. In addition, you can find more information on hoarding support at www.helpforhoarders.co.uk and www.hoardersuk.org.

To read more about APDO and hoarding, please visit https://www.apdo.co.uk/what-is-hoarding/.