white house frontage against blue sky depicting an organised home renovation

Surviving the chaos of home renovations

With so much uncertainty in the housing market at the moment, it seems more of us than ever are undertaking home renovations instead of moving, and many of us are having to live on site to save on costs. Nancy Jones of Serene Spaces has been there… so what better person to give us some guidance on how to organise your home and life in readiness for a renovation!

paint pots and ladder against pale blue wall in an organised home redecoration project

Having lived through two major home renovations, what have I learnt?

Declutter well before building work starts: 

Sort your possessions into three categories:

  • Keep – limit items to the essentials for everyday living. Store items you think you might need in a dry garage or perhaps a room which will remain untouched during the build.  Do remember, though, to keep items accessible – avoid having to climb over a mountain of things to find batteries, for example!  Have a designated area for daily essentials such as keys, mobile phones, wallet, etc. and keep valuables safe, ideally off-site.
  • Store – put items you know you won’t use or need for the duration of the build into storage. Despite the cost, this is especially true of bulky items as it will save you the time and effort of having to lug things from one room to another, not to mention avoiding the dust which finds its way into everything! The less you have on your building site the better.
  • Donate/sell/discard – when looking through your items, consider your current and future space. If you are having a modern renovation, it is likely that some of your current possessions will not work in the new space/s and you may decide to donate or sell them instead. (You can find useful information on where to donate your edited items in this recent post!)

Basic living is key:

Get your kids (and yourself!) excited about indoor camping. It is best if you can plan your build over the warmer months as the BBQ will become your best friend.  Picnics become the daily norm.  With limited storage and space, meal planning is crucial.  Plan a weekly menu.  Remember, it will not be forever so don’t feel guilty if you need to resort to some microwaved meals.

Keep calm and carry on:

Expecting to keep a tidy clean house during a build project is not feasible and trying to do so will put unnecessary pressure on you. As long as the house is safe, a bit of dirt never harmed anyone!

Keep your remaining rooms multi-functional:

The more you can keep your usable rooms flexible, the better. Go with the flow – you may find that at certain times of the renovation, bedroom and living room merge and furniture (or a well-placed sheet) may need to become a divider for your space.

paint swatches and renovation plans laid out on a table in an organised home renovation

Consider future storage needs:

Many of us struggle with a lack of storage in our homes. Renovating is the perfect opportunity to be clever with storage and make sure that you are getting the most out of your space.  This will help ensure that everything has a place and there is a place for everything.

Consider your current and future possessions (for example, when we finish the renovation, we are planning to get bigger bikes for the kids) and plan your storage accordingly.  Think about items which you only need now and then (for example suitcases, Christmas decorations, etc.) and plan how these might be stored in some of those awkward spaces which don’t need to be accessible every day such as under-stairs cupboard, spaces in the eves if you are having a loft conversion, and so on.

Keep the end goal in sight:

It is normal for your enthusiasm and momentum to wane during renovations. Collect pictures from Pinterest, Houzz, home magazines, etc. of how you would like your space to look and keep them in the forefront of your mind.  You will get there, and it will be worth it in the end!

Lastly, deep breaths and relaxation time help too. And if you need some help, you can find your local professional organiser here.

A vase of daffodils on an organised coffee table

Help is on hand, and it’s OK to take it

‘I should be able to do it on my own.’ As professional organisers we hear this, or a much harsher variation, on a regular basis as we work with people to transform their spaces. Claire de Boursac, psychotherapist and professional organiser at The Art of Clearing, examines our self-critical voices and discusses some ways to dispel them in this helpful and sensitive guest post.

Headshot of Claire de Boursac APDO member standing under a tree

Is self-criticism stopping you?

It always saddens me to hear people speak unkindly to themselves, often reflecting impossibly high expectations which usually don’t take into account the reality of their lives. It’s something I also hear a lot in my work as a psychotherapist, where clients feel they should be able to face challenges alone. Why? Humans are social beings. We live in community, we’re programmed to work together and support each other. We each have our unique skills and ways of being in the world. I don’t believe anyone masters every area of their life – and more importantly, I don’t think they need to. It’s a responsible and courageous thing to know our strengths and our weaknesses and to enlist support where we need it. There is no shame in asking for help.

Although these self-criticisms are as varied as the people who live with them, there are some common threads.

I hear clients make their clutter a character flaw, as if it is central to their personality. They might call themselves ‘messy’. No, the space is messy.  You are human.

I also often work with people who tell themselves they are ‘lazy’ because they haven’t tidied or haven’t unpacked those boxes from the move several years ago. I then discover they have very full lives, investing huge amounts of time and energy in work or family and quite rightly choose to spend their weekends resting and enjoying hard-earned time off.

bright decluttered organised sitting room with the letters HOME mounted on a brick feature wall

The organisation myth

There is a myth that it is easy to be organised and to keep a tidy home. It may be for some people.  But there are many more for whom it is challenging. There may be a number of reasons for this: physical or mental challenges or an emotional element to the items to be managed. ‘Stuff’ is often more than just ‘stuff.’ Objects can come into our lives through choice, gift and obligation. It can be complicated and emotionally charged to deal with them. That vase you hate but was given by a friend you love, the belongings of a loved one who has died, an object or clothes that are past their usefulness but are so deeply connected to a joyous time in your life that saying goodbye to them feels like saying goodbye to those delicious memories. Sometimes there is simply so much stuff that the thought of decluttering is overwhelming, seemingly impossible to know where to start.

Recognising your own critical voice

Whatever someone’s particular challenge is, there are doubtless hundreds, if not thousands of people thinking the same unkind thoughts and criticising themselves and their homes. A nasty inner critic is incredibly common, so much so that most people think it’s just part of them, something they need to put up with. I disagree.

You might recognise your own critical voice by its harsh tone. We typically speak to ourselves in a manner that we would never speak to someone else. What do you say to yourself from that place? Would you speak to your friend or loved one in that tone, with those words? The critical voice usually attacks us in an area we are already tender about, in this case our clutter or keeping our home a particular way. Because of this vulnerable quality, it can be helpful to ask ourselves ‘Would you speak to a child in that way?’ The answer is inevitably ‘No.’ We might then ask, if a child you care about was facing the feelings you’re dealing with right now – embarrassment, fear, overwhelm, whatever it is – how would you respond to them? I’m guessing with something like compassion, understanding, reassurance. You deserve the same.

Open notebook and pen next to a mug and plant on a white desk

The role of the professional organiser

Although I suspect it may be true for my fellow declutterers, I can only speak for myself. I have never felt critical of a client for how their home is. In truth, I am actually not so interested in the physical appearance of the home and whether it is tidy or messy. What matters to me is how my client is impacted by living there and how near or far it is from their wishes for the space. I see my role as being a skilled and supportive guide along that path and it matters not a jot to me what that path is – be it reorganising a tidy house or creating order from utter chaos.

I said I’m saddened when I hear the harsh self-criticism of my clearing clients and I am, but I am saddened even more by the realisation that there are probably clients I work alongside who have that critical voice running wild but don’t share it with me, and therefore don’t give me the chance to challenge it with them, and that there are doubtless many more people for whom the strength of this voice stops them even booking a session. If that is you, please know that it is absolutely OK that you want some support with this. You don’t have to do it alone. Now take a deep breath and drop me or one of my APDO colleagues a line. We’d be delighted to help you.

If Claire’s post has encouraged you to seek guidance from a professional organiser, you can find your nearest APDO member here.

Toys on the floor on a background at wall

How to keep an organised home when you have small children

Some of the most common questions that professional organisers get asked are around how to keep on top of clutter and keep a semblance of an organised home when you have small children. In this post, Rebecca Caution of Conscious Space Professional Organising shares her top tips on how, with a little bit of effort, it really is possible to do so.

Think like a Montessori educator

When it comes to maintaining an organised home with small children as inhabitants, take inspiration from the Montessori approach. Montessori is a method of education based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. In Montessori nurseries and schools, children make choices in their own learning, whilst staff and classroom set-up guide the process, developing independence and encouraging creativity from a young age. But what does this look like day-to-day in the home?

Designate a place for everyday items and establish daily rituals

Children learn through repetition, so putting in place routines which allow them responsibility for getting themselves ready each day will be effort rewarded with less stressful mornings. Consider affixing a hook for each child – at their level – in your hallway or by your front door. Coats and bags can live here, so that each morning your children can grab them as they leave, and each afternoon return them there. Likewise, shoes – along with seasonal accessories, such as gloves and scarves or sun hats and sunglasses – can be kept in an easily-accessible container under the sofa. My children love having their own special hooks and even though the 17-month old can’t quite put her coat and bag on herself just yet, she has a clear sense of pride at being able to get them herself when she knows it’s time to leave.

Easy access kitchen items and mealtime rituals

Similarly, child-friendly cutlery, crockery, baking equipment and lunch containers can also be kept in a place which your children can reach. Once items are within easy reach, rituals can be established around accessing plates and bowls for each meal and returning items to the sink or dishwasher afterwards. In our home, cereals, fruit and healthy snacks are also accessible, so our Reception-aged son can prepare his own breakfast and the toddler can pull out whichever cereal she chooses each day. It may take a little time and repetition to get children to return items to the same place, but it is worth it to see the self-esteem it builds when they are allowed to do these things for themselves.

multi-coloured wooden toy building blocks on a wooden surface

Fewer toys

Our consumerist culture would have us believe that the arrival of a child in our homes is synonymous with the sudden necessity for a multitude of items we never before considered we would need (clue: we don’t). And the bombardment of daily marketing plying parents and children with messaging that they “need” this-that-and-the-other just carries on from there.

Whether you store and rotate toys, or simply make a commitment to have fewer to play with, the benefits are numerous: it’s quicker and easier to tidy up; it fosters far more creativity; children play better and for longer with what they do have.

Simple toy storage makes tidying up a game

Store toys which are most loved and are played with daily in open baskets. If baskets aren’t your thing, use other easy-to-access open containers which you like the look of, such as a shelving unit, canvas bags on hooks or felt boxes – especially if this is in your living space. That way, you can feel satisfied each evening that all toys are tidied away without having the eyesore of plastic boxes encroaching on your limited child-free time.

Store toys by type (cars, soft toys, dolls, building blocks, dressing up clothes), by colour or a different way each time – whatever works because any method of distinguishing toys means it’s simple to make tidying up a game and get even the very youngest of children involved. Think like Mary Poppins: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and – SNAP – the job’s a game.” Those with the musical ability of Mary Poppins can come up with a catchy tidying-up song too. The rest of us can find one on Spotify.

Keep toys and books visible on open shelving

Another Montessori-lesson is to store toys and books in bedrooms on easy-to-reach shelving, with as few items in each space as possible, and then to encourage your children to return an item before another is selected. This allows easy child-led tidying and also leads to more focused play rather than the over-stimulation that can come from having access to too many toys at once. When everything is visible, it becomes very easy to assess which toys are getting regular use and which have been outgrown, at which point you can decide with your children whether it’s time to rotate, or to pass some things on to someone else who might like to play with them. When this is part of family conversation and encouraged from a young age, children become less attached to a multitude of items and really value the chance to be able to share toys which they have outgrown with someone who might be less fortunate than they are.

Red and white decorated childs bedroom with open shelving and toy basket

These small and simple changes can really make a difference to a household. You will notice all the wonderful benefits of having a tidier and more ordered home: more time, less stress, clearer focus. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll also notice the pride and joy it gives small children to have a little bit of independence; to take responsibility for their own possessions and daily chores; to focus and play when they have fewer toys to choose from; to truly value those that they do have; as well as gaining an understanding of the value of being able to share their good fortune with others. What could be a better pay off than that?

If Rebecca’s advice has inspired you to get your family more organised, you can find your local professional organiser here.

Home Staging Association logo

Organising and home staging: An unbeatable combination!

Paloma Harrington-Griffin is the Director of The Home Staging Association UK, a source of information and support within the Home Staging industry. In this guest post for APDO, Paloma examines the relationship between organising and home staging, and how you can use both activities to increase the sale price of your home.

Organising and Home Staging: The perfect combo

Organising. Does the word alone make you think piles of boxes, chaos and runs to the charity shop? For the average homeowner that might be the idea, however, for professional organisers and home stagers, that same word can mean an opportunity to change someone’s life.

Organising and decluttering are usually the first items a homeowner needs to tick off their list when putting their property on the market, followed by handyman work, a thorough clean and the ever-so-efficient Home Staging.

There are several ways of improving a home to sell it faster – and better. Some can prove to be extreme and expensive, but others are quite straight-forward, practical and, most importantly, budget-friendly. Decluttering and Home Staging are a powerful combo for those wishing to achieve a quick sale and the highest offer value possible – which is the main goal for every Home Stager.

The effective techniques not only clear a property of excess items and personal belongings, they also prepare the homeowners for their move, getting the property ready for potential buyers who come for viewings in the hope of putting an offer down on their new lifestyle.

An organised, clutter-free home with the right pieces of furniture and accessories is ahead of the competition in the property market game.

In the Home Staging Profile 2018, research conducted by the Home Staging Association UK, 62% of property professionals mentioned that home staging has a great effect on the buyers’ view of the property, whilst 95% of the interview sample said that staged homes sell faster than non-staged ones.

In addition, 100% of estate agents and property developers said that home staging makes it easier for a buyer to visualise the property as their future home, meaning that while organisation is important, staging the home for potential buyers is key to securing a sale.

How can a professional organiser implement a few styling hues to their work?

According to Susie Batista from Cheshire Home Staging, there are some really stylish ways to be organised. It doesn’t always mean old tired cardboard boxes gathering dust, but clean purpose-built shelving with rows of wicker baskets, plastic containers for food items with trendy black labels.

Susie also suggests updated solid pine toy boxes, and stylish laundry baskets. The list is endless, and this type of organisation not only helps clear the mind and energy flow in the house but also looks aesthetically pleasing. It’s a win-win.

Before and after decluttering photo of home staged bedroom

Elaine Penhaul from Lemon and Lime Interiors suggests taking control and working strategically to eliminate the mess when decluttering a house for sale. It can be an exhausting task that sometimes seems never-ending, however, with the right approach it can be done in a very efficient manner.

Elaine likes to group her clients’ items into three categories: skip, store, show. One of the goals is to prepare for the move, so get rid of anything that isn’t needed for the new home. This is a lot more effective than storing and sorting later.

Before and after decluttering photo of a sitting room

The Home Staging Profile 2018 showed that 23% of the properties that were sold had the reception room staged, followed by 22% of properties that had the master bedroom staged. Therefore, if you need to choose a room to organise and style, these should be the ones to prioritise.

Whether it is to improve one’s quality of life, or to secure a sale which will allow a lifestyle upgrade, organising and staging walk hand-in-hand and can achieve great results when combined. It is proven to work, and the benefits are real – so what are you waiting for?

You can download a FREE Step-by-Step Guide to Home Staging at the HSA’s website 
and find your local professional organiser here.

Headshot of APDO President Katherine Blackler

Presidents Day: An interview with Katherine Blackler, APDO President

18th February is Presidents Day – what better day than to have a catch up with our APDO President Katherine Blackler. Katherine runs her company SortMySpace Ltd in South East London, but has taken some time out today to share her story with us.

How did you get into your chosen career and why?

I left a fast-paced project manager role in the corporate world to work out “what makes my heart sing”. I had spent 15 years in the City organising people and processes but was experiencing a disconnect. Whenever I was plugged into the day job, I just couldn’t reflect easily.

In the past, I’d travelled between work contracts to gain perspective and inspiration. This time I decided to stay put in London and refurbish my small home instead. While I was sleeping on a friend’s sofa-bed to dodge the dust of the building work, I noticed an article on minimalism which my best friend had left out. The William Morris quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” jumped out at me. It changed the way I created my new space and saw my possessions. And, unbeknown to me, it started to shape my new career path.

I then took a six-week road trip across the USA where I found myself helping out my host families: organising the trunk of a sleep-deprived mum’s car to have items for the ‘top-end’ of their kids in one box and items pertaining to the ‘bottom-end’ in another!  I made suggestions for my cousins in Chicago on how to use their space differently to save the hassle of moving to a new house. I even found myself in IKEA with a tape measure within 24 hours of meeting one of my brother’s friends in LA!

At that point I’d never heard the concept of a professional organiser and declutterer, but it made me realise this was something I genuinely enjoyed and that it could be an expanding market in the UK in the near future. Amusingly, I initially googled the term “efficient living consultant” as I had no idea what I’d be called if I made the jump!

A group photo of APDO Board members

The APDO Board in January 2019, one of 3 live meetings a year that the APDO Board hold

How did you become APDO’s President?

I first volunteered to be part of the APDO conference team as I have experience of running events from my corporate life. The Board felt I would be a good fit for a new role as Head of Partnerships and Campaigns helping to connect the Association with relevant businesses and charities whose focus or products overlap with the work our members do. I introduced the concept of Donate a Day during National Organising Week 2016 whereby our members get together to give their time and expertise to a charity for the day. It started with one event in London with six organisers and by 2018’s National Organising Week, we had almost 40 members supporting 12 charities across the UK. That’s one of my proudest APDO achievements – thus far!

I then introduced a second campaign week to APDO’s diary and we launched Spring Clearing Week in 2018 as a twist on the traditional spring cleaning idea. We are expecting Spring Clearing Week to grow year on year now in the same way as National Organising Week has.

In April 2017 I became APDO’s President-Elect, shadowing the then President Ingrid Jansen (Organise Your House). I stepped up in April 2018 for a two-year term as President. When I step off the board, I’ll become Past President for one year, on-hand for advice and support to the next President.

Group photo of Katherine Blackler and APDO colleagues

Katherine and APDO colleagues during the first Donate a Day at Dress for Success during National Organising Week 2016

What do you hope to achieve during your Presidency?

I’d said in my manifesto that I want every household in the UK to know what a professional organiser and declutterer is before I step down! Nothing like an enormous goal to keep you focused (or permanently in post!). That’s not to say every household will also engage a professional organiser, but without knowing that our members and their services exist they won’t be able to even entertain the idea.

I’m convinced the concept is catching on. Anyone joining the industry now is getting an easier time finding clients and building their business than even a few years ago, even if it still feels slow to them! But we still have a long way to go until our services are as recognised and embraced as those of a window cleaner or a plumber.

I appreciate that you can now watch videos on YouTube on how to tile a bathroom (or indeed improve organisation in your wardrobe) but if you call in an expert it’ll be done in a fraction of the time, be tailored to your exact needs and it comes off your to-do list so you can do things you enjoy more!

What do you get from the President’s role?

Volunteering for APDO is undoubtedly a big commitment but it’s such an exciting time to be involved in this growing industry; I wouldn’t miss it for the world! We’re at a challenging transition point for the association as we position ourselves as THE go-to resource for professional organisers and the public. My board members, past and present, are a true inspiration. They are an enormous support as I learn and develop to be the best version of me that I can.

I see this role as supporting my personal goals of spreading the word further whether that’s speaking on stage, radio or TV (as well as continuing to work one-to-one with my clients). I feel our physical environment is so important to the way we operate and how we respond to the world and life’s curveballs. If I can help more people achieve some balance and joy that brings me huge satisfaction; it’s the ‘personal connection’ puzzle piece I was missing in my City days!

Screen shot of a video conference screen during an APDO virtual Board meeting

An APDO virtual Board meeting, one of 3 virtual meetings that the APDO Board hold each year

Why the sudden massive interest in decluttering and organising?

It’s been growing steadily for the past decade, but conversations have undoubtedly spiked with the Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo and her new show hitting Netflix this January. The fact that APDO has doubled our membership from 150 to over 300 members in the past 3 years demonstrates an increase in awareness as this as a career or business choice too.

With time being the most precious commodity of all, we’re all trying to find ways to gain time for friends, family and memorable experiences. One way to do that is to reduce what you need to curate, maintain, repair and replace in your home.  Great initiatives like the Library of Things are expanding where you can borrow household appliances that you only use once or twice a year instead of buying and storing them yourself.

I feel that social media is helping spread awareness about our buying patterns and the impact on the environment, especially issues like single-use plastic or throwaway clothing, so consumer habits are shifting too. These environmental trends align with the work we’re doing decluttering and asking our clients to consciously consider what’s necessary or joyful for them whilst trying to stem future influxes of items into their space.

I’m excited to see how things unravel over the next few years for APDO and all its members.

If Katherine’s story has inspired you to consider a career as a professional organiser, you can find out more about joining APDO here.

Rails of brightly coloured clothes in a charity shop

What to do with your unwanted stuff

With UK Charity shops reporting record levels of donations in January (some have even closed their doors to donations as they are full), Sue Spencer of A Life More Organised gives us some suggestions about what to do with our unwanted stuff. Over to Sue…

Reuse, recycle or regift

As a professional organiser I work closely with my clients to try and reduce the number of discarded items which end up in landfill – my approach is reuse, recycle or regift.

  • Reuse – rather than buying new furniture or storage, look for ways of repurposing some of the things you already own.  Often moving furniture between rooms, or adding baskets to shelves in wardrobes, can change the look and feel of a space to suit your needs better.
  • Recycle – paper, plastics and metal can be recycled at your local household waste site. If you sort these in to boxes before leaving home, it makes it really easy to drop them off – my local household waste site is proud to recycle over 94% of the items it receives.
  • Regift (or donate) – your unwanted items to charity or pass on to friends, but do make sure that it’s something your friends need before you offload it on to them!

Donation suggestions

But what happens to the hard to donate items which charity shops don’t want?  Before putting them in the bin, have a quick look at the following suggestions as the chances are someone could find your unwanted “stuff” really useful.

Reading Glasses     

Most high street opticians will happily take your old reading glasses from you; they are sent off to Vision Aid Overseas who distribute them around the world, giving people the gift of sight again.

Rows of secondhand books for sale

Books 

Not all charity shops take books so if you have some which are in good condition, why not consider offering them to a local library, playgroup or school.

You could also try a trade-in site (We Buy Books, Ziffit or Music Magpie).  Download their apps and use the bar code reader to get an immediate trade-in value for your book.  Whilst some books are only worth 5p others do get trade-in values of £2-5. As postage is free, the income can soon mount up. One of my recent clients paid for her session with me through trading in some old books!

These trade-in sites also take DVDs and CDs and will accept mixed boxes of books and DVDs, something to bear in mind if you decide to go completely digital.

Bras – don’t burn them just yet

The charities Smalls for All and Against Breast Cancer accept bras which are in good used condition and then send them on to help women in African countries.

If you come across any unopened packets of ladies’ or children’s pants (or want to buy some to donate) then Smalls for All will also take these.

A pair of blue high heel shoes being discarded

Shoes

Most charity shops will accept shoess but there are also a charities, such as Sal’s Shoes which collect outgrown children’s shoes and distribute them to countries around the world – finding, in their words, “new feet for preloved shoes”.

Toiletries and Make Up

If you have a stash of toiletries left over from Christmas gifts or some miniatures acquired from hotel bathrooms which you’re not going to use, why not contact your local council to see if they have a collection scheme for a local women’s refuge or homeless centre as they are always looking for donations to give to the people who go to them for help.

Give and makeup is a charity which helps women in the London and Cardiff areas and will take toiletry and make up donations by post.

Bedding

Homeless centres and night shelters are always grateful for donations of unwanted bedding such as sheets, duvets and blankets but it’s always worth checking to see what they need (my local night shelter can only take single duvets).

If you’re an animal lover then vets or animal charities may also take some bedding blankets and towels to use as bedding in cages.

Rails of brightly coloured clothes in a charity shop

Clients often say that not knowing what to do with their edited belongings can be a block to getting these items out of their house. Now that you have some ideas about where to donate and send your items, you can declutter with peace of mind, knowing that your unwanted items will soon be on their way to becoming useful once again and bringing joy to someone else.

If you would like some guidance with your own decluttering, you can find your local professional organiser here.

Demystifying the Marie Kondo method

With the recent release of the Netflix show ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’, the Marie Kondo (or KonMari™) method of organising has become a hot topic in both the press and the professional organising world.  If you have read any news publication or looked at any social media so far this year, chances are you will have seen something about decluttering or the benefits of being tidy, both to your physical environment as well as your mental health.

The KonMari™ method differs from other decluttering methods because it advocates tidying by category rather than by room, and you choose what to keep based on what “sparks joy” for you.

In this post, certified KonMari™ consultant Jennifer Dudfield of Spark Serenity deals with some common misconceptions about the KonMari™ method.

APDO member Jen Dudfield of Spark Serenity

What is the KonMari™ method all about?

There are so many different approaches to decluttering, it can be as hard to figure out how to begin as it is to deal with the clutter itself!  Different methods deal with the clutter in different ways; each as individual as you and your needs.

There are methods to help up with decluttering your home, moving house, downsizing, house clearances, hoarding and those suffering with mental health issues. The list is endless; whatever can be organised has a method to help you along the way.

Along with this spotlight on the industry comes many misconceptions (and fears) about the KonMari™ method or what a professional organiser does.  What you can be sure of, however, no matter which method of decluttering you choose, a professional organiser will treat you with respect, empathy and compassion every step of the way.

You’ll make me bin all of my belongings

Currently trending is the fact that Marie states that you must discard all your books and that 30 is the optimal amount to keep.  Bibliophiles are not happy about this one, and quite rightly, books are sacred!  Luckily, this is entirely untrue; if the books bring you joy then Marie says keep them with confidence!  However, we all have our favourites and some that we will never read again, so do not feel obliged to keep those that do not ‘spark joy’.  You will be supported and coached in making your own decisions, no decision will be made for you and you will never be forced into discarding anything you don’t want to.

You’ll leave me with an overwhelming pile of mess

Professional organisers are there to support you every step of your journey to a more organised life.  KonMari™ consultants will not come in to your home, pile all of your items in the middle of the room and leave you to tackle it on your own.  We will do what’s right for you as an individual. For some people confronting a large pile of their belongings is just what they need to see (the ‘power of the pile’), but for others this is overwhelming (or there isn’t the space to do this). In these circumstances we will break the overall category down into more manageable subcategories.

I don’t want to live in a stark minimalistic house

Decluttering is about making your home work for you and your family, it is not about living in an Instagram worthy show home which is always pristine (unless, of course, this is what you’re after!).  We will gently guide you into making those decisions that are right for you and will implement systems that really work in your home so you won’t revert to clutter again, and so that when your home does inevitably get messy (life happens!), everything will have a place so you can put it back easily, saving you so much time and stress.

organised sitting room with bookcase and grey sofa

I don’t know what “spark joy” means, nothing I have makes me happy

Don’t worry!  It’s really hard to identify what makes you happy, or ‘sparks joy’ when you start decluttering.  As you declutter you start to learn more about yourself and, in time, what makes you happy.  You learn to listen to, and trust, your decisions.  Remember, things don’t have to be beautiful to ‘spark joy’, they could make you happy for the practical purpose they provide, a phone charging cable may not ‘spark joy’, but a fully charged phone sure will!  When you are less distracted by clutter you will be able to identify what causes you stress and address it, so you can live a more relaxed life, freeing you up to do the things you’ve never managed to find time for before.

A lot of my belongings are sentimental to me

As part of the KonMari™ process we leave sentimental belongings until last. This is to give you a chance to understand yourself, and the feelings you hold about your belongings, in more depth before you try to address the more emotional items.  Of course, it’s not as easy to just classify pictures and letters as sentimental, there are sentimental items mixed in with all other categories (your wedding outfit, an ex-partner’s jumper, your grandparents’ tea-set…) and it is ok to leave them until the end.  Don’t try and address them until you are ready.

Doing things in a particular order is too rigid

As with all approaches to decluttering, the KonMari™ method is client-led.  We tailor the philosophy to meet the needs of the individual, to make the most progress and spark the most joy.  We will not force you to do anything you do not want to do.

It seems like so much work

Dealing with your clutter and organising your home is a one-off exercise.  If done properly then you should never revert to clutter again.  Everything will be so much easier to maintain, folding your clothes will become a joy (not a chore!) and you will cherish your belongings.  If it feels too overwhelming then it can be broken down into further sub-categories, whatever makes it easiest for you.

Whichever approach you take to tackling your clutter needs to work for you.  Professional organisers are compassionate, caring, empathetic and will listen to you and your opinions, offering alternative solutions to help you get, and stay, organised.  Above all, we all love mess and can see the potential and opportunity in any home.

If you’re ready to start your decluttering journey, choose a method which inspires you, whether it’s watching ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ on Netflix, YouTube videos, joining supportive Facebook groups, buddying up with a friend or hiring a professional organiser from APDO, there is a person out there to help you with whatever you need.

If you want to find your local professional organiser, you can use the APDO Find An Organiser search tool here.

 

red front door

What to check before saying ‘Yes!’ to your new home

When you consider a new property, there’s loads to be thinking about, from the fixtures and furnishings to where you’ll eat your breakfast in the morning. In some cases, it’s so easy to visualise yourself in your new home, you miss out on some of the practical problems. In this post, the team at Really Moving show us the “five ‘S’s” to look out for, to make sure your new home doesn’t let you down!

Security

When choosing a new place to live, especially if it’s an area you’re unfamiliar with, you’re going to want to feel safe. Considering the safety aspects of the property will allow you to make an educated decision. You can look at sites like police.uk and see what crimes have been committed in the area (be sure to check your existing postcode too, just in case it seems shocking – you may find your own area had quite a few issues without you knowing!).

If there have been issues near the property, then it’s worth being very careful about security, and assessing the property on a visit.

What is access to the property like? Is there a garden gate to the front, or an easy way to get onto a flat roof? What does the garden back on to?

These don’t have to be deal-breakers, but knowing about access points will make it easier for you to secure your new home. It will also help when getting home insurance, and ensuring you get a great rate.

If you do think the property requires more security, look into what changes you could make, from simple fixes like sensor lights and a visible security system, to improving locks or making fences taller.

bright decluttered organised sitting room with couch

Storage

The holy grail of housing – what’s the storage like? If you’re lucky, the property will have built in storage, but if not, look for opportunities to maximise usable space. Window seats with an empty bench, ottomans that can hold blankets, under cupboard areas that could hold shelves or drawers.

Don’t forget to check whether there is a shed (and if it’s included) along with what the loft space is like and if it’s easily accessible and properly insulated.

The best thing you can do when buying a new home is to clear all your clutter in advance of your move. This stops you paying more money to move (and possibly store) your items, only for them to take up space in your new home.

Most people will want to decorate their new home in a different way to their previous one, or if it’s your first property, you’ll have the chance to co-ordinate and decorate as you like. In many cases, your older items don’t fit with the new aesthetic. If you know you’re planning to completely start over in your new home, don’t bother bringing all your old items with you.

If you’re upsizing, you may be surprised at how much space you have for all your items, but if you’re moving to a small flat, or downsizing from a bigger home, be sure to invest in furniture that doubles up as storage.

Structure

A Chartered Surveyor will able to tell you how structurally sound the property is. Issues like damp or subsidence can have a long term impact on how liveable your property is, and how its value will change over time. You can also take the opportunity to consider any structural changes you might like to make to the property, and what’s possible.

If you’re considering buying an older property that will need some TLC to turn into your dream home, a Building Survey is probably your best option. These are for older properties, or ones that have had significant work done to them, or you will do work to in the future.

An in-depth survey also gives you negotiating power with the seller – if you will need to spend money to fix elements of the property before you move in, you could use the survey to ask for a reduction in price. Your survey will often also tell you how much those improvements might cost.

bright decluttered organised hallway

Saving

Speaking of costs, do you know how much your property will cost you long term? No, we don’t mean the mortgage payments. By checking the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of your future home, you’ll be able to see how energy efficient the property is, and how you can save money on your bills. The EPC will tell you what improvements could be made to make the home more energy efficient, from big changes like solar panels, to the small ones like energy-saving lightbulbs. An EPC needs to be updated every 10 years, so make sure your seller’s one is up to date, so there are no nasty surprises down the line.

Space

When it comes to what makes a home, space and light are key. But don’t forget that even the smallest space has the opportunity to be improved – painting a room a lighter colour, introducing hidden storage spaces and not over-filling the area with clutter can make a big difference. That’s why we always recommend clearing as much as you can before you move, so you can decide how to make the most of the space your new home affords.

By looking into whether your future home could be extended, and whether there are any planning permission issues, you’ve effectively planned for the future and added value to your new home already. Space is always a good thing, and so looking at your potential new property with an understanding eye, and being willing to do the work and make compromises will set you up in a home you can enjoy for years to come.

If you need help decluttering your home before you move, you can find your nearest APDO professional organiser here.

If you are considering buying a new home in 2019, reallymoving.com are a moving home comparison site, providing instant quotes for conveyancing, surveys and removals, along with helpful guides and tips to make moving home stress-free.

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Snowdrops in sunshine

Organise to make the most of your outdoor space this spring!

Spring means snowdrops, daffodils and birds singing. The sun gets up earlier, it goes to bed later, the air seems fresher. If you have an outdoor space – whether it’s a garden, balcony, patio or a few steps – it suddenly seems more inviting. Invest a little time this spring to make the most of it. Moira Stone, owner of Uncluttered in Wales, APDO member and keen gardener, takes us through what we need to be organising to prepare our outdoor spaces for springtime.

You’ll probably need to get something out of your garden shed or garage. Is it difficult to find things because it’s so cluttered? Don’t despair. Focus on the task in hand, that’s organising your outdoor space for spring, and make a note to come back to sorting out the garage or shed later.

Declutter and tidy up a bit

  • Pick up any litter that’s blown into your space.
  • Remove fallen leaves and sticks from the pots, borders and lawn.
  • Clear away any other plant debris left over from summer and autumn and put it on the compost bin.
  • Weed a little – those pesky dandelions seed everywhere and soon get a grip.
  • Cut back the ornamental grasses that die down in winter.

 

daffodils growing in a park

I’d like to make a special plea for the garden pond and other water features. Give them a little TLC by clearing out the debris. Leave it on the side for 24 hours so any pond life captured can make its way back into the water – it helps the pond in so many ways. Then put the rest on the compost heap. Your water features will thank you for it!

Spring clean

There are days when it’s quite warm enough to sit outside with a cup of coffee and admire the great outdoors. That’s so much nicer when you’re sitting on clean garden furniture in an organised space.

Firstly, wipe away the green algae that has flourished on wood and glass in the generally mild and damp winter.

Next, bring the furniture out into direct sunlight and give the covers a good shake. Clean by wiping the furniture gently with a soft cloth and very dilute washing-up liquid. Gently scrub any dirt away with a small brush or old toothbrush. Leave the furniture to dry thoroughly.

Finally, brush up along steps, paths, patios and other hard surfaces to make them look neat.

tea cup and saucer on a white outdoor table next to pink flowers

Organise and display

Abundance is a sure-fire way to make an impact in an outdoor space. Do this by putting like with like, something that professional organisers love to do. Several pots of daffodils or crocus or tulips clustered together, for example, make a much bigger statement than when they are on their own.

Enjoy your outdoor space!

If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor space of whatever size or shape, enjoy it! If it’s got a little out of hand, then an APDO professional organiser, especially one interested in gardening, would be happy to help.

You can read Moira’s previous garden organising post for APDO here.

Open notebook and pen next to a mug and plant on a white desk

How to meet your organisational goals

Professional organisers help clients at different stages on their organising journeys. In this post, owner of Hertfordshire-based Blissfully Organised Tracy Ross shares some of her tips to help you achieve your decluttering and organising goals this year.

It’s not just the stuff

When we talk about decluttering, the focus is usually on the physical stuff taking up our space. However, there are other types of clutter in our lives which can also take our energy and time.

Time: Our time is precious, and it is easy to feel stressed when it feels as if we don’t have enough time to do what we want, and need, to do. First, make a list of your key priorities and then review these priorities against how you are actually spending your time. Can you edit out things that don’t fit in? Be careful not to over commit yourself.

Clock on a white wall above a white desk plant and lamp

Distractions: Electronics and their constant alerts distract your attention and impact your ability to focus. Managing your computer files and photos across multiple gadgets, keeping up with emails, searching for data and remembering updates and backups all take up your time and quickly become “digital clutter” if not managed well.

Routines and habits: Small changes to our daily habits add up to big results. Be aware of the habits and routines that are creating clutter or zapping your time. For example, do you put things away when you have finished with them? Are you wasting time on social media? Do you hit the snooze button too many times each morning?

Limiting beliefs: Take a good look at your routines and your mindset… what is stopping you from achieving your goals?

Organised kitchen shelves

 Achieving your organisational goals: My Top 5 Tips

  1. Schedule your sessions: Carve out small blocks of time for decluttering and organising, adding them to your diary to keep the time free. For example, you could set a timer for 15 minutes to work on a specific area, without distractions.
  2. Value your space: Visualise how you would like to enjoy the space that you have. What would make you feel relaxed and happy?
  3. Stop the inflow: Be careful about what you are bringing into your home. Try to stop buying new items when you are actively decluttering, or employ a “one-in-two-out” strategy.
  4. Celebrate your successes: Decluttering and organising takes time, especially if you are working through lots of paperwork or memorabilia. It’s important to reflect on what you have achieved so far, and to reward yourself for your progress.
  5. Ditch the guilt: Don’t be afraid to let things go. You don’t need to keep things out of guilt or obligation. Recycling the things that you no longer need reduces their environmental impact, whilst freeing up space in your home.

Finally, with all the above tips, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help can be hard but, even if you know what you need to do, working with someone else gives support, guidance and motivation. Which will speed up the process and make it a more positive experience.

If you would like support to help you with your decluttering and organising project,
you can find your local professional organiser on the APDO website.