Christmas decs put away? Found a home for all the new pressies? Still not feeling organised? Is your home feeling as sluggish as you? A well-organised home is more than just aesthetically pleasing; it plays a crucial role in enhancing your overall health and well-being. As an experienced interior designer, I've witnessed firsthand the transformative power of a thoughtfully organised living space. And as it’s January and the perfect time for a Spring clean I thought I would dive into it in this month’s blog. I'll explore the top tips to organise your home and delve into the reasons why it is essential for your mental and physical well-being.
There’s more and more research out there showing how important it is to have a home you feel safe and comfortable in and just by decluttering and having a plan of action for where things go can be liberating. Our environment plays an increasingly important role in our mental wellness.
A messy space can lead to stress, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and relationship strains. But on the flip-side the actual act of tidying can help you to feel better and in charge. So ensuring we have a process of managing our homes with simple routines (and us humans all love a routine to feel calm and safe) can really impact how we are thinking in our heads. As all the fitness pros will be telling us right now ‘consistency is key’. And if you’re organised and consistent about your home then you can follow that on with everything else in your life. Plus of course you’ll save yourself time as you won’t be hunting for things around the house!
With our busy lifestyles, it's easy for clutter to accumulate and take over our living spaces (especially post Xmas!), but have you ever stopped to think about how this affects your state of mind? Organising allows you to feel more in control—whether it's your work environment, personal environment, or even the documents on your laptop. It will create a positive mood, reduce some stress, and make you feel relaxed when you come home/or close the laptop after a day at work. It helps you to feel more grounded in your own space.
So why is that so hard to achieve and keep on top of? You’re not a disorganised person, or a bad housekeeper. You’re just trying to manage too much and that never-ending to do list is getting in your way. Taking the overwhelm out of it will help you move forward - so daily habits and simplifying things will get you on your way to a simpler life. Less is more, more time, more freedom and more money in your pocket (rather than on pointless clutter).
Here are some top tips for getting everything under control and your home feeling like your sanctuary:
1: Declutter for Clarity
Begin your journey to a well-organised home by decluttering. Everyone organises a bit differently, so it’s ultimately up to you on how you want to get started. There’s no right way or specific formula. Just use these tips to come up with an organising plan that works for you and your space.
Like any other goal, start with one that feels reasonable and achievable. I find a great way to get started is just by choosing one drawer, like your go-to junk drawer. Once you can keep it organised for a set period of time, like a week, then try moving on to the next small space.
Unnecessary items can create visual chaos and contribute to a sense of overwhelm. One for the students out there (and all us homeworkers too) is that the more things there are in our field of vision the more it impacts on our brain’s processing capacity (2). So invest some of your time in assessing each room and parting ways with items that no longer serve a purpose. Have a few boxes labelled “donate,” “rubbish” and “keep” to help you sort through items. To help your decision process, think about the function the item serves in your life, how often you use it and if you like it. Aim to set aside regular intervals to declutter and organise different areas of your home, focusing on one room or category at a time.
Remember though, try to stay focused on one small area at a time. Otherwise, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and give up altogether. You know how it goes, you get started organising one drawer, and before you know it, the entire room is in a state of chaos. Another way to look at it, is to try to adopt a minimalist mindset whilst you are decluttering. So focus on quality over quantity and resist the temptation to store lots of ‘just in case’ possessions.
Then once you have started, you need to create a decluttering routine, this is the bit that will serve you forwards and keep you on track.
2: Optimise Storage Solutions
So you’ve sorted through and decided what to bin and donate but what about those bits you are keeping? Don’t just shove them back in a cupboard willy-nilly! It’s helpful to start focusing on how hard your storage areas are working for you: drawers, shelves, cabinets or closets. That way, you will have organised and dedicated spaces for items to go once you begin sorting and decluttering in other areas of your home.
Invest in clever storage solutions to keep belongings neatly tucked away. Utilise vertical space with tall shelves, install under-bed storage, and embrace multifunctional furniture to make the most of every inch. Practise the "one in, one out" rule: For every new item you bring into your home, consider donating or discarding an old item to prevent unnecessary hoarding.
3: Create Functional Zones
Another great way of ensuring your home feels calm and that it flows well for you, is to try to designate specific areas for different activities. Whether it's a cosy reading nook, a dedicated workspace, or a tranquil meditation corner, creating purposeful zones enhances efficiency and allows for a seamless flow within your living space. You then have a dedicated home for items around your house too and they won’t just pile back up on the kitchen table.
4: Prioritise Natural Light
The next proven way of getting you to feel better is maxing the natural light, especially in the winter months. So open up your curtains and clean your windows! Arrange furniture to allow for unobstructed views of windows, use sheer curtains, and strategically place mirrors to reflect light throughout the room. Exposure to natural light has been linked to improved mood and increased productivity, making it a crucial element in the well-being of your home.
5: Personalise with Purpose
While personalising your space is important, do so with intention. Choose items that bring joy and resonate with you. Avoid overcrowding surfaces with excessive knick-knacks (unless they are beautifully grouped and displayed of course!), as a well-curated selection of meaningful items gives a sense of connection and emotional well-being. Those mementoes tell a story of your life. Consider the placement of your furniture, the use of colour, and the arrangement of decorative elements to create a harmonious environment. Ikea’s Life at Home annual report (1) stated that people who made changes to their homes to make them feel safe, comfortable and reflect their personalities have far better mental health outcomes. The report is a great read but really does underline the importance of having a home that makes you feel good.
6: Invest in Quality Sleep
So you have decluttered, brought in daylight and personalised your space to surround yourself with feel good items. What next? It’s that most often craved thing - good sleep! Clearing and organising your bedroom to prioritise quality sleep. Choose calming colour schemes, invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows, and minimise electronic devices in the bedroom. Quality sleep is paramount for overall health, and a well-organised and calm bedroom sets the stage for much more restful nights.
So start small - imagine what you could get done in 15 minutes if you just concentrated on that? Make a plan of daily tasks that you (plus your partner/kids) all cover off each day to keep things ticking along nicely. And if you’re like me, then this needs to be a team agreement so that everyone has bought into the plan (or bribery can work too of course).
You’ve got this - you can create a living space that nurtures both your physical and mental health. Remember, the key is to tailor these tips to your preferences and lifestyle, so that your home becomes a reflection of your unique style and a haven for your overall wellbeing.
One final winner in my book is the act of tidying and cleaning makes you slow down which can have a calming effect too. The physical outlet can give you time to release frustration and recalibrate. What’s to lose? And remember your home didn’t get full of clutter in just one day so you can’t expect it to be decluttered in one day either. It’s January - be consistent with those goals ;)
And as always if you need any help working out where to stash your life's essentials then give me a shout.
Photo credits: Apartment Therapy, A Place for Everything, Camilia Living, CCJH, Coco Lapine Design, Deholic, Decorated Life, Decopad, DEN LIFE interiors, Est Living, Josh Hemsley, My Domaine, Paper Snitch Blog, Style Curator, The Brain and the Brawn and Your DIY Family
References: 1: IKEA Life at Home report 2: McMains S, Kastner S. Interactions of Top=Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience 2011