Our MD Simon was dishing out his top tips on de-cluttering this week just in time for a good spring clean to blitz away the winter blues. He suggests a top to bottom thorough clean to not only make your home look more appealing, but to help lift your spirits by creating an airy and spacious room. He suggests that it’s the perfect time to de-clutter, which isn’t about throwing everything away but more about getting rid of things that are useless to make room for things that are useful. Our utility room tidy bucket is the ideal tool to take with you from room to room to clean as you go.
Archive for the ‘Storage Articles’ Category
This week guest blogger and friend of STORE Chrissy Halton gives her top tips on banishing clutter and maximising your storage space:
Before starting on any new restyle or redecoration you need to look at what you already have, and decide on what you want to keep, and what can be re-housed.
Decluttering a room can transform it – and possibly saves the need for complete redecoration as it gives the whole space a new lease of life. Your decoration and accessories can get lost amongst the clutter collected in everyday life very easily. People constantly strive for the modern, show home look so that they can have friends round and feel proud of their home – but it is often easy to forget that show homes are NOT real life – they do not have to have all the items that we all collect during our lives cluttering up the place, and they can be seen to be more spacious and thus more enticing.
In recent years the term “decluttering” has a very bad press, and is thought only to refer to those houses that you can barely walk around for the mess. In actual fact we all have clutter in our homes, it’s a fact of life! Clutter is simply anything that is not needed or loved in your home, or something that is not in its correct home. Therefore the only thing we need to be wary of is keeping it under control, and that can make all the difference in a design scheme, and will make or break it. You can have the most beautiful home, but if it has clutter (to whatever level) it will never feel as comfortable and relaxing and finished as you would like.
There are many reasons why we have clutter in our houses – life is busy and it is inevitable that some amount of clutter will build up. But it should be noted that it can make people depressed and unable to relax in their own home. They may feel overwhelmed at the task of sorting everything out, and many just start to ignore it. However, if it’s kept under control it is easier to create a beautiful and relaxing home.
But the question is – where do you start?
First things first – prepare! Have a variety of storage boxes, bin liners and containers to hand, along with sticky labels, marker pens etc. This will make your life easier as you go through your home.
Start with one room/area at a time. For every item you find, ask yourself whether you want to keep it or get rid of it.
If you want to get rid of it, is it rubbish/recycling or could it be given to charity/family/friends? – have a box for each, and start to fill them!
If you want to keep it, ask yourself whether it is in the right room /area and whether it is useful or beautiful. Keeping items grouped together will help you have a more organised home (wrapping paper and cards stored with pens and sticky tape for example will make life easier when you come to someones birthday!). If an item is beautiful – where can you show it off to its best advantage (this will help you when you are restyling a room – you will know exactly what you have and where you want it to be seen – always a good starting point).
Other handy hints for de-cluttering and organising your home are as follows:-
Keep wardrobes and rooms more organised by rotating with the seasons. Pack away items that are out of the current season (i.e. in summer you won’t need jumpers and coats, and your home will look fresher without the heavy curtains and throws you bought in the winter). When the next season comes around, pack away what you don’t need and get out of storage what you do. This is a great way of restyling your home easily, as most people have so much in their homes that you can’t put it all on display easily. By splitting up into seasons you can appreciate all your accessories at different times of the year, and create a refreshing change at the same time!
Take one area at a time – you will then start to see a real difference rather than if you jump from place to place.
For a family why not have colour coordinated storage boxes in the hallway – then anything that needs to be done/moved can be put into that persons box rather than put in piles that create a cluttered look in even the tidiest of houses (this can be done with post, toys, school bags, shoes and much more). This can create a very stylish and practical storage solution.
So by now you will have thrown away, recycled, given away and packed away – and you will be left only with those things you need and those that you really love. At this point you will have a much better view of your home, and the space each room has. Now is the perfect time to assess the space and create the room design that you want. You won’t have to work around items that you don’t want to keep, and you can really see what you have to work with. You can now start accessorising your home and creating that all important new look.
Get rid of the clutter, create space, and get that beautiful home!
This guest blog was written by friend of STORE Chrissy Halton who is owner of the Innerspace Home Organisation Company and a professional declutterer. Chrissy works across the North West assisting clients with interior styling for both living in and selling their proprety as well as home organisation and decluttering.
This time last year I wrote a post mentioning that there’s a school of thought amongst professional declutterers that says you should try to treat your space with a little more respect if you really want to take control of your clutter.
The theory goes that the inside of your home is a reflection of you and the organisation within should reflect the life you want to live. Getting organised and decluttering your pad could therefore be the answer to enjoying the space you live in this New Year and maybe also allow you to take a little more control of your life.
With this in mind, if you’re one of the 21% of UK residents who’s New Year’s Resolution is to be a bit tidier and more organised in 2011 here’s a few tips to help:
Just be You!
Some of our shop customers looking for storage solutions to solve their clutter problems confuse being organised with being perfect. Others confuse being organised with being neat. There’s also plenty of neat freaks out there (including myself!) who are also disorganised. What you actually need to strive for is simply being neater than you are currently.
Doing something practical to declutter your space whether it’s your office desk or your entire home is going to make you feel a whole lot better about yourself this New Year but if you’re not the kind of person who’s going to keep things super-tidy then don’t pretend you’re going to change overnight. Instead try to find small simple ways to effectively manage the clutter you create on a daily basis. For example, something as simple as a small plastic storage box or container to store and manage the daily post is simple but very effective.
Whether you’re intending to spend the entire weekend tackling a room full of clutter or simply wanting to reorganise your shoe storage collection, start your de-cluttering in bit sized chunks so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Don’t try and re-organise the entire house in one go but concentrate your efforts in one area trying not to “zig-zig de-clutter” by moving things from one space to another creating even more mess!
The 3 Box Rule is a great trick we often share with our STORE customers and it goes something like this:
When decluttering and reorganising a room, put each item you move into one of three cardboard boxes,
Definitely Keep Box – This is the “I’m 100% sure” temporary storage box for items that are definitely being returned into the space you’re decluttering.
Attempt to Sell Box – Would you rather continue to hoard that shiny new squash racket you’ve not used in the last 2-years since trying to get fit or have the cash? If you haven’t used it in the last 12-18 months then it’s time to go! Ebay, car-boot sale, postcard on the notice board at work, etc. etc. just be decisive and be realistic…you’ve never used it so let someone else enjoy it and you can enjoy the cash!
Charity / Recycle Box – Have a good look through your Attempt to Sell box and be realistic, some of your decluttered items may just be a bit too tatty to sell. Instead, why not take them to the local charity shop or donate them to your local primary school etc. and if they’re just tatty or worn-out then recycle.
But my New Year’s Resolutions usually only last a month or two
Wrong!…Last year Sheila’s Wheels car insurance undertook a survey of 2,000 UK residents that suggested our will power ran-out on average in less than 12 days! If you think you’re going to falter try reading my post on Staying Organised after you’ve Decluttered or follow this simple tip which I gleaned from a storage professional across the pond:
Think of that pile of unopened post or stack of untouched paperwork on your desk that needs organising in the same way as you think of your kitchen sink. Most of us (even STORE’s warehouse manager Kevin) have a natural tolerance for how long we leave dishes cluttering-up the sink and draining board. For some people it’s a day or two and others can’t stand to go to bed at night without doing the washing-up. Have this same tolerance threshold to your household post or paperwork: open, read, action and decisively discard or file and you’ll notice the differences within a few days.
The more you perform this simple decluttering task, the more your awareness will grow of better organisation and the longer your New Year’s resolution to be a bit more organised might last.
This transferable organisational skill can be used in other areas of your home too and over time you’ll naturally become more conscious about what you bring into the house and indeed what you spend your hard earned pennies on. You see, decluttering and reorganising is a money-saver too!
Finally, a very Happy & Organised New Year from all at STORE !
Born Cesare Colombo in Milan in 1930 ‘Joe’ Colombo as he became known was in my opinion one of the finest industrial designers of domestic storage solutions. He had a real passion for storage & decluttering and I think his design and passion for storage is simply unparalleled. I hope my short biog of Colombo’s design work on storage products might convince you too:
1958 – As an architecture student at Milan Polytechnic, Colombo was already experimenting with product design in the new wonder material, plastic! He’d previously studied fine art then experimented with abstract art, stumbling into design in 1953 when he was asked to design the ceiling and three open-air seating areas of a jazz club.
1963 – Obsessed with storage, Colombo creates the Combi-Centre. This mobile storage unit (see image left) consisted of a series of cylindrical units that slotted into each other and was designed to store books, drinks or even used as a tool storage cabinet.
In the same year he also produced The Mini-Kitchen, a wheeled storage container just 90cm high and 75cm wide with a hob, oven, grill, fridge, work-top and which still had storage for cookbooks, kitchen utensils and foodstuff.
1964 – Colombo designed the famous Man-Woman Storage Container. He saw this as a modern take on the Victorian travel trunk or perhaps the seaman’s chest but for a couple. The Man-Woman Storage Container had enough shelves, clothes rails, storage drawers and a mirror for two people all inside two storage boxes.
1967 – Colombo’s experiments in the design of modular furniture culminate with his space saving chairs – Additional Living System. He loved product that could be adapted to the users own environment and needs and then perhaps stored away to save space when not required and this was just that.
1968 – Box 1, Colombo’s “night and day facility” was manufactured. The Box 1 contained all the requirements of a bedroom within a series of interlocking storage boxes which when required divide to become a bed, wardrobe and shelves.
1969 – VISIONA1, a more luxurious version of Box 1 was designed which Colombo described as his “habitat of the future” and which contained the contents of an entire house within a series of mobile storage units with no dividing walls, (perhaps inspired by Le Corbusier’s Transformable Double-House).
Back with kitchen storage, Colombo designed the Roto-Living Unit in 1969 for his own kitchen which also had a small production run. The unit consisted of a storage cube with a central rotating table which could be adjusted to different heights surrounded and enclosed by kitchen storage units.
‘69 can’t pass without mentioning his CABRIOLET-BED. Whilst this item wasn’t a product designed with storage in mind it’s an absolute design classic of the 60’s. The bed had a hood that closed like a convertible car to provide total privacy for the user(s), and a lighting system that could simulate day or night time lighting alongside a stereo system.
1970 – Colombo’s design work with storage products culminated in 1970 with the famous Boby Trolley. Made from ABS it had rotating drawers and shelves and 40 years later is still now in production with Bieffeplast.
1972 – MoMA New York exhibits Colombo’s Total Furnishing Unit, a 1971 designed giant storage box that has all the essentials of modern living, a kitchen, bathroom, bed and storage cupboards all contained within a single storage box in classic Colombo colours of white, yellow, red and black.
Sadly Colombo died on his 41st birthday 30 July 1971 so did not get to see his masterpiece of storage design in MoMA.
The German Weissenhofsiedlung housing estate was one of the most significant architectural landmarks erected by the Neues Bauen movement. Within the Weissenhof Estate is an amazing semi-detached house designed by the Swiss-born architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris who preferred to be known as Le Corbusier.
Known as the “Transformable Double-House” (it doesn’t have such a ring to it when translated into English!), Le Corbusier designed the interior with flexibility and efficient use of space in mind. Each internal area was carefully thought-out to allow adaption for different uses of the space at differing times of the day and indeed also offer multifunctional roles at the same time for it’s occupants without the feeling of being surrounded by clutter.
Family space in the Le Corbusier house is axially arranged on a single floor. During the day the space is not delineated by walls, only by columns. By night, sliding partitions sub-divide the space into “sleeping cells” which can be configured as the resident wishes. As in a steam train sleeper carriage of the time, the beds fold away during the day into multifunctional storage cupboards. Le Corbusier also planned to add a range of compact bent wood space saving furniture that would equip all areas for both day and night use but was sadly compromised by budget and time.
Le Corbusier’s vision was for a modular house to which more bays could be added as and when additional space was required (sounds rather like our elfa shelving!). The addition of extra space could be easily achieved as the stairs were placed perpendicular to the main body of the building. To save further space this in turn backed onto a shared garden.
This visionary house was flexible both in design and in social relations but at the time Le Corbusier was criticised for his “romantic use of technology” and the “focus on a bourgeois clientele” which I think was a tad unfair.
What I find amazing about the interior of this 1920’s house was the visionary thinking when it came to multifunctional use of space. Today we live in much smaller houses and often have to make our rooms and family space work much harder for us by giving them multifunctional uses, e.g. a modern living room that may also have a small desk providing a quasi home office in the corner. Le Corbusier was way ahead of his time when it came to how we actually use our space rather than what we officially designate it for and lovers of modern architecture & interior design plus storage & decluttering geeks like me would find the Weissenhofsiedlung estate and the preserved 1927 Le Corbusier house well worth a visit.
Hearty congratulations to STORE customers Andy and Ewan on renovation of their 17th century holiday cottage Stoer Lodge in our (almost) namesake village of Stoer in Sutherland.
Nestling on the edge of a near perfect sandy bay close to Lochinver in Sutherland, Store…sorry Stoer Lodge, a former school house, enjoys stunning views of Skye, Harris and across the Assynt Peninsula.
Inside the chaps have undertake a fantastically stylish yet ecletic renovation job and included a few little details from STORE to make sure that Stoer Lodge storage is spot on.
Stoer Lodge offers everything anyone would want in a holiday cottage and gets the STORE seal of approval post our recent visit. Whether you’re after a long weekend away to declutter the mind or wanting great fishing or hill walking, Stoer Lodge has to be worth considering.
Congratulations again Andy and Ewan, just like STORE Stoer Lodge really is A Place For Everything!
Stoer Lodge Holiday Cottage in Stoer near Lochinver is available to book via Wilderness Scottish Holiday Cottages website.
Back in July 2009 I wrote about the world’s oldest storage solution, a 14th century BC Japanese kitchen storage pot and sitting on my laptop here in the STORE staff kitchen full of natty kitchen storage ideas I started wondering about the origins of the fitted kitchen and just who came up with the idea of built-in storage cupboards etc.
I think the world’s oldest fitted kitchen is probably The Frankfurt Kitchen which was designed by Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky in 1926 as an ergonomic low cost ‘one design fits all’ kitchen for the masses & which sought to provide adequate work and storage space for both cooking and laundry.
It seems to me that Schütte-Lihotzky was way ahead of her time, effectively inventing the modern fitted kitchen in a Eureka moment but her ideas were not just about good design, there was a lot of scientific thought behind the layout.
Perhaps influenced by the American Fredrick Taylor’s turn of the century papers on the scientific management of workflow (the process now commonly referred to as Taylorism), Schütte-Lihotzky careful studied routine kitchen tasks and designed the Frankfurt kitchen around the space and storage required for each chore.
The result IMHO was a masterpiece of decluttering the traditional domestic kitchen and included items such as food storage containers and jars that were always close to hand (near preparation areas) yet neatly tucked out of site.
At only 1.9m wide by 3.4m long, Schütte-Lihotzky had to be very clever with her use of kitchen storage and she incorporated a sliding rather than traditionally opening kitchen door into the design to maximise the space she could then use within the kitchen area. Shown in the photo (on the left hand wall) there’s also a neat use of vertical storage space with a fold-down ironing board.
The right hand wall housed most of the food storage cupboards and included dedicated labeled storage bins/scoops for rice, flour, sugar etc. Amazingly (and don’t forget we’re talking 1926 here) this unit also container a recycling bin (actually it was a drawer) that food scraps could be brushed into and emptied afterwards.
The narrow galley-style layout, not so unfamiliar to lots of us today was not solely a result of space constraints, it was a conscious design decision on Schütte-Lihotzky’s part to minimise the number of steps needed when working within the kitchen….how very Tayloristic!
Perhaps however, the Tayloristic approach was in the end the downfall of the Frankfurt kitchen. Like Taylor himself who received strong reaction to his scientific management methods from factory workers who found the repetitive processes boring and “requiring little skill”, the Frankfurt kitchen was often described as not flexible enough. In developing a standard method for performing each kitchen or laundry task perhaps Schütte-Lihotzky had forgotten that we human beings are not all the same and operate in different ways. Another issue often cited was that the storage bins were too accessible by small children.
Despite these criticisms, the Frankfurt kitchen became a model for the modern fitted kitchen. Some 10,000 units were installed Frankfurt’s high-rises and as such it was a massive commercial success.
I love the look and design of the Frankfurt kitchen and the idea that way back in 1926 Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky was thinking about efficient use of space, decluttering the kitchen environment and kitchen storage solutions.
Four years ago the Victoria and Albert Museum acquired a Frankfurt kitchen for its traveling exhibition. The same year another sold for nearly £35,000! Sadly at the time of writing the V&A’s Frankfurt kitchen is currently in store but if you search the collections area of the V&A website there’s some great photos of their Frankfurt kitchen although I have to confess I think the V&A may have sourced the wrong kitchen chair as Schütte-Lihotzky original design had a revolving stool on castors for maximum flexibility!
We occasionally meet despairing customers in our Chester STORE, disheartened by their own clutter and inability to maintain neat and tidy storage in their homes just a few days or weeks after they’ve had a really good go at getting organised and streamlining their space.
If you’re reading this and thinking “that’s me, I try but I never seem to stay organised after the event” then keep reading because being aware you’ve got a clutter problem at your place is the first step towards making a change.
One of the keys to decluttering and organising your space is taking control of the flow of ‘stuff’ that comes into your life, whether it’s across your desk at work,or with home organisation. And one of the biggest storage and organisational issues I’m always quizzed about in our shops is, how to effectively control and store post and paperwork.
Firstly, make sure that the flow of items through the letterbox and general paperwork you pick-up elsewhere is effectively stored in an in-tray, file box, or even a series of colour coded plastic boxes, each for different subjects or people in your house. Popping mail and paperwork into A4 sized storage boxes is going to instantly provide gratification via a more organised storage routine but the key to decluttering and staying on top of the reams of paperwork in these storage box in-trays is to manage the ‘through flow’ and indeed ‘out flow’ of paperwork you store in them.
A great tip I gleaned from a storage professional across the pond was to think of these colour coded storage boxes for your post in the same way as you think of your kitchen sink. Most of us (even STORE’s warehouse manager Kevin) have a natural tolerance for how long we leave dishes cluttering-up the sink and draining board. For some people it’s a day or two and others can’t stand to go to bed at night without doing the washing-up. Have this same tolerance threshold to your household post and paperwork: open, read, action and decisively discard or file and you’ll notice the differences within a few days.
The more you perform this simply paperwork decluttering task, the more your awareness will grow of better organisation. This transferable organisational skill can be used in other areas of your home too and over time you’ll naturally become more conscious about what you bring into the house and indeed what you spend your hard earned pennies on. You see, decluttering and reorganising is a money-saver too!
There’s a school of thought amongst profession declutterers that says you should try to treat your space with a little more respect if you really want to take control of your clutter. The theory goes that the inside of your home is a reflection of you and the organisation within should reflect the life you want to live. Getting organised and decluttering your pad could therefore be the answer to enjoying the space you live in and maybe also allow you to take a little more control of your life.
With this mantra in mind, I have a New Year’s confession…despite being a purveyor of storage solutions, my own kitchen (specifically the storage space in my kitchen) is currently in a terrible mess. I’m not sure whether it’s the product of having a new baby and no time on our hands or just the fact that we’ve abused our kitchen storage cupboards over Christmas in the rush to fatten-up our guests!
Deciding that the best way to spend the first real Friday night of the New Year was to declutter our kitchen storage cupboards, I set to work (post Celebrity Big Brother) to find a solution to my resolution and take control of our cluttered kitchen.
I must say having completed the task at a shade before midnight I got a real buzz from seeing all the neatly stored tins and tidy cutlery drawers despite the fact that my partner now says she can’t find a thing!
So, while they’re fresh in my mind, here’s my New Year tips for organising your kitchen storage space:
1. Bin Items You Don’t Use…
Up until last night, our kitchen drawers looked like we were collecting utensils to pass down through the generations! We really don’t need 2 blunt bread knifes, the fancy cork screw that doesn’t really work but looks funky and 5 biro pens in the cutlery drawer. So I decided to have a purge and recycle the stuff that’s broken and take anything remotely useful but rarely used to the local charity shop.
Wicker and seagrass baskets can create a great ordered look on your kitchen shelves and will allow you to group, order and more easily find items. Stash all your tins of soup in a wicker basket on a kitchen shelf and tea-towels in another, or how about using a seagrass basket to store condiments inside a cupboard for easy access when they’re all needed on the dinner table together.
3. Label What you Can’t See…
My partner loves her recipes and has a pile of cookbooks stored inside three big old biscuit tins in a kitchen cupboard next to the cooker. Scrawling “books” on a label is a good start but “Cookbooks” is better; “Recipes: Cakes” or “Pudding Recipes” will make finding a particularly tasty dessert even more easy.
4. Go Visit Our Online Storage Solutions Shop!…
Ok, ok I couldn’t resist a plug at the end. We’ve some really neat kitchen storage solutions in our online shop and here are a few of my favourites:
Drawer Organiser Set No. 2
Simple plastic trays that are tailored to fit standard UK kitchen drawers. Move ‘em around within your kitchen drawers for better storage of utensils and cutlery.
Corner Plate Rack
Neat cost effective storage solution to make the most of kitchen cupboard corners and ensure that all your dinner plates are stacked and organised separately from your side plates.
Handy 3-tiered item to store inside your kitchen cupboards to ensure that your spice jars at the rear of the cupboard can be seen and are as easy-to-hand as those at the front.
Mesh Stacking Shelves
Creates extra storage space where there was none. These handy chaps make the most of unused vertical space in your kitchen cupboards.
Sachet & Packet Store
Compact tiered storage box to organise all those sauce sachets, cup-a-soup packets and powered custard sachets etc..
Here’s to a Happy and Organised New Year! Si
I was watching art historian Dr Gus Casely-Hayford’s BBC4 documentary exploring the pre-colonial history of some of Africa’s more impressive kingdoms this week. There was a remarkable snippet on the magnificent 16th-century bronze casts that were discovered in the kingdom of Benin in 1897 which many at the time could not believe had been made by Africans! In the same show Gus touched upon a group of sophisticated West African cave dwellers who had constructed and decorated sizable food stores within their caves to store and preserve grains and pulses. These early storage solutions represent an important turning point in history both in terms of the constructor’s abilities to secure and store their food for future use and also the fact that their sophisticated lifestyle allowed time to decorate the exteriors of these giant food storage boxes.
So are these the oldest known examples of kitchen or rather food storage solutions in the world? Apparently not…
The oldest food storage boxes used to store, preserve and cook food in are around 14,000 years old (that’s the Stone Age to you and me) and come from Japan. Known as Jomon storage pots, and heralded (by me) as the world’s first kitchen storage solution, they were crafted from coiled wet clay which was baked and then had strands of wicker or seagrass added to the outside to give a basket-like look.
I believe that Jomon literally means ‘wicker-like storage basket’ or ‘cord pattern basket’ in Japanese but these storage pots represent much more than the slightly misleading translation suggests and in my opinion are a remarkable leap in technology. Unlike the contemporaneous crude wicker storage baskets or even large leaves and foliage used to store or eat food off, the Jomon storage pots where both watertight and allowed food to be cooked inside without the risk of burning meat etc or destroying the container in a fire. Further, they also allowed easy and secure transport of whatever was stored inside from one place to another.
It could be postulated that the ability to safely transport stored items was important to the Jomon people who were hunter-gatherers, however they lived in a particularly food rich area which allowed the Jomon to settle in one place for years at a time and (it is thought) thus encouraged the invention of what is in my opinion the world’s first storage solution.
Remarkably some Jomon storage pots still contain burnt food deposits and gas chromatography –mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis has revealed the residue of what could also be the world’s first fish stew and remarkable over 65 different mammal species!
So you heard it here first…the world’s first kitchen storage solution was invented by the Japanese 14,000 years ago!
Any other contenders for the oldest storage solution in the world, please let me know!
Si @ STORE HQ