Small change = big change
With National Spring Cleaning Week just around the corner, we thought we’d take a look at the process and advantages of de-cluttering, and how small changes in your house can create big changes in your life...
In order to keep a tidy house we first need to bid farewell to our old clothes, books, memorabilia and discard all else that does not spark joy - but how can a good spring clean benefit more than just your home?
An untidy home can easily become a stressful environment, bombarding us with excessive stimuli which makes it more difficult to relax, distracting our attention from what we should be focusing on and even inducing feelings of guilt or embarrassment - how often have we apologised for the state of our home upon the arrival of unexpected guests, or hastily shoved clutter into a drawer or cupboard in an effort to appear more organised?
With enough chaos found in the outside world, your home should be a haven - somewhere you can relax, clean open spaces that allow you to focus on what’s important and a place to be creative and productive. Luckily, unlike other common sources of stress (careers, relationships etc.) clutter is a problem easily remedied.
Tidy house, tidy mind - our 10 top tips
Once you’ve decided to take the first step and clean out your clutter, these 10 tips should make your tidying process easier:
Visualise your goals
With an image fresh in your mind of how your surroundings will look once you've removed all of your unnecessary belongings you'll find it much easier to work towards these goals. For example, if you have a bookshelf or sideboard that's constantly covered in clutter, imagine how much better it will look when its contents are reduced and reorganised; motivation should readily follow if you have clear goals in mind.
set your schedule
Although it may seem feasible to dedicate a whole day to cleaning your entire house, the reality is that most people will struggle to remain focused at tidying for more than 2-3 hours at a time. It is much better to set aside a few hours over a couple of weeks and remain highly motivated and efficient every time you de-clutter, instead of burning out and feeling even more anxious about the mess you just made!
BE REALISTIC WITH YOUR expectations
Nobody is perfect or keeps a perfect house, despite what you may see in some home and living magazines. Whilst a clean, tidy and organised house is something that most of us can achieve, make sure that you're not aiming for perfection or you may end up disappointed.
complete each task in full
Once you've sorted through your clutter and decided what you're not keeping and how you're going to dispose of it - do it straight away! Don't put aside bags of clothes that are destined for a charity shop or the tip, take them on the same day, and if that's not possible then at least put them in your car ready to be taken. If you have belongings to be donated to a friend, get in contact and arrange to meet up. If you're not proactive about disposing of your clutter it'll continue to build up and you'll remain stressed.
don't buy before organising
Although it is very tempting to stock up on trendy storage solutions before undertaking a big clear out, until you've throughly sorted through your belongings you won't know how much storage you'll actually need, and might be surprised by just how much you throw out. Wait until you've collated all of the things that you are going to keep and take it from there.
break down sorting tasks into types, not rooms
Whilst it may seem a good idea to tackle your mess room by room, tidying in this manner is likely to leave you finding multiples of items and confusing your process. It is much better to gather ALL of your belongings of that type (clothes, books, beauty products etc.) and sort through them all methodically.
Kitchens are an exception to this as the majority of belongings normally found in a kitchen are unlikely to be found elsewhere in the house. However, ensure that everything kitchen-related is gathered up from the entire house before sorting.
if you're keeping it, find it a home
The key to maintaining a tidy house is to make sure everything belongs somewhere; this ensures that when spaces start being untidy it's a simple process of returning everything to its rightful place to restore order. If you do not have a home for every item you will soon find yourself getting cluttered again, something to be avoided at all costs.
if it doesn't spark joy, throw it out
By holding an item in your hands and asking yourself if it sparks joy you should be able to sort through and throw out considerable amounts of belongings that you were previously unsure about. It's the pinnacle process of the KonMari method, and highly effective. Be as brutal as you can, the more you get rid of the easier it gets, and the better your chances at keeping your house organised.
don't be afraid to ask a friend or relative for help
It is much easier to be objective about your belongings if you have to justify keeping them to someone else. Pick someone who will be honest and not just agree with you when you want them to. If you truly want to keep an item (particularly sentimental keepsakes) you will fight for it, and if you can be talked out of it then you probably never needed to keep it anyway.
better finished than perfect
Rome wasn't built in a day, and your organised and clutter-free home is going to take some work too, so don't feel like a failure if you find yourself tidying up again next month. Instead, realise the progress that you've made and relax in the knowledge that after a big initial cleanse you're in a much better position to keep your home in order from now on. Reap the benefits of a clean and tidy house and keep on top of clutter now that you have a far more efficient system for dealing with mess and disorganised spaces.
3 more steps to an even happier home
Now that you have a downsized, organised and tidy house how else can you improve your surroundings for even more health and psychological benefits? With a little consideration for the following three ideas, you can transform your home from just a tidy space to a living, breathing and beautiful oasis.
Whilst we are not all fortunate enough to have big south-facing windows in our homes, or even much sun, simple changes to the way you light your house can have a big impact on your mood, and it is very often overlooked. Simply changing your lampshades from dark angular pieces to round and pale shades will diffuse light gently and result in less harsh shadows and bright lights, with a more even spread of light for a more relaxing atmosphere. Also consider additional light sources such as floor and table lamps, to spread the light around the room and avoid dark spots.
Candles are ideal for lighting small areas, and you can easily adjust the level of brightness by combining different types of candle; tealights, votives and other small candles can be used on their own or in groups, and larger multi-wick or pillar candles will provide higher amounts of light. Using a mix of candles allows you to customise your light level according to the time of day, time of year, your mood and much more - the possibilities are endless!
Adding greenery to your home has been proven time and again to have a multitude of benefits - from air-purification and deterring illness to improving concentration and boosting health. We are seeing a resurgence of indoor gardening, with some people looking to fill their home with plants to boost their health and mind and others simply enjoying their beauty.
With an abundance of indoor (and outdoor) plants, pots and accessories now available to us, there is no reason to not bring some greenery into your home - and you might be surprised at how much of a difference they make to your surroundings. Some of the best low-maintenance air purifiers (according to a NASA study) are:
- Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum Vittatum)
A fan of bright, indirect sunlight, spider plants will send out shoots with flowers that eventually grow into baby spider plants or 'spiderettes'. Spider plants are one of the easiest to look after and are a great houseplant for beginners.
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum Sp.)
Easy to grow, these plants will flower for much of the summer. Just be aware that those flowers (like all flowers) do contribute some pollen and floral scents to the air. Put peace lilies in a shady spot and keep the soil moist without overwatering.
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata)
This is one of the hardest houseplants to kill. Although it does need to be watered occasionally, it generally prefers drier conditions and some sun. It is one of the most powerful air-purifiers and can remove harmful chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from your environment.
- Aloe Vera (A. Barbadensis)
In addition to being easy to care for, aloe makes some serious health claims. The plant's leaves contain a clear liquid full of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and other compounds that have wound-healing, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Filling your home with fragrance can massively enhance your mood, and also fulfil a variety of different purposes. Scents can conjure many memories: remember sweet peas from your Nanna's garden, fresh sheets drying in the summer sun, or fresh citrus fragrances when making lemon curd with Mum - did you know that smell is the strongest sense tied to memory?
Picking scents that bring you happy memories is a great way to improve your mood when at home, and with such a variety of fragrances and products available you are sure to find a favourite (or two)!
As the UK's largest manufacturer of home fragrance products, here at Wax Lyrical we believe that there is a favourite fragrance for everyone. See below for an introduction to a couple of our most popular collections:
Fired Earth - Fragrant tea flavours and aromatic wood notes are blended in this exquisite collection, inspired by the timelessly classic colour palette of Fired Earth. From the oriental delight of Black Tea & Jasmine to the sweetness of Chai & Lime Blossom, the grassy notes of Earl Grey and Vetivert and bright and refreshing aroma of White Tea & Pomegranate, any fragrance from our Wax Lyrical Fired Earth collection is sure to delight every sense.
RHS Fragrant Garden - A beautiful collection of fragrant favourites from around the garden, from classic British scents such as Rose and Sweet Pea, to the more contemporary aromas of Freesia and Violet, every budding gardener and botanist is certain to love anything from our Wax Lyrical RHS Fragrant Garden collection.
Have you seen our Pinterest board?
To complement this blog post we've created a Pinterest board with loads of helpful tips and ideas for how to best approach your spring clean, inspirational organisation ideas and great examples of beautiful, clean spaces. Please click here to see the board.