Top tips on decluttering and Spring cleaning

Our homes and work space can affect our sense of well-being. They are a place where we need to feel in control, safe, and supported. Often, some small changes, such as reorganising and editing our possessions, can have a huge effect on how we work and feel. Here are my simple steps and tips on decluttering and Spring cleaning.

How does your home make you feel? How would you like it to make you feel! Do your surroundings inspire you? If so, that’s fantastic! If not, now is the time to make that happen! The fun part is to find practical and creative ways to do this… more about this later.

Bite size portions

Turning our hectic homes into a tranquil space can be achieved by tackling one small task at a time. We all know that any to-do list can be daunting, especially when trying to juggle an already hectic lifestyle. Dividing the task into more manageable time-slots helps us achieve our final goal. The KonMari* guide is, in my view, the most effective way of working: This sections each task by tacking one type of object at a time: Gathering all like-with-like items together from throughout the home, and place in one pile before deciding which to keep. Always start with easier items such as kitchenware or books. Once we get into a pattern of working it becomes easier to work on the more sentimental items.

*Following the KonMari method of decluttering is a fail-safe way of getting inspired and getting it done. Her book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is, in my view, a must for every home.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer

It’s about time

I find that setting my alarm for even 30-60 minutes helps focus the mind and makes for a more effective use of time. I find anything from an hour time-slot to half a day works best. Some background music can also help reduce getting side tracked. Knowing that there is a cuppa or small reward at the end is often an important motivater!

I start by labelling 6 large empty boxes: Mend, Re-cycle, Donate, Sell, Not Sure, Throw Away. By having a “Not Sure” box, we are able to maintain our momentum and decision-making during our designated time-slot and be reassured that some items will need more consideration a later date. Once the wheels of motion have been put into action, the hardest part is often already overcome! Regular sessions establishes realistic goals, maintaining long-term motivation. and achieving the end result. T

Be sure to leave enough time to tidy up afterwards – There’s nothing worse than feeling we are more in a muddle than when we started! The quicker we can deal with these labeled boxes after the session the better, as it helps maintain motivation and achieve the best results: For example, place the Donate box straight in the car, ready for your next trip to the shops. Call in a friend or professional to help you if it’s too daunting to do on your own.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer

Re-purpose and up-cycle

Our possessions become clutter only when they no longer serve a purpose. But personally, I don’t believe it necessary to act on the impulse of ‘Out With the Old / In With the New’ just for the sake of it.

Giving our forgotten possessions a new lease of life by re-imagining how they are displayed  in our home s incredibly rewarding. So too is allowing unwanted or unused items to be appreciated again by soothers through selling and donating them. Refining, arranging and up-cycling our existing furniture, artwork and accessories is a wonderfully quick and inexpensive way to refresh a space; Sometimes this is all a home needs to feel more harmonious and refreshed. Alternatively, it helps us to clearly determine where further investment may be required.

There are so many wonderful ways of re-purposing existing items in, say, another room of the house, or giving it another function and making an object feel relevant again. A blanket box can be given a lick of paint and be transformed into a window seat for example. Not only does it add individuality and fun to the space, but it reduces unnecessary spending and landfill: A win-win in my book. Equally, moving artwork/mirrors around the house and changing the pictures within the frames is an easy and effective way to refresh a space.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer

Savvy Storage

No matter how large or small our homes, most of us have an uncanny knack of filling them with more than we could ever need! It’s no wonder there are so many clever storage tricks and creative solutions on the market to help us make the most of our existing space. This needn’t be expensive but should create accessible, efficient and user-friendly solutions. See my Tips on How to Maximise Your Storage and Space. Not everything wants to be on show: Just be sure to consider how much open or closed storage is appropriate for each room and storage function. By only having items you truly enjoy allows a space to look and feel its best.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer

Let the light in

Cleaning the windows is a sure-fire way of bringing in the Spring sunshine: Making our homes (and frame of mind) feel lighter and brighter. White vinegar (also known as distilled vinegar) is a staple natural cleaning product, including on glass. It has the added bonus of leaving no streaks. If an empty spray bottle is handy, this can also be made ahead of time and used as an alternative to shop-bought glass cleaner. Simply mix 1 cup (240 mL) water with 1 cup (240 ml) vinegar and apply using a non-fibre cloth (I’ve heard newspaper works just as effectively but have not yet tried this). Be sure to wipe any dust and grime off with a dry cloth before starting for a smear-free result.  If windows are particularly grimy, you may want to make a stronger mix, or even use warm, neat white vinegar. A mix of white vinegar and baking soda is also excellent for cleaning window tracks and tile grout.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer 

Pillow talk

It is a horrible fact, but 10% of a pillow’s weight can be down to dust mites. These mites can effect our breathing and energy levels. Freezing and washing our pillows will kill the mites (assuming you have a chest freezer to hand!). The yellow staining is caused mainly by sweat and moisture from our breath or hair. It is generally a good idea to wash our pillows at least once every year. Some synthetic hollowfibre or microfibre pillows wash better than others, so always read the label. Memory foam pillows should not be machine washed.  For more detailed washing advice go online to

Whether we are washing pillows by hand or machine, a mild, low-sud detergent is best to avoid excess residue. Hot water is known to kill dust mites without the need for bleach or other harsh chemicals. If you have a feather pillows, try to avoid wringing and twisting as this will smash the feathers. If washing by hand, be sure to rinse several times to remove any detergent residue. Press any excess water out of the pillow with a white terry cloth towel. Hang on the line to dry and fluff manually or tumble dry with a few clean tennis balls in the dryer on a low settling. Distilled / white vinegar can be used instead of fabric softener for bed sheets and towels fresh. It removes bacteria and freshens fabrics, with no final vinegar smell.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer

Breath Easy

In an ideal world, electrical goods and work-related items should be removed from bedrooms. This will reduce air pollution and avoid unnecessary distractions. Indoor pollutants can include electrical goods, cleaning solvents, plastics and glue used in MDF and plywood. At it’s worst, these pollutants can cause allergic reactions, aggravate asthma and headaches. Extensive research by NASA has proved that certain indoor plants greatly reduces harmful electromagnetic toxins and other pollutants in the home: Weeping Fig, Rubber plants, spider plants, ferns, Aloe Vera’s and even even chrysanthemum’s are especially effective. (Research from How to Grow Fresh Air by Dr B.C Wolveton).

For help with decluttering and spring cleaning your interior in Somerset and Wiltshire, please browse my services or contact me for further information.

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This post was adapted from an original article in Bath Life Magazine