Client profile: middle-aged lady, having experienced serious illness was now making drastic changes to her lifestyle
Situation: Just moved into more manageable smaller home.
First impressions: Clean, but cluttered.
Initial review of the situation: The clutter consisted mainly of boxes yet to be unpacked that had been stocked against the walls. She also runs a business from home with involves the need for stock, and also space for workshops that are currently done with groups that have to be too small, really.
Goals: 1) offer opportunities to unpack boxes while decluttering at the same time; 2) getting the kitchen space organised for cooking workshops.
Strategy for 1): This is a fairly typical situation most people experience when they are moving into a smaller home. Downsizing sometimes starts at the previous house but tends to not be stringent enough to arrive in the new home without the need to further reductions in their belongings. This client had exactly this issue. We managed to simmer down her wardrobe a little more, but the main issue with the boxes in her living space was that those were dishes and materials for workshops in larger settings and bigger groups.
The solution here was to separate the daily items from the workshop items, and store the workshop items in a new plastic storage shed on the patio, with its back to the wall. We found the perfect shed with lots of shelving and shifted the materials into reasonably sized plastic carrier boxes that fit into the shed AND into her car for easy transport. We also added a folding table to the shed for ease of sorting materials into boxes, if necessary.
Strategy for 2): The kitchen was a bit of a storage mess. Typically, what most people do when they move is taking things out of boxes asap and just decanting into the available storage without giving efficiency and practicality any thought. The main goals is “emptying boxes” while it should really be the question “where does this need to go?”.
We dealt with that by looking at the available space, grouping like items together and then deciding where they are most useful. E.g., there was glassware in the bottom shelves and heavy cat food in the hanging cupboards: that makes no sense whatsoever. Some of the spices were 5 feet away from the oven/hob and the cat bowl was right next to the toaster.
We ended up having lots of food reserves in the lower cupboards, all the crockery and glassware up high, the cooking utensils and cutlery near the hob and anything that is only used occasionally in the corner cupboards. You can probably see the reasoning: the less used an item is, the more it can move to the back of a shelf. Commonly used items at eye height, lesser used items high up, low down or further back.
Top tip: keep the surfaces free of anything you do not each day.
Final thoughts: In my experience, this was a typical job that I classify as a ‘post-move reshuffle’. It’s not unusual to be in the at situation after arriving at a new home. Priorities upon arrival are often not in line with the necessity of thinking about where exactly to put things. Also this is not the time to declutter, especially if belongings have already been pared down before packing everything in boxes.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My mission: help clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.