Inside a Clutter Fairies cupboard…

Have you ever wondered just how clutter free a Clutter Fairies home is?

Well we thought it was time we share our secrets with you and let you take a peek behind the front door (and inside the cupboards and drawers) of some of our fabulous Clutter Fairies homes!

Let me start by saying being a Clutter Fairy doesn’t mean we are totally tidy all of the time! We are still real people, with real lives, partners, children, pets and all the other wonderful family commitments that non-Fairies have.

That’s part of the magic really, we understand just how difficult it can be to stay on top of a busy household and our own homes are the perfect place to experiment with new techniques.

Today we are looking in the kitchen, the heart of the home (as it’s often known) and one of the places many people find most difficult to keep on top of. It’s where those little piles of ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ regularly gather along with all the fabulous pieces of kitchen equipment and gadgets that we swear we need when we purchase them but seem to have gathered an awful lot of dust since then…

 

So how does your kitchen compare?

What do you think of our cupboards?

Why not share your pictures; we would love to see them!

Please join us on Facebook and Twitter – we would love to see you there!

5 things to remember when planning renovations or maintenance on your home

Regular maintenance of your home is necessary and renovations can be very exciting but preparing for any kind of work to be done on your home can be stressful and a potential minefield.

Here at The Clutter Fairy we help our Clients by supporting them through these difficult projects to ensure they achieve the end result they are looking for with minimal disruption!

Here are our 5 basic steps to consider when undertaking such projects:

  • Ask friends/family for tradesman recommendations, preferably people that you trust and who have the same standards are yourself! It’s always worth popping a note on Social Media to see if anyone in your wider friendship group knows someone locally that they can recommend too.
  • Advertise the job on the various websites available for example, Rated People or Trust a Trader. Don’t forget to read the reviews of the tradesman who respond as there will still be some tradesman registered and pitching for the work who might not have the greatest reviews…
  • Get at least 3 quotes – this gives you the chance to see what price is fair and to look for consistencies in the advice you are given. Remember, cheapest isn’t always best and you need to make sure you are getting someone qualified to do the job!
  • Document your expectations of the job and ask the tradesman in question to review and feedback on your requests so that you can both agree on what is going to happen prior to work starting. Include things like –
    • Measurements
    • Material specifications
    • Timescales
    • Costs
    • Guarantees

Oh and don’t forget to include whether you want the tradesman to clean up after themselves and to take away any rubbish (it’s something that most people forget to ask and can be quite a bind if you have to deal with it yourself).

  • Be realistic and open about your expectations, there is nothing more frustrating for a tradesman to find their Client wants the world on a stick on a very low budget or that they’ve not been doing something quite as expected and haven’t had any feedback to enable them to make the necessary adjustments. Keep the communication channels open but be fair in terms of what you can expect (I refer back to Point 2 here, if this is in place there are less likely to be any ‘miscommunications’).

Citizens Advice also gives more detailed advice around the planning/insurance/contract aspects here that we would recommend reading.

As always if you would like more advice on any aspects of decluttering, organising or home staging please do get in touch via our our Website or Facebook and Twitter.

8 things you probably didn’t know you could donate to a Charity shop…

We all love to donate to charity right? But it’s surprising how many people don’t realise they can donate any number of the items listed below. Here at the Clutter Fairy we positively encourage letting go of as much stuff as you feel comfortable to, we know that one of the ways to aid that process is to feel happy that the items are going to good use. What better way to achieve this than by donating to a worthwhile cause!

Here are our top ‘most wanted’ under donated items, get those charity bags ready everyone!

  • Bras – there are quite a few charities accepting these now, here are just a couple of examples – Against Breast Cancer Bra BankOxfam
  • Bicycles – don’t send your old bike to the tip just yet…. check out your local bike recycling site here (they even take bikes that need a little bit of work doing to them!)
  • Computers – give to Computeraid International,  Donate a PC or IT specialists in the Furniture Reuse Network
  • Electrical items – not all charity shops take these, but a surprising number do as they have equipped themselves with PAT testing equipment, call your local charity shops to see which ones accept these items.
  • Glasses/spectacles – many opticians run charity programmes with second-hand glasses, check Vision Aid Overseas to find your nearest optician that participates
  • Large items such as sofas/furniture – many charities such as BHF and Sue Ryder accept large furniture items and they will even collect for free! All you need is the fire safety labels still intact.
  • Old duvets, pillows, blankets & towel – most rescue centres will happily accept these even if they aren’t in perfect condition as they are always in need of new bedding for the animals. Contact your local rescue centre today!
  • Rags (clothes that are ripped/torn, stained, etc) – many charity shops now accept rags as they are able to get £/kg for the bags. It helps if you bag up the rags and tag them so that the charity shop know the items aren’t suitable for resale.

Still struggling to donate because you aren’t able to transport your items to your nearest charity shop? No problem! Try the Gone for Good app in conjunction with a number of charities, where you can arrange for all types of donated items to be collected from your home!

Happy donating everyone!

As always if you have any questions or need advice regarding #decluttering and #organising your home please do get in touch, we would love to hear from you!

http://clutterfairy.co.uk/

 

Declutter your doormat

We’ve talked in the past about ‘The bane of paper clutter’ and how to deal with it effectively as it arrives. Today we’d like to expand on this and talk about how you can stop it coming through the door in the first place!

It’s surprising how much mail many of us still get in the modern digital world, but there’s an easy solution to that. Below are some of our simple tips to follow to reduce the amount of paperwork you will have to deal with going forward:

MPS –

The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is a free service set up and funded by the direct mail industry to enable consumers to have their names and addresses removed from lists used by the industry. Register here to ensure you no longer receive any unwanted junk mail.

#Toptip – Don’t forget to register everyone in the household (with their permission of course) and any previous residents.

Unsubscribe –

  • The MPS will cover most unwanted mailings but what they can’t help with is companies that you’ve had dealings with in the past where you may not have ticked the ‘opt-out’ marketing boxes. It may take a little time initially but as each new mailing comes through the door, call or email the company in question requesting that they remove you from their mailing lists.

#Toptip – You will also need to do this for any mailings addressed to “The Occupier”, “The Homeowner” etc. as MPS cannot assist with these.

  • Make sure you check any paperwork/online forms thoroughly for the ‘opt-out’ options to ensure you are not contacted by future companies that you deal with.

#Toptip – Be sure to read the ‘Opt-Out’ correctly as some companies ask you to tick to unsubscribe where others ask you to tick if you would like to receive marketing!

Letterbox/plate signs –

It can be a little harder to stop the general junk mail such as free newspapers, takeaway leaflets, etc. but you can buy a sticker at very little cost that can be applied to your letterbox should you find these items are a particular nuisance in your local area!

And finally…

Online statements/notifications –

If you are comfortable with getting your statements, notifications, etc. online then most companies nowadays will offer you the option to stop paper statements altogether. If you need any help with organising your digital records we can help with that too!

We hope you found this article useful, happy paper decluttering from the team at The Clutter Fairy

Why does my clutter keep coming back?

So you’ve been brave, taken the plunge and started decluttering, well done! But you want to know why the clutter seems to steadily (or rapidly) reappear over time?

Removing unwanted items is an integral part of decluttering (of course) but the bit that often gets forgotten about is the reorganisation that is needed to establish “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Without this, tidying is a struggle and the clutter will start to build again.

These three factors are vital to a clutter free home.

  1. Gone means gone – When you go through your items and decide what you no longer want, need or love, get rid of them THAT DAY. Donate them to charity, recycle them or give them to someone you know would enjoy them. Whatever it takes, just make sure you remove them from your home ASAP, never to return. An integral part of a Clutter Fairy decluttering session is planning where the unwanted stuff is all going to go and transporting it at the end of each session.
  1. Organise – Give all your treasured items that made the cut a home and think about how you use things –
  • Store items close to where you are likely to use them.
  • Where possible keep like with like.
  • Make the regularly used items more accessible and use ‘out-of-the-way’ storage for seasonal/infrequently used items.
  • When looking at storage, simple is best. There’s tons of inspiration on Pinterest and follow our Facebook and Twitter for regular tips.
  • Make sure the storage spots you decide on work and are easy to use, even the most organised person is not motivated to put something away in an awkward to reach area.
  1. Be mindful– Take a moment to think about all of the things you’ve just let go, why did you have them in the first place? When you next go to purchase something, stop and think about your reasons. Are these new items likely to end up the same way? Then don’t buy them! Put the money away in a box somewhere, give it a few months and see just how much you’ve saved on your impulse buys. And if you need some inspiration read one of our blogs on how to curb your spending habits – Ten-months-down-two-to-go

If you enjoyed this blog please come and follow us on Facebook and Twitter – have a clutter free week everyone!

I feel so guilty about my clutter

Amassing clutter brings with it a huge range of emotions but the main one we come across time and time again is the guilt.

Guilty because your family are living in chaos, guilty because your friends have busy lives too and they have tidy homes, guilty because that bank statement is proof of how much money has been wasted on retail therapy, guilty because your home is full of gifts you have been given that you will never use, and on and on. The guilt can be overwhelming.

But overcoming that guilt can be tough. There are emotions and doubts standing in your way

  • What if I need this one day?
  • What if the person who gave it to me finds out that I got rid of it?
  • I spent so much money on it; it seems such a waste to get rid of it?
  • Selling it or giving it to a friend would make me feel better
  • What if I do a declutter then go back to square one?

Whilst it is important to understand the psychology that has led you to hold on and amass clutter, the vital part of the decluttering process is drawing a line under things and moving forward with the determination and drive to make your home and life a better place to be. Once you make the decision to start your declutter that day is a day to be celebrated and a process which, however difficult initially, ultimately will be enjoyed.

The amount you spent on the item, the lack of use so far, the fact that someone special gave it to you is less important than your own ability to take control of your life going forwards.  Whether you work with a Professional Organiser or work on your own, you have control of what stays and what goes. The important thing is to learn to let go of the items holding you back from your decluttering goals.

Once you learn to let go of the emotions and gain more clarity in terms of what items truly deserve a space in your home, then you can learn to love your home and live in an organised and peaceful space.

Take a look at our blog about what you can and can’t take to the charity shop and come and find us on Facebook and Twitter  for more tips – we would love to see you!

Clear Your Clutter – Guest Blog

Sandra Czachur is one of the founders of Ayurveda Apothecary and was a Client of ours previously; in this guest blog she shares her experiences of using our professional decluttering and organising service and the benefits of being clutter free. Thank you for the mention Sandra @vatasandra !

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This morning I heard the end of a Radio 4 programme about Hoarding. These days I like to think ‘how could Ayurveda help?’. In the past I have used the services of a Declutterer, The Clutter Fairy, and I can honestly say I felt so much better after ‘letting’ go of all the stuff I really didn’t need. It has also made me think my office could do with a declutter……

The Vedic science of environmental harmony, Vastu Shastra, identifies how clutter creates stress in an environment. Vastu, or “yoga for the home,” comes from the same wisdom texts as Ayurveda, meditation, Jyotish, and yoga. According to Vastu, stress caused by clutter reduces and restricts life-force energy. Depending on the area of your home or office, clutter impacts different aspects of your life in specific ways:

  • Clutter in the northwest affects relationships, business partnerships, and stability of the mind.
  • Clutter in the northeast blocks growth, both spiritually and financially.
  • Clutter in the southeast affects health and productivity. It also affects passion, creativity, and your physical energy.
  • Clutter in the southwest affects support, which includes your skeletal structure (showing up as back pain) and your career.

Clearing clutter is something everyone has to deal with. From a Vedic perspective, once it’s removed, it will free up the energy in your home or office creating an environment where you can thrive. Eliminating clutter simplifies your life and opens the space physically and emotionally for new possibilities to enter.

If your clutter is manageable then it is worth investing time to clear the clutter yourself on a regular basis, if you feel overwhelmed then it might be a good idea to ask friends or family to help, or engage the services of a professional declutterer like Lesley, The Clutter Fairy.

I’m conscious that maintaining a clear space supports my mental clarity, health, and joy. And I’ve discovered that the reverse is true, too: The way to create lasting order in my outer life—in my home, my schedule, and the way I use my resources—comes from clearing out my inner landscape and refocusing on my priorities.

Like most people, I still struggle from time to time to stem the tide of clutter and to balance a busy life. I try to remember that life, like Ayurveda, is an ongoing journey and that the small, positive steps add up and can eventually become good habits.

One small step at a time.

Linda Bretherton and Sandra Czachur are the founders of Ayurveda Apothecary. Our aim is to promote living in harmony with nature. We have designed a wonderful range of natural skin care products to match your own specific Dosha. For more information go to our website www.ayurvedaapothecary.co.uk

[Photo credit: PracticalCures.com]

The bane of 21st century households – paper clutter!

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Even in the most tidy and organised of homes I visit in my day to day life as The Clutter Fairy there is one thing that always causes problems and that is paper. It flows through the door of our homes via the postman, school bags, newspapers, fliers or in work bags. And where does it find its home? In the hallway, kitchen surfaces, bedroom, living room – in short, lots of places where it is never going to be dealt with and leaves you with lots of clutter, depressing you each time you see it building up and up

The key to paperwork is dealing with it initially as soon as it comes through the door and then revisiting it on a regular basis.

So, pick that post up from behind the door, get your recycling bin at the ready and get rid of:

  • Adverts and mailings trying to sell you stuff . It’s never hard to find info about things to buy!
  • Envelopes – the reason for keeping them is?
  • Terms and conditions that you are very unlikely to ever read. They send them because they have to not because they think customers will read them
  • Duplicate bank/credit card statements from a joint account. Better still opt into paperless billing online.
  • Letters that are for info only. Read the info, put any dates into your diary
  • Charity requests (unless you know you regularly increase your donations)
  • Take away menus from any take-aways you have and never will use.
  • Any info that is online

You get the gist by now.

You will have got rid of at least 75% of the paper and everything that is left is needed until actioned or filed.

Put what remains into your intray in your office/study/kitchen. It doesn’t matter where it is as long as it is where you deal with your paperwork.

Try to deal with paperwork once a week.

Go through your intray, action first, shred second, file third.

For most people who cite paper as their worst clutter nightmare, it is more about changing habits than anything else.

Good luck!

 

 

Dear Clutter Fairy – I’m a handbag hoarder. Help!

Dear Clutter Fairy,

I desperately need your expert help on how to store my handbags! A little handbag obsessed, I went out shopping last weekend and bought yet another Mulberry handbag (for a price I’m even a little embarrassed to disclose). I was about to shove it with the rest of my dust-collecting stash at the bottom of my wardrobe when it suddenly dawned on me just how neglectful and careless I have been with my handbag possessions that are literally worth thousands! I mean, I wouldn’t dream of storing my Swarovski crystal ornaments in this way but unlike my crystal, my handbags don’t have a display cabinet! In fact, they don’t even have a place in my wardrobe – they’re shoved at the bottom with a couple of old pairs of heels. My vintage numbers, favourite patent leather clutches and much-loved Mulberry collection is quite simply getting tarnished, squashed, scuffed and scratched! I’m sure I’m like many others in this handbag storage turmoil – could you please give me some storage direction? My handbags desperately need a wardrobe home…

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Dear Handbag Lover,

First things first, your gorgeous new Mulberry bag needs pride of place, and it needs TLC. You aren’t alone with your handbag collection lurking in the depths of your wardrobe. Modern British homes rarely have the Sarah Jessica Parker walk in wardrobe that we dream of – so we have to be clever and maximise the space we have. Handbags need to be contained so they don’t fall over and plumped so they don’t crease. Most importantly you need to be able to see your collection in its entirety so you don’t fall foul of the 80/20 rule and only use 20% of your bags 80% of the time.

Even though you so want to see your gorgeous bag every time you open your wardrobe the reality is it needs to be covered. Daylight and dust aren’t kind to luxury leather so that dust bag they gave you when you bought the bag needs to be used. Even if not all your bags are designer, most High Street handbags now come with a dust cover or you can easily get hold of them online. If you have so many Mulberry dustbags you are not sure which one holds which bag(lucky you!) use a pretty luggage label with a photograph of your bag and tie it on so it’s visible.

Bubble wrap is great for filling your larger bags so they retain their shape and keep on looking as good as the day you bought them. When you are using the bag just put the bubble wrap in the dustbag so it doesn’t look unsightly.

So how do you best contain your bags? It’s a simple concept and one which contemporary bedroom storage designers are incorporating into their wardrobes. By responding to the modern woman’s needs and tastes, there are some exciting, innovative solutions out there now. You need upright dividers and lots of them. A 50cm wide by 50cm tall section is brilliant for most bag sizes and could even hold 2 or 3 smaller vintage clutches side by side. If you are designing a new wardrobe, take your bag collection into consideration. I see lots of beautifully designed wardrobes on my travels with bags thrown in on high shelves. Don’t let your bags be an afterthought. Make sure the shelves for your bags are at eye level and you have enough to hold your collection. If necessary you can forfeit some of your hanging space for your bags.

I hope I have solved your dilemma – your timeless classic needs to be used and enjoyed for years to come and with the right storage in place that can be a reality. Have fun!

The Clutter Fairy

When you’ve lost someone, the decluttering process is tough

I was pretty much born to be a Clutter Fairy, ask anyone I know, it’s not really work for me, it is second nature to be organised and I genuinely enjoy helping people declutter their homes.

Today I was reminded of something though – just how emotionally difficult decluttering can be. You see, I’ve been doing some decluttering of my own at our family home. I lost my Mum a few years ago to cancer. One minute it was Christmas and she wasn’t feeling too well, by Spring she’d been diagnosed and before the start of the Summer she was gone. She was 56, far too young to being saying goodbye.

We thought about decluttering often, but it never felt quite the right time. But after 4 years had passed we were ready as a family and it was time to start clearing some of her belongings out. Everyone had their chance to take what they wanted and a little more time to get used to the idea. Not that it made it any easier for us. I declutter for a living, but I still found it very hard. I found myself apologising repeatedly to Mum for letting things go, there were the occasional tears and sometimes I just had to take a few minutes for a sit down, cup of tea and a quiet moment to myself.

But I understand that’s all part of the process and whether it’s a separation, bereavement, illness, breakdown of a relationship, redundancy, or whatever horrible stressful situation has been thrown at you, the outcome can often be that things get on top of you. It took my family a few years to come to terms with the fact that we would have to let go of Mum’s possessions, and honestly, there are a few things we just couldn’t bear to part with even a few years down the line.

But I know Mum would be proud, everything that left the house went to her favourite charity and all of her possessions were treated with the love and respect that they deserve.

  • Remember that to preserve memories you need to edit the highlights. If, for example, there is a dinner service that reminds you of happy family times, but it isn’t ever going to be used, keep one place setting rather than the whole service.
  • Decluttering the belongings of a loved one is often done in stages. Time is a great healer. Declutter what feels right now and then tackle it again in another year or so.
  • Only keep things that remind you of happy times.
  • Involve the whole family – everyone has their own memories of their loved ones and should be allowed to keep their own mementos.

So today has reminded me of what an amazing job our clients do and how proud I am of them that they took the plunge and asked for help and started their own decluttering process. It’s not easy, but it is worth it in the long run. So if you are thinking about calling us, please remember, we understand, we’ve been there, we know what you are going through and we are here to help.