Most frequent questions and answers about home organisation and de cluttering.
If you have things of value we’ll recommend how you might sell them. Other items can be donated to charity shops. That way your items then find a new home and are put to good use, and the charity raises valuable income. If possible we’ll use a charity shop of your choosing, though this is not possible for electrical items as very few accept these. Some items will however need to be disposed of. Almost everything can be recycled, so we carefully segregate items and can by agreement take them to a municipal recycling centre. Only things that can’t be sold, donated or recycled are sent to landfill. We will not however handle items or substances that may be dangerous or cannot be disposed of through local municipal recycling facilities.
Our service covers Cheshire and South Manchester. We will consider larger projects outside these areas, and offer virtual decluttering to all areas, so do call if you’re interested. If we can’t meet your needs ourselves we’ll be happy to refer you to appropriate Professional Organisers or decluttering services in your area using our professional network.
The cost depends on so many variables – the size of the home, how cluttered it is currently, the nature of the items (paperwork for example takes much longer than other things to sort) and how fast you as the client can work on the process and decide what to discard. This is why following our telephone or Zoom conversation we conduct a detailed assessment visit. Here we talk about your goals, and assess the challenge. It’s only then that we can provide a cost. It’s rare that we’d be asked to declutter a whole house, though we’re only too happy to do that if you want. The biggest challenge is to start the process. Once a room or two are decluttered and returned to calm, we teach you to systematically declutter yourself. This is something you and your family can then do for the rest of the house if you wish.
The danger in attempting quick decluttering is that it’s not effective, and things soon return to their untidy past. We’d emphasise decluttering thoroughly, over decluttering quickly. What you can certainly do is declutter one area, say a cupboard, pretty quickly. Once the results are there to see the rest can follow. There really are no short cuts to decluttering a home. Our declutter system follows seven clear steps; assess and plan, remove, sort, reposition, recycle/dispose, contain and label then finally adopt a tidy lifestyle. With a place for everything that becomes really easy. Skipping any of these stages risks failing to create and maintain the calm home you want.
A professional declutterer works with you to achieve the tidy home you want. The declutterer uses a system to accelerate the process. You are always in charge and have full control over the decisions on things that are no longer needed. And at Calm the Clutter we go further, emphasising both environmental sustainability and making your home permanently clutter-free by teaching an approach that keeps it calm and tidy.
It’s best to start with an area that’s in high use and causes irritation. That way you can make quick wins and see a real benefit of your work. A cluttered area of the living room, or a tightly packed cupboard or wardrobe are good places to start. Generally it’s best to avoid starting with documents or photographs as these are hardest to sort through. Save that until your decluttering has liberated more space in your home.
The Home Edit is a great TV show, and an inspiration to declutterers everywhere. Their basic approach is one we share. Decluttering in situ doesn’t work. You have to take everything out first. And we also agree that containerising first should be avoided as it just provides places for future clutter. Where we differ is that the Home Edit team seem to do their work with the client absent. This creates the dramatic reveal at the end of the TV show, when the client walks in to see their transformed home. In contrast, we work with our clients. Only the client knows what’s precious to them, and what needs to go. So, when Calm the Clutter comes to your home there won’t be any TV cameras, and you’re in charge!
We’d work on the seasonal approach. For most people in the UK two seasons is enough as the British weather is so variable, particularly in Spring and Autumn, so warm and cool are the seasons. Put the current season in prime place and the ‘out season’ elsewhere. That way you’re not using the prime space for things you’re not going to wear for months. Rotate the two sets when the weather changes decisively – the clock change is a good guide to that. The twice a year rotation is a great prompt to prune too. If you have clothes you ONLY wear on special occasions such as evening dress wear, or for specific times such as a continental holidays or skiing trips consider putting these in a separate area.
How to sort out your main clothes? Firstly, recognise that you almost certainly have too many. Shock yourself and count. Write down the types of clothes you have (trousers, socks etc.) and count them. Just seeing the result will kick start a throw out, guaranteed. Often you’ll have extreme numbers of something you rarely wear. I don’t wear ties, but owned 55 (if you’d asked me before I counted I’d have estimated maybe 30). As a result I no longer have 55 ties. Second, ask yourself the classic question “when did I last wear that?” If it’s longer than two years are you really going to wear it again?
Charity shops welcome good quality clothes, so feel good about thinning out, it really is a win for you and a win for others. How best to organise the clothes that enjoy prime position, the ones that you’re wearing across the week, depends on your lifestyle. For someone in an office, uniformed or professional job, it often makes sense to segregate work from home clothes as it saves time selecting what to wear. You might consider sorting by type within that, tops, bottoms and so forth. What’s most important is to have a system that suits you.
A key consideration once you’ve pruned is maximising use of the storage you have. This might mean reconsidering the rails and shelves and adjusting them if needed. Very few people adjust shelving once installed, but it’s so easy to do. You might consider introducing new storage such as drawers, dividers, boxes and the like. But only do this once you’ve fully decluttered otherwise more storage just encourages more clutter.
The only way to transform your house into an oasis of calm is to thoroughly declutter, then organise storage spaces so there’s a space for everything without squeezing things in. Anything less than this means tidiness is temporary. Achieving permanent tidiness is possible in every home. But it does need effort, and a systematic approach, which is where a professional organiser or declutterer can help.
A decluttering service is a professional in-home service for reducing and organising the items in a home. The scope of the service does vary, and there are different approaches. Here at Calm the Clutter we use a sequence that’s proven to work.
- Agree your goals
- Develop an action plan
- Remove and fully sort everything (e.g. keep, sell, donate, recycle, throw)
- Relocate – we find a place for everything
- Plan for life – a tailor-made plan to help you and your family calm the clutter forever.
Our standard charge is based on £30 per hour. The cost of a project depends on many factors. Of course, you can do the whole thing yourself for free. However, many people doing it themselves ‘pick’ at the problem because it is overwhelming, and their home soon returns to its previous state. The advantage of using a professional decluttering service is that it greatly accelerates the process and gets lasting results. Taking a thorough and systematic approach may well be something worth paying for.
Spark Joy is a lovely phrase Marie Kondo uses when she asks clients to test whether an item should remain in the home. She asks simply ‘does it spark joy?’. It’s a tough test, and we’d suggest you may wish to keep a few items that don’t make that cut. For example, you probably should keep this year’s home insurance policy, not exactly a document of joy, but pretty useful if you have a flood. It’s not a new idea of course. We quote William Morris, the leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement and creator of so many iconic textile designs, who back in the nineteenth century wrote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. Here at Calm the Clutter we’d say that’s spot on.