It’s easy to get sucked in by all the beautiful homes on Instagram and in the likes of property-porn magazines. I’ve been guilty in the past of the green-eyed-monster coming out to play, it still does every now and then. I get house envy. Keeping up with the Jones’ is probably worse than it’s ever been in the age of social media… a step back is needed sometimes to remind us that most of these images have been staged. The reality might just be that their bins need emptying and the cat has been sick on the rug!
My home isn’t the smallest, but it certainly isn’t big. I live in a modest two-bedroom, one-bathroom, end of terrace house in the UK. I live with my husband and two border collies. To say I sometimes struggle with where to put things is probably a bit of an understatement. Over the past year or so I have been working to drastically reduce what I own and try my best to get the house in order. I am getting there, but there is so much more I feel I can improve. I guess I will never get to the end of it, as I can be a perfectionist… but perfect isn’t really a thing! I suppose I can just view my home as one of my hobbies, if I am enjoying it.
Here’s some of the things I have done, or plan to do in the future to make the most of our small space. I don’t think I will ever be an extreme minimalist, but I like a clear uncluttered environment, so I have had to look at storage solutions to make the best of our home.
- Minimalism – As mentioned, I really have reduced the number of things we own dramatically. It has even meant giving up some hobbies that I just didn’t have a place to keep the tools needed to fulfil them. I admit I found this difficult, but afterwards I felt a relief. Clearing the clutter felt better to me than owing a load of craft stuff that I possibly used once a year but didn’t have a place for!
- Simple Colour Palette – I really love the maximalist vibe and the look of maximalist homes are beautiful, but for me I just can’t live in it for the long term. I begin to feel anxious in a cluttered environment. Not to mention, personally, I can’t keep up with the cleaning and dusting required to maintain these wonderland style homes. I guess I am aiming to keep the palette of my home like that of my wardrobe. My scaled down, almost capsule, wardrobe is one of the best things I have ever done on the road to simplifying my life. I really should write about that soon. My colour scheme consists of five colours (although they aren’t all colourful) – Black, White, Grey, Denim blue & Blush pink. I am also not big into patterns; block colours just feel neater and more calming to me. I do have wooden items and plants too, bringing in a touch of nature is warming and relaxing, I feel. This is a work in progress… my bedroom, bathroom & living room all contain yellow within the décor now, but at least it’s a consistent colour! I plan to change this as I redecorate each room.
- Clear Surfaces – I follow this as much as possible. I am one of those people who prefers to keep my toaster in a cupboard and kitchen utensils in a drawer. I barely have anything on windowsills either. The house is so much easier to clean like this and once again, the less clutter, the calmer I feel. Trust me, I don’t live in an all-white house with nothing out at all, but I just try to keep things to a minimum.
- Ottoman Bed – Have you seen how much you can fit under one of these?! My ottoman bed has been a life saver. Perfect for storing shoes, bags, bedding, towels, out of season clothes, holiday essentials and so on. You name it, it gets put under here. Our bedroom lacks storage, and we don’t have space for a linen cupboard, so I’m not sure what I would do without this bed. In fact, I am having a new one delivered on Sunday. An upgrade! The only thing I would mention, is things get surprisingly dusty under the bed so if you are thinking of getting one, try to keep things under it in storage boxes.
- IKEA Day Bed – This bed has two big storage drawers underneath it. Our spare room is also small, so this bed stays as a single, but pulls out into a double when guests stay.
- Joseph Joseph cutlery tray – This was cheap and simple, but this gave me over half a drawer back in my kitchen! It means I can now keep all my utensils in a drawer with the cutlery, rather than having them in a pot on the worktops gathering dust.
- Amazon/Home bargains air tight containers – I feel like I am slowly decanting everything I own into these containers. They fit perfectly into my kitchen cupboards, and by removing all the odd shaped boxes and packets I can fit so much more into a smaller space. I plan on buying a few every now and then rather than splashing out on them all at once. I can then use my trusty label maker to neatly mark the contents.
- IKEA Pax Wardrobe – Our wardrobes aren’t great, and I love the Pax wardrobes as there are so many internal inserts so we can basically design them to fit all our belongings in perfectly. They almost feel bespoke.
- Plinth/Kick-board Storage – A new kitchen is hopefully on the cards next year, and this is one room in our house that really is small. To maximise space, I have learned that you can have storage within the plinths. Imagine how many baking trays I could fit in! I am aiming to get floor to ceiling storage in here, even though I do prefer the look of kitchens with no wall cabinets… it just wouldn’t be feasible for us.
- Drawers rather than cupboards – Again this is what I am thinking for the new kitchen. I prefer drawers, as you can pull them out and see everything. I find things get pushed into the dark depths of cupboards.. never to return!
- Under Stair Storage – A simple solution, that a lot of people already have. Ours really does need work. I am hoping that it can be used for coats and shoes, I hate these being out, they just end up in piles!
I guess this shows a balance of things I have already achieved and also keeps me accountable for my goals. My mum always tells me Rome wasn’t built in a day… I have lived in my home for about 14 years now and there is still so much to do! In a way, I like that I can’t do every thing at once as it gives me an ongoing project and keeps me out of trouble.
No one ever truly feels like they have everything under control… do they?