Cover Fritz Hansen Lune Sofa by Jaime Hayón, by W. Atelier

Nothing lifts the spirit like a tidy home—we speak to the experts to find out how to declutter and maintain a neat and streamlined living space

When Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo came out earlier this year, it instantly sparked a chord with homeowners across the globe with its approach to decluttering. As discussed in Marie Kondo’s best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the eponymous “Kon Mari” approach to decluttering advocates for being purposeful and selective about the objects you keep in your home—retain only the items you need and love, and discard items that no longer spark joy in your life.
While some may take issue with Kondo’s methodology, its far-reaching impact shows that the pressure of clutter is real. It’s all too easy for belongings to accumulate into a stressful, ever-growing pile instead of making one’s life easier or brighter.

With this in mind, we spoke to some of Singapore’s top designers, furniture purveyors and decluttering professionals to find out how to best go about tidying your home.

See also: 5 Ways To Declutter Your Home

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Create storage solutions

Often, how easy it is to maintain a clean home hinges on the available storage. “The size of your apartment will determine the amount of storage,” comments Jeremy Tay, director at Prestige Global Designs. “You need to strike a balance with a good mixture of fixed and loose storage.” 
Kris Tan, founder of decluttering and home organisation company The Declutter Professionals, says that it’s best to form an understanding of what exactly you plan to have in your home, then plan your storage around those items.
Different rooms in the home and different types of belongings require different storage, too. A bedroom should have a vanity to hold cosmetics and toiletries, while the bathroom might incorporate hooks for mops and other cleaning implements. A basement or dedicated storeroom would feature sturdy metal racks for luggage and other big items.

See also: Home Tour: This Modern House Embraces The Minimalist Lifestyle

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Use bespoke carpentry

Make the best use of your home’s structure and layout—as well as ensure that storage options fit with your design sensibilities—by considering storage from when you first design your apartment. Rather than going for the same cookie-cutter boxes and cabinets, pick pieces that harmonise with your apartment. Not only is this a better use of space, but you’re more likely to regularly use pieces that appeal to your aesthetics. “Go for customised carpentry if you’re looking to revamp a section of your home to efficiently use space,” says Tan. 

The bathroom storage for one home, for instance, can look very different when compared to another. Dennis Cheok, creative director of design studio Upstairs_, outlines the bathrooms he designed for two different homes. One bathroom featured storage concealed behind the vanity mirror, making use of a concealed pocket within the room’s brick wall. Another bathroom, meanwhile, called for “myriad surfaces so that items can be spaced apart as much as possible, in order not to appear visually cluttered”. These included wall ledges, a vanity basin, and the top of a pullout trunk.
Although some storage units are better hidden away, others can be put in the spotlight—especially display cases for beloved collections of shoes or wines. “A wine display cabinet can become a feature for a bar counter,” says Tay. In the bedroom, a display cabinet fitted with built-in lighting can turn a simple wardrobe into a conversation piece.

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Organise everything according to usage

Tay suggests organising your belongings in two categories: items you use frequently or almost daily should be kept in easy-to-reach areas; and items you use rarely can be stored in less accessible areas. In the kitchen, for instance, you might place utensils you cook with daily on the kitchen top, while appliances or other tools you use once in a while can be stored in top-hung cabinets. The VDD kitchen from Dada provides different places to keep different kinds of items in the kitchen, while the Kartell Componibili cabinets can provide storage for day-to-day items.
Of course, your belongings should be arranged in a sensible manner too. “You only keep bathroom products in the bathroom,” says Terence Choo, marketing and public relations manager of furniture retailer P5. “Store your lotions and facial toners in a rack organiser.” It’s also a good idea to keep complementary or similar items side by side. “Never mix reading or work materials with tote bags in one storage cabinet,” continues Choo. “Organise each item based on product type and functionality.”

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Build a habit

Even with the niftiest storage systems, a home doesn’t declutter itself. “Do it regularly and save the headache thereafter,” says Tan. Having a tidy interior requires maintenance; figure out which timing works best for you, whether it’s once every few months or fortnightly. “Decluttering is a lifestyle and should be a continuous process,” sums up Tay. It’s made easier by making tidiness a daily habit. “Storing items takes some practice if you’re not used to it,” continues Tan. “When we get home and we’re tired, we leave our bags and purchases lying around on the floor; but over time, these things will pile up.

Similarly, avoid leaving your clothes on the bed upon coming home. “Hang your clothes at designated locations within the bedroom, instead,” suggests Choo. Products such as a clothing stand or designated drawers for your accessories and bags can be placed in key areas of the home to encourage regular tidying. As these tips would show, taking the time to figure out how to fix your habits can go a long way. 

This story was adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes April-May 2019