It’s interesting to look at old photos of home gatherings and interior shots, and see how trends have changed through the years.

A look at a typical 70s or 80s living room would show plenty of soft furnishings, splashes of colour and barely a square foot not occupied by something more than carpet. The trend these days, on the other hand, is towards minimalism, an approach which can perhaps best be defined as “less clutter, more class”. It’s sold a lot of books for a lot of people, and the advantages are broadly agreed upon.


Decluttering is on balance a good thing for the typical home, and this is a message that has been driven home more than ever by the pandemic period. Any of us who has worked from home during this time will have become acutely aware of the need for space, and the extra housework hours that stack up the more stuff you have. On the other hand, getting rid of household items is a tough thing to do – there is a reason that this process is often portrayed in TV sitcoms with feckless family members insisting that they’ll find a use for even the most useless items in the home. Sentimental value, among other effects, makes it tricky.


So the question becomes “how do you get rid of the clutter, but keep your home feeling like a home?”. Hopefully, the following tips will give you a few ideas.


Prioritise shedding the items with “complicated” history


Arguably more a personal decision than a design one, this nonetheless has some relevance for trying to trim back the excesses while keeping good vibes. You could find a reason to hang on to everything in your home if you try hard enough, and as you accumulate more stuff it just gets added to the pile. One of the advantages of decluttering is a fresh start and a sense of freedom, so it makes sense to get rid of items that have any unpleasant association – for example, a hanging mirror that reminds you of past confidence issues – should be first to go.


Keep a close eye on peripheral purchases


When you make over your home, it’s common that any “big” purchase is accompanied by a few things that “go” with it. So, you’ll buy a chest of drawers, and maybe a vase or a picture frame to sit on it. Or you’ll pick out a coffee table, and also some storage boxes to go under it. This serves to replace discarded clutter with future clutter, so it can be better to go for one showpiece classy item from the likes of Eichholtz and leave it without further adornments. There will always be enough people and things in a home to give it the added character that supposedly comes from trinkets.


Use the walls where possible


Many modern minimalist makeovers take the chance to strip everything back to the bare bones – or, in the case of a home, the bare walls. It’s easy to understand this, as walls are often the first thing you see in a room, but they are the first part of a room that should bear the brunt of the items you do keep. For one thing, part of the joy of clutter is clear space to walk within a room, so things should gather around the outside and not the heart of the room. Secondly, the walls are a perfect place to hang shelves, which allows them to be used for storage and for little adornments. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, minimalism can go too far – and bare walls in a room with few other adornments can feel sterile.

Disclosure: This is a partnered post

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