That’s the problem I faced on my last move. Having landlords who own a handful of properties means our place has been not-so-affectionately nicknamed ‘The Dumping Ground’ and I’ve chosen to close the door on the living room completely since we decided it was better to store the excess of beat up furniture in there than our precious bedrooms. Everyone needs somewhere to wind down in peace at the end of the day, after all.
So how have I made it more than a year in this place without losing my clutter-phobic mind? I followed these mantras religiously, and spent quite a lot of my time ‘out’.
1. Don’t use it? Lose it.
Before I even packed my belongings at my old place, I went through everything I owned and asked myself, ‘do I need this?’ Anything that didn’t make the cut ended up in bags bound for the charity shops. Except those three pairs of the same perfectly fitting loafers in various colours. Everyone needs those.
2. Find the wall space.
The first thing I did when I moved into The Dumping Ground was to figure out the most effective way to get all the furniture into my room and still have space to move around. Want to know what my overcrowded room came with? A double bed, two lots of 3 drawer sets, a dressing table (with three more drawers), a larger than average desk, a small bookcase, a wooden chest, a (broken) swivel chair and a stool. All of which had to be fitted in around the narrow, built-in wardrobe, boiler cupboard and radiator. (Now our flat naming skills become clear…) Not to mention the craft trolley and laundry basket I brought with me.
After shifting a drawer set to the living room and swapping the swivel chair for a wooden one, there was suddenly a bit more breathing space. Having the bed against the wall is a great space saver and it also means longer wall areas for the rest of the fittings to sandwich themselves into.
3. Things aren’t always what they seem.
To quote, um, Jafar… it’s worth keeping in mind that a bookcase doesn’t necessarily need to house books. It could be a shoe cabinet. A dressing table could stand in for a bedside cabinet, and a stool stored under said table could be a shelf.
4. Hooks, glorious hooks.
A door can be used for more than just shutting out the outside world, my friends. A big brass hook on the back of the bedroom door makes an ideal spot for jackets and dressing gowns, and tote bags (we all own a few too many of those, right?) can be slung over the door handle, ready for their next trip to the shops. If screwing things into someone else’s property is a big no-no, try an over-the-door hook rail instead. The radiator ones are also handy little gadgets to have around.
5. Stack up.
As mentioned in the last point, a bookcase makes excellent shoe storage. Where floor space is lacking, build up the way! My yarn stash is housed in a basket drawer trolley from IKEA – it’s narrow enough to squeeze between bulky items and easy to move if ever a more optimal layout presents itself.
6. Leave no space un-utilised.
Under the bed is an obvious yet perfect spot for hiding away lesser used items – out of season clothing, spare blankets, that pile of eBay stuff you still haven’t got around to listing… Other handy hiding spots at my place include the bottom of the wardrobe (for camping gear and weekend bags) and under the desk, where a set of drawers slotted in quite nicely next to the laundry basket and yet more crafting tools.
7. Make it personal.
Finally, don’t forget that this is your space at the end of the day and whether the landlord has put their unfortunate stamp on it or not, yours deserves to be there too. So hang up that cat clock and calendar, fill the bed with colourful pillows, stack your button filled jars on the desk, and don’t be afraid to make your room home.