Interiors: Simple solutions for smart storage
PUBLISHED: 10:38 31 January 2015
Affairs might shatter relationships but household clutter, it seems, comes a pretty close second, not to mention the havoc it wreaks on decor, too.
On average, 32 rows a year are caused by couples’ bickering over rooms being overloaded with possessions, according to research by Big Yellow Self Storage, which also reveals that one in ten actually split over the issue.
In desperation, a typical couple reluctantly throw away around £240-worth of possessions they’d rather keep in the first year of living together, with men ditching sports equipment and women dumping sentimental items.
“Inviting someone to live with you can feel a bit like being invaded by someone else’s belongings, and this can result in subconscious ‘space guarding’, where you use your possessions to mark out your territory,” says relationship psychologist Anjula Mutanda. “Any perceived violation of this by your partner can cause tensions - instead, try to negotiate as much as possible on what stays and goes, and be prepared to compromise.”
Alternatively, avoid losing sports tackle, cuddlies or - worse - love, by following a room-by-room storage plan devised by the experts...
Cluttered halls are a pretty good clue that the rest of the house isn’t well organised, so tackle this area first. It will also make a good first impression on visitors, especially key if they’re potential house-buyers.
“Nothing’s guaranteed to put me in a bad mood more than opening the front door of my house to be greeted by a tangle of school bags, boots and discarded coats left by my sons,” says Alison Cork, founder of online interiors company, Alison At Home.
“A large trunk’s proved the ideal hiding place. They just have to lift the lid and drop, and it makes a useful seat.”
Instead of bulky wardrobes, display clothes on rails and a dressmaker’s dummy, advises Cork. “It’s easy to see outfits at a glance, and clothes add colour and character to a room. Cheap metal loo-roll holders make brilliant jewellery holders, and put all beauty products on a tray so you can just lift it up to clean the shelf underneath or transport the lot to the bathroom.”
An orderly retreat
Create order out of chaos with a well-organised living area where everything has a place, and avoid rows triggered by stumbling over scattered toys and corners clogged with possessions.
“Gone are the days of storing items behind closed doors, as the trend for open shelving is quickly becoming a favourite. This style makes spaces feel more homely,” says Claire Hornby, creative stylist at Barker & Stonehouse.
“Exposed display works especially well if you want to highlight striking collections as a focal point, and it has the added advantage that you will quickly notice if surfaces are becoming over-crowded.”
Glass bookcases and shelves are a popular choice, particularly for modern spaces that demand a sleek, streamlined aesthetic, says Hornby.
“Shelving designs are moving away from conventional straight-lined surfaces towards curved shapes,” she says. “A smart mix of glass and integrated lighting on shelving is a strong trend, while reclaimed woods and metal finishes are still a favoured choice.”
Recipe for order
Kitchens are the hub of the home, so every inch of space needs to be used to maximum effect.
“We seem to cram more and more in our kitchens nowadays, as people generally have more crockery thanks to the advent of dishwashers, and that coupled with the growth of hi-tech gadgets, from coffee makers to juicers, means storage is key,” says Tony McCarthy from kitchen specialists, Crown Imperial.
“If you’re planning a kitchen, make a list of all the items you need to store, and always allow for more space than you think you need. Tall larder storage, slim, mid-height cupboards to fill an awkward space between a wall and the units, and deep pan drawers can solve a lot of problems.”
Drawer dividers ensure contents don’t descend into chaos, advises McCarthy. “Baskets in cupboards and wall-mounted racks also work well.”
Calm and clean
Bathrooms pictured in glossy magazines always seem to have acres of room and stunning views, but the reality for most of us is probably that they’re the smallest room in the house, and overflow with toiletries and towels.
“This space should be calm and relaxing, but a common mistake is to incorporate storage solutions which make a room feel more cramped, rather than enhancing space,” says Sarah Holey, marketing manager for bathroom specialists, Laufen.
“Think about how you use the bathroom and which areas attract the most mess, so that you specifically target those with suitable cupboards, then the space will work on a practical level.”
Wall-hung storage and freestanding pieces can make a room feel bigger by exposing more floor, suggests Holey. “Modular furniture allows for even greater flexibility and can be mixed and matched to suit storage requirements. Make clearing away easy with a good size laundry basket with a lid, and a netting bag for children’s toys.”