Spring-cleaning needn’t be dull. Leoma Harper, founder of styletheclutter.com, shares her expert advice with Katrina Harper-Lewis, about how to keep mess stylishly under control
What’s the premise behind ‘Style the Clutter’?
Style the Clutter is based on making your home stylish, despite the clutter. This may involve beautiful storage solutions to contain the clutter, a complete re-organisation or making the most of your clutter through revamping it or presenting it in a beautiful way.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, what’s a quick fix for getting clutter under control?
Have an immediate clear-out and get rid of things that are not useful or pretty. Pass them on, give them to charity or throw them away. Start with a small area – it’s so satisfying and you will no doubt carry on throughout the house. If you don’t have time, just buy a few baskets and fill them up with stuff, then the sorting out can wait for another day.
Do you have to throw things out or can you find a place for everything?
I go by William Morris’ famous quote: ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’ Be ruthless, yes, but if you really like something, it’s useful or it has sentimental value, make it look its best. For example, present it beautifully on a shelf surrounded by plants, or frame it and hang it on the wall. You can make anything look good by styling it the right way. Even if your kids’ artwork has had its time, Blu-Tacked to the fridge, take photos of it and make a picture book that can sit pretty on your shelf instead.
What are your rules for having a sort-out?
I usually sort through all items and put them into four piles. A ‘throw away’ one, a ‘deciding on’ one, a ‘move to another area of the house’ one and a ‘keep it where it is’ one. I usually decide then and there before I have a chance to change my mind.
What’s the secret to stylish storage?
Lots of beautiful baskets. There are so many gorgeous ones out there and they look good anywhere; I even have a basket to put loo rolls in. If you don’t want people to see what’s inside, pop a lovely throw on top. Fabric boxes with a nice print on them are great, too, and can be folded away when not in use, so save on space. Benches with storage in them work well in hallways or utility rooms for boots and shoes, and you can’t beat beds with built-in storage for keeping spare linen and towels in. Opt for full-length wall shelves in bedrooms to display decorative items and books. Mini vintage-style suitcases also look really cute in bedrooms and play areas, and are ideal for storage. Drawstring sacks are really good for toys, as they are huge and open up to become a play mat.
What are your go-to shops for storage?
I’ve searched for the prettiest baskets and have found lovely pom pom ones at Tala Home Design through Etsy, and Olli Ella have lots of variations. I love Cox & Cox and John Lewis, too. The Modern Nursery is amazing for children’s storage items, as is the Great Little Trading Company, and I also find lots of things at Cuckooland.
LEOMA’S TOP 7 DIY STORAGE HACKS
- I painted the insides of the doors to my children’s bedrooms to add a fun colour pop, then added hooks to hang their best outfits on.
- Putting up a lower hanging rail in your hall or utility area will encourage children to hang up their coats, rather than chucking them on the floor
- Paint a feature wall in blackboard paint in a kitchen or playroom to write shopping lists or draw doodles on, and avoid having to stick lots of notes up.
- Good book storage is key, as they just seem to accumulate. Wall-hanging book racks are great and I also use a lot of magazine baskets with divider sections.
- We have a rustic vegetable rack with pull-out drawers in our play room, which is amazing for storing toys.
- Paint wooden storage boxes in fun colours and stack them up. I have a few Ikea items that I have painted and added new handles to for a more personal and stylish touch.
- One of my clients wanted to be able to see her jewellery more easily, so I added hooks to the bottom of some picture rails so her jewellery can be stored nicely and looks pretty.