Do you yearn for an “Elle Deco”-styled, perfectly neat and tidy family home? Do you find that having the required actual family seems to prevent that from becoming a reality? Fear not! Here are a few free or inexpensive ways to help guide you in the right direction without simply locking your kids/ partner/ both in a shower cubicle for ease of cleaning until bedtime (genuinely considered).

 

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. William Morris

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but you have to really commit. Take LITERALLY EVERYTHING out of a room. Even furniture, and put it back in a piece at a time. You need to consider the functional and aesthetic appeal of everything.  You probably have things which just appeared over the last god knows how long, just sitting there. Once you’ve done this once, it’s easier to stay on top of it and it’s incredibly cathartic too!

An old chair with a book on it in an empty old room lit by a large window

 

“Everything in its place and a place for everything”.

This is especially good advice with books. Now, I LOVE books. Not just reading them, but looking at them too. They add colour, texture and personality to a space. The problem with books, though, is that bar a very few (The Jungle Book and anything by Gerald Durrell) you are unlikely to read them more than once. Try removing all your books during the aforementioned declutter session, and relocating all of them to one specific place. Perhaps you could turn your first floor landing into a library space with a chair, some shallow book cases and a well positioned lamp…

Landing lib

Closed storage for kids’ toys is especially useful, and if you can make it as sectional as possible it means they won’t empty out the whole thing to get to the pen at the bottom which they’ve decided it’s impossible to live without.

Under-Stair-Storage4

 

Show off

On your now totally empty shelves and surfaces, you can now start to curate you own personal gallery. This is less about useful and all about beautiful. Mix things up, a bit of ceramic from a holiday, a vase you fell in love with from a charity shop, an old toy you refuse to part with. Give each object enough space to breathe and be appreciated and don’t forget you can change it as often as you like. Just remember to remove a piece when adding a piece!

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Light relief

Once you have your display sorted, you need to be able to see it. Well positioned table and floor lamps will help draw the eye and by changing down-light ceiling spots to directional fittings you can really highlight specific areas and objects.

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Green party

You may not have noticed, but lots of the shoots you see in magazines have plenty of greenery. This helps to give texture, colour and structure. It also stops a heavily-curated area looking too austere. A small plant on a shelf as part of the display or a large statement palm can make a massive difference to a room.

Plants on shelf

Lastly, don’t be too precious about it. If you have kids, things will definitely get moved/ hidden in the freezer with your ipad occasionally (too often), and mess will happen. Let it, and then put it back to normal when you can. after all, there’ a lot less on display now, right?!