How To Declutter Your Utility Room
Some friends have just called to say they’re coming over and you’re doing a mad dash around the house to clean up the toys and sweep the floors, but where is the dustpan and brush? You search under the pile of washing, you step over all the wellies, you even check in the dryer in case you had one of ‘those’ moments again, but no sign of it.
Sounds familiar, right?!
When I first moved into my own home, I never understood the importance of organised storage. As long as it wasn’t lying on the floor or piled on the table I figured that was tidy enough!! But then kids came along and more ‘stuff’ came along and time became a precious commodity, and I realized how much time and how much energy I was wasting looking for things that should have been easy to find (car keys, anyone?!!).
The solution...a place for everything and everything in its place!! Storage is key, yes decluttering is important but unless you have a place to put what’s left when you’re finished, it won’t make any difference, it will still look messy.
So this month we’re looking at the utility room, or whatever space you use for storing cleaning supplies, muddy boots, dog food etc. It dosnt have to be a big fancy American style laundry room, it can be just a cupboard under the stairs, but the idea is that it is a functional, organized space which works for you and your family.
This plan is best executed if you can dedicate a weekend to it. Start early on Saturday morning and plan for a takeaway dinner in the evening!! In the coming weeks we’ll also be looking at storage solutions, styling and decorating and how to maintain your amazing new space.
Let’s get started!!
1. Make a mess!!
Yes, really!! The first thing you need to do is remove EVERYTHING from your utility room, except appliances and furniture of course!! Clear a space on the floor in an adjoining room and just clear everything out. The idea behind this is that you are starting with a blank canvas. Yes, it’s a bit of work and will take some time, but get the family involved, it will benefit everyone in the end!!
2. Grab a coffee!!
Or a bar of chocolate, if you prefer!! The next step is to decide what you actually want to use the space for.
Is it simply a space for laundry? Is it only big enough to hold cleaning supplies? Are you fortunate enough to have space for a larder, laundry AND storage? Think about how you want to use the room, what would be the most efficient use of the area and what would save you the most time in your daily life.
For now, try not to think about where everything will go and instead think about what you use regularly, what you use seasonally and what you may have stored elsewhere that would be handier if it was in the utility room instead.
For example we used to have the outdoor toys stored under the stairs in the coat closet but it was like traveling into Narnia every time you wanted to find a ball!! So we moved them into the utility room where, not only can they be reached easier, but they can also be put away easier!!
If you love lists as much as me, break it down into categories (cleaning, food, laundry, kids toys) and write down everything you want to keep in the room. This will give you a better idea of how much space each category needs and where you might need to make changes.
Don’t rush this part because if you don’t have a clear vision of the end result you’ll never be able completely happy with the end result.
3. Start sparking joy!
Now that you know what you want to use the space for, the next part is to sort through your pile and decide what stays and what goes.
What do you really need to keep in the utility room? What can be stored somewhere else that makes more sense? What do you not need anymore? Do you want to be able to wash, fold and iron your laundry all in the same space or do you just need an area for the dog to eat and sleep in peace?!
Don’t get too caught up in worrying about where else to put stuff or even in the mess that you feel you’re creating while you sort, your only focus needs to be on achieving your goal for the utility room, the other rooms can be tackled another day!!
When you’re finished, if there are items stored somewhere else that you have decided to move into the utility room, add them to your ‘keep’ pile.
Now is also the time to think about if there is any structural work you want done. Are you going to build new shelving, install that Belfast sink you’ve always dreamed of, or simply paint the walls a brighter colour to create more light? We’ll be looking into more storage ideas next week so if you need some inspiration, stay tuned!
4. Get out the elbow grease!
How often should you clean under and behind your washing machine? Well whatever the rule is I’m fairly certain that most of us don’t obey it! Take the opportunity while the room is empty to give it a really thorough deep clean. Again, get the family involved. Kids can clean skirting boards (you can go over them again later!!), or a feather duster will give them hours of entertainment trying to tickle you while you work!!
Obviously if you’re planning any structural work like painting or building new units, wait until it’s finished before you start cleaning! At this stage I would also say, if you’re going to be undertaking a bigger project, pack away your ‘piles’ into labeled boxes and stack in a corner. That way you’ll be able to access things if you need them but without tripping over them on an hourly basis!!
5. Restore order!
As I mentioned earlier, next week we will be looking at storage solutions, so you may want to wait before putting everything back into your newly sparkling room!
However, if you’re happy with the storage you have, and there’s no more structural work to be done, it’s time to put everything back. You might remember my earlier quote, “a place for everything, and everything in its place”. Now that your piles are categorised, it should be much easier to put everything away in a way that it has the space it needs and is as accessible as necessary.
I would suggest putting away the things you don’t frequently use, first. If you have open shelving, label the box ‘garden party’ and put it up on a higher shelf for now. When Summer comes you can swop it for the ‘Gloves, Hats & Scarves’ box on the lower shelf without any hassle.
Make sure the items you use the most are the most accessible. Whether you’re dealing with a cleaning cupboard under the stairs or a purpose built utility room, the space won’t work if you have to go climbing and digging through a box every time you need the dustpan and brush.
If the kids have items that they need access to like outdoor toys or board games, use clear plastic boxes or fun coloured boxes with a picture label of contents on the front. Also make sure that any cleaning products or gardening tools are out of the reach of little hands, those child proof caps are more effective on adults than kids!!
If, after all this hard work, you’re now thinking it all looks very empty and lacking in personal touches, fear not!! Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking at ways of incorporating your own home decor style into the utility room without affecting the organised storage.
In the meantime check out our Pinterest board to get some inspiration and if you’re feeling very creative, make one of your own with ideas for your space.