Mundane month: use January to sort out your house

PUBLISHED: 13:28 11 January 2016 | UPDATED: 13:28 11 January 2016

A high shelf - great for storage, great as a design piece

A high shelf - great for storage, great as a design piece

(C) 2009 Jupiterimages

It's a great time of year to refresh the home. Remember last August when you meant to clean out that under-stairs closet but couldn't be bothered because it was hot outside? Do it now! It'll take your mind off the fact that Christmas is over, January is dull, normality is back and that you're not supposed to be eating anything tasty.

New year, new homeNew year, new home

I had a New Year’s Eve gathering at my home.

I say ‘gathering’ - it was literally that. There were four of us. I suppose dust gathers in higher quantities but I prefer a lower-key New Year’s Eve, at home, with friends. When you go out, you spend the next day crying about how much it cost you to get somewhere, to enter said place, to buy things for consumption and to get home again. My New Year’s Eve cost me a grand total of £0. I used an M&S voucher I’d been given for Christmas to buy the food and drink, told my guests to bring more drink and didn’t even need to leave the house.

On New Year’s Day my kitchen was a mess. I’m going to confess something that any house-proud property person will scold me for - I didn’t tidy up til January 2nd. Instead, I ordered pizza and watched The Walking Dead for the majority of New Year’s Day. Bliss.

I read in Tuesday’s Guardian that the New Year’s Eve (and life) of a woman from London was wrecked when she was summoned by neighbours to the property she lets out on Airbnb. The locals had notified her that a party was being hosted for dozens of people at the property, and was getting out of control. The hostess of said party had rented the flat for just the one evening through the short-term home letting site, evidently as a venue for a wild foray into 2016. The homeowner arrived to find the place “trashed”, the party in full swing.

Frame itFrame it

I suppose then, my kitchen was no big deal. In fact, it most certainly wasn’t given that I had four guests - three, excluding myself!

But there’s definitely something about the end of a year that makes the householder want to shed the clutter of one’s daily surrounds. Perhaps its the clean-up after New Year’s, or the dismantling of the holiday decor, or the chucking out of discarded wrapping paper and Christmas cards. Perhaps its the receiving of gifts - new things that suddenly you need to make space for.

It’s a great time of year to refresh the home. You’re turning over a new page (literally) of your 2016 calendar and are faced with an open, brand new year ahead. Remember last August when you meant to clean out that under-stairs closet but couldn’t be bothered because it was hot outside? Do it now! It’ll take your mind off the fact that Christmas is over, January is dull, normality is back and that you’re not supposed to be eating anything tasty.

Kirstie Allsopp’s been at it, spreading her tips across the land on how to transfer the new year into a new home.

“Frame it,” she says. “School certificates or children’s artwork - why not display them rather than store them away? You can create a lovely feature wall of framed photos in different-sized frames.”

Yes, Kirstie, you can. My idea though would be to have some of the photos you took over the holiday season printed; or indeed, your favourite shots from 2015 as a whole. Display these in the way Kirstie suggests, as a memento to the year you’ve just had. Get arty with them and print them in black and white, or in varying sizes. Then, when 2017 rolls around, replace them this time next year with the memories you’ll create in 2016.

Shelves are a strange way of creating organisation because they actually display the items you are trying to store. So when it comes to shelving, they should be used wisely. Kirstie suggests incorporating floating shelves into the home, which I actually think is a great concept. These can be fixed above a door frame, with brackets underneath, creating a canopy of sorts to the entryway/exit. Then, store things up there that you would the top shelf of a cupboard, out of sight. Or, place large items on top, that can be seen, to create a design piece.

Kirstie advises on the art of de-cluttering the house: “It’s all about cleaning up and clearing out. If you haven’t used something in several months, if it’s not useful or attractive, then out it goes.”

Harsh, but sage advice. The thing about having a sort out is that you must be brutal. Have you really got a need for that statuette of Lady Godiva that your Aunt Melinda bought you eight Christmases ago? Is there a reason why you impulse-bought that huge slow-cooker in the Robert Dyas sale yet have never slow-cooked anything in your life? Chuck, sell, recycle, re-gift. Pass it on to your sister who is always moaning that she often finds herself with legs of lamb that she just doesn’t know what to do with. Then use that space in your kitchen for something else.

The home is definitely a priority at the start of the year, and you may as well use the often mundane month of January to put effort into it as preparation for the rest of the year. Otherwise, March will roll around and you’ll be too busy thinking about chocolate eggs to care. Now I’m sounding like Kirstie, aren’t I?

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