Spring forward

Spring is the time of year when we tend to think of freshening up the house and rationalizing interior spaces. Renewal comes to mind too especially as one sees the first daffodils opening up, the lambs frolicking in the green meadows and the days getting longer. It is time to bring back energy into the house after the winter months by way of de-cluttering and Spring cleaning.

Fergal Costello, Tree Chair

David Hockney, the arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire, 2011

Spring cleaning can be quite daunting and therefore one room should be tackled   at a time, preferably in the morning for one hour, two maximum, otherwise it will feel more like a chore.

HALLWAY: This space can become cluttered very quickly with sport equipment, shoes, coats, bags, buggies and even bikes. All of these would need to be stored away or organised differently so that the clutter won’t be visible once you open the front door.  A console table, a small table with drawers or a chest of drawers will accommodate small items such as keys, post, bags, scarves and hats when a wall unit with hooks and shelves will take care of coats, jackets and umbrellas. A bench with a lift-up top or a simple bench with lidded baskets stored underneath will be ideal for shoes and sport gear. Under the stairs can be used efficiently for storage by having a purpose built shelves system on runners so that everything can be accessed easily.

Recommendations: IKEA, Hemnes storage bench & shoe cabinet; The Kildare-based company Bneathstairs

KITCHEN: This is the heart of the home and the place where we cook, eat and often entertain family and friends. Storage, organisation and cleanliness here are key considerations when it comes to the allocation of all items used to prepare and cook food and to make sure it is a safe environment.

Any chipped, damaged crockery, ustensils, glasses, pots and pans should be discarded. Unused small appliances can be given away to someone who would make good use of it.

Check your store cupboard for food items that may be out of date. They would need to be thrown out. A general rule of thumb for food stored in the fridge is as follows:

  •    Cooked leftovers: 4 days maximum
  •  Raw meat or fresh fish: one or two days
  •  Bacon: up to 7 days
  •  Deli and vacuum-packed products: 3 to 5 days once open

As for the commercially frozen food in your freezer:

  •   Fruit and vegetables: 12 to 18 months
  •   Raw meat,  meat products and poultry: 2 to 12 months; two months only for bacon and 12 months max for poultry.
  •   Fish and shellfish: from 4 to 10 months; four months for oily fish and clams and 10 months max for flat fish.
  •   Ice-cream: 6 months

Organize your recycling with the use of sort-out bins or stackable recycling containers, depending on the space you have. If you have a garden, you might consider investing in a compost container. Your cleaning products are usually stored at hand-reach under the sink.

Reference: Food safety Authority of Ireland – http://www.fsai.ie

Recommendations: Lid-touch or pedal bin from Branbatia,   “flower” trio recycling bin by Curver. Argos* have also a great selection of kitchen and recycling bins.

BATHROOM: As it tends to the smallest room in the house, the bathroom space can sometimes become cluttered with too many beauty products, shower gels, towels, toilet rolls and so on. Mirrored wall cabinets, storage trolleys, hooks and well placed baskets are ideal to store small items to make the bathroom clutter-free and visually spacious. Ladder radiators for towels are very neat, efficient and practical. Glass shelves above the toilet cistern or at the end of the bath can hold toiletries, towels or even bath toys. Chrome baskets fixed with suckers will keep your shampoo bottles close to hand.

Beauty products also have a shelf-life.  You will find a logo on all cream pots, tubes and make-up. It is in the form of an open-lidded pot with a number and the letter ‘m’. This indicates how long a product can be used for after opening. For example, 12m = 12 months. After a year the product will lose its quality, texture or colour and may even result in an allergy on the skin. Beauty products are best kept in a dry environment and away from the light.  Pencil eye-liner should be sharpened regularly and hair brushes need to be washed every two to three months with a mild detergent. If your medicines are kept in the bathroom cabinet, check on their expiry date too and discard any that are past it of no longer needed.

Towels and bath mats tend to loose their softness and should be replaced gradually. Wooden items such as soap dispensers or bath racks may have blackened due to the high level of humidity. The same items in ceramic or bamboo are more suitable.

Recommendations: Muji bathroom accessories and storage.

LIVING-ROOM: The many things that people use the living room for, such as reading, listening  to music, watching TV, surfing the Internet, playing with the children and entertaining our family and friends, means that it needs to be comfortable. In the living room you need to cater for everything from books, magazines, newspapers, photos to CDs, DVDs and games.  Again, storage is the key element to have easy access to all these items.  A coffee table with drawers for magazines and small items including the remote controls,  floor to ceiling built-in units, baskets or window seats with storage underneath the seat could be handy. Flexible and multi-purpose furniture should be considered if the living-room doubles up as an office, a play-room or a guest-bedroom.

You might want to go through your  books, CDs and DVDs and remove the ones you no longer want to keep and take them to the charity shop.  Any torn soft furnishings, damaged lighting, chipped ornaments should be discarded if they are beyond repair or of no sentimental value.

Recommendations: Seca and Melo Sofa, Volani storage system and Fermo media unit, all by Bo Concept.

BEDROOM: Unclutter your wardrobe to create more space: go through all items of clothing including the shoes, belts and bags. Select the ones you haven’t worn in at least one year, the ones that don’t fit anymore, the ones you no longer like for whatever reason. You have the options of taking them to the charity shop, selling them at a car boot sale or organising a swap party with your friends. Now you might want to re-organize your clothes.  Items that need to be folded like jumpers, tee-shirts and pyjamas can be stored in a chest of drawers or tall boy while shirts, trousers, dresses and skirts should be hung up.  Store any out-of-season clothes in a blanket box or wicker trunk. Shoes can be stored in their original boxes at the bottom of your wardrobe. If you still have a lot of shoes you might find time to take photos and attach the the boxes and find them easily without upending the whole collection!

Bedlinen and blankets are quite bulky items and can be stored in your wardrobe if you have the space. Otherwise, the wardrobe in your spare room or the hot press are ideal for this purpose.  Store blankets and quilts on the top shelf as they are not needed as often as sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases.

Recommendations: Adams bed, Hana freestanding mirror with shelves, Radius wardrobe and Mews chest of drawers, all by Habitat. Selection of baskets and storage boxes from Laura Ashley

OFFICE:  This space may be a whole room, a corner in the living-room or kitchen, the area under the stairs. Household paperwork and documents need to be filed away and organized for future access. Clear files annually but keep important documents such as guarantees, insurances renewal and health records. You can contact your bank and mobile phone provider to register for e-statements and bills, reducing the amount of paper you get in the post and you can access the information online whenever you need to. Use boxes or a mini drawer unit to store pens, paperclips and receipts.

Recommendations: Utensilo wall organiser by Dorothee Becker for Ingo Maurer, 1969

CHILDREN’S ROOM: Keep their favorite books and toys handy and store the rest away in colourful baskets or stackable boxes for future use.  Broken toys and games  or puzzles with pieces missing should be discarded and the ones the child or children have outgrown can be given away. The same applies to clothes and shoes because, as every parent knows, toddlers and children grow out of them very quickly.


NB: If you want to give away any items such as furniture, toys, tools,  clothes etc, you can register with www.jumbletown.ie , the recycling site whoe motto is “Someone, somewhere wants it.”