Whether it’s because of the dreaded rent increase, changing jobs or needing a bigger space, many people living in rental properties will find themselves moving more than those who own their own homes.
When we move a lot we tend to put the big declutter on the backburner – after all, why bother clearing up until we absolutely have to?
But putting off gives more time for unnecessary clutter to accumulate… meaning you’re left living in an unpleasant space for large chunks of time.
Being in the same jam-packed space with the same boring rental furniture can bring you down, but you don’t have to move to get out of that funk.
Your space needs to evolve with you, and that usually starts with getting rid of things that don’t serve you anymore.
Plus, when you want to declutter sustainably (meaning you aren’t just chucking everything into black bin bags), it takes time that moving doesn’t always allow. It might be better to declutter when you’re staying put and not in a rush to go anywhere.
The benefits of decluttering
When we have too many things to sort through, it’s easy to procrastinate and enter a cycle of keeping things we no longer need.
While decluttering is aesthetically and practically useful, it is also good for your own wellbeing as a cluttered space can take a big toll on your mental health.
‘For those who need visual calm and order, living in a cluttered space can take its toll on their health as they can never really relax and recharge,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘And for those who know their clutter is out of control, they live with an internal nagging voice badgering them constantly to sort it out.
‘This costs a lot of mental energy that could be put to good use doing something more meaningful.’
Why a slow declutter might be the way forward
The narrative around decluttering often advises us to do it all at once and get all the clutter out of your home as soon as possible, but the best process is not the same for everyone. Decluttering an entire home in a few days can be stressful and disheartening.
Lisa Staff, professional organiser of 19 years, suggests that decluttering needs to be a regular practice, rather than something you do all in one go.
‘When you’re walking past something and think “I really don’t like that, or it doesn’t look great there”, move it,’ she suggests.
Taking one piece of clutter at a time, you create a habit which allows you to make natural decisions about your things, rather than snap decisions made staring at a big pile of all your belongings.
Another reason why the slow declutter might be better for you, is that it is more sustainable.
Selling things on Gumtree and Facebook marketplace can be hit or miss, and that neon green desk you regret buying might be on there a for a while, but decluttering without a deadline gives you time to wait to find an items new home.
Many of us have the intention of recycling, donating, and selling the things we don’t use, but so often, the bag for the charity shop sits in the cupboard for months on end.
One of the best ways to stop this is to prepare a plan before you start decluttering. Sanderson recommends ‘spending time beforehand planning, identifying charity shops and recycling centres’.
Keep your bag of donations at the front door, and once its filled, take it over to a charity shop.
To make sustainable decluttering convenient for you, it’s a good idea to donate or recycle at a place that’s on your route to work or to your morning coffee.
How to reboot your rented living space
Decluttering gives us a better understanding of our surroundings. Only when the clutter is gone do we realise how it served a mask over an unloved space. A space that no longer reflects us.
That’s where décor comes in. This isn’t to refill our spaces with new clutter, but to reshape our space into something we love, and in turn prevent the clutter coming back.
For many people in rentals, it can feel like a losing battle to decorate our space, because it doesn’t truly feel like our own.
Helen says: ‘People feel less secure in rented properties and accumulate more things around them, so they feel safer or simply as a way of feeling a greater sense of ownership.’
Renters may accumulate so much clutter to cover up all the boring furnishings and chipped paint, but once that clutter is gone the space may feel even more alienating.
However, small, accented décor can add a lot to your space to help it reflect who you are.
Making a rental space your own can be a daunting endeavour, but there are a few small changes you can make that will make a huge difference, according to Melissa Penfold, author of Living Well By Design.
‘Think of it like home jewellery,’ she says. ‘Change the light fixtures. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to create an individual look. Pile on the pillows. Update your coffee table. Add throw rugs. Create height with a plant. Rearrange the coffee table – pile up the books with deep stacks to the sides. Not only does it finish the room, it reflects your style.’
What’s great about home accessories is that when you change a lamp shade, or plug socket covers, you can take the pieces of your style with you to the next place.
Decorating slowly can help you decorate sustainably and with purpose. Charity shops, auction houses, and Gumtree are just a few options for finding décor sustainably.
Melissa recommends: ‘At least 25% of your interior needs to be pre-loved because, antique, second hand, vintage furniture is made better, adds more weight to a room and will last several generations.’
After decluttering your space it’s important to take the time to find décor you love, rather than décor to fill the emptiness and start the clutter cycle all over again.
By decluttering, and decorating, you can turn the space into more than just a storage container.
The majority of time spent decluttering during a move is spent fitting everything into the moving van.
But when you declutter gradually over time rather than all at once, you begin to see how your surroundings impact you.
Creating a space that honours where you are in life is easier when you’re aware of your space and the way you want it to be.
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