Making a clean sweep

PUBLISHED: 13:37 25 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:37 25 February 2014

Debbie Noye has her house decluttered by Belle Brooks

Debbie Noye has her house decluttered by Belle Brooks

Decluttering is easier than it sounds . . . really! Suffolk based designer and stylist Belle Brocks shows you how

Debbie Noye has her house decluttered by Belle BrocksDebbie Noye has her house decluttered by Belle Brocks

Our grandmothers had a name for it – spring cleaning.

The modern word is ‘decluttering’, but it means the same thing. An irresistible urge at the first sign of warmer weather and longer days to clean the house from top to bottom and get rid of unwanted stuff.

There’s no denying the enormous benefits of decluttering. Somehow just sorting out a room, a wardrobe, a cupboard, even a desk can have such a detoxing effect. With less stuff around, thinking just becomes clearer. But while the body’s willing the spirit is sometimes weak and parting with our stuff is harder than we think – much loved items of clothing (even though we haven’t worn them for years), books and CDs (even though we’ve downloaded most of our collection), kids’ toys (even though their owners left home years ago) and kitchen paraphernalia (used once and condemned as too difficult to clean) . . .

If you recognise this scenario, you could enlist the help of Belle Brocks, a Suffolk based interior designer and stylist who, as well as revamping your rooms, will come to your home, de-clutter and help you organise your space.

Belle recognises that decluttering is not an easy task for most people. We like our stuff. The key, she says, is to be honest – decluttering always begins with an open discussion.

“I’m quite honest with people,” says Belle. “It’s really important to understand why someone’s doing it and what they want to achieve.” Decluttering is easier, of course, when it’s not your own stuff and that detachment Belle has is quite important. As she says, there’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes.

Letting go of possessions can less stressful if you think of it as ‘rehoming’. Charity shops are grateful for high quality donations, while the designer dress you bought and wore once to a wedding might fetch a few pounds on eBay or at a car boot sale.

And decluttering is a lot easier when you’re moving home. “People find it a lot easier to be ruthless,” Belle says. But whatever your reason for wanting to do it, the task can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Belle usually limits sessions to half a day and tries to do it>>

>> when the weather’s better, when she can spill outdoors.

To set the mood for decluttering we took her to the Ipswich home of Debbie Noye, a colleague with the East Anglian Daily Times.

Debbie is very tidy and well organised, but like most of us, over the years she’s accumulated clothes she no longer wears and even though she can’t bear to part with them, she could do with freeing up some wardrobe space.

Now that her daughter, Emma, has grown up and left home, she’s turned a smaller bedroom into a dressing room for herself, so that she and husband Mike have their own space during the morning rush hour. Debbie also uses this room to store her work clothes, as well as for drying and styling her hair, and doing her make-up, which, she says, is brilliant for keeping dust and hair out of their main bedroom.

The spur for Debbie’s wardrobe declutter was her collection of wide-leg trousers.

“I keep thinking they might come back in fashion, but in my heart of hearts I know I won’t wear them,” she says. So, she spent a productive morning with Belle, who came armed with three large plastic bins labelled ‘throw’, ‘charity’ and ‘50/50’ (second-hand and ‘vintage’ shops). As they sorted through Debbie’s wardrobe, she put her unwanted items in each of them.

At the end of it all, Debbie was pleased with the result, particularly knowing that some items would go to good homes.

“I’ve been meaning to do it for ages,” she said. Haven’t we all?

Belle Brooks has a studio at Stonham Barns, Stonham Aspal, IP14 6AT where she showcases a range of home accessories and French style furniture, jewellery and bags, many of them by Suffolk artists and suppliers.

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