- Rebecca Jo Rushdy
9 things professional declutterers won’t keep in their bedrooms
House Beautiful (Feb 2023):
A bedroom should be a calm and restful place so you can enjoy the best quality of sleep possible, but too often, this private space is invaded by untidy habits. Professional declutterers and KonMari practitioners – including members of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO), and The Spark Joy Collective of KonMari consultants – have a hit-list of things that should never be allowed in the boudoir. Follow their practical advice and prioritise what should stay – and go – when you snuggle down.
1. A television
'Without doubt I would never have a TV in my bedroom,' says Siân Pelleschi, president of APDO and founder of Sorted!. 'It's a well-known fact that screen time stops your brain from producing the melatonin that helps your brain with the sleep-wake cycle. A bedroom should be a place to rest and recuperate. That's not likely to happen easily when you get stuck watching things on TV.'
'I would never have a TV in my bedroom either,' agrees APDO and Spark Joy Collective member Rosie Barron, founder of The Tidy Coo. 'The primary purpose of a bedroom is restful sleep and having electronics with blue light is detrimental to that.'
Kate Galbally, APDO member and founder of Better Organised, says that the blue light acts as a signal to your brain that it is time to be awake: 'Watching TV can mess with your circadian rhythm. It can affect the ability to fall asleep, as well as the quality of your sleep.'
So ditch the TV, remote, digital box and other tech paraphernalia and you'll also kick out clutter that takes up precious space.
2. A floordrobe
A floordrobe – a messy and ever-growing pile of clothes on the floor – is not just a teenage thing, says My Wardrobe Zen's founder and Spark Joy Collective member, Victoria Nicholson: 'Get rid of it. Get everything off the floor and back in the cupboard. It really will save you time in the morning when you're not scrabbling through a pile.'
Plus it's safer, adds Kate Galbally. 'A floordrobe not only looks untidy but it can also make it dangerous if you need to get up during the night. Make it easy for yourself by having an open-top laundry bag to dump dirty clothes in. Discarded clothing has a tendency to attract more discarded clothing – resulting in an overwhelming mountain that's too much to face.'
Avoid dumping clothes anywhere else they don’t belong, says Jane Fern, member of the Spark Joy Collective and owner of Simply Tidy With Jane: 'A bedroom environment needs to help you feel safe, peaceful, loved and restful, with a sprinkling of calming joy'.
So shift that pile of laundry, deal with those chairs piled high, and tackle a wardrobe that isn't functioning as it should due to overflow.
3. Too many trinkets
Here's another tip from Victoria Nicholson: 'Think about when you were last on holiday and stayed in a hotel and how easy it was to get to sleep in such a calm, uncluttered environment.'
Now look around your bedroom, she says. Are you guilty of hanging onto ornaments you don't even like, hanging up pictures you can't find a home for anywhere else, or leaving empty perfume bottles out 'for display' because you can't bear to part with them?
They all add up to bedroom clutter. And having this constant 'to-do list' reminder won't aid relaxation.
'Treat your bedroom as your sanctuary, a peaceful place where you can deeply relax,' says Mimi Bogelund, Spark Joy Collective member and founder of Organised Home and Life. 'Set time aside for a thorough declutter, a deep clean, change bedlinen and wash all soft furnishings. Open the curtains and the windows. You'll be guaranteed better sleep with fresh air and a clean, uncluttered room.'
4. Exercise equipment
There are so many reasons why treadmills, rowing machines, cross-trainers and even free weights should be banned from the bedroom, say our decluttering experts.
Jane Lee, APDO member and founder of Jane Lee Interiors, would never have an exercise bike in her bedroom: 'Because, first, they're magnets for clutter – I can't remember ever seeing one that wasn’t draped in clothes! And second, bedrooms ideally provide a nurturing, calming haven reserved for rest and romance. Bulky exercise bikes, treadmills and cross-trainers conjure up an image of high-energy workouts rather than serenity.'
Find a spare bedroom or outdoor building instead, is her advice: 'Staring at an exercise bike's silhouette as you nod off – especially if you’re feeling guilty about not exercising that day – is hardly conducive to a good night's sleep. But if you really have nowhere else, screen it off at night.'
Also, exercise equipment in bedrooms is unsanitary and can actually be bad for our (mental) health, says Elizabeth Wickes, APDO member and founder of The Life Organiser: 'Even if used, it can be smelly and harbour germs, if the equipment is not wiped down regularly. And if it's not used, it can become a regular guilt-inducing reminder that we should be either using it or removing and/or selling it. Not great for our mental health.'
5. Your mobile phone
Most decluttering experts would give phones – and messy charger cables – their marching orders from a bedroom, but this isn't always practical. 'To limit the presence of a phone, look at what rituals and rhythms would support you and adjust them accordingly. For example, no phones in bed after 9pm or until you're up and dressed in the morning,' suggests Spark Joy Collective member and lifestyle coach Jenny Hayes.
Here's a good tip from Mimi Bogelund: 'If you need to be contactable in an emergency, leave the phone away from the bed, but where you can hear it and let the family know to call rather than message, so if it's urgent they reach you.'
A pen and a small notepad in a drawer, 'just in case I wake up in the night and need to write something down', is the only paperwork Sue Spencer, Master KonMari consultant, APDO member and founder of A Life More Organised, allows in her bedroom.
She avoids 'piles of papers, books and stuff on the bedside table or piled up around the bed as this clutter is extra stimulus and noise that your brain has to process.'
Now so many of us work from home, it's often the bedroom where we end up with laptop and files. If this is you, Craig Hoareau, APDO member and founder of A Tidy Mind – South London, says: 'If you only have your bedroom to work from, try to disguise it in a way that it is not on show when you go to bed or put things away after the work day. Use drawers or a shelf in closed cupboards.'
Sue Spencer also recommends changing the lighting – so switching on a softer lamp to aid relaxation – and lighting a candle 'to shift the atmosphere in the room' and make it feel like a different space.
Jacqueline McLeod, APDO's communications director and founder of Bancrofts Organisation Services, refuses to allow late night snacks or breakfast in bed past the door.
'I wouldn't have food in my bedroom because my bedroom is my sanctuary which is curated in the way to support our wellbeing with the right smells, lighting, design, layout and items,' she says. 'Food is out of place in this space and interrupts the purpose of the bedroom which is centred around calm pre-sleep activity.'
8. Flimsy curtains
For the deepest and most restful sleep, blackout window treatments are always the best way to go, says Rebecca Roberts, APDO member and founder of Curate My Space. 'So take down flimsy curtains or blinds. Keep the interior dark, especially in children's rooms and in the northern hemisphere where it stays light late and gets light early in the summer.'
9. Coats, boots and outerwear
Banish outdoor clothing from bedrooms, says Mimi Bogelund, because they will bring in dirt and residue from the outside world: 'Outerwear and footwear has always experienced contact with seats and streets. This is not a good mix in the privacy of your bedroom. If you don’t have the option to keep them anywhere else, find space in a wardrobe rather than on the floor or a chair.'
Final piece of advice: Create a dog-free zone
'As much as I love my beautiful pooch, I draw the line at sharing my "sanctuary" with her,' says Anita Fortes, APDO member and founder of A Neater Life Professional Organising. 'I would never have my dog in my bedroom. Dog hair, grit, random toys and mucky paws, not to mention that delightful doggy smell. There has to be one "dog-free" zone in my house, and it has to be the boudoir.'
Published in House Beautiful, written by Jayne Dowle, Feb 2023