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Curate your clutter: tips and tricks to give your home character

Your home and what you choose to display says a lot about you. But there’s a fine line between soulless show home and messy chaos. So how do you find the balance? Here are some tips, tricks and ideas to help make your home feel stylish and not a hoarder's paradise.

A dark, inky blue wall with floating shelves filled with ornaments, dried flowers and vases

Don’t be clutter-averse

“I always like a lot of ‘stuff’ because I really like to make somewhere homely,” says Isobel MacScott. “My dad was in the army so we used to move every two years. Every new house that we went to, Mum used to go first and fill it with things, so we’d move there and feel like it was home.” Decorative items can help you put your mark on your home. It’s the character that expresses you live there, and no one else. So don’t be afraid to dress it up.

Bookshelf lined in colourful books arranged by colour in Alexandra and Nicolas Valla's living room

Colour blocking

“I organise my books by colour because I used to spend a lot of time searching for them,” says Nicolas Valla of Royal Roulotte. “As I’m a visual person, it’s easier for me to remember the colour of the spine than the title.”

A wooden accent chair with Helgar sheepskin rug and Mya velvet cushion on it next to a bookcase filled with rainbow coloured books

Blocking colour

Organising your books by colour makes them look tidy and striking. It also helps you limit your book hoarding. “You do have to be quite rigorous,” says Alex Butt. “You have to think ‘I can’t really have any more books of this colour, but I could definitely go more purple and pink’.”

A blue kitchen with a shelf above the clear worktop and hanging utensils

The pink Cairn sidetable in a bathroom topped with bottles, candles and dried flowers

A pink kitchen with clear, white worktop and floating shelves packed with bowls, plates, cups and decorative items

Shelf it

Art Director and Prop Stylist Emily Ezekiel likes to use the less is more method: “Get a few cabinets and shelves to keep your special bits and bobs in or on. That way, they’ll be on display but practical, too. I like to have clean worktops, a good amount of hidden storage and a row of shelving with items you use every day so it’s always changing and evolving and not static dust collectors.”  

A floating shelf with white porcelain on it including the Ramus jugs

Tall order

To keep your decorative items neat yet stylish, Emily recommends “to break it down into colour blocks… I’ve always liked using colours to pair things.” By using colours to organise your items, you’re automatically creating a cohesive theme that works visually. But how do you stop it looking boring? “Mixing heights will keep it feeling modern and interesting,” adds Emily.

Knot & Pop's Susie Young's kitchen with PEZ lining the top of the cabinet

Take a walk down memory lane

“When me and my sister were wee, we loved Pez so I kept some, and over the years my collection grew,” says Susie Young of Knot & Pop. Those knick-knacks from your past don’t have to live in a drawer. Selected pieces can bring warmth and joy to your home - and take up void space. But be selective and choose something that sparks a memory. “It’s nice to look round your home and be reminded of something from your childhood.”

Hallway sideboard with mirror and vase upon it, along with a dinosaur statue

Child’s play

"It's all about authenticity,” says Katrin Swartenbroux. The key to making unusual items work is passion. “I didn’t buy these dinosaur figurines because they’re cool now. I found them in my old toy box and picked my favourites.” If you love them, they’ll fit in with the rest of the things you love in your home. Don’t try to force it.

A homemade collection of eggs in a framed display unit

Get emotional

“I had a display case made for an egg collection I found in my grandparents’ attic. They were collected by my great-great-grandfather,” says Jonathan Openshaw. Finding a way to display sentimental items in an orderly fashion makes them a focal point, and adds a personal touch. “When I put this display case up on the wall, it felt like I’d made the space my own.”

A bowl filled with blood oranges with two cut upon and a cheese plant on a pink Vitti console table

Mix it up

Don’t like items that don’t have a function? You can still bring life to your home: “Decorative items don't have to be little ceramic dogs or antique clocks. They can be beautiful ceramic bowls with lots of fresh citrus fruits or a cluster of flower vases - with or without flowers,” says Emily.

Verona candlestick holder on a red top in front of a print

Love it

“Decorative items bring an element of personality you can’t get from furniture,” says Emily. And there’s one simple trick she swears by: “I think you should just buy stuff you love and makes you happy. Often those things will have a connection without putting much effort into it and it won’t feel contrived.”

Beaumont brass vase and Annaka vase on a sideboard with a large candle holder and other ornaments

Use your instincts

But no matter what you’re told, you have to love it.The best decorating advice I had came from my father,” says Chris Clarke. “He told me early on to make it 'eyeable' - pleasing to the eye.”

Article written by: Carly-Ann Clements

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