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Renovating your home? Why decluttering first will help manage your costs and schedule

What first step should you take when you embark on a home renovation project? For a more significant project, you might think it’s to find a good architect or builder or if you plan to do the work yourself, it could be about finding suitable materials.

You might be surprised to learn that even if you’re planning an extension to create more space or building more storage, I recommend that your number one priority is to declutter your belongings before you do anything else to kick off your dream home project. In this blog, I’ll explain how this will help keep your home renovation project on budget and schedule.

When I discovered the KonMari Method

My journey began when I came across Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, before starting my extensive home renovations, which required my husband and me to move into temporary accommodation for eight months. I decided to follow the principles of the KonMari Method, and the benefits went way beyond just tidying my home.

Where most people start their home renovation project

When embarking on a home renovation project, you’ll likely need some drawings or designs based on your ideas of how your space could work.

Architect's drawings
Architect's drawings

You’re about to embark on an expensive project, so you’ll probably engage different specialists (architects, interior designers, kitchen and wardrobe designers) who can help draw these for you so you can see the design concept, be confident it will fit in your space, and use the drawings to brief the company that will build it for you.

How much of your stuff do you use?

Taking clothes as an example of something we all use, in the UK, people wear only 20% of the clothes they own 80% of the time. Do you know which 80% of your clothes you don’t wear? Is it mainly your shoes, jumpers, socks, or a combination? Will you allow those unworn clothes lurking in your wardrobe to dictate how your space is organised in your newly renovated home?

How many books do you own that you’ve already read or have started but not finished? Do you hold on to presents you’ve been given but that you’ll never use? Do you have piles of out-of-date paperwork you no longer need to keep or equipment for hobbies you no longer enjoy? Are you planning to build storage for all the items in your home that are no longer part of your current lifestyle?

Efficient decision-making to keep your project on schedule

You’ll face continuous design decisions during your home renovation project to bring your dream home to life. If unprepared for the questions, these can be tiring or overwhelming. Only you know how much stuff you own. Your builder can’t tell you how many metres of bookshelves, how much shoe storage, or appliance sockets you need in each room. Decluttering before you start means you’ll already have gone through all your belongings and decided about them individually. You’ll be able to answer your builder promptly and with confidence keeping the project on track and avoiding costly changes to the plans at a later date.

This process will hone your decision-making skills which means by the time you’ve completed decluttering your belongings, you’ll become so much quicker and more efficient at making mindful design decisions about your home.

Optimise your space and storage around the belongings you love

Once you’ve decluttered and discarded the belongings that don’t form part of your current or future ideal lifestyle, you’ll be empowered with the knowledge of how much stuff you own and the different types of storage you need for different categories so you can optimise your space and storage to work around how you want to live your life and the belongings you love. As a result, you will truly feel the benefit of an organised and efficient home, reducing stress, enhancing your life, and increasing your happiness.

Store only the items you want to be a part of your ideal life and home

When you’re ready to start renovating, you’ll move your belongings into another part of your home, storage, or temporary accommodation while the works are in progress. If you declutter before you start your renovations, you’ll only have to move and store the items you love, and you want to return to be a part of your newly renovated dream home.

The freedom of letting go

The KonMari Method teaches us to let go with gratitude, thanking our belongings for their use and the lessons they've taught us. By having an exit plan for discarded items—whether through selling, donating, or giving them away—you free yourself from the emotional baggage and create space for new experiences in your newly renovated home.

Optimise your fitted wardrobes around the clothes you wear

Here you can see an initial design of the interior of wardrobes without their doors created for my client before she started decluttering.

Initial wardrobe interior design
Initial wardrobe interior design

Note the shoe storage in the middle with two layers of drawers above and the space to the left divided equally with two sets of hanging rails.

Once my client had decluttered, she confidently decided to increase her space for shoe storage, reduce the number of drawers, and put in an extra shelf above her hanging rails for handbags, knowing she would have the space to store each different category of clothing that she loves in her newly designed wardrobes.

Wardrobe interior design after decluttering
Wardrobe interior design after decluttering

Do you know how much storage space you need for each category of your own clothing?

Design a kitchen that sparks joy

I helped another client declutter before they started their kitchen renovations. They took my advice and only started thinking about the makeup of the storage they needed and the type of kitchen units once they had finished decluttering. Because they had gone through the process, they realised they had a lot of glassware and china that sparked so much joy for them that they wanted to always display it. They also enjoy cooking at home and wanted to ensure their cookery books were accessible in their new kitchen. These are the designs from their kitchen designer.

Kitchen designs
Kitchen designs

Here is the result with all the glassware and china they love lit up on display, along with the cookery books they use daily.

A kitchen that sparks joy
A kitchen that sparks joy

How do want to spend your time in your kitchen? Do all your kitchen belongings spark joy for you? Are you planning to build kitchen units to store items you no longer love?

It’s not just about deciding what you want to keep and get rid of in your life. It’s about consciously knowing what you want to feature and enjoy in your home. Decluttering before starting your home project is the only way to create a truly organised, efficient, and joyful living space.

Are you ready to sort your home, sort your life and achieve your goals?

I'm Judith, a professional organiser and KonMari consultant based in Richmond, London. I help my clients sort their home and life to achieve their goals and aspirations.

Would you like to learn more about how I can help you organise your home for long-lasting change? I offer a free 30-minute consultation on Zoom to discuss your organising goals and how I can help.

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