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House Doctor: Space explorer

My wardrobe is full to bursting but I’m loathe to get rid of anything. Help!

Firstly, it’s important to be really honest with yourself in order to simplify and streamline your wardrobe. If you really do need all of it, then there are ways to maximise storage. Replacing your hangers with ‘super slim’ ones will help you save up to 30 per cent of space. Try the 41cm knitwear hanger with non-slip rubber (£9.99 for ten, thehangerstore.co.uk). Then look at your wardrobe. With Ikea Pax (ikea.co.uk), you can adapt the space to suit you. Also, consider drawer dividers; they can help you organise small items such as underwear, socks and accessories so you can see what you own at a glance and avoid duplicates.

What’s the best way to store Christmas decorations?

This year, when it is time to pack your Christmas decorations away, wrap baubles in bubble wrap and any particularly delicate items in tissue paper, ensuring they are secured with tape. It pays to keep the original boxes for faux trees and try storing strings of lights in large jars which you can label with colours if you have lots of them. Remove batteries from electrical items to prevent leakage over the course of the next 12 months. Finally, store all decorations together, with heavier items at the bottom, in good quality plastic boxes to protect against cold and damp. Label the boxes clearly so that you can see what’s in them immediately.

I’d like to clear my kitchen surfaces but I struggle for cupboard space. Any ideas?

Try to think of your kitchen surfaces as spaces for food preparation, rather than for storage. The best way to declutter a kitchen is to start by emptying all the stored items on to a large area, such as the floor, and group ‘like with like’ to check for duplicates. Check you are utilising all the height inside your cupboards, and, if not, use a combination of storage ideas. I like the large stacking mesh shelf (£13, aplaceforeverything.co.uk) and the corner plate rack (£13.99, lakeland.co.uk), plus Ikea’s Variera boxes (£4) which I label. They will help you see what you have and are great for easy access.

No matter how many times I clear out my garage, it ends up looking messy again. What am I doing wrong?

Garages work well when they are divided into ‘zones’ for different categories, such as tools, holiday, sports etc. Shelving can be very useful so you can access items without having to lift things off each other. If you have a car, you’ll want to park it in the garage consistently to avoid invalidating the insurance, so utilise wall space as much as possible by hanging large tools from hooks or using a pegboard.

How do I store wrapping paper and related materials? I always end up buying more and more!

What works best is having a designated wrapping station where you keep every related item you might need for the job in one place, including a pair of scissors and tape. Small items such as gift tags can be kept in transparent zip-lock bags and then everything can be contained in a larger box. The challenge is often storing long rolls of wrapping paper but tension rods at the back of a tall cupboard can work well. Alternatively, you can buy extra long storage boxes or an over-door gift wrap store, such as Elfa’s design (£75, aplaceforeverything.co.uk)

Kate Ibbotson is a declutter expert, professional organiser, life simplification coach and owner of www.atidymind.co.uk