Affairs might shatter relationships but household clutter, it seems, comes a pretty close second, not to mention the havoc it wreaks on decor, too.
On average, 32 rows a year are caused by couples’ bickering over rooms being overloaded with possessions, according to research by Big Yellow Self Storage, which also reveals that one in ten actually split over the issue.
In desperation, a typical couple reluctantly throw away around £240-worth of possessions they’d rather keep in the first year of living together, with men ditching sports equipment and women dumping sentimental items.
“Inviting someone to live with you can feel a bit like being invaded by someone else’s belongings, and this can result in subconscious ‘space guarding’, where you use your possessions to mark out your territory,” says relationship psychologist Anjula Mutanda. “Any perceived violation of this by your partner can cause tensions - instead, try to negotiate as much as possible on what stays and goes, and be prepared to compromise.”
Alternatively, avoid losing sports tackle, cuddlies or - worse - love, by following a room-by-room storage plan devised by the experts.
Cluttered halls are a pretty good clue that the rest of the house isn’t well organised, so tackle this area first. It will also make a good first impression on visitors, especially key if they’re potential house-buyers.
“Nothing’s guaranteed to put me in a bad mood more than opening the front door of my house to be greeted by a tangle of school bags, boots and discarded coats left by my sons,” says Alison Cork, founder of online interiors company, Alison At Home.
“A large trunk’s proved the ideal hiding place. They just have to lift the lid and drop, and it makes a useful seat.”
CLUTTER SOLUTIONS: Instead of bulky wardrobes, display clothes on rails and a dressmaker’s dummy, advises Cork. “It’s easy to see outfits at a glance, and clothes add colour and character to a room. Cheap metal loo-roll holders make brilliant jewellery holders, and put all beauty products on a tray so you can just lift it up to clean the shelf underneath or transport the lot to the bathroom.”
AN ORDERLY RETREAT
Create order out of chaos with a well-organised living area where everything has a place, and avoid rows triggered by stumbling over scattered toys and corners clogged with possessions.
“Gone are the days of storing items behind closed doors, as the trend for open shelving is quickly becoming a favourite. This style makes spaces feel more homely,” says Claire Hornby, creative stylist at Barker & Stonehouse.
“Exposed display works especially well if you want to highlight striking collections as a focal point, and it has the added advantage that you will quickly notice if surfaces are becoming over-crowded.”
CLUTTER SOLUTIONS: Glass bookcases and shelves are a popular choice, particularly for modern spaces that demand a sleek, streamlined aesthetic, says Hornby.
“Shelving designs are moving away from conventional straight-lined surfaces towards curved shapes,” she says. “A smart mix of glass and integrated lighting on shelving is a strong trend, while reclaimed woods and metal finishes are still a favoured choice.”