De-clutter to free up much-needed storage space

Every house has its weak spot, that place where the odds and ends of domestic life gather, says Carol O’Callaghan.

De-clutter to free up much-needed storage space

It might be one end of the kitchen table or, in my case, a run of worktop which is the first piece of flat surface I encounter when I walk into the kitchen.

Everything lands on it — keys, post, purse, bills, shopping— and stays there. Even friends coming for a visit automatically gravitate to the spot with their bottle of wine.

Since Christmas and the arrival of a glut of presents, it’s also become an ever-expanding dumping ground for things that need to be stored away out of sight.

But as my kitchen cupboards are chock-a-block already, and I’m going nowhere near the attic since some murderous crows started squatting there recently, it was time to become inventive with my cupboard space.

I can promise you that as soon as you start delving behind closed doors you will find stuff you neither need nor want, some of it absolutely ridiculous.

I did, and it led to the discovery of an entire double corner cupboard hoarding empty plastic containers and glass jars.

These had been kept in anticipation of creating a production line of home-made blackberry jam last September, and individual portions of winter soup for the freezer, none of which happened.

Now consigned to the recycling, I have an empty cupboard to accommodate things I’ll actually use. Or at least that’s the New Year’s resolution.

My next discovery was a drawer of plastic bags.

We all save them since the bag charge came in, but we’re mad to give them a valuable drawer when it could be put to better use. So fold the bags neatly and put into the biggest of them, and hang it on a hook behind a door.

Flushed with initial success of clearing and chucking, I then decided to indulge in the new vogue for having everyday cutlery in individual containers sitting on the kitchen worktop for easy access — one for forks, one for knives, and so on.

You can be quite inventive depending on the containers you use, and they’ll make for lovely table top accessories.

I upcycled four Lyle Golden Syrup tins (they were lurking in amongst the plastic containers and glass jars) as they have lovely green and gold retro styling which is probably why I didn’t throw them out in the first place.

In the process, I’ve completely freed up what was my cutlery drawer and is now home to a lovely Christmas gift of place mats and napkins.

I also managed to divest myself of several ancient wooden spoons which were probably a health hazard, and the weight of my cupboards is lightened further by slinging my collection of soup ladles. Who needs more than one unless you’re planning to go into catering sometime soon?

If you’ve culled with ruthlessness but still haven’t got enough space, check and see if any storage containers in your cupboards are in themselves taking up valuable space.

They may make everything look neat when you open the door, but you might find you actually have more space if everything like your household cleaner bottles is freestanding.

* Next week we’re checking out a new trend for unconventional stripes.


Prompted by upholstering one of his furniture designs, Garvan de Bruir’s move into leather is producing work that fuses timber, cast metals and leather together.

His storage trays and boxes have a strong masculine aesthetic, style and practicality as part of a collection that also includes luggage, bags, document wallets and even a leather apron for the barbeque enthusiast who loves a good blaze.

n Storage boxes €42-€56 at


Coat hooks, post stands and tidy nests of boxes all help to keep kitchen debris under control.

When space is tight opt for soft storage bags rather than space-hogging rigid boxes (recycled Paisley Park bag €4.95 at )

Every kitchen needs plastic containers for leftovers. Try a nesting set that stacks together when not in use and won’t devour precious cupboard space (€49.99 for six by Joseph Joseph at Meadows & Byrne and Brennan’s Cookshop)

How often do papery outer skins of onions and small carrots end up on the floor under your vegetable rack? Slot in these canvas vegetable bags to keep everything in its place (€14 for three at Next Interiors)

Sweep that pile of bills, party invites and notes from school off the kitchen counter and slide them into a neat post rack (POST approx. €7 at )

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