Melanie Smith has solid organisational skills. She’s also ridiculously untidy. So we call in the queen of neat, Shelina Jokhiya of DeCluttr Me, to fix things once and for all…
A New Year, a new you; a clear house, a clear mind; brighter promises for tomorrow…
All those classic New Year’s mantras were going through my mind as I walked into my tiny, cluttered kitchen in the final days of December.
Firstly, I want to clarify that I have great organisational skills. But when it comes to keeping things tidy, I have to admit, I fall flat. I’m not disorganised… I just tend to live in what I see as an organised mess. Others may think I’m living in disarray, but ask me where anything is and I can get it to you. But that’s not the case in my kitchen. Trying to find the ingredients to cook a decent meal was becoming impossible. And when I’d eventually find the spice I’d agonisingly spent ages looking for, more often than not, it would be out of date. And I’d abandon the whole project and order a pizza – which my New Year’s resolutions would no longer allow.
I’ve never been one to visualise the perfect placement of furniture in my home. I’ve only ever chosen to live in fully furnished apartments and I haven’t lifted a finger to change the layout of any of them.
It was only when a friend came to stay with me for a week and pointed out the poor arrangement of items in my tiny kitchen that I noticed anything was wrong. I had my microwave on the right-hand side of the sink, my plates piled up on the left, my spices, pulses and canned foods all sprawled out on the side next to the cooker and barely anything in the tiny cupboard above it – it’s so high up it’s off-putting. When she saw how I was living, she went a little bit nuts. It was awkward.
My place was a disgrace, I admit it. We spent the next day shifting things around, swapping the microwave to the opposite side, buying and assembling a shelf for all my spices, teas, coffees and other condiments, and moving the cans, pulses and other packet foods into that cupboard up by the ceiling. That first decluttering session felt liberating. No longer did I need to slice vegetables in the living with the chopping board on my lap.
But then the clutter began to collect again. Plastic spoons, food containers, more spices than is humanly possible to use before their sell-by date (you never know when you might need black salt, fenugreek or cinnamon), the list goes on… and on… and on…
So when my editor suggested I call in the professionals in the form of Shelina Jokhiya of DeCluttr Me, I didn’t even think to question his disbelief of my fantastic organisational skills. Instead, I jumped at the chance. Jokhiya started DeCluttr Me two years ago, going into people’s homes, chucking out their chintz and re-ordering everything to create neatness, while maximising on space. It was exactly what I needed.
She comes to my flat early on a Saturday morning and gets straight to work. It feels strange having someone digging through my personal accumulations and telling me to throw them away. What do you mean I don’t need all that plastic cutlery? And why is it so funny that I have a hundred million drinking straws? And so what if I have more empty plastic containers than I can explain a use for. They’re mine! And once I realise I sound like a hoarder, I relent to disposing of the unnecessary goods… those plastic spoons… and the broken spice grinder… and the ’60s-style yellow bowls that I bought for the cats I still don’t own…
Jokhiya sorts me right out. My spices are now all in one place, my soup ingredients and packaged foods are together in labelled boxes in that cupboard up in the sky and I know exactly where everything is.
As Jokhiya wraps up and gets ready to leave, she looks around at all the other parts of my flat that she could get to work on, suggesting boxes for on top of the wardrobe and also for all the excess on my dresser. And it inspires me. I feel refreshed and I feel free. It’s brilliant. Maybe we can also tackle my desk at work, where the clutter is now spilling over onto my colleague’s (apologies Katy Gillett…).
Dhs1,000 (two-hour session), Dhs2,900 (one day session). www.decluttrme.com (055 889 0751).
Four to try
For storage solutions
The behemoth for all things home, the Swedish giant offers all kinds of storage solutions. From plastic boxes in a variety of sizes, cabinets, shelves, jars and spice racks, all your house organisation needs are catered for here.
Yas Island, www.ikea.com/ae/en (800 4532).
This is the best store to head to if you’re looking for home storage solutions on a budget or more unusual items. All products cost from a mere Dhs7, meaning a real bargain can be bagged at this one.
Various locations across Abu Dhabi, including Madinat Zayed Gold Centre, www.daisome.com (04 450 3739).
This stalwart on Yas Island and in Meena Street offers products for the home both inside and out, as well as practical furniture for all kinds of spaces. Prices are reasonable, too, so you can kit out your whole property.
Various locations, including Yas Island, www.acehardware.com (02 565 1945).
This is the go-to furnishing brand for high-end, high-quality products, such as ultra-modern mug trees made from recycled stainless steel or glazed porcelain canisters with bamboo lids to store your spices or teas in.
Various locations, including Yas Mall, www.landmarkshops.com/homecentre (02 565 1723).