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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

[Productive Style] How to handle the space left after a big audit/declutter?

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

In this series of articles we are thoughtfully exploring ideas to help curate your own signature style. There are five parts in this series, and I've written mini, less-than-5-minute articles within each one for you to explore bit by bit. This article belongs to the Curating chapter.

1 Reconnecting

2 Defining

3 Auditing

4 Curating

5 Sustaining

The Quote

'Space is the breath of art'

- Frank Lloyd

The Analogy

One of my never-ending quests as a trainer and teacher is finding ways to engage participants.

And one of my greatest tools is the simple, tried and trusted gap fill exercise.

To do it, when I deliver a training session, I will create some slides with text and I will deliberately omit and leave g_ps in the s_ntences, or sometimes entire w____.

That last one was 'words' - did you guess it? Your mind probably automatically did, and it filled those gaps above, too.

Even if I don’t give instructions or ask students to fill the gaps, they fill them. They can’t help but engage.

Some people even start typing the answers in the chat box.

It seems simple, but a gap fill exercise can be a highly engaging and cognitively demanding activity.

The Premise

What do gap fills have to do with our freshly audited wardrobes?

There are two lessons at play:

  1. It is natural to want to fill space, and to fill it quickly.

  2. Spaces can serve a distinct purpose, and can be highly useful if used well.

The reality is that ‘decluttering’ inevitably leaves you with gaps.

Those gaps can be awkward, and just like the spaces I leave in my PPT slides, they can make you want to automatically fill them up.

I had to reevaluate what extra space in my cupboards meant to me.

As a child it was normal to have cupboards stuffed full to the brim.

But now, I see space as a sign that I’ve got the very best of all I need, and I’m glad my clothes have a place they can breathe.

I’d even go so far as to say that the clothes I do have are lasting longer and stay neat.

I think it’s partly because they’re not squashed in all the time.

Three Things to Try Before You Fill Space

After auditing your wardrobe, it’s a perfect time to take note of what’s missing.

It might help to make a list of the items you need to look out for and buy, so you can keep them in mind while you now organise the space you are left with.

1 - Re-imagine and re-allocate space for where your clothes will ‘rest’ and be.

Maybe you have more space than you thought (joy!).

Before you tackle anything, make sure all your clothes are out of your wardrobe spaces. This way you can get a better sense of what could fit where.

Take time to think of how you’d most like it to look when you open your wardrobe. I also like to consider what I need access to most quickly, and base my organisation of space and items on that, too.

2 - Creatively play with the physical space you have to home your clothes

Could you add a cupboard or storage container inside a wardrobe?

Do you have to hang your hangers on every part of the rod?

Could you have some shoes or storage below your clothes?

Could you even decorate the inside of your wardrobe, with personal momentos, artwork, quotes or other things that make you smile?

Take a chance and play around with both decorating and making functional the storage you have.

You never know what you have at home that could help you get creative with the space you have.

3 - An empty space automatically might want to make you fill it. Don’t - yet.

How do you make sure you don’t just fill your newly bare cupboards with impulse purchases?

You give yourself space to get used to the space.

I used to fill every part of my wardrobe up. The whole rail would have clothes on it.

Nowadays it has far more space between types of clothes.

I even have space for a mirror inside the wardrobe, saving it from taking up space outside the wardrobe.

It is natural to want to fill your cupboard up quickly, but take pleasure in using your new filters (your elements, your style words, and your colour palette) to fill it up consciously.

The Summary

There may well be gaps in your wardrobe after you have audited and cleared out what you no longer need.

In this case, it’s time to re-think the space, what it means, and how you want it to be filled.

Use your values, style words, and the filters you created to thoughtfully fill it with what aligns best with you.

Some ideas:

  1. Allocate space to your clothes, homes for each item or category

  2. Rethink how you arrange the space; could a cupboard go in there? What about adding boxes?

  3. Add mirrors or art around the walls of the wardrobe to decorate and fill spaces in a creative way.

  4. Avoid instantly buying things to fill any space left by your audit

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