MOTHER-OF-ONE Dilly is a professional organiser with 38,000 Instagram followers thanks to her no-fuss, straight-talking tips on tackling mess.
The 40-year-old was abandoned as a baby in 1980 at a Sri Lankan orphanage, before being adopted three years later by English mum Freda and Sri Lankan dad Daya.
If you can’t count your shoes on the fingers of both hands, you have too many pairsCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The family moved to Surrey, where her parents worked around the clock as accountants.
When Dilly was 11, her mum was diagnosed with bipolar and her mental condition deteriorated after Daya died in 2010. It led to Freda’s home becoming extremely disorganised.
Dilly, who worked as a PA, would spend the weekend blitzing it. Realising there must be other families who needed her help, she launched her business, Declutter Dollies, and promoted it via Instagram account @declutterdollies.
Her clients include bereaved people who have let their homes fall into disarray amid emotional upheaval, and celebrities.
Professional organiser Dilly Carter, 40, shares her top tipsCredit: @sortandorder
Dilly now lives in Tring, Herts, with her husband Charley, 41, and daughter Neely-Reet, seven.
She also takes care of her mum, who has a home at the bottom of the garden.
Dilly learned how to discover calm amid chaos and has revealed her top tips and tricks in a book, which was published in January.
Create Space: Declutter Your Home To Clear Your Mind by Dilly Carter. DK, £12.99, is out now
Evict cleaning products and store towels in woven basketsCredit: Shutterstock
KEEP WINDOW SILLS CLEAR: This is your area for light, so clutter on the sill makes the space seem smaller. The goal is to make the bathroom feel like a spa. Invest in candles and plants to add zen. And if you don’t have storage for towels, get woven baskets and roll and place the towels inside.
EVICT CLEANING PRODUCTS: Bathroom products are the only items that should be in this room – not cleaning products. Group together medicine, bath and dental items and organise them, with those used more often being the most accessible and the ones used least tucked at the back of cabinets.
GIVE EXCESS TO CHARITY: Check dates on products and chuck anything that’s expired. If you have toiletries you won’t use, donate them to a charity like The Hygiene Bank, which has drop-off points at Boots and redistributes to people in need.
Think about the essentials you need – TV, sofa and a few ornamentsCredit: Instagram/declutterdollies
AVOID LIVING ROOM CREEP: Everyone should enjoy this family space, so don’t let random items creep in. Think about the essentials you need – TV, sofa and a few ornaments. Everything else should be piled up and given new homes, recycled or added to rubbish.
SET A TIDY TIMER: If you have kids, create a “tidy-up time”, duplicating what happens in school. At 5pm, it’s toys away and relaxing time. Sitting back on the sofa and feeling a Peppa Pig toy will not help you unwind. If you don’t have kids, set yourself a ten-minute timer to clear up.
INVEST IN A TROLLEY FOR YOUR WORKSPACE: It’s important to separate work and home life. Buy a foldaway trolley, ideally one with tiers, so you can label each with your work, your partner’s and your kids’. At the end of a working day, clear the table on to the trolley and wheel it out of sight.
Pair the items you keep by the entrance down to everyday essentialsCredit: Shutterstock
MAKE A LIST OF WHAT YOU NEED NEAR THE FRONT DOOR: Is your entrance clear or can’t you get through the door? Having the coats crammed on to a peg and a mountain of shoes there is not necessary. Pare down to everyday essentials.
STORE BAGS FOR LIFE IN THE BOOT: I often see bags for life piled up by the front door. Take them to the supermarket to recycle and keep hold of a smaller selection of sturdy bags. But make sure you store them in the car boot so they are ready when you need them.
DIGITISE DOCUMENTS: Don’t let unopened letters build up. Instead, invest in an organiser for the front door. Avoid paperwork clutter by digitising all your documents too. One morning, set time aside to go through bills and invoices and have them all stored digitally, preventing paper clutter.
Organise books like a library, sort by genre, then by authorCredit: Zoe Timmers
RE-GIFT: Educate your children about other kids who don’t have toys and ask them often to pick five items to donate to charity. This is a great learning tool that gets rid of toys.
The British Heart Foundation and Sense, a charity for people with complex disabilities, accept donations now – but via drop-off points.
Visit the websites bhf.org.uk and sense.org.uk for more information.
ROTATE TOYS: Always rotate toys. Remove the ones the children don’t play with and bring them back out six months later. They will feel like new toys again.
Colour code Lego and other little plastic bits. Separate these into some stackable organiser containers.
ORGANISE BOOKS LIKE A LIBRARY: Sort books by genre, and then by author.
The most important thing is that you DO NOT organise in colour. Imagine walking into a library and trying to find a book you want in the blue section. It makes no sense.
Put everything at arm’s reach to make cooking easierCredit: Zoe Timmers
CREATE KITCHEN ZONES: The kitchen is the hub of the house. It should be inviting but organised. Create zones for when it is busy in the morning. Have a drinks station for your tea and coffee, and a breakfast area. Set up a drawer for the kids so all their bits are in one place.
PUT EVERYTHING AT ARM’S REACH: Rejig your cupboards to fit the flow of the kitchen. Your space needs to be practical and time-saving. Pots and pans should be near the cooker, water glasses by the sink, oils, vinegars and spices near the hob – all at arm’s reach to make the cooking duties easier.
GROUP FOODS LIKE THE SUPERMARKET: Organise your cupboards in the same way as a supermarket. Foods you find together in the shops should sit together in the fridge and cupboards. Organising spices in alphabetical order will make them easier to find too. Decant half-eaten pasta bags into a container.
STICK TO THE FAB FIVE: How many cleaning products are under your sink? Stick to the fab five – antibacterial spray, bleach, bathroom cleaner, limescale remover, washing-up liquid. For appliances, only keep out on the counter what you use daily, like the kettle or toaster.
Go for hotel vibes in your bedroom
COUNT YOUR SHOES ON TWO HANDS: Can you count on both hands how many pairs of shoes you own? If not, it’s too many. We should be able to remember everything we own – otherwise it’s simply too much.
HIDE DIRTY WASHING AWAY: Bedroom clutter can have a huge impact on your relationship and intimacy. Ensure overflowing washing baskets, disorganised make-up products and any work-related items are moved out of sight, as they can make your subconscious mind feel anxious.
DON’T HANG CLOTHES ON DOORS: Stacks of books, an exercise bike and empty boxes need to be sorted through and organised – be ruthless. No clothes on the outside of your wardrobe either. That includes the dressing gowns and countless coats hanging on the back of your door.
GO FOR HOTEL VIBES: Create a hotel at home. Add mood lighting, flowers and a scented candle to make it a more luxurious and relaxing environment. Keep it as minimal as possible. It’s a room to sleep in, not to work or eat in.
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