How to declutter your wardrobe without the stress thanks to Dave and Briar Strutton

CALM FROM CHAOS: Decluttering experts Briar and Dave Strutton (left) and their neat and tidy shoe library (right). Photos: Supplied
CALM FROM CHAOS: Decluttering experts Briar and Dave Strutton (left) and their neat and tidy shoe library (right). Photos: Supplied

If you're anything like me, the combination of online shopping due to COVID plus the need for a continual flow of packages to arrive at my front door has meant your house could do with a little summertime declutter.

Recent research shows I'm not alone.

Monash Business School's Australian Consumer and Retail Studies conducted research throughout September 2021 with consumers and retailers to understand how retail has adapted during the pandemic.

They discovered in the three months before September 2021, 84 per cent of Australians purchased online and over a third (37 per cent) of these shoppers made weekly online buys.

Half of online shoppers reported they had made more online purchases since the beginning of the pandemic, compared to prior, while only four per cent have made fewer.

And guess what most people are buying? That's right - clothes. (Where exactly were we planning to wear them?)

Clothing, footwear and accessories, and grocery products were the most purchased goods online (56 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively), followed by household and personal care goods at 33 per cent and 32 per cent.

So if, like me, that has left your wardrobe bursting at the seams (and perhaps a partner begging for more closet space), I hate to break it to you, but it's time to get ruthless and cull as never before.

But where to start with this overwhelming and distasteful task?

Our wardrobe remains as functional today as it was nine years ago when we renovated our house.

Dave Strutton

Clutter-busting power couple Dave and Briar Strutton reckon it's easy to create a happy and functional shared wardrobe.

The pair are home organisation experts who run workshops in their home state of South Australia to teach people how to keep peace in the bedroom by reducing clothing clutter.

Using lived experience and expertise from running a home organisation store for almost 14 years, the Struttons inspire families to organise their wardrobes, pantries, and other areas.

"My parents grew up in a time where letting go of something was considered wasteful," Briar says.

"Even in her 70s, my mother struggles with this, and I see firsthand how clutter can become a burden and cause unnecessary stress. This has really motivated me to help others gain control of their belongings and home environment.

"I'm a keen op-shopper, and Dave has a soft spot for checked shirts, but that's no excuse to stuff our wardrobe full to the brim and spend every morning tripping over each other's feet looking for something to wear."

Briar and Dave say, when it comes down to it, clutter is a waste of space, time, and money.

"And it can cause stress which is why we want to help other families learn how to declutter and to enjoy the benefits that come with being organised," Briar says.

"Decluttering allows you to more fully appreciate what you have and can have a significant flow-on effect to other areas of your life."

HANDY: The Struttons' jewellery board which allows for a tangle-free hanging space for Briars collection of necklaces, earrings and bracelets.

HANDY: The Struttons' jewellery board which allows for a tangle-free hanging space for Briars collection of necklaces, earrings and bracelets.

The Stuttons' wardrobe isn't particularly big or fancy, but it is thoughtfully designed and well laid out.

It has high ceilings which allow for three levels of hanging on Dave's side and this means he can store less frequently used items on the top rail.

Briar has created a shoe library using more than 20 acrylic boxes to store her shoes, while underneath those boxes are gliding shoe racks for Dave's footwear.

To store jewellery, the pair pinned a large corkboard to a spare wall in the wardrobe, and this allows for tangle-free hanging of items.

Shallow drawers keep small items, like socks and underwear, visible and accessible. Dividers can assist with this as well.

Deeper drawers are used for jeans and jumpers that can be stored using the Marie Kondo upright folding technique and prevent these items from being buried under mounds of clothing.

Gliding pant racksare used to hang trousers, neatly providing good visibility and easy access.

"Our wardrobe remains as functional today as it was nine years ago when we renovated our house," Dave says.

"There is room for all of our clothing items, 40 pairs of shoes, handbags, hats, scarves and our suitcases, and we know exactly where everything is at all times."

The Struttons, who own Howards Storage World at Mile End, believe the biggest obstacle to home organisation is knowing where to start.

Their two-hour workshops provide a step-by-step guide and are attended by women and men who are grateful for their expert advice.

"Briar and I get a kick out of inspiring and motivating people and hearing stories of successes in getting sorted and organised. We absolutely love seeing 'before-and-after' photos," Dave says.

How to maintain order - the Struttons' top tips

  • Never fill your wardrobe. Aiming for 90 per cent full or less keeps items accessible, visible and improves airflow.
  • Never store dirty clothes. Soiled and stained clothing should go straight in the hamper. Plastic dry-cleaning bags and wire hangers should also be banished. Storing clothing appropriately will prolong its wearable life.
  • Group like with like. Hang as much of your clothing as possible and keep similar styles together, group in categories. Colour code within each category with the rainbow colour order - it's easy to remember and aesthetically appealing.
  • Use the 'one in one out' rule. When buying a new piece ensure you remove an old item. Your wardrobe should only contain items you currently wear. Seasonal items should be stored in vacuum sealed bags or tubs when not in use.