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Keeping the home in the best shape is made easier by online tools that can designate cleaning duties

In Hong Kong, living within the confines of a small space is a fact for most and this means one must be able to transform a small room to a cosy retreat

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 June, 2016, 9:19am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 June, 2016, 9:19am

It’s a brave mortal who would utter the words “1950s housewife” with any hint of nostalgia. Today’s women are liberated. Keeping a ship-shape home is not their highest calling - or even their responsibility alone.

Yet, who doesn’t want to come home to an orderly domestic domain every night? Unless you happen to have a magic wand (or the luxury of a helper) the housework won’t do itself, and it’s up to every occupant to pull their weight. Online tools can help share the load.

Oprah Winfrey seems to have an answer for everything, and on her website that even includes paring back the minefield of clutter that is the bedroom wardrobe. Her “reverse coat hanger trick” involves turning all the clothes hanging in your closet back-to-front. For the next six months, if you wear an item, return it with the hanger facing the right way. It will soon become clear which ones you can do without – and for a feel-good factor, donate them to charity.

With small-space living a fact of life for most, maximising what you do have is a must. According to, transforming a small room from cramped and claustrophobic to “cosy, zen-like retreat” is largely a matter of proportions. Scale down your furniture, avoid heavy, weighty pieces and opt for low-slung rather than high-backed sofas. Add a liberal splash of white paint and you’re done.

No-one loves an organised kitchen more than Martha Stewart Among her helpful hints: stack teacups and saucers vertically (one on top of the other); paint the inside of your pantry with chalkboard paint (for a shopping list); and store onions and garlic in bamboo steamers – the ventilation will keep them fresh, and save fridge space.

The “self-confessed neat freaks” behind have tips for keeping a home office productive. Start each Monday by clearing the desktop, they say. Scan and save any documents you need to keep, and dispose of the rest. Store most-used items in a box on top of the desk, and fix computer cables to the underside for a cleaner look.

It might seem obvious, but says the best way to turn your bathroom into a sanctuary is to keep precious little in it.  Don’t double-up on products, store those you do have out of sight – and for households of more than one, set up a roster for who uses the bathroom, and when. (Hint: don’t bother removing those little amenities bottles from hotel rooms – you won’t ever use them). 

Australia’s self-proclaimed “organised housewife” even has some tips for getting schoolchildren out the door. She colour-codes the children’s bath towels (“saves confusion, and your sanity”);  writes up a lunchbox plan for the week ahead; and posts a check-list of everyone’s morning chores.

Apart from websites, there are also mobile apps to help you clean, organise and declutter the home. BrightNest lets you create a cleaning schedule, cut down on clutter, and find advice on simple home maintenance chores.

Green Shine offers environmentally-friendly solutions for housekeeping tasks; while House Cleaning List dictates that no grimy corner is left unturned.

Once you’ve cleaned up, a fresh look might be in order. Photograph the room with your smartphone and MagicPlan will capture the layout, letting you rearrange the furniture to see what fits where.

And perhaps, to keep harmony in the home, download Simply Us, a shared scheduling and list-making app designed for couples to use together. It might not be, as the app’s creators claim, “the central hub of your relationship” – but knowing whose turn it is to pick up the laundry, bring home the milk or collect the cat from the vet sure should make life easier.