Deck the halls and tidy the walls with tips and tricks from some of Instagrams’s top home improvement content creators
It’s that time of the year again—the great Indian adaptation of Spring Cleaning. Whether you’re a seasoned organiser or simply in need of some clever cleaning shortcuts, you’ll find that all the tidying wisdom in the world has moved out of home improvement books and into the pages of social media. We’ve scoured Instagram to bring the best content creators together for some serious organisational inspiration—they’re spilling secrets, offering tips, tricks, and hacks for a spick-and-span space. From closet makeovers to pantry perfection, these experts will ignite your inner Marie Kondo, just in time for the festivities.
FOUNDER, ORGANISE WITH EASE
Armed with a label maker and a knack for making messes disappear, Rohini Rajagopalan is Mumbai’s very own Marie Kondo. While there’s a long waitlist to enlist her services, the Organise with Ease Instagram account is brimming with tools, ideas, systems and even shopping resources to get your home in order. For the festive season, Rohini says it’s time to go beyond the annual deep cleaning and decluttering rituals and gear the house towards hosting and entertaining too:
With a busy schedule that keeps her out of the house on most days, including public holidays, Rohini says her biggest stressor during the festive season is picking out what to wear. To tackle this, she says, “I set aside four to five outfits that I believe will work for various festive occasions in advance. I also take out my Indian clothes, air them out or have them dry cleaned since they don’t see much use in other seasons.” Planning her looks from top to bottom ensures she can attend any event, even on short notice.
Most of us have a conventional gifting cupboard where we store items we intend to use but never actually do. So, I begin by editing my gifting cupboard. I select gifts I’d like to reuse or give away and categorize them. I also remove items I haven’t used in the past year to create space for new arrivals.
During this process, I also organize my wine bags, gift wrappers, and personal stationery. We visit many friends and receive numerous gifts during the festive season, so this drawer becomes incredibly useful.
My biggest challenge during the party season is planning and deciding menus at short notice, whether it’s for a formal gathering, festive celebration, or a small get-together with friends. To tackle this, I stock up on snacks that are easy to serve and enjoyed by our family. I make sure my pantry and snack cupboards are well-stocked.
Additionally, I create around five different menus that I believe will work perfectly from September through December. This prevents duplicated efforts and reduces any pre-party stress. Having relevant recipes listed and ingredients stocked makes hosting so much more manageable.
3. Sorting Decorations
When it comes to decorations, we all have extensive collections of Diwali lights, Christmas decor, candles, and so on. But when it’s time to decorate, it can be a real challenge to find what we need. What I like to do beforehand is to lay out all my decorations and assess what I want to use, what’s functional and what works for the vibe I’m trying to set. I pick out items I’ll actually use, ensure they are easily accessible, such as lights, fragrances, candles, and other decor elements. Simultaneously, I declutter items that have been sitting unused for a while. I also consider what new elements I want to add and divide them into sets. This way, when I’m entertaining or setting up a specific theme dinner, I don’t have to search for individual pieces—it’s all ready to go.
SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE AND PARENTING ADVOCATE
Sonika Bhasin attributes her sustainable living and parenting approach to becoming a mom to Abir born four years ago. Her baby steps to mindful consumption began with the purchase of her son’s first set of cloth diapers. From demystifying green terminology to making detailed guides for everything from composting to low-waste travel—her Instagram grid has it all. Sonika says the festive season presents the perfect opportunity to make better choices and offers some easy-to-fulfil resolutions:
In the lead-up to the big festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali, Sonika says to start collecting any oil in the kitchen that would usually be discarded (especially from deep-frying festive farsan and sweets) in a container to use later to light diyas and lamps.
An essential but stressful step in decluttering the home is determining what to do with all the items you no longer need or have outgrown. I absolutely love the convenience of Share at your Doorstep and Happiee Souls, organisations that schedule at-home pickups for all the stuff you want to donate—from smaller items like clothes, shoes, and stationery to bigger pieces like furniture—and take on the responsibility of finding new homes for it at various NGOs. All of this is for small fee but absolutely worth it.
Giving up commercial chemical-based cleaners and switching to non-toxic cleaning supplies is a great way to drive home change. Some of my go-to home essentials include Coco Custo’s laundry detergent and multi-purpose cleaner; Awnest’s plant-based floor and surface cleaners; zero-waste brand Bare Necessities’ powder-to-liquid formulas for dishwash and multi-purpose cleaning liquids; and Arani Ecosteps’ dishwash bar (for just Rs35), which is a perfect substitute even for domestic workers who might find it difficult to switch to dishwashing liquids.
For advanced eco warriors, I also recommend what we do in my home – making our own bio enzyme, a great multi-purpose surface cleaner, from just fruit peels or flower waste, jaggery and water.
There is an unbelievable amount of fabric waste in India and while it may seem like a hopeless situation there are so many small brands upcycling all kinds of great products for the home. Some of my favourite brands like Use Me Works, Oh Scrap! Madras, Gift Green and The Abhinaya Store make beautiful festive decorations like gift bags, buntings and even faux flower garlands. I love the marigold toran from Oh Scrap! Madras so much that it’s now a permanent fixture in my living room. The beauty of upcycled decorations, even for our Christmas tree, is knowing that it’s one hundred per cent unique since no two upcycled pieces will ever be the same.
P.S. I also commission Gift Green for other organising tools around the house like hanging shoe caddies, saree bags, liners for laundry baskets, suitcase covers and my favourite, wet bags for toiletries and soiled swimsuits after beach or pool time.
It’s so easy to get lost in Attirail’s dreamy Instagram account. One look and you’ll soon find yourself in the depths of the interior styling company’s archives that champion a desi, boho chic aesthetic. Named after the French word for paraphernalia, Attirail is truly it’s founder Purva Agrawal’s bountiful, treasure trove of beautiful décor objects. A former set designer, Mumbai-based Agrawal specialises in interior styling, decorating and makeovers of rental homes. A practitioner of “more is more” philosophy, she knows more than a thing or two about keeping things in order:
Purva says the most frequently asked questions she tackles are regarding the maintenance of the many big and small décor objects that make up every project. The answer, she explains, lies in the beautiful pictures that make it to Instagram, “Taking images of the décor setups and the shelf styling is a great way to make sure everything can be placed back in the right place, in the perfect order, after each round of cleaning.”
Some of the most important elements of my home décor are linens and cushions. To keep everything organized, I create sets for my bedroom, living room and table linen based on colour schemes.
For the bedroom, I use three to four different coloured sheets that create an overall palette along with two quilts or duvets to complement them. I also have around 10 to 15 cushion covers as well as two or three throws that I like to mix and match with these sets. Similarly, for the living area, I’ve created three sets of the approximately ten to twelve cushions I use. Once I’ve styled these sets, they are stored together in zipper bags that go under the bed or the linen closet in my secondary bedroom.
To keep everything smelling fresh and to tackle the humidity in Mumbai, I add dehumidifiers and scented sachets to the bed storage and linen closet. This organisation system is incredibly useful because I like to change the look of the bedroom every week and it makes the process simple. It’s also great when these linens need to be dry cleaned or washed – nothing is ever lost in the process!
A great way to change the look of the room is to change the sets and tweak them every eight or nine months when you start to get bored.
I absolutely love arranging flowers and it’s almost like a meditative practice that I enjoy every Sunday. I’ve collected vases in lots of different shapes, sizes and materials, with everyday ones on display in designated spots and extras in a cupboard. For parties and festivals, I layer most of them to create arrangements based on a chosen colour palette.
Candles are especially great for festive decorating. I categorize them into four types—jar candles, tapering long candles, pillar candles and figure candles—and store each type separately in dedicated plastic boxes.
Jar candles are easiest to maintain since they come with lids. I use figure candles just as décor since they get deformed when burned. I use tapering candles only for bigger occasions since there is a lot of wax drip and cleaning candle stands is a whole ordeal. Pillar candles are easier to maintain and even when they are semi-burnt, they give the house a nice, warm and lived-in feel.
Cleaning the candles with a dry or damp cloth every few days is a must. But if you want to keep it simple during the festive season, just use jar candles and tealights and floating candles in votives, platters or bowls.
FOUNDER, MIAM PATISSERIE
No matter how late it is, chef Bani Nanda says, if you’re hosting a party at home, you must tidy up to make sure all your favourite pieces from your kitchen and dining collection are safely put back in their place.
“Also, if something does break, I much rather it is in my hands when I’m alone, so I only have myself to blame”, she says of her prized antiques, some of which possibly date back 300 years or so.
Another practice she follows at the end of the night is described as “the dinner party hangover” wherein one or two old tablecloths are laid out on the kitchen counter, with all the kitchen and dinnerware washed and ready to dry overnight. This way, when she wakes up, there is no mess. At least in the kitchen.
Go through your belongings every three months or so and remove items you no longer use or need. Consider donating them or having a backyard sale for things that are in good condition. Learn the art of quality hoarding—I’ve stopped buying junk and now, I portion out my salary for good quality porcelain.
If you have a baby or a dog at home like I do, I can’t recommend a good vacuum cleaner enough. A lot of my prized crockery, China and flatware is displayed in an open cabinet so I also have this funny looking, made-in-China, electric feather duster that I use almost daily.
If you host often, playing around with table linen is far easier and a lot more reasonable than shopping for new dinnerware. While remodelling my kitchen, I designed a closet specifically for my collection of table linen—folded tablecloths on trouser hangers are placed in the cupboard while napkins, runners and other accessories like napkin rings are placed in pull-out drawers.
Mumbai-based Tina Mehta and Kerman Chowna founded Cocojungle, a boutique business selling exotic plants in 2021. They presented us a low-maintenance guide to post-lockdown plant parenting when we last spoke to them in May 2022. For the festive season, they give us the low down on decorating with latest designer plants:
According to Tina, the monsoon season is when gardens must be left alone to rejuvenate without cutting, disturbing or fertilising. “The local gardeners we work with have always gone by this—it’s almost an act of respect,” she says. “So, right before Diwali is a great time to fertilise, prune and repot plants that have outgrown their containers. Fertiliser needs the sun to be effective, especially indoors.”
Arrange your plants at different heights. Having plants above, at eye level, and below is reminiscent of what you would encounter in nature, so creating these levels in your home is the most seamless way to blur that line between the indoors and the outdoors.
Don’t forget about your plants during the pre-festive clean-up—it’s a good time to shuffle and get them out of their usual spots. Nothing is more off-putting than a scrawny plant that’s got three wilted leaves. While re-organising, find it a better home so it can live its best life. Avoid relegating a large plant to a corner; bring it closer to your furniture. Small moves like this can change the energy of your whole room.
When reorganizing your decor, embrace a blend of styles from different eras. Balance vintage and contemporary elements by pairing a modern plant accessory with a vintage console to create an appealing contrast.
Explore underrated, low-light plants like philodendrons, snake plants, peperomia and ZZs (Zamioculcas) for areas with limited natural light outside the home. These plants are surprisingly resilient and can thrive in low-light conditions, making them perfect partners to other decorative elements like garlands and diyas in entryways and corridors. Two of our absolute favourites from our catalogue are called the “Rio Selloum” and the “Acapulco Monstera”.
INTERIOR DESIGN ENTHUSIAST AND CONTENT CREATOR
Riddhi Khosla Jalan is a design enthusiast and content creator who specialises in showcasing the latest interior design trends by collaborating with established brand names and endorsing up-and-coming artists and boutique businesses. By setting her niche as a one-stop discovery platform for home improvement, it’s no wonder she’s garnered over 350k followers and counting in just seven months. Riddhi shares some of the tips and tricks she’s learned from industry experts along the way:
Ensure your dressing table is in order since you’ll be using it a lot during the festive season. Clean all your makeup brushes with warm water and soap, sharpen your eye and lip pencils and keep bobby pins and safety pins handy. It’s also a good opportunity to organise your accessories and jewellery in partitioned trays or boxes so every piece has a designated place and metals don’t mix. Don’t forget to add silica sachets to make sure there’s no damage from moisture.
Since you will empty out your entire wardrobe for cleaning and tidying, airing out your festive outlets, sending them out for dry cleaning and so on, it’s a great time to upgrade from ordinary air fresheners to scented wax tablets. I especially like the ones from Doft Candles. I also recommend swapping naphthalene balls with cedar balls, a natural alternative to protect your garments from moths, mildew and odour.
When prepping your house for Diwali, don’t forget about the artwork and objects on display. Clean frames with a dry, soft, cotton cloth. To prevent fungus and moisture-related damage, attach silica gel sachets to the back of your framed art every three months. Always stick them onto the wood and never on the canvas. It’s a good idea to hang your art on two nails instead of one so it’s never hanging crooked. While cleaning sculptural art or decorative objects, use a soft wide brush while wearing gloves. It might seem excessive, but it’s crucial for preserving your pieces.
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