Home and Cleaning Hacks (plus a robot)

The iRobot Roomba 980 in action at home. I have found him to be AMAZING at his job!!! To the point he is now a "he" not an "it".... | Julia Atkinson for Studio Home

If ‘domestic god-ism’ can be learnt, then the advice in this post might give us all hope yet!
Despite having a few special friends in my life who actively relax by cleaning and organising – I feel sure everyone else is like me, hanging on for dear life and hoping my home will get through another week with minimal attention.

A few things have happened of late that have greatly improved my chances of not flying off the hook when I know my mother or in-laws are dropping by in an hour. In particular, the advice I have received for this piece AND the addition of a new family member thanks to the partners of this post; iRobot.

Thats right folks, for the last month I have been putting a robot vacuum cleaner through its paces, and like you, secretly wanted it to be shit.

Sorry. It’s not.


Studio Home | The iRobot Roomba 980 in action at home from Studio Home on Vimeo.

Wobbie the wobot” (Ech! I had to go there because there is something quite cute and earnest about the little ‘sucker’!) sits quietly plugged into his station, out of the way for most of the week. But come Thursday, the day I have booked him in to clean via his phone app, I hear a little trill and his engines fire up. At this I usually leap off my chair and run around the house, picking up floor debris (like lazily discarded clothing, shoes and coffee mugs) and shutting doors to funnel him into the areas I want done. Then I settle back at my desk, door shut and listen to someone else clean my house for an hour or so.

I’ve been asked (by haters) a few times if he is “really noisey”, followed by a narrowing of their eyes…
My response is always this – “the sound of my house being vacuumed WELL by someone that isn’t me is bloody music to my ears!”
“But does it actually do a good job?”
Yes guys. He actually really does. He’s slower than if you or I were doing it but he goes RIGHT under the sofa/chairs/beds/bath tub and occasionally I spot him zipping back down the hall to clean an area his GPS has worked out that he’s missed. If only vacuuming once a week (I have no pets or kids) I’ll need to empty him out once to twice during his session. If I am out while he’s cleaning, I’ll come home to find that he has returned to his station to charge and to wait for me to empty him before resuming his job. He changes pace (and suck) automatically between the hard and carpeted surfaces and I have just one particularly tufty, handwoven rug which I keep him off and shake out myself.

The honest truth is, the wooden floors are gleaming after his weekly marathon and there are no longer spiders webs and lost crumbs under the sofa. He is entirely employable as a cleaner!


(Apologies on the “he’s”….yes I have humanised this inanimate object because he’s like a diligent cleaning apprentice).

The iRobot Roomba 980 in action at home. I have found him to be AMAZING at his job!!! To the point he is now a "he" not an "it".... | Julia Atkinson for Studio HomeThe iRobot Roomba 980 in action at home. I have found him to be AMAZING at his job!!! To the point he is now a "he" not an "it".... | Julia Atkinson for Studio Home

Its so damn crazy and futuristic sometimes I find myself standing in a door way, watching him blindly weave around a room, before blinking and realising I’m not needed AT ALL in this cleaning fiesta!

And that leads me to the next juicy part of this post.

What to do with that extra cleaning time up your sleeve and (regardless of robots) how to continue to be savvy with household jobs and organisation?

I reached out to some wise minds (that you might well recognise) and asked if they had any tips, tricks, inherited knowledge or left field ideas they would be happy to share with us. Turns out there’s a bit of everything!!!

Read on below !

Renee Boyd for Studio Home's : " Home and Cleaning Hacks"

Renee Boyd is one of my favourite NZ ceramic makers. She lives west of Auckland in the forest and sure knows a thing or two about MESS! She shares her way of creating calm amid the clay storm.

“In my home studio I have a dedicated area where I make all the mess and there is clay and buckets and tools everywhere on shelves under tables…. everywhere you look is a working mess!

BUT just along from that area I have set up my light filled clean area where I display my work and try and have no clutter.  When I’m feeling stressed from the workshop/making part of my process,  I love to look over to what I call my ‘serene area’ and that instantly calms me. It’s so pleasing to look at with its muted colours against the light flooded white walls.

With this in mind, I would always suggest having a space which you keep minimal with just a few pieces in YOUR colours that you find restful. For instance I can’t stand the colour red even the bright red fragile tape I use on my boxes has to be put away out of sight as it just detracts everything around it!

Whatever makes you feel calm put it in your clutter free space. Its always nice to move things around and take away and bring in new pieces to keep it fresh and you motivated. You can’t go wrong with a table with just one or two things in lovely light.  Even if you have no time to clean just keep on top of that one area and it works a treat.

I prefer to live with muted colours against white mixed with black amongst lots of plants. I also hang dried flowers around the studio as they last for a long time and even in their decayed state they still have amazing texture and colour.”

**Photo by Rachel Shields

JAx Hamilton for Studio Home's : " Home and Cleaning Hacks"

Jax Hamilton knows a thing or two about time saving strategies in the home. Her newly launched online series; “Jax Food Hax” is solely dedicated to cutting down kitchen time, making your money go further and getting down right creative with food.
Obviously I assumed her tricks didn’t stop at the sink…and boy was I right!

“My tips are quite the ODD collection, because they ARE from my Mother and one of her sayings is “I will show you where water did walk, go to Pumpkins belly’ (those are her ACTUAL words) and she wasn’t talking about my cat…
Translation : I’m very cross!!
TIP 1#
Pre story : when I was very young and we only had sanitary belts and Dr White Sanitary Towels that actually, actually looked like Ironing Boards and of course after 2 steps the belt was up under your armpits and the surfboard was stuck to your leg…
Things would get very, very messy!
So, come end of school day,  I would soak my undies in a solution of salted water / bicarbonate (baking) of soda and it would get the blood stains out……
Translation : If you have blood stains on your clothes, rub with a little salt & baking soda or soak them in a solution of salt and b/soda and it gets the stain right out!!!
TIP 2#
If you’ve painted a room and it still has the paint smell.  Fill a bucket of water and place it in the centre of the room and it removes the smell after a couple of hours.
TIP 3#
When you have a new purchase with a sticker on it and when you peel the sticker off you’re left with a horrible sticky residue, remove with a little Eucalyptus oil on a cotton bud, it cleans it right off and smells amazing.”

** Photography by Daniela Aebli 

Ali McIntosh for Studio Home's : " Home and Cleaning Hacks"

Ali McIntosh is the talented curator behind beautiful Auckland store; Tessuti. I have received some terrific cooking advice from her over the years and had no doubt she had some home shortcuts to match.
The first one…..would work for me!

“Always do last things first!
For example –  put fresh flowers into a vase. This has the effect of:

A. making the house instantly welcoming should guests unexpectedly arrive

B. makes you feel instantly inspired to do all the other tasks!
Also, a good tip for squeaky doors – just use any cooking oil from the pantry on a paper towel and wipe over the hinge.”
** Photo by Guy Coombes for Viva 
Evie Kemp for Studio Home's : " Home and Cleaning Hacks"

Given I hang out for glimpses of Evie Kemp’s house on her instagram, I knew full well that she must have some tricks up her sleeve to safely wrangle all that art and all those objects!

“I use museum wax (or Quake Hold) from Te Papa to hold down all my vases, lamps and to keep my pictures straight on the wall. It does mean I never dust UNDER them but everything is always in it’s place and you can give a really good dust without knocking stuff off!

I’m all about the speed clean, and I detest cleaning and tidying but love to have a tidy home. My only real technique is shoving things in cupboards, if you’re suddenly sprung with a last minute guest – the dishwasher and oven make fine storage for dirty dishes etc – bet Martha Stewart wouldn’t share that one!

One of the benefits of being a maximalist is that there’s a lot to look at to detract from a bit of mess, but it’s also important to keep certain areas tidy to prove you’re not just a hoarder – so for that reason I always like my kitchen bench to be empty when guests come round! I believe a lot in first impressions so the hallway is always kept pretty tidy no matter what the state of the rest of the house.”

Emma Rutherford for Studio Home's : " Home and Cleaning Hacks"

Emma Rutherford is the woman behind one of my favourite bedding brands; Fictional Objects. Her sheets have graced my washing line for years, which is why she was a go-to for uncovering a little bed linen related advice. Hey we all have it….

“One thing I love, is folding the washing straight from the line into the basket! Does everyone do that or am I a genius? I feel like it means you get to skip a step and it almost means never any ironing, ever!
The other thing I’ve got really good at is folding fitted sheets. Many people ask me how to do this, and I joke that this is the most important skill I have learnt running my own business for the last five years…
Here’s a vid of Fictional Objects Production Manager;  Tessa showing us how its done in Bandung, West Java, which is where we produce all our things… CLICK HERE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
And now that I think about it, having a well organised linen cupboard has become pretty close to my heart (because I have more sheets than any person should have).
One shelf for kids sizes, one shelf for grown ups, a shelf for all the spare, collected and beloved pieces of fabric. We have size labels inside all our covers & sheets too, to help with this organisational aspect.
Its awesome when the linen cupboard is neat, it kind of feels like everything IS under control, and its like a library of all the fabrics I’ve collected and the ones that I’ve made… makes me happy :)”
Gemma Patford for Studio Home's : " Home and Cleaning Hacks"
As a SUPER crafter; Gemma Patford has so many cool ideas she has even published a book about them! As a busy mother she is packing some genius ones too…
“Yes I have one lesson around CLEAN EATING. I hope this isn’t too gross.
 My house is so clean that you can literally eat off it. And I say that because in the interest of a quick cleaning win, I will literally do just that.
When food drops out of my daughters mouth and onto the floor, instead of picking it up and holding it in my hand, or placing something wet into my jean pocket, until I find my way to the bin, I will just eat it.
Wet raisins, a weetbix lump, sandwich crusts? I’ll just eat it. I draw the line at spaghetti covered in cat hair, but only just.

A quick win for a cleanish floor!

Also, those squirt mops. The ones that squirt cleaning liquid as you mop are brilliant for after meal goops.

My name is Gemma Patford and these are my stories.”

*Photo by Lillie Thompson

Isabella Pachter for Studio Home's : " Home and Cleaning Hacks"

Isabella Pachter of Hydrangea Ranger is well known for her nostalgic, romantic art and precious decorative pieces to make any space appeal to the senses. I was interested to know the little things she did to balance out her home vs studio life.

“One of the main things we always do when cleaning the house it to make sure we open all of the windows and doors first. Airing out the house is such an important thing to do and the fresh air makes the house feel fresh and clean. The breeze can also help the clear out the smells of any cleaning products or dust disturbed in the cleaning process. Because I work from home in my studio, our doors are pretty much always open. Its so nice to come back into a non stuffy house when the work day is done.
I find the best way to convince myself to have a big clean is to start on a small, decorative area like a shelf or table. I pick all of the nice ornaments and things, making little scenes or moments. Once I am happy with this bit it drives me to make the rest of the house just as nice.”
 Mimi Atkinson for Studio Home's : " Home and Cleaning Hacks"

And last but certainly not least we have some advice passed on to me from my Mum. I couldn’t really claim credit so I have popped her in here as the source (totally without her knowledge of course….)

“Mum passed on two things in particular that I have used my entire, independent living life.

1. A sure fire way to make your bathroom look REALLY clean is by polishing the taps.
2. Cut flowers on the kitchen table or bedside for visitors has the freshest, nicest, inviting effect. ”

Thats all folks BUT I would really love to invite you to leave your own advice in the comments below. Maybe we’ll need to do a volume 2 of this post using YOUR ideas!


Thanks to iRobot New Zealand + Australia for partnering with me to make my home life better
and to support me in the effort I put into the content and stories I share with you.
It goes without saying, but all thoughts are totally my own.
I’m grateful to work with quality, well matched brands and certainly hope you can see the care that goes into the
partnerships I choose for Studio Home.
Ju xo
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2 Discussion to this post

  1. Lucy Leong says:

    Baby wipes are amazing for cleaning almost everything – a quick wipe of the bathroom sink (and polish of the taps), wiping up spills in the kitchen, cleaning blinds, gathering up dust bunnies from the corner of the room… there are endless uses for them.

  2. julia says:

    Love this Lucy! Thank you!!

Comments are closed.

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