My husband and I have a lot of clutter. We clean often-we vacuum, fold clothes, wash dishes, etc.-but there is always stuff around. I have tried to declutter multiple times, and sometimes I envy those who live minimally, but so far it hasn’t worked for me. There is always stuff leftover, so I have settled on ways to make the clutter look less like a mess.
Stacking is the most basic of concepts when calming clutter. My husband is currently in school and his pile of books is always on the dining room table since he studies there almost every day. Books, papers, magazines, mail, and almost anything else look better stacked rather than spread out.
Baskets & Containers
I have come to accept the fact that some clutter is sticking around and may as well have a home. Wherever things are normally tossed, that’s where the baskets and containers go. There is a basket for mail on the counter by the front door, and a box for recyclables next to the trash can. I have a container in my office just for notebooks and drawing pads, and laundry baskets stay wherever clothes are typically piled. When I lived in a two-story home, there was always a basket on the stairs, usually of stuff I didn’t want to carry upstairs yet. The key to using baskets and containers is to pick something that matches the color and décor of the room so it looks like it belongs.
Dress Up the Notebooks
Recipes, kids’ schoolwork and awards, warranties, and other important information all belong somewhere, and my go-to system used to be dull 3-ring binders. Add interest to your bookshelf by storing these things in decorative files, scrapbooks, or handmade books. Pick a color theme, and stick to it.
The extra stuff can always been hidden in drawers, cabinets, closets, and underneath beds. The secret, though, is to have a home for the stuff rather than tossing it haphazardly into a closet. Drawer dividers, shelves, and containers are helpful. An end table with space underneath becomes a hiding spot once a long tablecloth is placed on top. Larger items, such as sports equipment, can be hidden behind decorative indoor privacy screens or in storage benches.
Put it on Display
If you cannot or do not want to hide the clutter, put it on display with shelves and end tables. Decorative items and trinkets can be grouped so they are aesthetically pleasing. An anchor, such as a table runner or doily, will help make unlike items seem like they belong together. Postcards and favorite quotes can be framed and hung on walls.
Leave Some Empty Space
If every flat surface is covered with stuff, there is way too much clutter. Each table can have something on it, but the whole table should not be hidden. Some empty space needs to show in order to give the eyes a resting place from the controlled chaos. This same principle applies to bookcases. If every shelf is filled end-to-end with mismatched books, magazines, or DVDs, consider making a curtain or door to hide the collection.
In general, I throw away what I can and make homes for the rest. My definition of clutter has become “things that aren’t in their proper places.” When the same items keep getting piled in the same spots, I turn that spot into its proper place. That’s usually easier than changing the family’s habits.