Everyone has stuff. Some have a lot, while others take the minimalist approach. Regardless of amount, possessions can quickly accumulate and make a room feel cluttered, even if it really isn’t. While it is unwise to get rid of needed objects just to make things look good, a few tweaks can greatly improve both the look and feel of a space. These don’t take a lot of time, and can have a big impact.
Top 10 Tricks For A Less Cluttered Look
1. Line Up Shoes
Most people pile shoes near the door. This is both practical (handy when you need to walk out the door) and healthy (keeps dirt out of the home.) Unfortunately, a heap of shoes looks messy. Instead, line shoes up in pairs. It is surprising how much tidier this looks! To avoid having a wall full of shoes, periodically take a basket of the less frequently worn shoes back to the bedroom closets.
2. Push In Chairs
When life is busy, the discipline of pushing in the chair when leaving the table often falls to the wayside. However, given that it only takes a second, this is one habit worth resurrecting. You never see a staged photo in which the chairs are askew. This principle also applies to stools at the kitchen island. Lining them up makes a world of difference.
3. Remove Visual Overlaps
Bulletin boards and refrigerators make wonderful places for notes, reminders, and artwork. So wonderful, in fact, that we are constantly adding more. Unfortunately, overlapping paperwork looks out of control. Think of an art gallery, where pieces are given a wide birth so each can be easily seen. Furthermore, displayed items that are covered up no longer serve their purpose, as we can’t see them. To remedy the situation, simply remove everything, toss what is no longer current (or move it a memorabilia box), and then reload.
When hanging items, bear in mind the three secrets to an appealing visual display:
- Have space between each piece
- Ensure that each piece is level
- Don’t allow anything to hang over the edges
4. Trim/Remove Packaging
Many people today take advantage of bulk packaging, such as a multi-pack wrapped in plastic or large box with individually wrapped pieces inside. This makes good financial and environmental sense, but can hurt a space’s visual appeal and functionality. For instance:
- A half used 24 pack of paper towels means a crinkled up mass of ragged plastic collecting dust in your basement or pantry.
- A giant bag of potato chips with only a little bit at the bottom wastes space on your shelf and makes the bag hard to close.
- Plastic dry cleaner bags crowd a closet and keep garments from breathing.
- A bulk box of applesauce with a half-torn-open lid makes it difficult to access the contents and to see when it is time to repurchase.
The best solution is to diligently remove unnecessary packaging. Using the examples above, this would mean:
- Remove the individual rolls of paper towels and put them on a shelf, and then dispose of the outer plastic. (If rolls are not individually wrapped and need to be stored in a dirty area, at least cut away the excess plastic as you access the rolls.)
- Trim the chip bag as you eat it down (this also protects your sleeve from getting greasy from reaching inside.)
- Remove the dry cleaner bags before putting the clothes in the closet.
- Remove the applesauce containers and line them up on “risers” in your pantry and reuse/recycle the larger cardboard box.
5. Remove Tags
Towels, pillows, and blankets typically arrive with large and unsightly tags that are primarily there for advertising purposes. Grab your scissors and cut these off for an instant improvement. Price and brand stickers should also be removed from plastic containers as soon as you put them in place.
6. Pitch Sad Plants
Plants bring energy, softness, and oxygen to a room. They can also be a handy tool for hiding unsightly cords or outlets. However, a dead or scraggly plant looks awful and connotes a feeling of neglect in a room. If you have an out of sight location to nurse plants back to health, relocate them here. Otherwise, let them go.
7. Clear Out the Pen Cup
It is both functional and appropriate to have a desktop container with a few necessary supplies, such as pens, pencils, Sharpies and scissors. However, a cup or mug that is overstuffed is a visual distraction. Instead of keeping your entire pen collection out on display, cull the number of tools to 1-2 of each kind, and move the remainder to a supplies drawer or box. By establishing a place for overflow, you will have a more organized look, while still knowing just where to go when your pen runs dry.
8. Pick Up Clothes From The Floor
Anyone with a teenager knows how quickly clothes on the floor overrun a room. As a wise fellow organizer always says, “The floor is only for furniture.” To alleviate the problem, first make sure everyone in the family has a designated hamper for soiled clothing. Next, try to restore clean clothing to a closet or dresser. If you have resistant family members, (e.g. one who likes to try on many options and then drops the losers on the floor, or a child who enjoys changing clothes four times a day), provide a “wear again” bin/basket for anything that isn’t ready for the laundry. Lastly, furniture is not a closet, so hang up any coats and jackets that have landed on the backs of chairs, sofa arms, treadmills, etc.
9. Reduce Your Décor
Décor makes a space interesting and homey. Too much décor makes a room feel cluttered. As with bulletin boards, we often add new art and knick-knacks without removing the old. For a quick improvement, walk around with a box and pull out pieces that you no longer enjoy looking at. You can pack them away with memorabilia, or donate anything that you are finished with. Having fewer objects on a shelf will enhance your enjoyment of those that remain.
10. Make The Bed
This is an “oldie but a goodie.” Making the bed instantly makes the room look appealing. After all, comforters, duvets, and pillows are designed for display on the bed, not for lying on the floor. As with clearing the sink of dirty dishes or tossing old newspapers, making the bed can be a small way to achieve a sense of order and organization. Regardless of how hectic your days has been, when you return to the room at night, you can say, “Well, at least I got the bed made!”
* * * * *
It isn’t necessary to use all of these tricks… just one might have a big impact. Which do you think would improve your space? Do you have another trick to share?