However much you tidy – why does your home look messy still – despite your best decluttering efforts? Let’s delve into how to change that, by looking all the things that are making your home feel cluttered that you may not have realised are an issue.
You may be sorting your stuff regularly, decluttering every season, and doing all the things to make your home look tidy.
But when you look around, it’s STILL looking cluttered, and feeling messy.
What’s going on?!
Well, this is mostly down to things that are often overlooked when we think about clutter. They aren’t your typical decluttering categories, and so can easily be missed.
Now it’s time to tackle those forgotten areas, once and for all.
Once you’ve focused on these things and sorted them out to the level that’s right for you and your home, then you’ll finally be able to relax and enjoy a much calmer and tidy feeling home.
Sounds good, right?
Things Often Overlooked When You Declutter – That Shouldn’t Be!
A lot of the time when we declutter any room, we think of the clutter as the small stuff that’s been piling up.
Truth is – it can be the big stuff too – and the bigger the item that’s decluttered, the more space you gain!
A big culprit in many homes is seating.
Take a look at how many chairs you have in a room vs. how many people you need to seat regularly. Usually we have way too many in a room. Remember not to cater for the once a year large functions in your head/seat count – as people are fine to bring chairs in from other rooms or squeeze up at those sorts of events.
NOTE: Another brilliant side effect of decluttering furniture is that you’re taking away more horizontal surfaces that would possibly be filled with the smaller clutter. Double bonus!
Things on the walls
Another overlooked space when it comes to decluttering are the walls.
Whether there are too many small pictures dotted around, a noticeboard full of bits of paper, or shelves that are too big for the room – these things all add to the sense of clutter when your eyes survey everything.
Some options for tackling the clutter of small artwork is either to swap for one larger piece, or group them together more cohesively in a picture wall arrangement.
Being able to move around your home without having to step over or move anything to get access to somewhere is crucial to it feeling spacious and decluttered.
Some places that can make the room feel more cluttered for this reason are:
- Behind doors. You always need to be able to open a door fully
- Doors that are cut off due to furniture or other reasons. If you have a sofa in front of a door, no matter whether it makes sense or not to how you live in the space, you’ll always feel cluttered because the two items will be fighting for the space.
- Stair baskets. These are baskets made for a staircase and in theory are a great idea because you can gather items that need taking upstairs or downstairs and do it all in one go the next time you go up/down the stairs. However, having anything on the stairs will stop you walking down them easily – so it’s not worth the extra feeling of clutter.
Buying extras of regular purchases when on sale is financially savvy for sure – but have you simply got too much?
Balance how much stock you really need (and can realistically use) against the space it takes up.
Even if it’s stored out of the way, it will still be playing on your mind that it’s there…
Excess Decor Accessories
Having trinkets and knick knacks that make you smile around the house isn’t a bad thing per se – but when they get excessive then something needs to change.
The more you have, the more of your energy they will use up in terms of dusting, maintaining etc…. – and this can create clutter in your day to day life that can feel like a waste of time.
A good idea to overcome this would be to house all your small items in a glass display cabinet so they are a collection and are away from gathering dust.
Only have a few pieces in each room that make an impact and add to the decor in some way. I love to use candles, vases, pictures or the odd picture frame, and lighting for my accessories as these have a use, and can also be changed out regularly with seasons or decor updates.
TIP – A shelf is asking to be filled. Reduce the amount of open shelves you have in your home and you’ll limit the stuff you can display immediately.
Things That Are Hidden Away.
You know the famous phrase “out of sight, out of mind”?
Well I’m here to say that this definitely doesn’t hold true when it comes to clutter hidden in any storage space around the house.
The fact is – you know it’s there. And if you know it’s there, you feel cluttered. Even when you don’t see it.
That can be the niggle you feel in a room that looks pretty tidy to others – you know that under the surface it’s a very different story!
Think: Junk drawer, filing cabinet, tupperware cupboard – just to name a few!
To overcome this – take one cupboard or drawer at a time, and sort through the contents thoroughly. Only when you’ve decluttered these spaces as well as the open spaces will you feel truly clutter free.
The Storage Itself
Do you REALLY need all those storage containers / boxes / baskets / organisers?
Yes, they may be pretty – and they may be able to help you tidy things up. But if you get too many then ironically they could be causing you unnecessary clutter.
Work out what you really need before buying any storage – and get what will fit the space you’ve got, and the items you want to store. No more. No less.
The Spare Room
Yes, it’s a living space – and so you may well have decluttered it to some extent when you’ve decluttered the rest of the house.
But chances are (if you’re anything like me) – when you start to declutter other areas – some items will end up cluttering the spare room again because they’re too good to waste, not broken, etc….
The spare room seems to be the place things go while we are deciding what to really do with them – and that has to stop!
Make your spare room into something useful to you instead – and then you’re less likely to clutter it up.
If you don’t have guests often, then a pull out bed works well – with a home office / craft room / exercise area etc… all giving it a day to day use for you. Sounds good, right?
Spaces Outside Your Main Living Areas
By this I mean places that you don’t use daily – such as the garage, loft, basement etc…
When I used to declutter with clients in their homes, I found that the loft was especially draining people.
The reason? You know it’s there. Whether you see it daily or not.
And the loft is literally weighing down on your head until it’s sorted out.
So – declutter these spaces and feel lighter!
No Empty Horizontal Surfaces
Think about when you see a showroom for a new house.
There’s very little on any flat surface. Why? Because it feels larger, calmer, and generally more tidy.
In our own homes we tend to see a surface and want to fill it!
Trouble is – once one item is placed on there – it sort of invites and attracts other stuff.
Before you know it – you haven’t got a clutter free surface anywhere.
So – even if you need everything you have on your surfaces – minimising what’s there will help you feel less cluttered.
One huge win is to look at your kitchen counters.
Can you streamline the items that are left out? What do you REALLY need to have out all the time? When you think about it – the list is very small…
Other clutter prone surfaces include the coffee table, bathroom surfaces, and the top of radiator covers.
No Empty Space
Along the same lines as the previous item – we all too often fill as much of a room as possible for fear of it looking sparse.
Truth is – empty space (otherwise known as negative space) can give a sense of luxury. Of open-ness. Of calm.
You’ll finally feel like you’ve gained some breathing room.
So check that you’re not filling your floor space for the sake of it.
Every item should be there for a reason – useful or beautiful. Get the balance right and you’ll feel less cluttered straight away.
Items You’ve Become ‘Clutter Blind’ To
We live in our homes for years – and see the same stuff each and every day. It’s all too easy to just not really see it anymore.
And although we don’t see the individual items – we still sense the feeling of being too cluttered.
So – how can we declutter items we can’t see?!
The best way is to change your perspective a little…
Get a camera and take a photo of your rooms. Take a photo from each corner so you see the room as a whole.
When you see the pictures it can help identify what’s feeling busy – without as much being overlooked as when you’re looking first hand.
It’s weird – but this trick really works. Why not give it a go!
Wires And Cords On Show
When you can see trailing wires all around the house – however tidy the rest of the space is – it can make it feel messier.
Try and hide wires from view by choosing where to plug things in more carefully, adding power sockets where necessary, and adding trunking around the TV in your living room (for example) – and it will make all the difference in the world.
Items That Don’t Have A Home
‘A place for everything, and everything in its place’ – so important to having a clutter-free home.
No matter how much you declutter, if you don’t create spaces for the things you keep – then you run the risk of having clutter appear again pretty quickly.
One of these types of things that can be the worst offender, but is easily fixed, is Mail.
Piles of post on the hallway table can feel cluttered as soon as you walk through the front door. Not a good start!
A great storage solution is to put a letter rack on the wall or the table. This makes it feel tidier immediately.
Items That Have Been Decluttered!
One of the last action steps to do when you declutter is to get the items you don’t want any longer out of the house.
Trouble is – this can be time consuming and we can procrastinate the job for days, weeks or even months.
The thing we need to remember is that the stuff is still clutter for you until it’s reached its final destination.
Get the things out as soon as you can after any decluttering you get done, and only when that’s done have you actually completed the session.
A cluttered home can be caused by more than just lots of stuff. In fact, you may not actually have much actual stuff in a room – and so in your head you’ve decluttered well.
But look closer….
Does all your stuff have large prints, busy patterns, bright colours etc..?
This can all create a visual clutter that may well be too much for you to relax.
Time to tone down some of the decor – to a level that feels calmer for you (remember, this can be different for everyone. I’m not saying to take away all patterns and colours at all – you do you!).
Day to Day Clutter
I’ve left this one until last because it’s sneaky!
You see, a lot of clutter in our homes comes as a result of living in it each day.
Whether it be the kids playing with their toys, reading books and magazines, cooking, laundry, clothes waiting to be put away, washing in the sink, or an unmade bed – it all mounts up.
The trick to making it feel less of a clutter issue for you is two fold:
- Firstly – minimise the stuff that you can use in the first place
- Secondly – create habits to keep things tidy as you go (as much as possible, life is messy though!)
The kids probably don’t need as many toys as you think they do, you can probably get away with a lot less gadgets in the kitchen, and books can be donated after reading (will you really read them again?).
Then you can have a 15 minute tidy time each evening, for example – to keep things from building up and feeling overwhelming.
So there you have it – all the things that are making your home look cluttered – no matter how much you’re trying to live clutter free.
Whether it’s large items that you’ve overlooked, items that you’ve stored out of sight (not out of mind!), or the day to day build up of, well, life.
It’s easy to see why you can feel like you have a messy house no matter how hard you’ve been trying to stop the mess.
Go through your home today and check off each of the things listed above. You’ll instantly feel you have more of a clutter free home. Literally AND mentally! Good luck.