Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Top 5 Tips for a Less Cluttered-Looking Home

Everyone knows #1 and #2.  Take it to the next level by adopting #3, 4 and 5.
  1. Own less stuff. This is always takes precedence over “organizing” your stuff.  The Container Store is not your friend.  Before you run out to buy an "organizing" tool to contain something you feel you must keep, try getting rid of something else and using the remaining space you've gained differently.  But with that said...
  2. Everything you own must have its own home – a place where it belongs and can always go back to – down to the tiniest random thing.  And unless it’s on display for its aesthetic value or has a specific purpose for being out all the time, this home is not just “out” on a shelf or something.  It’s away, - in a drawer, cabinet, box, etc - unseen.  When in a room, you should not be looking at anything that doesn’t have a specific function or beauty exactly where it is.
  3. No appliances permanently stored on the kitchen counter - even if it’s rather large or you use it every day, like a coffee maker.  And even if you do end up keeping it out most of the time, at least keep a specific place for it that’s “away” for the times you want it away (i.e if you're cleaning the counters or expecting company).  If you think it’s too inconvenient to be constantly getting stuff in and out, just try it.  Put all your small appliances away for a couple days, getting them out only when used, and see how you feel.  You might get addicted.
  4. No toys stored (visibly) in the main living area.  This doesn’t mean kids can’t play with stuff here.  Just make sure every toy’s “put-back-place” is in the kids’ room or playroom or a closet or whatever you have.  If you must store them in the main living area, find something you can completely close so you don’t have to look at them.  Visible toys will almost always look like clutter.
  5. Cut down on surface areas by rethinking the type of furniture you own.  Adopt a “defense is the best offense” mentality with surface areas.  Surfaces are the biggest clutter magnet in your home, so why not try to eliminate or shrink some of them?  You can make a trade by selling one piece of furniture and getting something with the same function but a smaller surface area instead.  Anytime you’re considering a furniture purchase, think about what type of surface area it will create.  In the market for a new computer desk?  Try to find one with the smallest surface area possible for what you need.  Opt for tall furniture with a not-as-reachable top so you’ll be less likely to plop things down on it.  Opt out of other unnecessary surfaces.  For example, we don’t own nightstands – use a ceiling or floor lamp and a small plastic bin or basket tucked under your bed for whatever else you absolutely need within reach. 
Even that tiny space beside my computer attracts clutter! (I only moved it for the picture.  In retrospect, my point would have been better made if I'd left it.  You'll have to imagine a random cord, 2 bits of paper, and some pistachio shells)

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