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There are few things in life I hate more than clutter. Clutter instantly makes any space look sloppy and unclean. The best way to fool people into thinking your house is clean is to manage clutter and eliminate as many sources of clutter as possible.

Even when I know I haven’t cleaned (example: vacuum, sweep, disinfect counters, etc.), I’m able to relax once the clutter is gone. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a pretty neat person. If items are out of their places, chairs not pushed in under the table, cupboard doors slightly open, towels not hanging straight, toys not put away, my mood quickly decreases and my anxiety increases.

Hello, my name is Brooke, and I suffer from clutter anxiety.

There, I said it. I might have a problem, but seriously, it makes a world of difference.

So, what do I consider clutter? To name a few…

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Opened envelopes
  • Unfiled documents and bills
  • All items without a specific spot
  • Pens
  • Any items not in their specific spots
  • Shoes
  • Coats
  • Homework
  • Charging cords
  • Small kitchen appliances
  • Cookbooks

These are only a few things that, in my house, drive me insane. I absolutely hate it when I’m unable to use my kitchen counters or dining room table because a bunch of crap is on it.

“But, clutter is a way of life. You can never fully escape it.” Don’t fall into that trap! You can definitely defeat clutter! Here’s how:

1. Get Organized

Create spaces for newspapers and magazines to preside that ISN’T on a table top of some sort. For us, it’s the trash. But, a magazine rack that you routinely empty would work too. Throw away birthday or cards and the envelopes they come in unless they are so special you need to keep them. If that’s the case, immediately store it in designated keepsake box.

File away bills or other documents rather than let them pile up on a surface. Create a system and stick to it. Keep pen holders in specific areas where you need them. We have one in our office and one in our kitchen. All pens go into one of those two places.

Create cubbies or hooks for kids to keep their backpacks and completed homework assignments. Then, actually use them. And, if you don’t have some already, those cube organizers are AMAZING!

2. Don’t Go to Bed with a Messy House

Before bed, walk through all rooms and make sure all items are put away in their designated spots. If you do this every day, the clutter won’t easily get out of control. Make sure kids follow this rule as well.

Have a basket or hidden drawer to keep charging cords. If there’s a cord flopping around my counter, it instantly makes the space look messy. Keep/Return them to their spots.

3. Purchase a Shoe Rack

Shoes are probably the number one reason entryways or mudrooms look messy. Closely following them are coats and jackets. Keep the everyday shoes in the mudroom or by the door – these are only the shoes everyone wears the most. Any shoes that do not typically get worn every single day go in closets in their owner’s room. Store the everyday shoes on a shoe rack. Not on the floor, a shoe rack. We have several shoe racks, but my favorite is a bench with shelves for shoes. You can find one similar to ours here.

Install hooks or buy a coat rack for all the jackets and apply the same rule as the shoes. Only coats worn everyday get a spot on the rack. Everything else should be hung in closets. My grandfather made me a beautiful coat rack/shelf that I absolutely love. This one is similar to what we have. Ours does have 6 hooks, and for three people, we use them all. It’s also a bit bigger and sturdier. It would be easy to make if you’re a DIY person.

4. Clear Your Kitchen Counters

Your kitchen may be spotless, but if I walk into it and see small appliances completely lining the back of the counter, it’s going to immediately feel messy to me. I need to have clear kitchen counters. The only things I have on my counters are my mixer, three canisters, a utensil crock, bottle drying rack, a bottle warmer, and a toaster oven. Blenders, cutting boards, cookbooks, bread baskets, etc. do not need to be on counters. Find a home easily accessible in a cupboard and store them there. The only exception is if you actually use said item every day. Do know I’m counting down the days until that ugly bottle rack and bottle warmer can be off my counters. Since we need them every three hours, I can’t justify hiding them away just yet.

Update: I have since moved the bottle rack and bottle warmer to a cupboard now that Landon is almost one. As expected, it is glorious not having those out on my counter anymore! We also sold our toaster oven since we hardly use it, and I’m loving the newfound counter space its absence has created. I have since added our toaster, a banana tree, and a cute little mason jar herb garden (where the bottle rack used to me). Feel free to check out the Decor on a Dime link below to see pictures of my kitchen.

Related: Decor on a Dime: Kitchen and Dining Area

Hang a shelf for your cookbooks. You can actually use these as kitchen decor. Make sure you don’t have so many cookbooks that your shelf looks cluttered, though. That completely defeats the purpose. If that’s the case and you can’t get rid of any, only keep the ones you always use out and store the rest in a cupboard. We cut our own shelves and bought the hardware from Lowes for a cheap and easy DIY project.

5. Utilize Furniture with Storage Options

End tables with drawers, an entertainment center with doors, shelves with baskets, a coffee table with drawers or doors, etc. Keep items organized and hidden. If a surface is organized but has too much stuff on it, it still looks majorly cluttered. Don’t overdo your furniture, either. If you have too many items crammed into a space, your surfaces could be spotless and it will still feel cluttered.

I’ve been able to really incorporate these techniques in my son’s nursery. If you’re looking for inspiration, go ahead and take a look!

Related: Designing and Organizing Your Baby’s Nursery 

6. Minimize Decorations

This goes back to keeping surfaces clean. Stay away from little knick knacks or excessive decor items. The more items you have on surfaces, the more you have to move when you dust. Tastefully decorate your shelves and tables, but don’t overdo it. Sometimes less is more.

Even having too much on your walls can create a sense of clutter. Minimize wall decor. Tastefully decorate, but don’t overdo it. Also, as much as they’re in style right now, be weary of gallery walls. They can easily get out of hand quickly, and in my opinion, do more harm than good to your wall design.

7. Throw Things Away

You can’t keep everything. Throw things away or donate items you no longer use. They don’t need to be taking up valuable space other items could be using.

Assess your house and have a heart to heart with yourself. Go through each room and clear things out and create organization systems. Once you implement organization, I guarantee your clutter will start to diminish. Remember to routinely clear out baskets, files, drawers, etc. before they become too full. Only keep what you need.

Any other tips you’ve found that work for you? I’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments below.

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