Here’s how to make your house look cleaner and less cluttered just by making some easy design and storage tweaks.
You spend hours every single week cleaning your house, tidying things up, and making sure dust doesn’t pile up on the TV stand. But it still looks messy! How is that? Why in the world doesn’t it look like a magazine cover? Ready for a reality check? It’s your stuff that’s sabotaging your clean house look. Here’s how to fix it.
1. An Abundance Of Throw Pillows And Blankets
Yep, that pillow fort of a bed and throw blanket on every chair can actually work against you. I get it, you want your house to look cozy. But there’s a fine line in cozy comfort and texture overload. Sometimes a room can instantly look cleaner by just removing some pillows and blankets.
If you love the look of less pillows on your sofa after you try it, you don’t have to ditch your stash. You can store the extras and switch up the look monthly so the room always feels fresh without the visual overload. And your husband may even start making the bed now that the workload has been pared down.
2. Stuff On Your Countertops
You may be thinking, “but I need the blender and toaster and food processor and knife block and cutting boards and bread box and seasonings spinner and dish drying rack and mail sorter and pen cup on the counter! I use them!” But what if you cut that list in half and stored some of it in cabinets or drawers? No matter how clean your kitchen is, it will ALWAYS look messy if there is clutter on the counter.
3. Tiny Things That Aren’t Contained
A bunch of small items in one place just hanging out will look messy ten out of ten times. If you like to keep your hair stuff on the bathroom counter to make your morning routine easier, that’s totally fine. But instead of just lined up, try containing the bottles in a cute tray. They instantly go from an messy pile of clutter to an intentional grouping.
4. Open Shelving
Sorry, Fixer Upper fans, I know you love open shelving, and I love it too, but unless you do it right, don’t do it at all. You need quite a bit of breathing room on open shelves in order for them to look clean and neat.
If you can stick with the rule of three for each grouping and are okay with bare space, then open shelving can still be your jam. But if you have a habit of using every inch of usable space, stick with shelving that has doors or use baskets to contain your stuff on the existing shelves.
5. Cord And Wires
Ugggghhh, no one realizes how messy cords and wires look until they got rid of them. It’s like we’re blind to them. But having cords and wires hanging everywhere looks SO messy! Especially if they’re all wadded up into a big electrical tumbleweed. Take some time to detangle the cords in your house, group them together with velcro cord ties, and conceal them behind furniture or inside the drywall. More info on how to do this in this blog post I wrote last week.
If neither are an option, you can buy cord covers like this and paint it the same color as your wall. It won’t be completely invisible, but it will camouflage a lot better than a big black cord hanging down on a crisp white wall.
6. Excessive Small Pieces Of Decor
Some people call them tchotchkes, others call them spot fillers. Whatever you call them, these little pieces of decor are typically the cheap small stuff you pick up for ten dollars or less with no plan in mind for them, you just buy them because they’re cute. And you bring them home and sit them somewhere.
The thing about a bunch of little pieces of decor is that they don’t provide anything beneficial to your room’s atheistic at all. Except messiness and clutter, of course. They’re great for adding that finishing touch to a stack of books or a small vignette, but they lose that “special” factor when they’re used in excess.
Opt for statement pieces like artwork, lighting, or furniture to be your focal point, and you won’t need to scatter little random things around that compete for the spotlight.
7. Unorganized Books
Books in decor…you either love ’em or hate ’em. When they’re strategically stacked or stood in groups, they add a ton of elegance and intentionality to a room. But a cheap 5-shelf bookshelf from Walmart filled side to side with rows of staggered books makes your room like a corner of a thrift store.
To store books in a clean and neat way, organize them by spine color or height, and leave a little bit of breathing room on each shelf. You can use bookends, a large geode, or even a stack of more books laying flat to flank some standing books. Add in other elements with texture like a glass vase or a chunky basket to break up the “wall of paper.”
8. Furniture That’s Too Big Or Too Small For The Room
Nothing kills the vibe in a room like massive furniture. That’s why the home stagers on HGTV shows always bring in the same type of furniture. They never use a humondo sectional, and they never use teeny tiny end tables. It’s so important to consider the scale of your room, because furniture can make it feel super cluttered or super bare. And both of those aspects equals a messy look.
If you’re struggling to figure out whether your furniture feels right for the space, invite a very honest friend or neighbor over and ask them. A simple “do you think the room feels cluttered with this furniture layout?” or “does this dining room have enough space for you to move around in comfortably as a dinner guest?” Getting input from a new set of eyes will usually shine light on things you don’t even notice. Sometimes it’s as simple as removing one of the two recliners in the living room, or rearranging the bedroom layout.
9. Heavy Window Dressings
Even a messy, cluttered room can look five times better with good lighting. Let the sunlight pour in by using lightweight curtains and blinds. Also, keep your window dressings to a maximum of two pieces. That means blinds and curtains, or curtains and shears. Now’s the time to ditch the valances, rope ties, and extra drapery.
10. Dark Colors
The hard truth is, whites and pastels look cleaner than dark colors. Take a look at a bright beachy living room on Pinterest, then look at a dark moody living room right after. It just seems cluttered, even if it’s not. That’s because our brains are trained to associate bright white with clean and dark with dirty.
Does that mean you have to give up your entire personal style and paint all your walls white? Absolutely not. You can still have dark walls and dark furnishings and dark everything, just incorporate light colored accent pieces or clean minimal artwork to lighten up the mood. And make sure the sunlight peeks through the windows as much as possible during the day.
11. Too Many Patterns
Remember back in the ’90s when pattern was errr-thang? From the curtains to the upholstery to the carpet to the wallpaper, there was pattern on pattern on pattern. Do a quick Google search for ’90s Interior Design and you’ll see what I mean. It was THE way to decorate back then.
But now, too much pattern is definitely a bad thing. Conflicting patterns cause visual clutter and make a room look messy and uncontained. Break up the pattern with a healthy mix of solids, metals, woods, and woven textures. If you’re living in pattern-central right now, just switching your pillows to a sleek solid cover will calm the room down a lot.
Are you guilty of these clutter crimes?
First of all, don’t feel bad or inferior or embarrassed. Your home is YOUR home, and if you’re comfortable inside it, who cares what others think? I would never ever EVER tell someone to change their home to appease anyone else.
But if you’re intentionally making efforts to reduce the “noise” of your home and make it look and feel cleaner, this list is a good place to start.
Want more decluttering tips?
Follow me on Instagram at @lelaburris for quick and easy organizing tips and ideas. I share videos and tutorials daily so you’ll get all kinds of inspo.