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Dealing with Visual Clutter

Our home is one place we want to be able to sit and relax. We want it to be our sanctuary, a place of peace where we end our days. Having visual clutter at home does the exact opposite. It ends up being a constant reminder that our work is never done. That we aren’t ready to relax. Therefore we can never reach that calm. Now I don’t mean we need to have a picture perfect home, just one that wont make us feel overwhelmed at the sight of it. I have a few key tips i use myself to help keep the clutter out and the peace in.

 

Wicker basket being used as a garbage can in our foyer

1: A Garbage Can In Each Room

This is like the queen tip to all my tips. Everything im going to mention in the next few tips link back to this tip right here. In our home there is one as soon as you walk into our foyer. We check the mail immediately and throw out anything that we don’t need. We are able to empty our pockets, throw out shopping bags, or even pick up any leaves that trailed in. Fact is if that trash can wasn’t there those leaves would stay there until I’m ready to broom. That mail would pile up on the stairs until I’m ready to sit and sort. Having that garbage can stops it before it even gets to that point and it takes minimum effort. By the time the kids have their shoes and coat off all the mail is sorted. Anything that is important gets moved onto the stairs (Our pending pile- more about this in tip #2) to be taken into the office. I have a trash can in my room & in my closet. Why two so close? The closet one is great to easily throw out clothing tags or dry cleaning bags while changing, but it is specifically there for my hubby. When he used to empty his pockets into his drawer, the garbage went in their as well. The next morning his stuff would go back into his pocket, but the garbage stayed. When that bag wasn’t there, he didn’t make the effort to walk a few steps to throw it in the trash can in our room, and i dont blame him because it took effort. He’s tired from a long day of work and is looking forward to a long night with the kids. He just wants to change, not clean. This closet trash can just makes it easier and not feel like a chore.  We even have one in the formal living room. I have fresh flowers throughout the house, especially in the formal living room and any petals that fall go right into the trash, it’s within arms reach. If guests have to use a tissue the trash is right there for them. When i was decorating for the holidays, all the wrappers went right in there. I didn’t need to make a pile to take to the trash. Even if it’s for one thing once in a blue moon. It’s worth it.

You and I both know, If you don’t have a place to throw it out, most likely what happens is you’ll put it down, forget about it & then end up passing each time thinking I need to get to that. Overtime more items will accumulate, and it just becomes a “job” to clean up the pile that could have been avoided.

Also these trash cans don’t need to be typical trash cans. They actually dont need to be trash cans at all since most likely they won’t be housing any perishables. The one in our foyer is a wicker basket, the one in our closet is just a hanging bag, and the one in our formal living room is actually a large candle holder. They all are decorative, fit into the look of each room, and keep us living clutter free.

 

Steps used as ‘Pending Area’

2:Designate A ‘Pending’ Area on each floor- Keep All Surfaces Clear

Each floor in my home has a designated spot everyone knows of where we place any items that need to be moved to their proper location. This means that any toys that belong upstairs, socks that need to be put into the hamper, or mail that needs to be moved into the office is placed here. All of these random items get placed in this designated spot. For my home its the left side of our steps on the staircase. We live in a split level home, therefore we have 4 staircases. Just by chance the left side on each of these staircases has become our pending area. Since everyone knows about these pending spots, whenever someone is going up, they take an item with them and put it where it goes. So an example: The pending area right now in our family room has a board game, my husbands socks, a few stuffed animals, a book, a container of fruit my toddler was eating (she likes to sit on the steps and eat) and a box of colored pencils. These stairs lead to our kitchen. So anytime someone goes up those steps they take a couple of things up. The container of fruit would be put in the fridge and a board game, or whatever else they can carry would move up to the next pending area which is the staircase next to our kitchen. Anytime someone goes up to the bedrooms they would take items from the second level of steps to its proper place. At the end of the night right before we head up to bed we clear the steps of anything remaining and put it all away. It might seem like it’s counter productive cluttering the stairs, but this is literally the only spot in the entire house which has things out of place. The TV table stays staged, the coffee table stays staged, the breakfast nook stays staged, the couches stay clear, the floors are clear, our dining table never has stuff laying around. Every surface is clear except that that side on each staircase, and since we clear them all before bed, we wake up to a clean clutter free home. I haven’t completely perfected this concept since I’m on the hunt for a nice basket or something to put on the stairs to house all these things, but until I find something this works really well for us. (A few posts back there is actually toilet paper which needed to be taken up on the steps caught in the picture. -_-)

Also if it’s going to be a struggle putting things away in multiple rooms from one spot then go ahead and have a pending area in each room. You can have a small basket, hand a tote on each door or even have just a small pile right by the door. Every time you enter the room put one item away. Before heading to bed go into each room and clear that area. Each person can tackle one room. Do what works for your family in deciding where these areas should be and how many you should have.

For us we all tackle the stairs as a family right before bed and are done within minutes.

 

 

Basket used to store toys my girls are currently playing with in their room
Toys categorized and separated into containers which make it easy for my 6 and 2 year old to keep organized

3: Everything Should Have a Place

To make sure tip #2 works properly everything you own needs to have a place. If something doesn’t have a place to be put away, it IS going to be left out on a surface. If you have multiples of something and dont have the room to store it- donate them. If you have gifts you received that you will never use- donate them. If you have clothes from college and now are living in the body of a mommy of three- donate them. Our families biggest struggle is with toys. We have a basket we keep in their room as well as the family room for toys that come out of their closet and they plan on playing with for a few days, when that basket starts to overflow my girls know to put some of the stuff away. Every single toy they own has a place in a closet in their room. Every Ramadan right before Eid i go through their toy closet with them and have them donate a few toys to make room for the new gifts they’ll be receiving. We also throw out toys that are no longer usable/broken. Once they do receive their gifts, if it is something they already own they have the option of donating it and we buy them a replacement gift which they will use. This prevents us from having multiples which will take up valuable storage space in our home. The first rule before purchasing or keeping anything though is we must have a place to put it. Everything needs to have a home. When everything has a home it’s super easy to clean up. My 2 year old is proof of this. She thank God puts things away on her own because it is that easy. (She won’t put things away from the pending area, but she will put them back in the toy basket, or in the individual containers i have them stored in-pictured above, we put them in their proper place from there.)

 

All white dinnerware/ serverware makes it great for daily use and formal dinners

4: Own Less

This tip goes hand in hand with tip #3. See what areas you struggle with. Is it your wardrobe? Dinner sets and kitchen appliances? Electronic? Paper clutter? Toys? Find everything a home and get rid of what doesn’t fit. Once you let go and see how easy staying clutter free is. It gets kind of addicting. We really dont need that much stuff, and it really does feel so good to let go. As weird as it sounds, I feel like i can breath better owning less stuff. It’s less stuff to organize, less stuff to clean, less stuff to put away.

Try to have items that serve mutiple purposes. Have you heard of a capsule wardrobe? The same idea can be applied to your home. Ive decided on an all white dinnerware/ server ware set. Its not really a premade set. I purchased items as I needed them. Since it’s all white its easy to find items and it matches everything. I dont need multiples in different colors. A white tureen works for soups, stews, and anything else you can think of. We use our white plates and bowls for daily use, and dress them up with nice place mats (also white) for when guests come over. I do the same thing with our bedding. Each room has two white sheet sets we rotate between and a third unused one i keep for emergencies. These match any seasonal decor. They can be dressed up or down, and whats best is i only need 3 per room!

Do you have any tips and tricks to keep your home clutter free and organized? I’m always on the hunt for new ideas to make my home maker life easier so please share!

 

 

 

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