Maximizing Minimalism: Clear Clutter for a Tidy Home

Use these tips and ideas to clear clutter and preserve your sanity.

  • When it comes to the living room, choose decor that doubles as storage. Instead of hanging art, fill that blank wall with shelving that can house books, plants and baskets filled with hard-to-display items.
    Photo By Thomas Gibson
  • Inserting drawer dividers and small storage containers can help keep small office items such as thumbtacks, paper clips and stamps organized.
    Photo By Thomas Gibson

Imagine walking in the door at the end of a long day to an orderly, tidy home, where everything is in its place. Does that sound like heaven? It doesn’t have to be unattainable. Your home and your housekeeping routine should be manageable and lend you peace of mind, not act as a source of stress. Unfortunately, rather than feeling replenished by their abodes, many American families battle chaos at home, and usually for one major reason: Too much stuff. A 2012 study by the UCLA Center on Everyday Lives of Families found that managing clutter is a crushing problem in many homes.

In fact, clutter can even be a health concern, raising mothers’ stress hormone levels. (Interestingly, it does not appear to have the same effect on men.) Clutter is insidious. It can creep into our homes, slowly accumulating until it is difficult to clear the dining room table or make a walkable path up the stairs. But we can control our stuff rather than letting our stuff control us. Here, we offer a few ideas for keeping things where they belong. (For more decluttering tips, read Weekend Project: Clear Clutter!.) If your belongings just don’t fit into your home, consider purging things you don’t use—you’ll be happier and healthier for it.

Clear Clutter in the Kitchen

Clear Fridge, Clear Mind: The UCLA study found that one single space in a family’s home was the best indicator of how cluttered the entire home would be: the front of the refrigerator door. The amount of clutter on the fridge door was directly related to the amount of clutter in the rest of the home—and its residents’ lives. Therefore, it may make sense to start your decluttering mission by clearing your fridge door.

Tool Time: Assess your kitchen’s contents with a critical eye. Identify essentials, and donate the rest. Get rid of multiples of tools and resist single-use appliances that eat up storage space.

Open Up: In many cases, it’s easy to convert kitchen cabinets to open shelving, and it can help declutter your kitchen. When you can see everything on those kitchen shelves, you’re more likely to eliminate junk and keep only beautiful dishes you enjoy using daily.

Living Room

Storage Style: When it comes to décor, consider incorporating beautiful storage areas. Rather than a piece of art on that blank wall, put up a bookshelf. You can house books, records and photo albums (and just about anything else if it’s hidden in a bin or basket) on the bottom shelves, and reserve the top shelves for family photos, framed postcards or decorative items.

11/25/2014 8:48:18 AM

Oh! I keep lipstick in the freezer, because of the humidity where we live. Making lipstick possible to "survive" for as long as the tube lasts.

11/25/2014 8:46:42 AM

I'm afraid that when I first read the article name, I thought to myself;"I have a 13 year old.She can declutter." Yet that's what we have been doing. Ours is a 2 teenagers and one early twenty, plus grandma, & mom family.I'm trying to figure out how ONLY the 13 year old & myself have high blood pressure over the trash piles.{I consider stuff that is as old as ANY of the living family members to be past clutter and now categorize it as trash.} This article was serendipitous as said 13 year old & I started to tackle NEVER GIVE IT UP last evening.With any luck, it will be done by Wednesday, so we can than can enjoy making and building our outdoor Christmas decorating.

4/10/2014 9:59:34 AM

Taking the doors off of kitchen cabinets is not a good idea. This will allow dirt and dust to cover the dishes, making it necessary to wash them again before using them.

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