You’ve cleaned your house. You have spent your nights and weekends organizing your stuff. No matter what you seem to do, the excess stuff is making your house look cluttered. All the time and energy you’ve put into organizing your clutter never solves the underlying problem.
The upfront time it takes to become a minimalist has put you off the idea for now. Instead, you want practical solutions to make your house look less cluttered immediately. I got you.
Decluttering your space can start as an illusion and gradually move towards actual minimizing. Once you start to see the results of a clutter free space hopefully it will inspire you to keep down the path of becoming a minimalist.
Here are 17 things that may be contributing to making your house look cluttered:
#1 Decorative Items
Just because a space is empty does not mean it needs to be filled. While a few well-chosen decorative items can add personality to a room, too many can make a space look cluttered and overwhelming.
Often times decorative items go from tasteful to tacky because a person begins to consider that style a part of their personality. Your dragonfly admiration for example may go from a few pieces to every item in the room depicting a dragonfly.
#2 Too Much Furniture
Honesty about how you actually use rooms can help you plan your space effectively. If you haven’t used your drafting table or piano in decades, they don’t deserve to take up your physical space.
A room with too much furniture will feel cramped and cluttered. Consider removing unnecessary pieces or downsizing the scale of the furniture.
#3 Cluttered Surfaces
Surfaces like coffee tables, dressers, and mantels can easily become cluttered with permanent items becoming intermixed with stuff you just needed to put down. Flat surfaces are such a slippery slope in homes because they accumulate clutter like it’s their job.
Use whatever imagery makes it easiest to avoid putting items on flat surfaces. I like to imagine every surface being covered with spikes but you can picture every flat space being sticky or wet or covered in lava. Prevent your surfaces from being dumping grounds for items you want to delay dealing with properly.
#4 Pillow Overload
If decorative pillows render entire seating spaces on your couch, loveseat, or chairs useless, you’re using them wrong. While they can add comfort and style to a room, too many can make a space feel cluttered.
You shouldn’t need to remove all non-functional pillows to prepare your bed for sleeping. If a pillow is not serving a functional purpose than it is hindering your ability to live. There is no ascetic value that is worth wasting your own time and heightening your stress level of your future self.
#5 Knick Knacks
Societies obsession with a chachki can make a minimalists brain explode. There is no way small items like picture frames, trinkets, and figurines won’t make your house look cluttered.
Every place you visit or even worse, every place everyone you know has ever visited does not need to be represented on your mantle. Small knick-knacks often get a pass because they are part of a collection. The term “collection” is a blanket term that hides the real reason you’re unwilling to let go.
#6 Plants Everywhere
Many minimalists end up becoming plant owners during their journey. More power to you. If caring for something and focusing your energy on keeping it alive makes you feel good, that is exactly the goal of minimalism.
While plants can be a great addition to a space, turning your place into a jungle can make a house look cluttered and overwhelming. Everything is about balance including your inclination to have vegetation around you.
#7 Incorrect Storage
Most people take storage space into consideration as they look for a place to live. A house can have ample storage but your stuff still feels cluttered because it’s not storage suited to your items.
Enough storage and the right storage are two entirely separate concepts. You can go to a small apartment that feels more spacious because they got the correct storage items to satisfy their items.
#8 Lacking Natural Light
I love sleeping in a room with no natural light, blackout shades are a must have for me. But, a room with poor lighting can feel cluttered and dingy. At least during the day make sure to have plenty of natural light coming in.
#9 No Empty Spaces
That corner doesn’t need a table, behind the couch doesn’t need a table, next to the door doesn’t need a table. You don’t have to fill every nook and cranny of your home with stuff. Embrace empty spaces.
The story you tell yourself about a space can influence how much you fill it.You think if the perfect rocking chair goes into the corner of your bedroom that it will make an ideal reading corner. But where are you really going to read? In bed? On an airplane on the way home for Christmas? At the sports field while your child is practicing soccer? The made up version of your life where you read in a rocking chair during all that free time of yours is not happening.
#10 Too Many Rugs
At some point a memo went out about rugs being perfect for defining spaces. But, large rugs are very expensive. So people started using multiple rugs where only one should be used.
The rug in your living room should go all the way under your sofa and the one under your dining table should be large enough that when the chairs slide out the rug is still under them.
#11 Excessive Wall Decor
Visible clutter takes no greater form than covering your walls with stuff. Now let me be clear, I used to basically wallpaper my room with Tiger Beat posters so I’ve done a 180 on this topic.
Ditch the outdated sign that says “FAMILY” next to your photo wall. We know that we “EAT” food from the kitchen, a sign doesn’t need to inform us of that. Don’t hang cute images of puppies or faraway destinations on a blank wall. If you want a dog or to travel to the pyramids, put an image on your vision board.
#12 Too Much Color
An interior designer doesn’t need to weigh in on your color choices to know when it’s a visual mess. Minimalist design does not need to be monotone but it should be cohesive.
Stick to a couple core colors per room and make an effort to stay either warm or cold in tone.
#13 Not Enough Color
On the flip side, you can really make a room feel suffocating by keeping it twenty shades of beige. There is a certain era of house where walls and trim and doors are all various shades of mis-matching ivory or eggshell or taupe. It’s a visual mess.
Neutral with splashes of color is perfectly minimalist if you want it to be.
#14 Lack of Symmetry
Creating a sense of calm through symmetry is an easy way to make your home feel more minimalist. Colors in equal proportions on both sides of the fireplace or furniture of equal size flanking the television.
Areas don’t have to be a mirror image of each other to feel symmetrical within the space.
#15 Floor Space Clutter
Shoes scattered near the entry or toys forgotten on the way down the hall can make your house look cluttered even when it’s relatively clean. Many times these kinds of clutter exist because you lack the proper storage for those items.
Don’t blame family members in the case that it’s all the kids fault. Instead investigate how you can make putting those items away less difficult. Removing resistance makes it easier for everyone to do their part in keeping the space tidy.
#16 Dirty Dishes
Kitchens, which are used daily, tend to stay cluttered. You have enough dishes to make it through another meal without fully dealing with the mess from yesterday. So the cycle continues day after day with a partial mess staying at all times.
Clean up dishes to keep your kitchen feeling clutter-free. Doing the dishes reduces the likelihood of delaying other necessary clean up tasks.
#17 Unmade Beds
This never has been a concern of mine until moving to Tokyo. My bedroom is so small in Tokyo that an un-made bed is visually the only thing I would see. Create a space you wouldn’t need to run and tidy up if a random visitor popped by and wanted to see your bedroom.
Decluttering Your House
Taking action on these 17 ideas will stop your house from looking cluttered. Creating a calm space has a monumental impact on your mental health and future happiness.