You may not strive for a completely clutter-free home, but perhaps you just want things to look a little tidier. In this article we look at a variety of things that make your home look cluttered.
Tackling these will go a long way toward reaching your goals.
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Table of Contents
Common Things that make your home look cluttered
To help you get a better perspective of your home – and what makes it look cluttered – you should take a picture. Taking a picture of your rooms helps the clutter really pop out.
“Jeez, I didn’t know my fridge magnet collection looked that tacky.”
Once you identify what is making your home look cluttered, you can fix it and establish the habits that will prevent this in the future.
That’s the good thing about clutter…you made it so you can remove it. Decluttering is popular because it works, but you need to develop the habit of doing it all the time. And you’ll have to get your family members on board too.
You’ll probably notice that many of these clutter issues are due to buying too much stuff, or buying too much stuff for your place and having no where to store it.
You probably don’t have all these issues, but these are some of the common culprits that can make your home look cluttered.
Smothering the outside of your fridge in magnets, artwork, and various pieces of paper can make your kitchen look cluttered.
It can be hard to go through the art and magnets to decide what to keep, but I know you can do it.
And it’ll be worth it.
Dirty Dishes in plain sight
This is a little thing that can make a big difference in how tidy your kitchen looks.
Dirty dishes on the counter, in the sink, or “soaking” on the stove can make your kitchen look cluttered and dirty.
Some people get in the habit of washing their dishes right after a meal or loading them into the dishwasher right after use.
Too much stuff on your kitchen counter
Can you barely see your kitchen counter top?
Excess items strewn on the kitchen counter is a common thing that makes a kitchen look cluttered.
Take a subjective look at your kitchen counter; can some of that stuff on there be put elsewhere or thrown out?
More small kitchen appliances than a department store showroom
Do you regularly buy the latest kitchen gadget? If so, are they all over your counter?
Is there somewhere else like a cabinet or closet where you can store your little-used appliances?
We converted a coat closet into a pantry closet and built a shelf dedicated to storing little kitchen appliances.
Do you have a cabinet or a drawer you could store your small kitchen appliances out of sight?
Not dealing with recycling right away
This is one we’re guilty of.
In our area we have a blue bin for most of our recycling, but plastic wraps and bags don’t go in there. They need to be separated.
These different recycling materials can make the kitchen look cluttered if they aren’t dealt with right away.
We bought two of the SORTERA stacking plastic bins from IKEA to help organize our plastic recycling. But they are quite large, so we keep them out in the carport. We need to get in the habit of taking the plastic from our kitchen to the carport more regularly.
If we had a larger kitchen I’d like to get a dual compartment recycling bin like the one in the picture above…it’s a highly-rated bin from the company simplehuman.
Too much stuff on the exposed top of kitchen cabinets
If your kitchen cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling, you’ve probably got in the habit of putting stuff up there.
That’s fine, it can work well to hold stuff, but if you’re like me, you’ve put A LOT of stuff up there.
And don’t be surprised if it makes your kitchen look cluttered. Go through the stuff up there. When did you use it last? Do you still need it? If so, is there another place you could store it?
Eclectic and visible non-matching spice jars
This is a bit of a finnicky one, but having a bunch of spices in non-matching containers and different colored labels can make your kitchen look cluttered…if they’re visible.
If you have this going on in your kitchen, you may want to check out our article on Spice Storage Ideas. I bet one of those ideas will help you.
Cluttered Dining Room Table
Many busy families nowadays don’t have a proper family meal together. In fact, this article from Harvard states that approximately 70% of families don’t eat together regularly.
There are many variables that may cause this, but one consequence is that dining room tables are not regularly being cleaned off in preparation of a meal.
Is your dining room table covered in stuff?
Exposed Electric Cords
Power cords and other wires dangling down behind your TV or behind your home office desk can make these spaces look cluttered.
You can get cord covers like the one above from the company ZhiYo to help cover this cordy clutter.
Covered Coffee Table
Once again it comes down to too many things on a surface. If you can barely tell what color your coffee table is because you’ve got so much stuff on it, it’s time to tackle that project.
You can get cute baskets or bins to store your remote controls, glasses, and coasters. And you can probably a find better spot for the rest of the stuff. Below is a picture of a well-rated lazy susan remote control holder that’ll help tidy up your coffee table.
To see more remote control holders, you should check out our article dedicated to this.
Paper Clutter on Flat Surfaces
Having paper piles on your home office desk, tables or counters can make the space look messy.
For suggestions on how to deal with these paper piles, check out our article on how to reduce paper clutter.
Too much Furniture packed into a small room
We like to see open space when we enter a room. Too much furniture can make the room feel pressing and imposing.
Think about your needs for that room. Do you really need that much furniture? Do all the seats and couches get used enough to warrant them taking up the floor space?
Furniture that is too large for the room
Do you have a massive sectional couch jammed into a small living room? Or a big kitchen table wedged into a small space?
Just like having too much furniture in a room, having too large of furniture for the room can make that room seem smaller and cluttered.
Need more help from your family? Try one of these PDF free printable chore charts
Tons of throw pillows
Your living room can look cluttered when you have too many throw pillows on your couch, love seat or recliners.
I have seen pictures where this is done well – the pillow colors complimented each other and the color of the couch and it looked cozy – but if they don’t match or complement, it can look cluttered.
Clashing patterns and stripes can distract the eye and create visual clutter.
Overstuffed Book cases
You have a nice collection of books. That’s cool.
But having a stuffed bookcase can make that room look cluttered. So unless you have a dedicated library room in your house, you may want to thin your collection or start to store some of the books out of sight.
Dry, non-humid places where you could store your books out of sight include:
- under your bed in totes
- in your closet
- under the stairs (if it is dry and not humid down there)
Walls covered in family photos (especially narrow hallways)
It is great to be proud of your family and want to display their photos, but a wall smeared in picture frames can look jumbled and messy.
Stuffed shoe racks – More shoes than a shoe store
Is your shoe rack overflowing with shoes?
How many shoes do you need out and visible at one time?
To help make your front entryway look less cluttered you could try storing some of your shoes in other, out of sight spots.
Perhaps you could store some of your shoes in your closet, or in a hanging shoe organizer behind a door.
Need help storing your shoes? Check out these Shoe Rack Ideas for inspiration.
Covered foyer table or command center
You may be in the habit of tossing papers and junk mail on the table or stand in your entryway.
This may seem like a good place to put it – at least initially while you take your shoes off – but then you need to deal with it right away or risk it sitting there piling up.
And if you empty your pockets onto the top of the foyer table it can look cluttered too.
You could try getting a valet tray like the one below to act as a “catchall” for the stuff in your pockets. (Then make sure to deal with the stuff in there so it doesn’t become a part of the problem.)
Overflowing open shelving
Open shelves in the kitchen, living room or bathroom looks so great in magazines and on decor websites.
But those staged shots are probably a far cry from what you got going on at home.
A couple of well-placed baskets or bins on the shelf will usually look better than a bunch of random stuff scattered about.
Too many knick-knacks
Are all of your living room shelves filled with knick-knacks and decorative pieces?
A few can add your style to a room, but too many will make your living room look cluttered and stuffy.
Go through them and see which ones you’re willing to part with.
Or you could try a rotating display schedule like a museum or gallery does.
Put some of the stuff away and only display certain decor pieces at a time. For instance, this month could be porcelain ducks and then next month, put the ducks away and bring out the windmill decor.
Toys all around the house
If you have younger children then you’ve probably got toys in your house.
And you may even have toys all over your house.
If your child has lots of stuffed animals, you may appreciate our article on Stuffed Animal Storage Ideas to give you ideas on how to store all those teddy bears.
Stuff on the floor
Having too much stuff on the floor can make a room look messy and cluttered.
This can happen in every room in the house.
Have you ever picked everything up off the floor then vacuumed or mopped, and when you’re done you look at it and say, “That looks so much better!”.
We’ve all done this. And that goes to show that a room looks better without stuff all over the floor.
A clean floor reminds me of white space in a document. You need that white space on the paper or web page to make it look inviting and welcoming.
Lots of area rugs
An area rug can be a good way to make your feet feel warmer, but if your floor looks like a patchwork quilt of area rugs, it can make your room look cluttered.
Can you replace some smaller rugs with one larger one?
Stuff on your stairs
This is similar to stuff on the floor, but it deserves its own heading.
So, often we find things that belong on another level of our house.
But instead of just walking the stairs to bring it there we leave it on the stairs for our “next trip” up or down.
If you’re like me though, judging by the amount of stuff I have piled on the stairs, you’d think I haven’t been upstairs in years.
Pet toys and pet stuff scattered around
The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that almost 57% of American households own pets. (Reference)
And if you’re a pet-owner you know that along with the animal comes “stuff.”
Stuff to feed it, stuff to groom it, toys that it plays with and so on.
Have a look around your house and see if the stuff associated with owning your animal is starting to own you.
Can you put some of this pet stuff away somewhere else?
An unmade bed can make your whole bedroom look messy
Is there any other chore you can do that only takes seconds to do yet makes the entire room look better?
Making your bed in the morning pays off.
Tons of stuff on your nightstands
Can you see the surface of your nightstand or bedside table?
If you have lots of books, magazines, and other stuff piled up on your nightstand, it can make your bedroom look cluttered.
(This is true with other table tops and surfaces in your house too.)
Making your bed and removing clutter from your nightstands can go a long way toward improving the tidiness of your room.
Laundry Baskets all over the bedroom
If you have laundry baskets in plain view filled with clothes in various stages of the washing cycle (from dirty to clean & folded) in your bedroom, it can make your room look messy.
This is partly because these baskets are probably all over your floor and bed.
Try to get in the habit of doing your laundry, then folding your clothes and putting them away right away. Putting the clothes away doesn’t take long and you’ll thank yourself later.
Overstuffed dresser drawers unable to close
If your dresser drawers won’t close because they are overstuffed with clothes it can make your bedroom look untidy.
Plus, it likely hints at a bigger issue: you probably have too many clothes.
Or your dresser drawers are too narrow for your needs.
So you could look into donating of some of your clothes, storing them elsewhere (such as in your closet), or buying a dresser that is better suited to your needs.
Clothes on the floor in your laundry room or all over your bedroom
Do you end up with dirty clothes on your laundry room floor because the washer was too full for your full load?
Then before you know it, those clothes stay there for a week or more.
Not a good look.
Now check out your bedroom. Do you have clothes draped over everything and piled in weird, random spots? If so, wash the dirty clothes and put away the clean clothes.
Things that are out of place
People that have a cluttered and messy house often suffer from lack of follow-through.
An item gets set down in different spot “temporarily”, but it just sits there. It doesn’t make it to its designated place for days or weeks.
Scan your rooms. Is there things in that room that clearly don’t belong there?
In her book, “Organizing for the Rest of Us,” author Dana K. White says to think about the first place you’d think to look for that item if you needed it. Then go put that item there.
Thanks very much for checking out this article.
So, do you agree with this list of things that can make your home look cluttered?
Are there other things I should add?
53 clever Closet Storage Ideas (goes a long way toward tidying up your bedroom)