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15 Things That Make Your Home Look Cluttered

15 Things That Make Your Home Look Cluttered

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Creating a serene and organized home environment can sometimes feel like a daunting task, especially when clutter seems to accumulate so easily. Despite our best efforts, certain items and habits can make our living spaces feel chaotic and overwhelming.

From overflowing closets to piles of mail, these seemingly small issues can significantly impact the overall ambiance of your home.

So let’s explore 15 common culprits that contribute to a cluttered look and feel in your home. By identifying and addressing these problem areas, you can transform your living space into a more harmonious and functional space.

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How Clutter Impacts Mental Health

When you live in an environment that is consistently messy or disorganized, it can have a negative impact on your mental health. Even if your home is generally tidy, you might overlook smaller areas of clutter. However, these minor clutter spots can still impact your mental well-being.

Living with disorganization in your space can bring on feelings such as stress, anxiety, and fatigue. It can cloud your mind, and cause de-motivation in other areas of your life. So it’s pretty important to keep your home as clutter-free as possible.

15 Things That Make Your Home Look Cluttered

There are plenty of things in a home that can contribute to mess and disorganization. Some things are more obvious, like piles of clean laundry on the sofa or clean dishes drying on the sink.

Then there are the less obvious things that you may not have thought of when it comes time to clean and tidy your space. Let’s go through 15 of the most common things that make your home look cluttered.

1. Unsorted Mail and Paperwork

Even if you’ve gone paperless, it’s likely that you’re still receiving stacks of mail every month. But when it’s mail you can’t discard, like bills that are due, it ends up accumulating in piles by the front door or on the kitchen countertop.

It starts with a few paper bills, then the area quickly becomes a deconstructed filing cabinet.The pile never shrinks, and gets more and more unruly as time goes by.

How to Organize It

Go through your accumulated collection of documents and take photos of any bills with your phone. Add them to a folder named “Bills to Pay” and set a calendar reminder for the due date or date you want to pay it.

Get the receipt sent to your email once paid, then delete the image from your phone.

Or to simplify it, you can use an app like BillOut.

Then get a file organizer or desktop cabinet that keeps unruly paperwork neat and tidy.

2. Too Many Throw Pillows

While throw pillows can be a good way to decorate your living space, you can also have too much of a good thing. Trying to achieve a comfortable, cozy lounge environment with excessive throw cushions can leave the space looking over-crowded and messy.

The use of too many throw pillows while relaxing on your sofa can also be suffocating. So instead of feeling calm and at ease in your space, you feel overwhelmed.

How to Organize It

Less is usually more when it comes to decorating, particularly in spaces that are in use the most. So for throw pillows, have a few scattered around your sofa, but you want to make sure you can still see your sofa underneath.

Choose colors that are complementary and go for only one or two accent cushions with patterns, depending on the size of your space. Then choose solid block colors for the rest.

3. Excessive Knick-Knacks

As just mentioned, less is more when decorating your home. Although they’re often of sentimental value, most knick-knacks have no purpose besides dust-collecting — professional house cleaners’ worst enemies.

They can make a surface look and feel cluttered and untidy. And because they can be difficult to keep dust-free, they can also make a home look dirty.

How to Organize It

The best way to organize these is to put away most, if not all knick-knacks into a sealed box where they can remain safe and clean. But the reality is, we want some of our knick-knacks on display.

If you can stand to put any in storage out of sight, then do so. For the remaining pieces, clean them and put them into a display cabinet with doors so they don’t get dusty.

4. Unmade Beds

One very simple habit that is beneficial for mental health and contributes to a tidy, uncluttered environment is making the bed. According to ex-Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven and author of “Make the Bed,” there are ten principles to follow that can set you up for success. Making the bed is one of them.

An unmade bed can leave you subconsciously feeling unprepared and unmotivated to face the day ahead. And it also makes your bedroom look cluttered and messy.

How to Organize It

If you tend to skip making the bed in the morning, it could be that your bedding is complicated. If you’ve got several layers and throw pillows, it can be annoying to make the bed everyday.

So that you make the bed every morning without hesitation, remove these obstacles. Get rid of throw cushions and layers of blankets, and simplify your bedding. Have one cover sheet, one duvet or blanket, and just the pillows you sleep with so it’s a fast and simple task that takes less than 10 seconds of your time each morning.

5. Appliances on Countertops

If you’ve ever tried cooking in a cluttered kitchen, you’ll know that it can sometimes feel frustrating to not have all the space you need. Storing appliances on your kitchen countertop can make a kitchen look and feel cluttered and messy.

How to Organize It

If you’ve got enough storage space to put appliances away, then great! Put them away and just bring them out when you need them.

Quite often we do have the space, but we’ve accumulated so much stuff and haven’t organized things so storage space is wasted. So go through your kitchen cupboards and pantry and take note of any cluttered areas. Then use this as your opportunity to organize your cupboards.

Put the most-used appliances in the easiest-accessed cupboards towards the front, and least used at the very back of the harder-to-reach cupboards.

If you don’t have enough storage in your kitchen, you could invest in a storage island, or move any unused or least-used appliances to other areas in your home, like the laundry, living room, or office cupboard.

6. Clean Laundry Piles

Folding laundry is one of those chores that most of us avoid until it’s absolutely necessary. And even then, it’s sometimes just easier to pick your outfit from a pile of clean laundry on your armchair or dining table.

It’s not a surprise that piles of unfolded laundry can make your home look messy and unkempt. And it can make us feel overwhelmed and unmotivated when it’s staring us in the face everyday screaming “Fold me! Fold me!”

How to Organize It

If you’re like me, you’ll always manage to “find” the time to watch an episode or two of your favorite show, but then tell yourself you’re way too busy to fold laundry. What nonsense.

The hack to completing the tasks that you keep putting off, look into habit pairing or stacking. It’s where you combine an activity that you dislike doing with something you enjoy doing to make the task you dislike more achievable and more likely to get done.

Talking to a friend on the phone while walking. Listening to your favorite podcast while vacuuming. Or, of course, watching your favorite show while folding laundry. It turns those dreaded chores into something you’ll actually look forward to doing.

7. Tangled Cords and Cables

If there’s one thing I am grateful for, it’s the advancement in wireless technology. But we still have a long way to go, as we mount our big-screen TVs and set up our professional home offices.

Most of us know that unsightly cables and cords can turn even the most tidy space into a disheveled mess. And it can also become a tripping hazard, not great for little feet, pets, and the elderly.

How to Organize It

There are a ton of options out there for cord organization. From minimalist cable boxes, to cable covers, and cable shelving, there are options for every budget and layout you can imagine.

You may also need to invest in different power strip designs. There are so many options these days for just about any configuration.

8. Too-Large Furniture Pieces

Most of us are not interior designers, so a common faux pas many of us are guilty of is having too-large pieces of furniture in our home. Large sofas, armchairs, dining tables, and side boards can quickly clutter a living area.

If you're renting, are planning to move, or have just moved into a new place, replacing furniture can be expensive. But if you find your furniture is too bulky for your space, it just might be worth it for your mental health.

How to Organize It

Less is more with furniture, especially if you don’t have a lot of space. So try to minimize your pieces.

Opt for a three-seater sofa instead of a three-piece sofa set or sectional. Choose delicate mid-century style accents over heavy wooden furniture.

Purge some of your items that are stored in side boards, buffets, and shelving so you can downsize or remove the furniture completely from your space.

9. Entrance Clutter

When you enter your home, the automatic thing for many is to remove shoes and coats, place any keys and accessories on the console table, and store umbrellas by the door. Over time, the front entrance can start to resemble a Macy’s after a tornado.

Having an untidy entryway will give your visitors the impression that your home is also messy, even though it may not be. And if every time you enter your home you’re met with piles of shoes and clutter, it can cause subconscious negative feelings.

How to Organize It

One of the easiest ways to declutter an entryway is to invest in a shoe storage cabinet and a console table with drawers. Or you can get one that has both, or an entryway storage cabinet with hooks and shoe storage.

Besides hiding the clutter, try to make an effort to not leave most items at the entrance. Things like jackets and umbrellas easily clutter a space.

10. Overloaded Bookshelves

Bookshelves are often a room’s focal point, but when cluttered, they can make a space look messy and chaotic. This visual noise not only impacts the room's appearance but also affects your mental well-being, making it harder to focus and relax.

Physical clutter often leads to mental clutter, creating low-level stress and a sense of overwhelm. In contrast, a well-organized bookshelf promotes calm and order, contributing to a more peaceful mind.

How to Organize It

The best way to declutter a bookshelf is to remove some of the books. You can put them away in boxes, or donate the books you’ve already read to your local library.

You can buy a bigger bookshelf or one with storage underneath, keeping the extra books out of sight, but still within arm’s reach. Or you can get storage cubes to put some or all books out of sight.

11. Half-Empty Toiletries

One area in the home prone to clutter is the bathroom. The amount of cosmetic and toiletry products one person uses throughout an entire year is considerable, and these containers can easily accumulate over the months.

Often we won’t throw bottles away because they have a little bit of product left in the bottom. But instead of using every last drop, we buy a new bottle, pushing the almost-finished bottle to the back of the abyss and adding to the clutter.

How to Organize It

If you’re shaking a bottle and nothing’s coming out, say your goodbyes and toss it in the trash. Or, use this hack to get it all out before opening a new bottle.

Another way to reduce the containers in your bathroom is to choose zero-waste and plastic-free products. Good old soap and shampoo bars are a fantastic way to reduce the clutter in your bathroom.

12. Toy Overload

Every parent knows the struggle of keeping your home clutter-free from toys. The constant changing of minds and latest obsessions make it hard to keep track of which toys your kids are playing with and which ones are just making a mess.

In an already chaotic commotion of kids, toy clutter can drive a parent to insanity with the visible pollution.Not only that, it’s also a trip hazard.

How to Organize It

One of the best pieces of advice I read in a mother’s support group is, when your kids get a new toy, they get rid of an old toy. So they never accumulate more.

But first, you’ll want to remove all the toys that they no longer play with. Place them all into a storage container with a lid and label them with the age group they are suitable for. That way, if you’ve got more children, you can pull the whole box out when they reach that age bracket.

Then store them in the attic or garage. Or you can always donate them to either a toy library, family and friends, or kids in need.

For the remaining toys, I keep a woven basket in the living room and a toy basket in bedroom to quickly toss toys into when I want to tidy up.

13. Kitchen Drying Rack

Another area that can often look like a cluttered eyesore is the kitchen sink’s drying rack. We’re all guilty of air drying dishes and pots after hand washing them instead of towel drying them and putting them away.

But the kitchen is one of the main living areas and is a space people see first and often when they come into your home. So keeping the sink clutter-free helps with the overall aesthetics of your kitchen and feels good when you need to cook.

How to Organize It

The most obvious way here is to dry dishes straight away and put them away. Choose high-quality kitchen towels that wick away moisture and dry fast so they don’t get stinky.

Another way is to get rid of your bulk drying tray and get a minimalist dish drying tray that doesn’t look cluttered.

Or if your kitchen allows for it, invest in a Finnish dish drying cabinet that keeps your drying dishes off the countertop and out of sight.

14. Open Shelving for Storage

Open storage shelves are great for keeping all your things off the floor, but having full visibility of your items can make a room look cluttered. It can also feel busy and cramped.

Shelving is typically used in living rooms and bedrooms, which is where we want to unwind and relax. But when cluttered storage shelves are staring you in the face, it can have the opposite effect.

How to Organize It

Before you organize your things, be sure to purge any items you no longer need or want to keep. Donate, sell, and toss things in the trash.

Then similar to the bookshelves, you can get some storage cubes to hide items. This is the easiest and inexpensive way. Or you can invest in a sideboard with drawers or cupboards that keep your belongings behind closed doors.    

15. Unsorted Recycling and Trash

If you live in a city, then you likely have curbside pickup for trash, recycling, and green waste. You may even compost your food scraps.

All of this is fantastic for the environment, but if you don’t have proper systems in place, your kitchen can look like a garbage dump.

How to Organize It

You’ll want to create a system with allocated bins for waste, recycling, and compost in your kitchen. You can get a trash cabinet or a three-compartment trash can 

If you don’t have the space, you can store these somewhere nearby your kitchen. Perhaps in your laundry or just outside the back door.

Declutter Your Home for Your Mental Health

These are just a few common culprits that can make your home look cluttered, though many others exist. The connection between clutter and mental health issues is clear, emphasizing the importance of keeping your spaces tidy and free from unnecessary items.

To maintain a clutter-free home, regularly purge excess items, store belongings out of sight, and embrace minimalist principles. These steps will help create a more relaxed and calming living environment that you can really enjoy.

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