Do you ever wonder how to maintain a decluttered home? Here are a few surprising secrets I’ve learned about how to clear the clutter for good.
When I decided to write this blog post, I started by taking a good look around my home.
While I’m certainly not an extreme minimalist, I do live comfortably in 660 square feet with my husband and two young children. We own toys and books, and many other things that add value to our lives, but it’s all easily managed.
My home doesn’t look like a magazine, but it feels perfectly decluttered to me. It’s easy to clean, everything has its place, and I love walking through the front door. It’s like a breath of fresh air after a long day.
If you’re looking to create your own version of a minimalist home, there here are some decluttering “secrets” that you might find useful (and perhaps even surprising!). These are things that help me maintain a clutter-free living space, and I’m hopeful they will help you to do the same.
How Can I Make My House Clutter-Free?
In this post, I’ll be sharing seven practical decluttering tips—but it’s also important to acknowledge that living with less requires a mindset shift. If you don’t change how you think about stuff, you’ll struggle to live clutter-free in the long-term.
I explain how to create this shift in my free guide, Mindful Decluttering. You can get your copy by subscribing below, and as a bonus, you’ll also get my newsletter with tips, stories and special offers. (But don’t worry, you can unsubscribe at any time and still keep your free guide!)
7 Surprising Secrets of a Clutter-Free Home
1. HAVE LESS STORAGE SPACE, NOT MORE
I know this might shock a lot of people because it seems like everyone is obsessed with increasing storage—but stick with me on this one.
After many years of minimalist living, I’ve learned that your “stuff” will almost always expand to fill the space available.
Think of it this way: imagine you have a shoe rack with two shelves. It easily fits six pairs of shoes, and that feels like enough … until you buy a bigger shoe rack. Now you have space for three more pairs, and you find yourself shopping for new shoes.
Of course, you can work on resisting these urges, but if you’re decluttering and need help, then reducing your storage can have a significant impact. When you physically limit the space available, you have no choice but to reduce the clutter in your home.
CREATE THE HABIT OF CHOOSING ONE LESS
Coco Chanel famously said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Of course, she was talking about fashion, but you can apply the same principles to your home.
Look at your all your surfaces: your kitchen counters, your bookshelves, your bedside tables. Could you improve the space by decluttering just one thing?
I think everyone can benefit from this tip, but it’s especially helpful for beginners. If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of decluttering or you don’t know where to start, give this a try.
ABANDON THE “ONE IN, ONE OUT” RULE
Many minimalists swear by the “one in, one out” rule, which goes as follows: every time you bring something new into your house, declutter something similar.
It sounds good in theory but to be honest, I don’t like it and here’s why—it gives you permission to keep buying more. You can make mindless purchases guilt-free because you’ll just “declutter something” when you get home.
This is often a bandaid solution. You might achieve your desired results in the short-term, but in the long-term, you haven’t learned how to live with less. You’re still stuck in the mindset of needing “more” to be happy instead of appreciating what you already have.
Of course, feel free to keep practising “one in, one out” if it works for you, but my point is to be careful (especially if you’re new to minimalism or you struggle to stop shopping).
Don’t let this “rule” permit you to stay stuck in a pattern of overconsumption because eventually, your clutter will catch up with you. Focus on buying less in the first place and practice “zero in, one out” instead.
Related Post: 6 Tips on How to Stop Mindless Shopping
EVERYTHING HAS A HOME
OK—this tip probably isn’t a “secret”, but it’s important, so I’m going to mention it anyway. If you want a decluttered home, everything you own must have a specific place where it’s kept.
It’s not just about being tidy (although it certainly helps!). It’s also about knowing the purpose of your stuff. If you don’t know where it goes, it’s probably because you don’t really need it.
Here’s a simple example: I like to save string and ribbon from packaging for re-use.
I know exactly where I keep these ribbons (in a small box in my hall closet) and exactly what I use them for (craft projects and gift wrapping). They’re not “clutter” because they serve a purpose and I actually USE them.
But what if these ribbons didn’t have a home? What if I didn’t know what I was going to use them for and instead, kept them “just in case”?
Well, odds are I’d never get around to using them. Instead, they’d only be taking up space and cluttering my home. It’s a subtle but important difference.
Side Note: When everything has a place, there’s the added benefit of creating limits. The box where I store my ribbons is small, so I don’t get carried away, saving more than I’ll use.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DECLUTTER FURNITURE
A lot of decluttering advice focuses on small things, like letting go of knick-knacks and home decor items. But here’s a simple secret that will help you create space fast—don’t be afraid to declutter furniture.
This can be challenging because there are some things we’re raised to believe that every home must have. But is this true? What do you truly need to support YOUR lifestyle?
I asked myself this same question a few years ago. My daughter had just turned one, and I felt like our home wasn’t working for us. I didn’t want to move to a bigger house, but I also wanted more space for her to play.
Ultimately, I decided to declutter my dining room table. We have a large kitchen island and it easily serves the same purpose. It did feel odd at first (because who doesn’t have a dining table?) but it’s been a few years now and I’ve never regretted the decision.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you have to declutter your dining room table too! I know this would be ridiculous for a lot of people—but I do encourage you to think outside the box with regards to your needs. Look around your home with curious eyes and don’t be afraid to experiment with letting go.
GO THROUGH YOUR ITEMS FREQUENTLY
One thing that I’m always doing is going through my cupboards, drawers, and closets looking for anything that no longer adds value to my life (aka clutter!).
Even though I did most of my decluttering years ago, my needs are always changing. Something from a few years ago might not serve a purpose anymore and that’s OK.
I don’t live in the past. Instead, I only keep things that add value in my current season of life and I’m constantly checking to make sure my home reflects this.
KEEP YOUR CLUTTER WHERE YOU’LL TRIP OVER IT
Right now, I have a box of random items sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor. It includes board games we never play, baby clothes my son has outgrown and a few pairs of shoes.
These items all fall into the “I know I don’t need them anymore but I don’t want to donate them” category. I’m planning on selling them once I have the time.
I thought so—almost everyone I speak to has things they know they should declutter, but they just haven’t gotten around to doing it.
Most people stores these items under the bed or behind closed doors until they’re ready to tackle it but I don’t. You know why?
Because the more your clutter inconveniences you, the quicker you’ll deal with it.
I can guarantee you that box will be gone before the end of the week because I am SO tired of looking at it. If you want to move your clutter fast, definitely give this tip a try!
Related Post: How to Decide What to Keep When Decluttering?
Struggling To Find Motivation to Declutter?
I hope these tips inspired you to take the first steps towards decluttering your home! But if you’re still struggling to get started, here’s something that might help.
Focus on the end result. What are you trying to achieve by decluttering? How will living in a clutter-free home improve your life? And what do you imagine your home will look and feel like when you’re done?
If you’re struggling to answer these questions, you might find one of these blog posts helpful:
- The Most Surprising Way Decluttering Improves Your Life
- 6 Powerful Benefits of Decluttering Your Home + Life
More Tips for a Decluttered Home
If you want to learn more, I also recommend reading:
- Why Decluttering is Hard: 5 Reasons You’re Stuck
- How to Declutter When You Regret Spending Money
- 4 Thoughtful Questions to Ask When Decluttering
I know this post includes a few surprising (and perhaps controversial) ideas! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments but remember, please keep the conversation kind and respectful.