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DECOR ADVICE: Top clutter culprits in each room

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Most people have too much stuff in their homes and too little storage space, leading to chaos and mess. Here’s how to work room by room to address the problems in your house

Every organisational challenge is different, but the causes of clutter in each room of a house are often similar. People have either too much stuff or inadequate storage space – or both. Here’s a room-by-room rundown of the biggest culprits and what to do about them. 

Master Bedroom

A bedroom should feel like a sanctuary. Perhaps not a magazine-style refuge, but at least a space that is calming. In many homes, however, the master bedroom is messy at best and overcrowded at worst. Clothes are often not put away neatly and books and magazines are stacked on the floor or piled on bedside tables.

◆ Eliminate clothing items that don’t fit or that you don’t wear.

◆ Find or create storage solutions to accommodate your belongings. Think through whether you need more shelving, a larger dresser or more hanging space. If you have a designated space for everything, it will be easy to put items away.

◆ Give yourself a month to read a magazine and then recycle it or give it to a friend.

◆ Only books you are reading should be beside the bed; others should be on shelves. 


Our kitchens are the most-used room, making them particularly prone to clutter. The biggest culprits: too many plastic storage containers and water bottles, mugs and glassware. Whether your kitchen is big or small, maximising the most accessible storage areas is vital. But too often people’s primary cabinets and drawers are overcrowded.

◆ Every six months, go through your water bottles and plastic containers and donate or recycle any surplus.

◆ Try to make do with fewer. 


There’s typically not a lot of storage space in bathrooms, but people still try to cram a ton of beauty products, medicine, first-aid supplies and toiletries into tiny vanities.

◆ Resist the temptation to bring home shampoo, conditioner and soaps from hotels, and don’t accept free samples. You don’t need them and will probably never use them.

◆ Assess what you really need in your bathroom and maximise cabinet, drawer and wall spaces with dividers and shelving.

◆ Find another place to store medication. It’s better to have it where temperature and humidity don’t fluctuate.

Dining Room

In many homes, the dining room is rarely used for dining, but the abundance of flat surfaces makes it an appealing place to put items down to deal with later – mail, school projects, newspapers, completed Lego sets.

◆ Objects cannot “live” in your dining room for months – or years.

◆ If you’re using the room for long-term storage, it’s time to reassess what – and how much – you’re bringing into your home, as well as changes to other storage spaces.

Family Room

Family members should feel comfortable spending time together in this casual space, so don’t aim for absolute organisational perfection. However, comfortable and casual doesn’t equal messy. It’s vital to designate a specific place for everything so everyone knows how to clean up.

◆ Newspapers can go in a basket; games and toys should be stored in cabinets or bins and books should live on bookshelves.

◆ At least once a year, go through games, toys and books and see what can be donated.

Entrance Hall

Picture: Supplied

The most frequent clutter issue in entry areas is unpacked bags.

◆ Whether the bags are filled with sports gear or school papers, they should be gone through weekly, their contents stored.

◆ When there are multiple unpacked bags on the floor, it’s harder for people to find what they’re looking for. And when they can’t locate items, they go out and buy more.


Recently, garages have become overflow storage space for almost everything, except cars. Why? Mostly because people continue to buy more stuff than they can store inside.

◆ Whether you would like to park your car in the garage or not, establish guidelines for what can and cannot be stored in the garage.

◆ If you decide sports gear and bikes, camping and garden supplies, tools and holiday decorations are allowed, buy heavyduty shelving to maximise wall space and create sections for each category.

◆ The best way to avoid having your garage become a dumping ground might be to go back to basics and use it to park your car.

Kids’ Rooms

Kids’ rooms are difficult to keep organised, primarily because so much stuff makes it into their rooms – toys, trinkets, crafts, stuffed animals, awards, pictures. And that’s in addition to what needs to be in there, such as clothing, books and schoolwork.

◆ Ensure there is adequate and accessible storage space and spend time purging items every few weeks.

◆ Clothes and books can be culled each season to keep up with children’s growth. 

Home Office

The biggest clutter offender in offices is often paper. Even if a home office is primarily used for someone’s job, it’s also often where papers related to house maintenance are stored, as well as bills, financial documents and school papers. All of this paper requires sufficient storage and time to organise.

◆ Set up a proper filing system and manage papers on a daily or weekly basis. Setting up a functional filing system and designating a space for incoming papers will save you time and frustration later.

The Washington Post


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