Dana White, a self-confessed slob and author of Decluttering at the Speed of Life, really does struggle with clutter. She has discovered that it speeds up the process to go for the areas of biggest visual impact first. When you see the positive difference, it naturally motivates you to tackle another pocket of clutter, and another. I started looking around the house for eyesores. Then, I discovered that for a relatively small investment of decluttering time, I could reap significant visual results. These are almost tricks that fool the eye into thinking that things are tidier than they might actually be, room by room. (I suspect I’m not the only one who is guilty of these visual disaster areas.)
My fridge door was plastered with all sorts of stuff—school papers, notices, menus, shopping lists and magnets. The fridge had become a giant clutter magnet! It took five minutes to clear everything off except for the weekly menu plan/shopping list. Now, the whole kitchen looks much tidier even though that was all I did. A big visual win for a minimal effort. Love that!
This same principle applies to making the bed. If the bed is unmade, then the whole room looks a mess, even if it’s not. And vice versa. If the bed is made, then the whole room looks tidier even if it isn’t. Big visual impact for a very small investment of time. Hang clothes up and you are there. This is the 80/20 Rule at work.
Use hooks for the children’s coats and backpacks. Maybe there is a slim chance they might actually hang things up. Have a designated tray, box or basket for incoming mail, keys, sunglasses, shoes, etc.
The dining room
Tuck all the chairs in neatly around the dining room table. Clear off the table of any papers or stuff. Put a vase of flowers or hurricane candle in the center of the table to attract the eye.
The living room
Fold all throws into a basket or stuff them into a storage ottoman. Or you can chest and plump up the pillows.
Put all but two or three bottles of shampoo and conditioner under the sink or stash them in a basket.
Collections of anything (e.g., knickknacks, perfume, shampoo, trinket boxes)
These always appear tidier if stored together in a basket or on a tray. Install a row of hooks on the back of the bathroom door to store towels and robes.
Gather all sticky notes up off the computer screen or desk. Turn them into a to do list. Scoop up all papers and put them into a box to sort later.
The kids’ room
Scoop all but a few toys into a big box. Then store the box in a closet or attic. When the kids ask for a specific toy, retrieve it for them. My mother used to store half of our toys in a big cardboard box. Then every few months she’d bring them out. And we’d box up the ones that were currently in use. It was like having Christmas again. We were always so excited to see what was in the box that we’d forgotten about. If kids have all the toys out all of the time, they get bored of them. This keeps things fresh. Bonus: you only have half the toys to tidy up!
Where are the visual eyesores in your house?
If you can’t see them, take photographs of each room. It is strange, but true that it is easier to see stuff objectively in a photograph. Or ask a friend to come as there is nothing like a fresh pair of eyes. We can actually stop seeing things (like that fridge plastered with junk) in our own house!