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How to Keep a Small Home Free From Clutter

I can’t stand clutter. Living in a small house, with very little storage, my place can get higgledy-piggledy pretty quick. Suddenly I look around and every surface is covered in groceries, clothes, packages to be returned, unfinished projects and so much more.

Fortunately, I found these decluttering tips I’d written a while ago, because boy do I need them. Maybe you do too.

Spend 20 minutes a day tidying up

This can be done at the beginning of the day or at the end. I like to do it at the end of the day, but if I’m too tired, I’ll do it in the morning. Doesn’t matter. The point is to pick up all those stray items and put them back in their rightful place — everything from the laundry that needs folding, to loading the dishwasher, to organizing the papers on my desk. And if something doesn’t have a home, I’ll find it one. Okay, sometimes this takes a good hour or more if I haven’t been doing it regularly. Which brings me to my next tip.

Create drop zones to organize everyday items

As they say, a place for everything and everything in its place. A place for keys by the door. A place for incoming mail. A place for hats, coats and gloves. Just be sure these places work for you and are easy to access on a daily basis. I like to store things in a closet when possible. But when space is limited, I use decorative boxes and baskets that fit into the décor. I also use them for ongoing projects like receipts and paperwork for the tax year. If you can find decorative labels for your boxes and baskets, all the better.

Purge regularly

A big part of staying organized and decluttered is getting rid of things you no longer need. Purging doesn’t have to be a big project. Have a bag or a box in a closet for things to donate. Take it to the garage when it’s full and start another box. And when you have time, drop those boxes off at Goodwill.

The four spaces I like to clean out and organize every few months are my kitchen pantry, the refrigerator, the bathroom cabinet and my clothes closet. These areas seem to fill up too quickly with too many things. The other reason to purge these areas regularly is to keep track of what you already have and what you are running low on.

Edit and arrange your decorative items

We often become blind to our own clutter because we see it every day. Once you’ve tidied up your place, pretend you’re a neighbor or friend coming into your home for the first time. What is your first impression? Are decorative items covering every table, shelf and counter? When every surface is cover it can be visually overwhelming for the eyes as there is no focal point. Even though those items are decorative, they can contribute to the overall sense of clutter in our space.

Edit down your decorative items using the rule of three. Rather than having items scattered across the mantel, group three items on one side and one large item on the other side to counterbalance. Items grouped together as three or a higher odd number appear as one item to the eye, which is more visually soothing. Remember, you don’t have to display everything at once. Rotating decorative items seasonally will refresh your space and allow you to see and appreciate your collections in a new way.

Keep it up

These tips are a reminder to not let my house get so out of control with clutter. It only takes a few minutes every day and the occasional clean out to keep a house looking uncluttered. For me, the most important benefit of a decluttered home is the feeling of serenity it creates. And when my home environment is organized, it means it’s working for me and not against me. I am vowing to make decluttering a regular part of my daily routine. Like any routine or habit, it becomes easier the more you do it.

Do you have a regular routine for decluttering your home? I’d love to hear it. Comment below.



Hi, I’m Lori Cronwell. As a writer and frequent traveler, I admire the values most Europeans embrace: choosing quality over quantity; residing in smaller, more sustainable homes; working less and spending more time with friends and family.

Those values were key in my decision to drastically downsize to a 700 sq. ft. accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with the goal of creating a simpler, more sumptuous life with time for travel.

Slow travel, that is. Spending more time in one place — even if it’s just a week. You'll not only spend less, you'll discover a deeper and more meaningful travel experience.

Please subscribe below and join me on a journey to find affordable ways to explore Europe in the slow lane and to live a more European lifestyle every day of our lives.

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