Controlling clutter is one of the keys to maintaining a tranquil environment. Take a systematic approach to managing your stuff by designing a well-planned living space that will help create a sustainable clutter-free lifestyle. Here are our top tips for building a thoughtful space that addresses needs, encourages routines, and ensures that your possessions don’t own you.
Embrace the Art of Under-Decorating
When decorating your home, focus on fewer high-impact items and eliminate the nonessentials that don't contribute to the overall design. If you store all your documents in the cloud, consider parting with your filing cabinet. If you listen to music on your iPod and read on a tablet, you may decide to limit or eliminate the space you dedicate to media storage (and sell or donate old DVDs, CDs, or books that you haven’t enjoyed in years).
Make Room for the Essential
Design each room or area according to how you actually use your space 90 percent of the time, not a preconceived notion of how you should live. Don’t feel obligated, for instance, to set up a formal dining area if you usually have meals at the breakfast bar and rarely entertain. And a home office may not be necessary if you primarily log hours at work and use your laptop on the couch at home.
Create Space for Good Habits
A living space that encourages simple routines tailored to your needs will make it easy to sleep, cook, relax, and entertain. For instance, your entryway should include a place to neatly lodge your coat, umbrella, keys, and mail if you want to prevent these items from overtaking your living space. And if your bedside table is usually cluttered with such items as glasses, books, and water bottles, opt for a small chest of drawers that will allow you to store everything and easily access it when you need it again.
There Is Such a Thing as Too Much Storage
Adequate storage allows you to keep track of what you have and know how to access it quickly, which saves you time and helps curb repeat buying of similar objects. But never build or buy extra storage for things you don’t have or will never need, since extra storage often encourages the acquisition of more stuff. For instance, before buying an additional armoire to accommodate an overflowing closet, consider streamlining your wardrobe, buying narrower hangers to maximize space, and storing off-season clothing in a separate area.
Once you've decluttered your home, ensure that it stays that way by regularly sifting through your possessions and limiting the amount of blank surfaces—such as unnecessary occasional tables—that serve no urgent purpose apart from inviting clutter.