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Keep your home clutter-free

guest post

This is a guest post from Emily at Remodeling This Life. She blogs about her family’s adventures in remodeling their home and also about simple and frugal living.


One of the hardest things that I face in my home with a husband and two children is clutter. I feel like I am constantly battling misplaced keys and strewn about toys, wallets and mail. After one too many frustrating times of losing something and running late, I decided it was time to not just declutter, but to stay clutter-free. I decided to stop picking things up from places they don’t belong and create ways to keep the clutter from forming in the first place. While I continually had the mindset that once I got my home decluttered it would stay that way, I realized after the umpteenth time doing it that obviously my mindset was wrong. I had to try my hardest to keep the clutter from forming in the first place.

Create A Home For Everything

I decided to implement “Everything has its place”. From keys to bags, to shoes, and toys, I created a place for everything to go so that the reason for wallets, keys and cell phones on the buffet was no longer valid.

At my entryway, I placed a bowl on the top shelf of the makeshift entry table for sunglasses, cell phones and hubby’s wallet. Keys get hung on the hooks of the entry wall shelf, along with hubby’s hats. Having a place for these items right where we walk in makes it simple and everything is where it should be when we need it. The sorter next to that is where we put our mail. It has different slots depending on what the mail is and based on importance. This way, the mail doesn’t even has a chance of making it to cluttering up a kitchen counter. The two white baskets on the bottom shelf house kid shoes.

By making a home for the biggest clutter culprits, I made the battle of the clutter that much easier. Instead of replacing misplaced stray items at the end of each day and starting over the next day, I cut the clutter off before it can even get started.

Create Clutter Zones

I know that a constantly clutter-free home is not possible. I don’t strive for perfection, and I like to make things user-friendly and simple. I want my home to feel lived in yet not chaotic. I know that every toy is not going to be put back in its proper place every time, and I know that there will be stray clothes that don’t go right into the hamper. So I created simple and attractive places that I call Clutter Zones. I allow a drawer full of junk in the kitchen. It actually often acts as a transitional space. It has become mostly a space to put items that hubby uses for working on our home. From screwdrivers to clothespins to batteries and rubberbands, that drawer is the place to go when a stray item is missing and I let it be. In our bedroom, the safe zone is the top of hubby’s dresser. It’s not attractive, but it is better than the floor and he can freely throw his clothes there until they get tossed into the hamper later or worn again.

In my living room, I have this one shelf on my entertainment wall unit that is an ode to our anniversary in Paris, but it is multi-functional. The bucket, you see, is the place where toys can get tossed in moments of laziness or hurried tidying. As long as it doesn’t stick out above the top, it is allowed to be tossed in there. It keeps things looking nice in the room and is a quick way to clean up toy chaos on short notice. This is a favorite for my kids, as apparently walking to the play room to put the toys away is a bit too energy consuming.


By creating a routine and making behaviors habitual, the clutter-free living becomes simpler. Make it a habit that when you walk in the door, stray items like keys and wallets and shoes get placed in their homes and junk mail gets tossed in the garbage. Cutting clutter off at the door is the first key to keeping your clutter-free home that way.

One In, One Out

A large part of the decluttering I have undergone over the past year or so has been to simply get rid of stuff that is unused, not useful or no longer loved in my home.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”William Morris

And on top of the getting rid of things in mass amounts, begin to adopt the attitude of not bringing something new in unless something old goes out. This adds perspective when considering buying something. If you are going to buy a new pan for the kitchen, an old one has to go. It can seem a bit harsh and of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but it is a good way to prevent the stuff from adding up, which is about the easiest way to keep your home clutter-free.

remodeling this lifeI truly admire how Emily and her family took a huge leap of faith and chased after a better, simpler life. They moved across the country, bought a little cottage, and are frugally remodeling it, a little at a time. To follow Emily’s journey towards a simpler life, I recommend subscribing to her feed!

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  1. Denise

    absolutely fantastic ideas!

    love your blog as well.

  2. Sarah Park

    This is a fantastic approach! I’m frequently discouraged by how quickly my cleaned-off surfaces get cluttered again… I love the idea of cutting clutter off at the door! I tend to bring it all right into our kitchen and eating area, where it hangs around and depresses everyone. I appreciate the simple way you’ve broken it down into designating places for exactly the things that need homes… keys, mail, shoes, wallet.

    It’s also a relief to have places where it’s OK to stash clutter once in awhile! As we slog through gradually getting rid of the things that aren’t beautiful or useful in our home, it’s nice to be reminded that it’s a process, and it’s good to have transitional spots where some temporary clutter is allowed.

    Thanks for a great post!
    Sarah Park

  3. Rachel

    “This adds perspective when considering buying something.” How true. After going through all the effort to reduce clutter, I don’t want to bring in extra stuff. I have a key bowl by the front door too, and it works great. I lose other things, but rarely my keys.

    Rachels last blog post..Best Stain Remover Ever

  4. sortersuzy

    SO great to see someone figure out the tricks for themselves and be realistic about how things tend to occur, it so ISN’T about having one big clean up but (as much as I love that idea too) about having strategies and a mindset to keep it at bay on a daily basis – Well Done Emily – and that’s my favourite quote to!

  5. Sara at On Simplicity

    I love the concept of having spots where clutter is okay (especially because that means it’s not okay in a bunch of other places). I mean, I despise clutter, but being 100 percent anal about it isn’t going to make me any happier. I also love the Paris bucket–what a lovely place to chuck something!

    One of my big compromises is the junk drawer. We each have a drawer where we toss our daily junk. Since it’s closed off, I don’t care. As long as all the daily minutia is out of sight, that’s good enough for me at this point!

    Sara at On Simplicitys last blog post..What Feng Shui Has to Say About Clutter

  6. Kristy

    Love this! It is so timely for my family too. We just moved to a smaller space and in the process filled a fourty foot dumpster with accumulated stuff. I want to never, ever get to that place again so I look for practical tips to help me achieve that goal. With two kiddos, I know perfection is not attainable. I love these tips and I’m going to subscribe to your feed 🙂

    Kristys last blog post.."rock fashion"

  7. Emily

    Thanks so much for having me guest post! It was really fun! Your readers are wonderful 🙂 The link in this post doesn’t work to my blog but they are persistent and I have many many google searches for me today 🙂

    Emilys last blog post..Inspiration

  8. simplemom

    Emily’s link is working now! So sorry for the confusion – not sure why that happened…

    And you’re right, my readers are wonderful. 🙂

  9. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home

    This is an area that I am really struggle with lately (the clutter), so thank you for this timely post. I am in the midst of working my way through the house, setting aside unneeded items for a (hopefully) large garage sale this summer. I really want to pare down what we own, keeping only what we need and love and truly use. It’s tough to be brutal about it, though, and I still struggle with my pack rat tendencies (but what if I might possibly sort of need this at some point down the road- heaven forbid that I should have to borrow it or buy it again!)

    I really love the idea of a place for everything, and the very items you mentioned (keys, mail, kids shoes, toys, wallets) are the items we struggle with so much. I think that one of my summer tasks needs to be making our entryway and kitchen (unfortunately at opposite ends of the house) equipped with centers for putting things where they belong right away.

    Thank you so much for the ideas and inspiration!

    Stephanie @ Keeper of the Homes last blog post..Nourishing Frugal Food Carnival- Sides, Salads and Desserts!

  10. Theadora

    I love the ideas! I too am a wife and mother of 2. I also teach thrid grade full time, so keeping clutter at bay is a MUST in my home. We have “central station” for each of us. It is a set of drawers that I bought at WalMart and labeled with our photos and names. This keeps our paper trails to a minimum and everyone had an area for thier own supplies.

    I have a picture on my blog under Project 365 pictures.
    Thanks for the ideas and encouragement. I will be a regular visitor for sure!

    Theadora´s last blog post…

  11. Shawn

    I love the idea of a clutter zone. A place to put stuff that you need to do something with, but don’t have time at the moment. It’s so much better to have that stuff in 1 place rather than all over! Thanks!

  12. tatiana

    i am working on pairing things down and decluttering the house with 2 kids its tending to take a while and finding a place for everything in a small house is a challenge all by itself

  13. Nicki Lawrence

    I love thisarticle! I have been looking for ways to clutter free my house and life! I love the idea of one new thing in, one old thing out! I hope I can get a routine down with my family and my kids turn out unlike their messy unorganized Mom! Thanks for the help!

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