Design Tips to Help you Fight Clutter!

4 min read Your house can’t help you sort what you love from what you don’t – its not a robot. But design can help you fight clutter by creating places the things you love where use use them!

So how has the battle to fight clutter been going at your house lately?

For me, housekeeping isn’t my strongest suit at the best of times but I do know that I feel better about life and myself when I’m not looking at to-do lists (in pile form) all over the dining table.

Some amount of clutter-busting will always be a form of #adulting but we can make the job harder or easier when the house we live in is designed a certain way. How can you design changes into your house that will help you stop clutter before it can start.

Identify the places where clutter builds up in your home. You can easily run this experiment by sitting back and waiting for a few days.

But once you know what your clutter hot spots are … how do you deal with them? Well …

Four ways to Fight Clutter in your life and home!

White knuckle it

You can just grit your teeth and PROMISE yourself that you won’t let clutter add up any more. Be a hero (or a martyr) and make housekeeping your priority number one.

Ok. But you know there’s no prize for doing it the hard way, right?

Create Systems (and get help)

Build new habits and routines around daily clutter sweeps, putting away objects before bedtime or setting the stereo on and enlisiting the whole household in a cleanup party.

Better … and probably always necessary. But you can still help yourself fight clutter more smoothly if you …

Pre-Fill clutter spots with Beauty

Identify those places where wrong things pile up, clear them off, … and prevent yourself from filling them back in with a beautiful object. Find a vintage vase, an ornamental bowl or another MCM decor item to give yourself a visual reminder.

“Hey, self, I don’t set the mail here any more. This the place where my fun Etsy find sits!”

We’re on the right track here!

Create storage for the right things in the right places

Get right to the root of the problem with psychology. Ask yourself why things add up in that spot. Apply a designers mind to the problem and find out why there isn’t a better spot for those things near where they pile up. Then plan a design update to that part of the house to make a new home for your things … RIGHT WHERE YOU USE THEM.

The secret is having (designing) the RIGHT place to put away the right thing. 

The long and the short of it is, we need to be smart with our design choices to match our storage solutions to what we have and the way we actually live.   Because I’m not Marie Kondo and I bet you aren’t either.

So figure out and be REAL with yourself about what your level of tidiness actually is. 

Sketch of MCM style mudroom wall with mirror, bench and hooks.  Having the right entry storage helps to fight clutter!

Maybe you need a big bin or drawer for all your shoes. You can toe it open and kick another pair right in.  Is storing them all piled on top of each other great for them? No.  But did it get them up off the floor and out of tripping range?  YES! 

On the other hand … you might be the kind of person who enjoys tucking each pair of shoes lovingly into its hand-labeled pigeon hole. Great! Build or buy yourself that pigeon hole system.

What I’m saying is … meet yourself where you are.  And where your family is.  Whatever you can do to set  yourself up for success in the clutter fight is a WIN.

In today’s episode you’ll hear …

  • A story about the excellent advice I give my BFF (and vice versa) [0:58]
  • Permission to let things go when you have to … but a little gentle encouragement that you (and I) can benefit from our efforts to fight clutter! [3:50]
  • The “cow path” theory of landscape architecture and how you can use it run a mild social experiment on your own household to ID key clutter hotspots. [5:01]
  • Four ways you can fight clutter – from hardest to easiest. Spoiler: the easy one is after you’ve mitigated your clutter problem with a design solution. [7:00]
  • How filtering out the clutter RIGHT AT THE DOOR can make the whole house easier to tidy – with tips from the creator of Apartment Therapy [8:32]
  • Some history of storage in MCM ranches (and the houses that came before). We actually have it pretty good! [10:10]
  • And why it doesn’t feel like enough. Volume isn’t the answer. We need WELL ORGANIZED storage to fight clutter well. [12:04]
  • A fun tip for how to improve on walk in closets if you plan a new master suite! [15:18]
  • Be real with yourself. I’m not Marie Kondo and you probably aren’t either. So design in the amount of storage you’ll ACTUALLY need to keep down clutter! [16:15]

Hey do you need help pivoting from your remodel plans in the before times to a remodel that can actually help you and your family feel comfortable at home in the new normal? I’m giving a masterclass on JUST THAT TOPIC coming up soon. Sign up here to get an invitation to the free live class as soon as it opens!

Listen now on

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Resources to help you fight clutter Mentioned in this Episode