10 Ways to Tidy Up the Most Common Clutter in Your House

And make it beautiful, of course.

September 23, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Does the idea of getting organized, like, for good sound incredibly daunting? It doesn’t have to be, because the process is actually just a way towards a happier lifestyle, professional organizer and certified KonMari consultant, Jenny Albertini, advises. “Organizing and storing is meant to be easy so that you can simply put things away without added stress in your life. Taking care of our things, storing, and folding them properly encourages us to value them more.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you control clutter in a way that is ultra aesthetically pleasing, too. “Beauty in the objects around us—even our storage pieces—can motivate us to take better care of our homes, and of ourselves,” Albertini explains. Here, she and other home experts share their tips for containing 10 common types of clutter… without sacrificing style.

1. Add a Pegboard for Kitchen Essentials

There’s no need to cram your kitchen cabinets full with bulky pots and pans when there are other solutions for artfully displaying such essentials. “My mom was obsessed with Julia Child when I was growing up, and she used to organize her pots on a pegboard, à la Julia,” designer Amy Sklar comments. “When I was able to design my own kitchen, it was an element that I had to have. My contractor fought me on it and said that it would look like a garage, but I said, ‘If it's good enough for Julia, it’s good enough for me!’”

Sklar adds that in addition to being functional—everything she could ever need to cook is within eyesight—such a setup is also an excellent way to display prized pieces. “I love to cook, and think that some of the best kitchen items are almost works of art, and look great on display (like my copper pots, and Japanese santoku knives).”

2. Cluster Perfume on a Cake Stand

If you’re someone who maybe breaks out the cake stand once a year, it might be put to better use at your vanity or on top of a dresser. A pedestal cake stand is actually the perfect thing to corral beautiful bottles of perfume or cologne, making them look uncluttered by raising them up off of a surface.

3. Let Your Barware Shine

Keep only the drinking vessels that bring you joy—perhaps that means holding onto a pint glass from your college bar for old time’s sake, but you can likely go ahead and pare down the rest of your collection. Then, allow your favorite pieces to sit pretty in your pantry or kitchen. “I love the idea of open shelving in a butler’s pantry as a way to corral pretty items such as crystal or barware without it appearing disjointed or messy,” designer Dana Wolter notes. And it’s more than ok if you don’t own a uniform set of wine glasses. “I like to add elements of different sizes, heights, and shapes so that it feels as if pieces have been passed down or collected over time,” Wolter adds. “And, of course, we always include myriad cabinets and drawers for the kitchen clutter that needs to be tucked away.”

4. Mount Bathroom Shelves Up High

If you’re low on bathroom storage and looking to conceal some of the clutter, try looking up. Jessie Ruane mounted a shelf at the top of her bathroom to keep cotton swabs, spare serums, and extra toilet paper handy but out of the way. Somehow with the addition of a plant and a wicker basket it looks chic and tidy instead of overwhelming.

5. Put Coffee Table Clutter in a Tray

A coffee table isn’t just a functional piece; it’s always a place in which to display favorite decor finds, books, and more. But be sure to incorporate a tray to ensure things don’t get too out of hand, Albertini advises. “These are especially good on a coffee table to corral a few decorative items that will inspire conversation among the people you bring to sit with you. Include items and materials that bring you joy—a whimsical figure, fresh flowers, etc.,” she suggests. Rule of thumb here? When things are getting too overwhelming, put them in a tray.

6. Keep Snacks and Dry Goods Visible

Whether your kitchen boasts a dozen cabinets or you’re sharing a small apartment with roommates and only have one cupboard in which to stash food, you’ll be able to apply professional organizer Erica Thompson’s advice to your own situation. “Baskets in the pantry do not make sense,” she notes. “They can’t be cleaned! And you cannot see what’s in them.” As an alternative, Thompson uses clear plastic bins, labeled jars, and a lazy Susan to take her cabinets to the next level, tactics which “make your pantry more beautiful while allowing you to see what you have without having to dig through a basket.”

7. Collect Matchbooks in a Decorative Bowl

It’s easy to become inundated with matchbooks if you take one from each shop and restaurant you stop in, or if you’re prone to ordering lots of candles. Take a page from Ashley Hosmer’s book and collect every sentimental or complementary book of matches in a decorative bowl on the coffee table. Now, you’ll never have to go digging for them in the drawer.

8. Stash Shoes in a Fold-Down Cabinet

Count yourself normal if your entryway tends to get clogged with shoes that get kicked off when walking in (roommates, partners, kids—they all do it). In order to solve this problem, Carly Fuller added a cabinet to her entryway where she and her partner put their shoes, instead of taking up precious floor real estate in their small NYC apartment.

9. Upcycle a Shoebox for Bathroom Storage

A simple shoebox will serve as a wonderful home for bathroom essentials, but take it to the next level aesthetically with a little makeover, Albertini notes. “Do you have fabric that makes you happy to look at, or that is leftover from a project at home? Consider covering ordinary shoeboxes or similar sized boxes and use those to store beauty products or medicines,” she suggests. Not feeling crafty? You opt to purchase pre-covered bins, too. Albertini adds, “I have fabric-covered boxes that I love, and I knew seeing them on my shelves would make me smile if I used them, even for ordinary items!”

10. Give a Mudroom Personality

Shoes, sporting goods, and backpacks, oh my—mudrooms are home to it all, designer Kate Lester notes. “For the mudroom, it’s all about getting creative,” she shares. There are many ways to corral the aforementioned items while still adding some personality to a space. “I’ve used vintage lockers, oversized baskets, built-ins, and metal bins,” Lester explains. “I think it’s all about creating a system that is functional for the way you live and then finding containers that make it fun!”

Which of these types of clutter do you struggle with the most? Tell us your solutions below!

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Sarah Lyon

Written by: Sarah Lyon

Freelance writer and interior design enthusiast