Attractive décor often starts with another “d” word…

November 12, 2011

When dear friends, Adam, Heather and their two young sons, came for dinner a few years back, Adam paid me a huge – but unintended compliment. I heard him say to say to his wife, “This is a really nice house. You know what’s missing… the clutter.” I had to laugh, and I admitted that a lot of the clutter had been corralled in anticipation of having them as guests.

Ironically every time I do a “de-cluttering clean sweep” of mostly mail and un-filed papers, but toys, clothing, and kitchen contents are included too, I confirm that I want to live with less clutter more of the time.

As you prepare to have guests for Thanksgiving, this is a great week to purge the visual noise that makes your décor less vibrant. The picture below is my kitchen desk/workspace and I’ll use it is an example of some principles that might be helpful.


First think about how a space needs to function. My desk the hub where I think, dream, pay bills, work, write, etc. The key items needed are my laptop computer, phone, and office supplies. The desk is also my five-year old daughter’s favorite workspace where she uses the computer, draws pictures and does “homework” She needs crayons, markers, tape and place to put all of the finished artwork. My teenagers also do homework, Facebook and check their fantasy football stats here too.

Keep in mind how to you want to area to feel -which will affects the choices for how it looks. The desk is part of our kitchen and I want to feel organized, hopeful and welcoming. The layout of the space along with the colors used, textures, are the vehicles that help create the feeling. I basically have natural materials in neutrals with a few splashes of a burnished red.

Now, move (or get rid of) the non-essentials. This is usually the toughest thing to do. But, I do not need really really, to have my high-school yearbook or two board games in this space.

You will have to identify a permanent new “home” for the items that are being “relocated” and those that stay.

For the items that will remain, find permanent homes that make the items look as attractive as possible.

I think my laptop is pretty on her own. But the magazines needed a to be de-emphasized so they are on the left in the woven basket. It’s an open container so they are easy to access, but it looks neat.

Koah’s crayons and markers are in a red lidded-box from TJ Maxx. It looks great and adds a pop of my accent color, and she can move it to where ever the art is happening. I repeated the red by spray painting a wooden “K” from Hobby Lobby. I used picture-hanging putty to attach it to the tile.

The large brown woven basket with the lid is a great place to “temporarily” stash stuff like unopened mail, school papers, recipes to try, keys, or whatever needs to be hidden. However we have to go back and handle its contents daily or it might be “out of sight, out of mind” which will cause another set of problems. (Both woven basket were purchased at Pottery Barn and I suspect similar ones can be found at Target, Crate & Barrel, Pier One, etc.)

Most of the items that get hidden in a de-cluttering sweep have permanent homes outside of the kitchen in a four drawer metal filing cabinet or in binders that live in the cabinet above the desk.

Use your space creatively to store what you need. Half the cabinets above the desk have binders. The other side has dishes and serving pieces. I put plastic organizers in the drawers to make it easy to find, tape, pencils, post-it notes, my label maker, etc.

Important side note – clutter thrives like weeds in a garden – because we are all so busy that we rarely take the time to purge, sort and put away the “stuff” when or before it comes into the home. Once a permanent home is identified, I can usually manage the clutter if I commit to spend 15-30 minutes handling stuff daily.

So… force yourself to take time daily – to corral the clutter. Maybe you can put things away before you go to bed. Or set the timer for 20 minutes and address mess after dinner. Purge before you head out for work. Or regularly plan to have guests and purge before they arrive. Just joking…

More on décor next time…

Happy De-Cluttering

Home-ista Kelly

P.S. My desk is not this neat the vast majority of the time! But, if needed I can clean sweep it in about 90 seconds

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