Are there some friends whose homes you visit that always look spotless? You know they’re very busy, and can’t afford a housekeeper, so you’re just wondering…how do they do it? Do they spend every free moment cleaning their homes? Maybe. Or they may just know about a few tricks and habits that keep a home looking clean. There are simple things we do that make our homes look really messy and, on the flip side, there are things we can do that just take a moment that instantly elevate the cleanliness of a place. I’m all about those hacks because I do not have time to do much cleaning. Not everyone with what appears to be a clean home has intricate organizational systems. Sometimes, it’s just about the little habits and décor choices. And remember that, a clean environment does so much for our mental and emotional wellbeing. If you feel you’ve been struggling to focus, or even feeling a bit depressed, your physical space could have something to do with it. When we don’t take care of our home, the site of that mess sends a subliminal message to our brains that we don’t take care of ourselves. Here are habits and decor that make a home look messy, and how to fix them.
We’re used to the traditional shelves. They are large squares with a base, two sides, and a top. They may have cubbies. They may be part-armoire with shelves on the top. We’re accustomed to buying these standard pieces of furniture. But bulky shelves are a thing of the past, and though dragging them inside, dropping them down, and leaving them be seems like the easiest choice, if you can invest time into installing floating shelves, your floors and walls will instantly look cleaner.
Letting laundry pile up
It’s such a simple thing, but we forget to do it: just do your laundry more. Having a basket with a mountain of dirty clothes nearly toppling over in your bedroom or bathroom almost undoes any other cleanliness going on there. If you’re lucky to have a washer and dryer inside of your home, just get in the habit of doing your laundry regularly – don’t let the basket get full.
Cabinet doors. Drawers. Opaque baskets. These are wonderful things because they conceal the items inside of them. When it comes to storing items that aren’t decorative, like dishes and tools as opposed to photos and books, put these in concealed storage. Properly storing your belongings only makes a place look so clean if you can still see everything.
Too many colors
It’s best to stick to minimal colors in each room. You can certainly do an entire new color scheme per room. For example, you can have all light blues and eggshell colors in your living room, and go for bolder colors like deep blue and orange in the bedroom. Just don’t try to get all of the colors in one room. It has a way of making a room look cluttered rather than decorated.
Keeping appliances on counters
Your blender. Your toaster. Your slow cooker. Your coffee maker. Your French Press. We often don’t realize just how many appliances we have on our counters. But they take up a lot of space, and since you don’t use all of them, every day, there’s no need to have them accessible every day. Create storage space inside of cabinets for appliances you don’t use daily.
Leaving out dishes
Letting dirty dishes sit always makes a kitchen look cluttered, but furthermore, it can be a never-ending cycle. Once you already let a pot, pan, and plate sit there, you can think, “Well, the kitchen already looks bad, so I’ll leave these dishes out, too.” When you get in the habit of cleaning dishes right away after each meal, you want to keep the place looking tidy.
Though you want to be polite to the family and friends who give you lots of eclectic artwork and family photos, you should have control over your space, and hanging up too much art quickly makes a room look cluttered. When you have too many pieces up, each one is robbed of attention, too. Organize pieces so there is only one large item per wall – you can add a couple of small ones around it.
Hanging things on the fridge
Your niece’s drawing. Your cousin’s graduation photo. All of the wedding save the dates and engagement photos and holiday cards. It’s nice that people love you so much, but you didn’t buy that beautiful, sleek, steel refrigerator to cover it up with pictures and drawings. Put them in a folder somewhere or, really, recycle them if you no longer need them (like old save the date cards).
Not wiping kitchen counters
One thing that clean people do, even if they only have time to do one thing, is wipe down kitchen countertops. Between breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert, these accumulate so many crumbs and sauce throughout the day. They get sticky. It’s a good idea to keep antibacterial wipes under the kitchen sink and just give those counters a wipe after each meal
Letting mail sit
When you bring in your mail, get to it right away. Most of it is junk mail that you can recycle, so letting it sit for days lets useless paper take up space. If there are pieces that will require time and attention you don’t have now, have a clean-looking organizer on a desk for those. And set them aside for later. But don’t let mail pile up on your surfaces.
Having an exit pile
We have those things we almost always need when we walk out the door. Sunscreen. Water bottles. Doggy bags. Foldable chair. Purse. Hat. Mask. Whatever it is for you. Get a cute basket to put these things in. Or, put them in a flip-up ottoman that you can sit on to take your shoes on and off. Don’t just leave them in a pile by the front door.
Black rugs and bath mats
Black rugs and bath mats show dirt instantly. We often think of white or lighter colored mats being the problem, and while those present their own issues, black mats and rugs look dirty very fast. In fact, they need to be de-linted daily. Go for a multi-color rug as these conceal spills and dust well.
Exposing trash and recycling
First, invest in an attractive, steel trash can with a lid. Not one of those flip lids like you’d find at an outdoor barbecue, and not a plastic trash can. Get one with a steel, sleek lid that closes entirely. Get the same for your recycling. If you have the room, and don’t want expensive steel bins, just put your trash and recycling beneath the sink.
Not making beds
Not to sound like your mother but make your bed in the morning. A made bed centers a room. It’s the biggest piece of furniture you have, after all, so when it looks bad, the whole room looks bad, and when it looks good, the whole room looks good. When it comes to choosing bedding, go in contrast with the rest of the room. So if you have a lot of art and colors, get a solid-colored bedspread and sheets. If the room is a bit bland, you can get a bedspread with a print or pattern.
Leaving accent pillows/blankets around
If you have accent pillows and blankets for the living area, just fold these and organize them each night. Don’t leave accent blankets sprawled out across furniture, or accent pillows all over the place. Line up your pillows in a row. Fold up the blankets neatly, or drape them over a chair in a tidy way.