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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Cluttered & Unorganized Disaster

Raquel ChapmanJanuary 11, 2013
This is what I currently think of my home. I feel like no matter what I do, I cannot seem to get rid of the clutter and I feel like nothing has a permament space. I hate the look, feel, and overall scheme of the design in the home. However, I love the space and I know there is a lot I could probably do with it but I just don't know what! I would like to work with what I already have in the home and attempt to make it work. Please help!
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As you already seem to know, you have to get rid of a significant amount of "stuff". Start small. Trying to tackle the whole house will be overwhelming. One room at a time. Maybe start in the family/living room. REMOVE things. Do not just move to another room. Ask yourself "do I LOVE this or does it serve a real purpose?". If not, donate, recycle or throw away. If you have friend who can be ruthless (I made my best friend cry but she now has a beautiful, clutter-free home that she loves).
Once you clear out the space, post some more pics and we will be happy to help you on the design side. GOOD LUCK!
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 9:57AM
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Your investment in a professional organizer would be well worth it.
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 10:03AM
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Good advice from the others. Another thing you could do is get all those photos scanned then put onto a digital frame. Take pictures of those precious momentos cluttering up your room to add to the frame then pack them up onto a top shelf, sell, or give away. Furniture that provides doors for hidden storage such as a buffet in the dining room where you can hide those cheetohs and put the coffee pot on. It looks like the living room could use another storage furniture piece but from the photo it is difficult to say what kind and where to place it.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 10:52AM
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Marilyn Wilkie
Raquel, please don't feel alone in this. Many of us feel the same helpless feeling that you do. I organize and de-clutter and then we fall right back into the same old habits. I think the cold winter has made things worse. I feel more housebound. You might want to try the old trick of taking three boxes and putting everything into them sorting as you go...keep, donate, toss. When everything is removed from the room, except for the furniture you will have a much clearer idea of what you have and what you want the space to look like. Be ruthless and involve the other family members in this. Many of us have more storage than we really need actually and we don't know it because we are holding on to things that we never use, or never liked in the first place. There is something mental about all of this as well. ...collecting and holding on to our marbles...or something like that. Not easy work.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:00PM
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You might find the FlyLady.net site (Marla Cilley) a good one to help you accomplish your task step-by-step.
Best Wishes.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:51PM
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I know how you feel. I agree with the advice already given. Tackle your easiest space first and go one room at a time. Be willing to part with stuff or put most of it in a storage area - attic, basement, garage.

Empty the whole room out.
Clean the empty room (vacuum, paint, light fixture, windows etc.). Then bring in most important pieces first - table, chairs
Next add a few accessories. Less is more.
The rest goes to your storage area or donate/sell.
Rotate accessories from storage rather than having everything out at once. It's easier to keep clean and organized if you have less in the room.
Don't add more stuff if you know you have a tendancy to accumulate stuff and clutter.

Very doable. Good luck.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:28PM
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I agree with Marilyn. This is partly mental but also partly technique. Practice rotating mementos and family pics rather than having everything out at once.

You also have to learn to identify things that can be stored rather than left out. The things you use most frequently should be given prime real estate in the room or shelves. For example, DVDs. I am guessing most if not all of those can be put in a storage area. While it may not be convenient to go in the basement to get a movie you probably won't have to do that too frequently so don't allocate prime real estate to these items.
4 Likes    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:48PM
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I have been there, too! And there's a lot of helpful advice above - some of which I will use in my continued quest of trying to get rid of my own stuff.

I think an obvious and quite simple solution might be in having less "open shelves" that require constant organizing and dusting and investing in some closed storage options. We moved an old armoire from the guest bedroom (repainted it) into our living space and put our CD's, movies, and kids games in there. We try to leave one spot on a shelf empty so we can have somewhere to stash our endless "stacks of paper and magazines" that sit around cluttering all surfaces for when you want to hide it away when company comes over:) Also in here we have large zip-up, 3-holed binders with folders for the kids art and school papers that we keep (I got them on Amazon.com). If you have item in your home you can use, great. Otherwise consider buying something used and fixing it up. You can put cute wrapping paper (or wall paper samples) over the insides of glass doors to keep shelf contents private, or incorporate a lot of large wicker bins and magazine organizers on open shelving. IKEA even has some nice stuff these days.

Next up would be your walls. You can search on line for different frame configuration ideas so that you can have a mix of different frames and sizes that seem to coordinate together in a unified design. They often even give measurements and pattern ideas. Retail sites like Pottery Barn have "design help" sections to give you ideas on measurements and spacing for frames. We are military and move around a lot, so I have a little trick I use for hanging up family photos. I have 10 or 12 different sized frames that I use and change the pictures out once in a while. I arrange them on the floor - usually some version of a magazine ad or catalog page I've ripped out. I decide how high to hang the first picture, then hang it and put a level line of blue painters tape below it. Then everything either goes above or below the painters tape, and each photo is a painter's tape width apart as well. When wall size in a particular house varies, I rearrange or leave off a couple of pics and find another place for them. You can use mismatched frames - I love that look. To keep it easier for me, I invested in different sizes of the same frames, all with matching matting and the same wood color. That way I can choose some color and some black and white pics for variation but it all goes together no matter where I end up putting them.

I hope this helped a little:) I find if I start small - like getting one wall or side of the room cleaned up it can inspire me to do the rest of the room and the rest will flow from there. For me, clearing out and redoing the whole room at once is too overwhelming. If I can get stuff up on at least one wall it really does help me figure out where everything else will go from there. Good luck!! I love your fireplace - please post pics of your room when you have it done!
    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:17PM
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Step 1--Decide the purpose for each room. Be realistic. The dining room may also be a study area for kids, craft room, and/or home office.
Step 2--Organize that room by leaving only what you need and removing everything else. Pick out a few favorite pieces which will stand out when you remove everything else.
Step 3--Find a place for everything to be stored out of sight if possible.
Now, go room by room and when you are done, sell/donate/gift whatever does not work for you anymore.
Note: If you are very thrifty and a caring person, you will not want to get rid of anything you paid good money for and feel you need to save it...just in case. All this stuff is not making you very happy. Sell what you can or give it away to someone who really needs it.
Learn to enjoy new experiences, digital newspapers, fresh flowers...things that don't take up permanent space.
3 Likes    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:37PM
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You have to declutter/organize/store before you can start decorating. Form (the decorating part) will follow function. You will have to determine function first (as someone else mentioned).

If your dining room is also a study for example you will have to identify the must haves in the room to serve the purpose.

There isn't enough to go on with the info and pics you provided to help you with the decorating/form part of the process.

It looks like you do have nice rooms and nice stuff to work with.

Organize and simplify maybe the keys to getting on the right track and feeling better about what you have.

I've been where you are. Don't be discouraged. Keep it simple.
    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 9:05PM
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One lady's secret is projects 15 minutes at a time. It works for gaining order
    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 9:45PM
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I helped my sis with her house, which had similar issues. Think of it as "thing migration"....somehow things walk into the wrong spot temporarily, and they never walk back out. Sooner than you think, there's weird stuff everywhere!

We started by attacking all the existing storage spaces first, rather than the rooms. We all tend to fill up our storage options, don't revisit it, then pretty soon there's no place to EASILY stash your vac, or even the Cheetos box! Storage spots need to be thought of like rooms--they need space to breathe. Nothing says they all need to be jammed full of things at all times. Be ruthless with ditching bathroom products you don't use. Shelf life of most of those items is about 6 months.

Just by way of another small example of thing migration...the Kleenex box in your photo really can reside in the closest bathroom. Put it back (and put a slip on decorative cover over it--less inclination to take the entire lightweight box elsewhere). If you bring stuff home in a bag, take it out of the bag immediately, and put away in your new, less bulging storage area. Once you create easy areas to put things that don't belong in the open, you can then tackle the decorating aspect.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 10:47PM
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Start in one spot. (example) Clean the table top off.
Defend the spot. Once reclaimed keep it reclaimed.
Move to next spot, adjacent to claimed spot, tame that. Keep the new expanded claimed area defended.

Keep expanding. A while back the kitchen was the start spot for me, and I went countertops and through the cupboards and pantry... during the time I purged stuff out of cabinets that hadn't been touched in ages, etc; and gradually expanded from there.

A 15-60 minute a day 'claim new turf' and add to the reclaimed area; and be ruthless about letting anything already done slide back.

Bathroom, it's easy to have a bunch of care product containers with 'just a little bit left' and not being used. If nobody will claim they've used it in the last three months toss it.

I see a bunch of framed wallpaper (diplomas) in one picture. I understand the achievement and everything those pieces of paper represent; but perhaps there's another place to hang those...? My collection is in a box, someday it might see the light of day. If not, oh well.

The small pictures all over are overwhelming; maybe move them to a hallway to make a gallery? Or as someone else suggested, move them to a digital frame.

Consider a built in wall in the living room with mostly DOORED storage; to hide the clutter and zillion items behind. When decorating, think STORAGE in everything possible (end tables, coffee tables, ottomans).

When cleaning make three piles: Keep, Toss, Other. If it doesn't go in the first two it goes in the third one. The third one is given away, rummage sale-d, or donated to charity. It is stuff too good to toss but you do NOT need it anymore. I find it is easier to clean that way, by having white, black, and grey categories. Other goes out the door within a week else it ends up in TOSS.

Only one person should be making the decisions on what goes. If there are two, nothing ever gets tossed. If you KNOW the item belongs to someone else, put it aside then when you're done with your daily purge/reclaim session, take item to the owner and ask them that same question, keep-toss-other... not 'I'll deal with it later'. If you get 'I'll deal with it later' tell them that means toss.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 11:07PM
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I'm tired just reading all of this advice, although it is excellent. With a large box or trash bag handy, straighten one room as if you are having important company, getting rid of the stuff you have moved in doing so. It will get easier each time you do this.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:22AM
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I think almost everyone understands and has had this issue at some point in our lives. Mine was when I got divorced and moved from a large house and into a summer cottage less than half the size. My daughter was living with me at the time and I asked her to help clear things out and make room. She told me she would as long as what she took out I could not bring back in.. I agreed and must admit I moved some things from trash to donate but nothing came back in. Now when a charity calls for a donation pick up I say yes and can always come up with a bag or two of things I no longer use. Maybe you have a friend or family that can help you too. I learned that it is just stuff and you'll enjoy your home when it is lightened up. Then be careful what you bring back or you will end up in the same situation.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:33AM
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CLynch That Property
I can tell you're lacking storage and light. A few wooden shelves may do the trick. You also might want to invest in a few lighter curtains, to make your home look bigger with the light. Good luck!
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 6:48AM
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I give you credit for posting! Can't wait to see the "after" pics! Just do it!
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 6:59AM
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Judy M
Your "stuff" is holding you hostage. Every item needs a "home" which is a place that it is stored when not in use.
Pick a small room ( a bath perhaps) and purge first. How many bottles of shampoo, lotion etc can you really use and need? Keeping items off the floor is always the best.

Can you hang a small cabinet over the toilet or on a wall for storage?

Consider closed storage as much as possible, like a basket with a cover. Work on just keeping the bath organized and once you get in the habit in that room, move onto the next room.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 7:07AM
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I am only content until everything has a home. I can understand your frustration Living with a lot of stuff or clutter can be very stressful. I suggest you sort what you plan to keep. Like with like and find a home for it. Be ruthless remember stuff is just stuff toss or give away what you no longer need.
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 7:13AM
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Where is the poster?
1 Like    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 7:19AM
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You are brave for posting pics of your clutter.
It is a daily battle keeping clutter under control. Every person who dwells in the home HAS to pitch in. One golden rule we follow - For each new object we bring into the house something old has to go. One in, one out.
And we purge frequently.
Good luck with your clutter challenge.
    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 12:48PM
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@Raquel Chapman. What are your thoughts?
    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 4:34PM
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Original post was from jan 2013, Hopefully OP has made a dent in the clutter by now. I really hate how these old posts are resurfacing.
    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:20PM
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Right rocket. I tried to point out that this was happening a lot more lately but the response was "working as intended." /shrug.
    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:24PM
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Marilyn Wilkie
I didn't even notice the date when I replied. At least this wasn't a post from a year ago.
    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:11AM
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@Marilyn. The original post as more than a year ago, Jan 2013. I didn't notice the year either at first, until I saw armygirl's comment.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:22PM
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Think you need some closed storage so you don't have to look at all the stuff.
    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 3:42PM
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Pat Lukes
@rocketjcat...your comments are reviving this thread also.
    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:48AM
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Don't despair ! pretend that you are moving ,pack everything into boxes,give the wall a fresh coat of paint and start from the beginning without clutter this time :)

Since last year probably she has already done so:)
    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:58AM
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