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Find the Flow of Traffic in Your Home to Create Clutter-free, Relaxed Spaces

Do you feel you live in a battle zone where it’s design versus clutter? And your home would look great “if only the clutter didn’t ruin it all”? You’re not alone.This is a tough issue for many. Clutter affects our entire mindset. When you come home from a long day, does your home feel like one more job to do? Or does it offer spaces that rejuvenate you, welcome you, help you relax from your day? It’s easy to tell which experience you should be having in your home. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent with young, active children; or have a home office, or a little of both, we still want to create spaces that re-energize us for the next day.

One of the toughest challenges some of my clients face is feeling that, no matter what they do to make their home look and fit their style, it will return to a frustration because of clutter that builds up. In many instances, space planning and creative problem solving will remove many of the clutter issues.

Don’t Fight the Flow

There is a natural traffic pattern in homes. You may try to set subtle direction clues with flooring changes, or furniture placement, but the shortest route between two points (where they are and where they want to be) is a straight line. And family members will find that straight line, rest assured! Or at least, as close as they can get to one. So don’t fight the flow. Save your energy for the science fair projects and football parties!

Plan your spaces to accommodate the flow of traffic. Because along that flow line, debris will build up: mail, shoes, jackets, bags, keys… and it can all start to overwhelm us. Particularly if you want your home to feel clean and organized, and reflect your personal design style.  In those cases, it may be easiest to create pretty things to hold the clutter. And then, it’s not clutter anymore- it’s where it’s supposed to be! Design your home around the natural traffic flow for well designed spaces that look great, function well, and feel great to be in.

For instance, a nice basket or box can catch mail quite effectively, containing it until you’re ready to sort. The important thing is to place the basket where the mail normally gets dropped. If the normal spot is the dining room table, then you may choose to embrace the location. Place a beautiful deep bowl or basket as the table centerpiece and be done with it. When you’d really like a different location, a minor redirection may be possible.

If you choose to redirect, pick a spot along the traffic route and ideally before the table, where you’ll create your catching place. Sounds simple, right? Well, sometimes it takes a few fails before everyone catches on, but imagine how much easier it will be to adjust if you’re only asking them to put it in the basket along their way, rather than taking it to an entirely different room, out of or further along in their normal route. Make it as easy as possible for the easiest success.

design home around traffic flow for well design spaces and no clutter. Design versus clutter

Pick Your Battle Spots

Choose the rooms that are absolutely the most important to you, prepare for battle, and hold your ground! What room makes the most sense to you will depend on you- we’re all different in our needs. And ideally, this will be a room you actually use! A living room that never gets used and is only kept pristine for the once-a-year visit, isn’t usually feeding your spirit. Those spare rooms are often doing very little to help you energize and relax for the challenges of tomorrow. So think carefully about where you want to start the changes. More often than not, those lovely, untouched rooms only serve as a sharp contrast between what we want and what we live in. Treat yourself better; you deserve it!

Pick rooms in which everyone will be able to enjoy the results of their hard work. That’s the easiest way to get lasting results. Design versus clutter is a very real challenge for many families but the work is well worth the payoff!  Do what you need to do to create a place in your home that makes you feel good. Is the family room your big goal? Okay, start there. Some simple – but not simple to implement, rules will make this space just what you want it to be.

  • Clutter in, clutter out. Toys that come in from other rooms need to return to those rooms when the child leaves the room.
  • For items that are only used in the family room, give them a home in the space.
    • Maybe it’s a rolling bin under the couch, or an ottoman that doubles as storage, or a bin that fits under your coffee table.
    • As long as it’s easily accessible and you are respecting the color, style, and function of the room, any clutter managers will complement the room rather than fight its style.
  • This means you too.
    • Resist the temptation to leave your knitting or crafting or reading materials scattered throughout the room.
    • Just because you’ll be the one cleaning your own mess later, does not give you permission to break the rules.
    • The only result of that will be battles with other family members, and additional deferred work for you.

Another option is to pick a room that will be your retreat, then you can let everyone know that, if they come in, they must leave it exactly as they found it. No stray plates, toys, clothing is allowed to ever be found in that space. Your space; your rules.

Whichever room you choose, create the plan, makes sure it’s easy to follow, and then stick to it. Every single time, with no exceptions. Over time, you’ll form good habits and will be able to (maybe!) include other rooms in the no-clutter zone. But to start with, pick one or two rooms- or even just one or two surfaces, and get ready for some resistance. Old habits die hard. Everyone in the household may be totally on board with the goals, but in the moment, may forget. With dedication to the cause, the battle of design versus clutter can become a habit of organization through good design and space planning.

Most importantly, once you’ve started the plan, Enjoy!

your lovely room of relaxation and style. design versus clutter and wins.

Need a little extra help with the battle of Design versus Clutter? Help is at hand!

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"Specializing in working with what you have"