How to Reduce Clutter to Reduce Stress

Clutter has been scientifically proven to raise stress levels. Follow these simple steps for a smarter, healthier and clutter-free home to help you feel more relaxed.

By: Charity Curley Mathews
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Photo By: Courtesy of CG&S Design-Build

Just Say No

"Step away from the sale rack." That's Ashley and husband Greg's best advice to keep your kitchen counters clean, giving you one less thing to stress about. "Just because it's the latest and greatest kitchen gadget doesn't mean it needs to take up space in your kitchen," they say. "Stick with the basics. This makes your kitchen a lot easier to organize and keep organized."

Speed-Clean Clutter Control

Fifteen minutes of tidying every night: That's the secret to a stress-free home, says Ashley Brown of the Seventh House on the Left. "We call it the Bumble Bee Cleaning method," she says. "Our regimen includes straightening up the pillows on the sofa, wiping down the kitchen countertops, taking out the trash and starting the dishwasher. It makes waking up the next morning so much more enjoyable."

Quick-Stop Cleaning Supplies

"Make your cleaning supplies easy to grab and go," says Becky Rapinchuk of the Clean Mama. "Hang supplies from wire shelving, so it's easy to see when you're running low. Add S-hooks to neatly store brooms, mops, dusters and more.

Create a Mini Home Office

By installing a small cabinet under a floating shelf, Ashli Malinek of the Mini Manor added essential storage for a small home command center. "It holds everything — stationery, a printer, catalogs and more — and it's where we pay bills, take down phone messages and keep a calendar," she says. "It keeps our family on track and organized."

Gift-Wrapping Station

Don't know what to do with that small, awkward closet? Turn it into a gift-wrapping station by installing rods to hang gift wrap and include baskets for holding all the necessary tools. This will make everything easy to find, while freeing up space underneath beds. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Pack It Up

Laura Wittman of Organizing Junkie installed a backpack station right outside her garage door. "When the kids come home, they remove any necessary notes and homework and hang their backpacks up. Once homework is done, it all goes back into the backpack ready for the next day."

Bathroom Storage

"Hang a shoe organizer on the bathroom cabinet door," suggests Courtney Fernan of A Thoughtful Place. It's more convenient to open the door and easily find everything from nail polish remover and bronzer, to new razors, hair spray and more. "I got in a habit of keeping things on the counter, but now it is all tucked away."

Open Shelving for Linens and Supplies

Since it forces you into smart and attractive grouping, open shelving can work wonders for crowded linen closets. "We realized that a few chic baskets could convert our claustrophobic closet into clean and functional open shelving," says Sherry Petersik of Young House Love. Reuse baskets and white planters from around the house to keep essentials at hand.

Simple Laundry Room Updates

"We did two major things that changed my laundry life for the better," says Ashli. "The first was adding a counter above the washer and dryer — no more fishing out socks from behind the dryer. Second was the addition of a rod instead of a cabinet. It is so nice to have a dedicated spot to hang wet clothes."

Space-Saving Pantry Tip

An easy and budget-friendly way for storing boxes with individually wrapped snacks is to cut the tops off the boxes for easy access, says Becky. "There are no flaps to open and close; just trim them off and you have free storage."

Labeled Storage Bins

Instead of folding everything in drawers or piling on a shelf, Cas Aarsen of Clutterbug uses bins in her closet. "The best part is how much easier it makes putting away laundry," she explains. "Use bins for pajamas, camisoles, bathing suits, workout clothes and off-season clothing. For a baby's room, use bins for blankets, shoes, towels and crib sheets."

Magazine Rack Wall Art

Nothing clutters up a coffee table faster than a leaning stack of magazines. When Courtney first decided to hang a magazine rack on her living room wall, her husband thought it would look like a doctor's office. But with inspiring labels like "Imagine," "Create" and "Savor," this stylish setup grew on him. "I have a small obsession with thumbing through my shelter magazines, so it's really nice to have some of my favorites so accessible," she says.

Corralling Kids' Toys

Rotate toys in and out of a larger storage area, keeping only a handful of current favorites available. Sherry has a three-basket system for communal rooms in the house: a basket for toys in the living room, another for books and a third basket for books in the office.

Grab-and-Go Kids' Pantry

Put all the kids' dishes, cups and snacks in one low cupboard they can easily access, says Cas. "My kids love having a little more independence, and I love that they can help set the table and empty the dishwasher. This saves you time and gives kids a sense of responsibility."

Sweater Storage Solution

Sweaters never seem to find a happy home — regular hangers leave stretch marks and folding them usually means wrinkles. To avoid these problems, hang lightweight sweaters folded over children's plastic hangers says Megan Ardoin of Honey, We're Home. "They are the perfect size for sweaters, and you won't get that annoying fabric stretching in the shoulders."

Organized Pantry

Instead of splurging on a custom pantry with pullout drawers, Courtney labels and strategically groups items to create the same effect on the cheap. Store spices in the door, and use clear canisters to make it easy to tell when food is running low.