Organizing the Bedroom

Bedroom organization requires sorting and cleaning to make your personal space a calming haven.


A bedroom is the home’s most personal space. Clean and decluttered, the bedroom can be an oasis of calm and order.

Photo by: Nader Essa

Nader Essa

A bedroom is the home’s most personal space. Clean and decluttered, the bedroom can be an oasis of calm and order.

Marriage counselors and doctors who treat sleep disorders tell us that clean, uncluttered bedrooms make for happy homes and a good night's rest — but you wouldn't know it, judging by the clutter in a typical master bedroom, which for many families becomes a second-level storage area.

The theory seems to be that since the eyes are closed while sleeping, the mind won't notice the disorder. Tumbled laundry spills over fitness equipment, books and crafts projects compete for floor space, a motley gang of dirty dishes sends colonies of water glasses to new settlements under the bed and atop the bureau and the bedroom television wears a rakish cap of piled mail and unpaid bills.

A chaotic bedroom makes you feel wired and tired. If you want sweet (organized) dreams, it's time to get organized — but be prepared to devote several declutter sessions to rout out chaos in the bedroom.

Get It Tidy 

Gather your declutter tools — timer, boxes and garbage bags — for a STOP clutter session in the bedroom. Because so many unauthorized items wander into the bedroom (or are thrust there, unwilling, at the sound of the doorbell), the Put Away box will do extra duty during a bedroom declutter.

  • Sort. Set the timer for 20 minutes, and start by tackling the bed area. Drag everything out from beneath it, and behind and inside the nightstand. Sort each item into one of the boxes: Put Away, for items that belong in other rooms; Sell/Donate for no-longer-needed items that are still in good repair; Storage, for items that belong in storage areas. Using the same strategy, move onto dressers and bureaus, and any clutter littering the floor. Work systematically around the space and, little by little, you'll reclaim the bedroom as the sanctuary it's intended to be.
  • Toss. As you sort, consign broken items and litter straight to the garbage bag.
  • Organize. The smart declutterer notes where the clutter is coming from, and then looks for ways to prevent the buildup in the future. As you declutter, pay attention to the cause of the problem. Scattered piles of dirty clothes signal a need for a laundry basket in a nearby spot. Linty piles of pocket change, subway tickets and crumpled receipts can be kept under control with a pretty copper bowl or wooden box designated for pocket-emptying at day's end. Stacks of unopened moving boxes, resident along the wall since you moved in, indicate a need for a household storage plan.
  • Put away. When the timer bell rings, stop the session. Circle the house with the Put Away box. Put Sell/Donate items in the car trunk for delivery to charity. Add Storage items to attic, basement or garage storage areas.

Keep It Clean

If the bedroom is to be a calm and peaceful haven, it's not enough for it to be tidy — it must be clean, too. To achieve this, include it in the household cleaning schedule. The primary goal: to reduce and remove dust, dander and other irritants.

Weekly vacuuming and dusting is a must in the bedroom. Pay particular attention to window treatments; vacuuming drapes and dusting shades will help to keep air quality high. Baseboards, too, need regular attention to keep dust buildup away. If the room contains a television, computer or entertainment center, use an electrostatic dry cleaning cloth to collect dust weekly, as electronic equipment attracts dust.

Wash windows seasonally, and wipe down sills and window fittings to remove dust and dirt. A lamb's wool duster picks up any dusty residue on walls and snags cobwebs on ceilings or in corners; when necessary, wash the walls to remove smudges and stains. Seasonal cleaning should also include lampshades and the light-diffusing bowls from overhead fixtures; you'll see clearly and cut the dust with clean lighting. Allergy sufferers may want to add a portable air filtration unit to improve air quality.

Tips for Bedroom Clutter Personalities

Our bedrooms reveal more about us than our taste in bed linens; they offer bedrock evidence of clutter personality type. Expressing personal taste in the bedroom is one thing, but try to rein in clutter personality excess with these tips:

Sentimentalist. Visiting the sentimentalist's bedroom is like a trip in a time capsule. Too often, the room sports so many cherished symbols of the past that there's no room to move. Childhood teddies nestle next to sports equipment, the walls are papered with posters and portraits tracking earlier enthusiasms, and bureaus sprout a forest of athletic trophies.

If you're a bedroom sentimentalist, learn to celebrate the now! Cut the ties to sentimental clutter by saving a symbol and releasing the surplus. Deforest the bureau of a trophy collection, for example, by choosing the most memorable award. Photograph it, and then write a brief description of the memory it provokes. Tuck photo and journal entry into a scrapbook, then donate the trophy collection to a youth organization for recycling.

Rebel. The bedroom can be the last refuge of a rebel clutter personality. While he or she may present a self-controlled face in the rest of the house, the riotous bedroom remains, strewn knee-deep in rumpled clothing and half-eaten sandwiches.

If you're a rebel, remind yourself that you're a big kid now! Big kids have better things to do in their bedrooms than relive a childhood power struggle. Give yourself permission to pursue your adult side, and create an atmosphere of relaxation, not rebellion, in this most intimate of all rooms.

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