8 Things in Your House That Are Stressing You Out

And how to fix it.

Your home is an extension of yourself. It’s an extension of your personality, your partnerships and, of course, your style. But you already know this, right? What may surprise you, though, is that our homes wield the power to affect our personality, our partnerships and yes, even our style. 

Enter: environmental stressors. These are the things in your space, hiding in plain sight, that will leave you feeling uneasy, unhappy and/or uninspired. And seriously, who has time for any of that? Keep reading to find out what you have lying around that’s making life less fun, plus how to bring back the balance.

The Obvious

Organize Shoes With Uniform Boxes

Organize Shoes With Uniform Boxes

Clean up your closet – and keep your fancy footwear pristine – with the uniform shoe storage plan. Label each box with a snapshot of the enclosed pair, and store special-occasion shoes on the top shelf.

Photo by: Alex Deringer and Courtney Cox; 2 Ivy Lane

Alex Deringer and Courtney Cox; 2 Ivy Lane

The #1 cause of stress in your space right now? Clutter. It’s defined as, “a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.”  It’s everything you own out of its proper place — thing-a-ma-bobs here and several whatchamacallits there. This environment leads to overstimulation and feeling defeated. Our solution? Invest in a cohesive, functional and non-transparent (!!!) organization system to store the plethora of things in your space. Out of sight, out of mind, yet totally in zen.

Spoiled Scents

Vanity With Bath Accessory Tray

Vanity With Bath Accessory Tray

Sophisticated decor with a subtle coastal flair is just the right touch in the charming HGTV Dream Home 2015 master bathroom located in Martha’s Vineyard.

Sometimes life stinks. Literally. Maybe you’ve got a toddler or a three-month-old golden retriever in the early stages of potty-training. Maybe you’ve got a teenage son (or full-grown husband) who leaves dirty socks to rot in the corner. It doesn’t matter. When faced with a stench permeating your space, regain control before this stressor ignites mega-resentment in your home. Our go-to fix? Fresh blooms, scented candles or stove-top scents made from seasonal spices and essential oils. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to shrug off sweaty socks when your bedroom smells like fresh lavender.

The Pile-Up

Laundry Room With Wire Baskets and Rug

Laundry Room With Wire Baskets and Rug

Interesting pulls and playful tiles take the basic white backdrop of this laundry room and turn the look into something fun. A rug on the floor adds another cozy texture. Wire baskets make organizing linens a snap.

Photo by: Tessa Neudstadt

Tessa Neudstadt

Whether it be the dishes in the sink, the laundry in the corner or just the general “to-do” list hanging on the fridge, piling up chores can lead to serious anxiety. The longer you put off the little chores, the larger the task at hand becomes. Our suggestion is to give yourself a structured schedule to reference throughout the week and make the time to check tasks off the list. For those of you with 10-foot heaps overflowing from the hamper, don’t overthink it. You’ve got to start somewhere, so commit to taking it one load at a time.

Bad Lighting

Dining Space Feels A Part of the Outdoors

Dining Space Feels A Part of the Outdoors

Surrounded by glass walls, the dining area in this home was meant to feel as if it were a part of the outdoors.

Photo by: Gaszton Gal Photography

Gaszton Gal Photography

We’ve come such a long way from our cave-dwelling days, so why revert? Don’t let your home become dark and dingy with poor lighting. Change your light-bulbs and maybe splurge on a swoon-worthy lamp or two. The best advice, though? If you’ve got windows, use ‘em! Natural light is imperative to a happy, healthy life and is guaranteed to give you a mood and energy boost on the spot.

The Excess

Bright White Closets in Eclectic Bedroom

Bright White Closets in Eclectic Bedroom

Floor-to-ceiling closet doors in the master bedroom have a grand effect combined with the vaulted ceiling. Most importantly, they create a clean facade to keep clothes, shoes and accessories organized. Open shelves allow the homeowner to display favorite pictures and accessories.

Photo by: Laura Metzler

Laura Metzler

We’ve heard it a time or two, “if you love it, buy it in every color!" The problem with this? Two years later you have twice — nay, triple — the number of shoes, shirts and once-stylish skirts that you are never going to wear again. Even if you manage to squeeze ‘em all in your closet and drawers, you come face-to-face with them each day when searching for the items you do wear. This calls for a serious, systematic purge of your closet. Gather boxes and curate a poppin’ playlist if you must, but spend the time necessary to eliminate the excess in your space and donate to a charity of your choice. The relief will be well worth it, trust me.

The TVs

Neutral Living Room With White Fireplace and Polka Dot Drapes

Neutral Living Room With White Fireplace and Polka Dot Drapes

Custom polka dot draperies and white island raffia wallpaper set the tone for this comfortable living room. A linen couch and custom throw pillows in various patterns complement the upholstered light blue armchairs, tying together the room's color palette. A natural oak coffee table has clear acrylic legs, giving the illusion of a floating table, adding a contemporary touch to this traditional space.

Ah, overstimulation at its finest. TVs in every room can be too much of a good thing and leave you feeling drained and distracted throughout the day. Keep screen time at a minimum by keeping the television in the living room only.

Competing Noises



Girl holding cup of hot tea and reading in bed. Around her in bad earphones, book, smart phone. Decorative lights in background.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, petrunjela

©iStockphoto.com, petrunjela

The game is on in the living room, Housewives is on in the bedroom and your teenage daughter is dishing the latest drama on the phone upstairs. The competing noises will leave you feeling pulled in every direction and make concentration nearly impossible. Enter: white noise. Find your calm in the chaos that is life by neutralizing with noise-canceling headphones or listen to calming, classical music.

Oversized + Awkward

Rustic-Inspired Clubhouse With Midcentury Modern Pizzazz

Rustic-Inspired Clubhouse With Midcentury Modern Pizzazz

Paneled walls in a forest green hue pair with mustard yellow chairs and a tobacco stick chandelier to establish a rustic, woodsy-inspired feel in this clubhouse. A midcentury modern coffee table and sofa offset the rustic feel.

Photo by: Cortney Bishop Design

Cortney Bishop Design

Having a proper amount of personal space is vital, right? It’s easy to detect when an overbearing friend violates your personal space, but surprise: oversized, clunky furniture is just as guilty! The chunky, disproportionate pieces can leave you feeling uncomfortable or out of place in your own home because they are taking up bits and pieces of your personal space. Rid yourself of this uneasiness by selecting furnishings that are to-scale with your surroundings. It’ll feel like a breath of fresh air, promise.

Stop Household Clutter: 25 Things to Get Rid of Right Now

See All Photos

Cardboard Food Boxes

Ditch the cardboard boxes and plastic bags that go with your cereal, snacks and dry goods. They're ugly, take up lots of space and don't keep your food fresh. Instead, opt for glass jars (like HGTV Magazine did here) or airtight food storage containers.

Photo By: Lincoln Barbour

Wire Hangers

Mommie Dearest said it best: No more wire hangers! Ditch those dry cleaner hangers for matching plastic or wooden versions.

Your Dish Sponge

When was the last time you replaced the sponge in your kitchen sink? If it's been more than a month, toss it. In between, sanitize it with a spin in the dishwasher.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Natalie Wright

Dirty Air Filters

It’s important to schedule a maintenance checkup for your HVAC system every spring and fall, but in the meantime, filters need to be checked once a month. When they’re dirty, change them; dirty filters shorten the lifespan of your system. 

Photo By: ©iStockphoto.com/slobo

Old Shoes

Get rid of any shoes that are broken beyond repair, worn out or missing a mate. Can't remember the last time you wore a still-good pair? Donate to a thrift store.

Clothing You've Never Worn

Donate or sell any items of clothing you've had for more than a year without wearing.

Too-Small Kids' Clothing

The same goes for clothing your children can no longer wear: Unless it's an heirloom, donate or sell to free up the space.

Old Toys

Donate toys your child has outgrown, then get ideas for upcycling hand-me-downs they can't bear to part with.

Old Halloween Costumes

If they've moved on from ninjas to superheroes, go ahead and donate that old costume.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Filled Coloring Books

Display your child's favorite works of art in a gallery wall or a photo album, then recycle the rest.

Photo By: Courtesy of Jamielyn Nye and HomeGoods

Socks Without a Mate

We all have that bag of socks without their, ahem, sole mate. If you've done a full round of laundry without finding their partner, it's time to let them go.

Expired Makeup

How long have those cosmetics been lurking in your makeup bag? Mascara should be replaced every three months. Foundation and concealer are good for about a year, while lipstick, eye shadow and blush should be replaced every two years.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Melissa Hruska

Makeup Samples

Give away anything you know you won't use. That perfume you didn't like would go great in a DIY spa gift for your loved one.

Expired or Unidentifiable Medication

Dispose of old prescriptions and anything you can't identify — but — because meds are considered hazardous waste, it's important that you follow the FDA's guidelines. Also, check with your local pharmacy or law enforcement agencies, many offer year-round or seasonal drug take-back days so you can safely drop off unwanted meds for proper disposal.

Old Spices

Most ground spices should be replaced after 12 months. A simple test? Give each one a wiff. If there's no scent, there will be no flavor. Go ahead and toss it!

Photo By: Faith Durand ©Elana's Pantry

Your Toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush once every three months for maximum brushing power.

Last Year's Holiday Cards

You've enjoyed them, now it's time to let them go. Record any addresses to your phone or computer before chucking them into the recycling bin.

Last Year's Gift Wrap

You probably refresh your wrapping paper supply while Christmas shopping, anyway, so go ahead and recycle the old stuff. If you can't bear to part with it, try keeping it organized in a rolling mesh laundry basket. You can also turn last year's leftovers into festive decor.

Photo By: Flynnside Out

Last Year's Calendar

Embrace the current year by recycling last year's calendar. The same goes for a dated datebook.

Unidentified Frozen Objects

Toss any unidentifiable objects in the refrigerator or freezer.

Photo By: Andy Vinson of Loch & Key Productions

Movies You Don't Love

If you'd only give a film one thumb up or you wouldn't watch it again, give it away or sell at a used electronics store. And those VHS tapes? If you don't have a player, let those go, too.

Expired Food

Throw away any canned goods past their expiration date. If you discover still-good packaged food you didn't like or won't eat, donate to a local food pantry.

Cookbooks You Never Use

Give unused to your foodie friends who will get more use out of them.

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/ Getty Images

Take-Out Menus

You can typically find menus and numbers for all your go-tos online. Keep your favorites in one place by placing them in a plastic folder and adhering the folder to the inside of your kitchen cabinet — it also works well for recipes!

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Cristin Bisbee Priest

Take-Out Condiments

How many ketchup packets to you really need?

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Unidentifiable Keys

Most recycling centers have mixed metal bins you can toss old keys in. Make sure to remove any rubber coverings before you recycle.

Old Formal Wear

If you know you'll never wear it after the event, sell it or donate it — there are several organizations that will take that old bridesmaid, prom dress or tux off your hands to give to someone in need.

Old Glasses

When you get your next pair of prescription frames, donate the old ones.

Business Cards

Congrats, you just got promoted! And now you've got 300 unused business cards with your old title. Go ahead and recycle them.

Broken Umbrellas

The frustration a flimsy, broken umbrella brings is worth the cost of replacing it.

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Old Chargers and Cables

A friend or relative might be able to use a spare USB cable or an old charger. Anything you can't give away can usually be recycled in electronic stores or online. Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into "cubbies" with scraps of cardboard. Label each section, so you'll never confuse the camera cord for the phone charger again, and give the boxes a bit of color by decorating the cardboard with scrapbook paper.

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jones

Remote Controls

Between digital video recorders, DVD players and cable boxes, most homeowners have more remote controls than they know what to do with. Get rid of extras you don't recognize anymore.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions


CD collection getting dusty? Organize the ones you really want to keep and sell or give away the rest.

Photo By: AH86

Old Paint

Properly sealed (read: air-tight) paint can last for up to 10 years if kept at an even temperature and prevented from freezing. However if, like most of us, you store leftover paint in the garage or shed, the temperature swings will cause it to break down much quicker. If you have old paint cans with bulging lids, leaky seams or, once opened, a thick layer of dried paint on top, it's time to give that can the toss. But, before tossing, research safe disposal steps by contacting your local household hazardous waste center. If the paint is still usable, you may even be able to donate it to a local charity, like Habitat for Humanity or even a local scout troop or school that could use the paint for crafts.

Photo By: malerapaso


If you think you might return it or need to keep a reciept for a warranty, try scanning the receipts and keeping copies online instead of an old shoebox.

Books That Are Falling Apart

If your favorite read is falling apart, it may be time to buy a new copy.

Curtains From Your Old Place

You brought them thinking surely they'd fit a window in your new place — your new set of windows say otherwise. If you're handy with a sewing machine, old window treatments can be altered to fit your new space.

Your Old License Plate

Appliance Manuals

Most appliance manuals have an online version. Keep really important ones together in a folder.

Super-Specialized Appliances

If you've only used that fryer once since you bought it, give it away.

Soap Scraps

Unless you're really dedicated to melting down the slivers into one mega-soap, toss them out.

From: Genevieve Gorder

Photo By: Chris Amaral

Broken Picture Frames

An exception: If you love the frame but the glass is shattered, you can get a new piece cut to size at a local glass repair shop.

Bottles and Jars

Your kitchen cabinets were meant for better things. From DIY Network: 11 Ways to Upcycle Mason Jars and Wine Bottles

Photo By: Eric Perry ©2014, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Games With Missing Pieces

It's not nearly as fun if you don't have all the pieces.

Photo By: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/istockphoto.com

Old Maps

Let your GPS do all the hard work. Try mounting keepsake maps as wall art.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Stale Potpourri

Once the scent fades, potpourri quickly turns into a dust magnet.

Disposable Cameras

Everyone's still got a couple lying around. If you've still got some that you haven't used, turn it into a game — hand them out to family and friends then get the pictures developed to see what you get!

Old Craft Supplies

When you're crafty, supplies take up space and fast. Throw away any dried up glue sticks, old paint and paintbrushes and then reorganize the supplies you want to keep.

Instruments No One's Playing

Giving up on the flute lessons? Musical instruments can be donated and given a second life to someone who needs them.

©2010, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved/Image courtesy of HGTV Design Star

Plastic Storage Containers

If it's got a spaghetti stain that just won't come out, let it go.

Keep Reading

Next Up

8 Things That Make Your Home Look Messier Than You Think

The chair in the corner of your bedroom. You know the one.

7 Things You're Forgetting to Clean

Even if you're a neat freak, you may be neglecting these spots.

Find Out How to Organize as You Decorate

Get tips for decorating in an organized fashion.

8 Apps That Make Life So Much Easier

Stay organized and efficient with these life hack apps, from synced grocery lists to simple budget trackers.

An 8-Step Game Plan for the Reluctant Minimalist

Sometimes lots (and lots) of wrapping paper brings you joy.

How to Switch Out Seasonal Clothing

Keep your clothing organized and well-cared for throughout each season with our how-to list.

10 Things to Get Rid of Now

You'll be surprised at how much you won't miss these items.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.