Reclaim the Dining Table: 10 Ways to Declutter

Has your kitchen or dining table become a catchall for flotsam? Here’s how to retake these valuable surfaces.
Kitchen With Pewter Blue Cabinets & Flowers in Vase on Wood Table

Transitional Kitchen Boasts Pewter Blue Cabinets

Sweet and fresh style fills this gourmet kitchen, where any chef would find inspiration. The custom pewter blue lower cabinets add depth to the neutral palette.

By: Kim Hildenbrand

It’s time to set the table for dinner — but the surface is covered in the whole family’s belongings. How can you cut the clutter and reclaim your dining area?

“Clutter tends to accumulate if items don't have a designated place where they are stored,” says Stacey Platt, author of What’s a Disorganized Person to Do? and owner of DwellWell, a lifestyle management company in New York City.  “Evaluate what tends to pile up on the dining room and kitchen table and then create systems of organization for those things in other places within the home.”

Consider these strategies for taking back your table.

Move the mail. If your table is home to a mountain of bills, greeting cards, and junk mail, it’s time to set up a mail processing area near the door. Platt recommends creating storage solutions within the room’s existing furniture. “If your mail piles up on the dining table,” she says, “a sideboard can house a basket for mail, small file boxes, envelopes and stamps for paying bills, and even a printer.”

Corral kids’ belongings. If your children use the kitchen table for homework, board games, or craft projects, clear the supplies off the table after each use and store them in basket or bins. Platt suggests choosing containers that you can easily pull out of the sideboard. If you’d prefer to reserve the table for meals only, set up desks or tables in bedrooms for other activities.

Sort your magazines. Many tables are home to towering stacks of reading material. Your first step: Go through the issues and decide which you want to save information from (for instance, clip a recipe), which you want to discard, and which you want to keep. The keepers can be arranged by category in magazine holders and placed on a bookshelf or in a storage ottoman.


Hang jackets and backpacks. If your kids use the table as a drop zone for jackets, sweaters, and backpacks, it may be time to overhaul your entryway. “Install hooks near the front door to prevent jackets and backpacks from making it as far as the dining room,” Platt suggests. 

Set up a pet station. If leashes and treats land on the table after walks with the dog, place stacking bins near the entry to hold pet items.

Keep keys safe. Car keys tossed on the table are easily lost. Designate a spot by the door, such as a row of small hooks or a stylish dish, and place the keys there every time you enter.

Relocate electronic devices. If you have to gather up cell phones, tablets, cords, and chargers every time you set the table, consider designating a charging station in a convenient spot. This will keep devices safe, charged, and out of the way.

Move the laundry. Has your kitchen table has become a folding station for fresh-from-the-dryer clothing or stray baskets of socks? Revamp your laundry area to include a work surface, such as a fold-down table or tall cart.

Stash dining accessories. To keep the table clear between meals, tuck the napkin holder, salt and pepper shakers, placemats, and other items in a sideboard or buffet.

Be space-smart. Don’t fill your dining room sideboard, buffet, or shelves with fancy china and holiday decorations you need only once a year. Instead, relocate seldom-used belongings and take advantage of the prime real estate for storing items you use more frequently.

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