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12 Things that Make Your Home Look Cluttered

Here are some of the things that make your home look cluttered. Discover tips that will help you reduce clutter and simplify your home and life.

Even though your home may be clean, it can still look cluttered. Having too much clutter in your home can be stressful for some people. 

It can also lead to more work dusting and cleaning. But what are the things that make your house look cluttered?

Things that make your house look cluttered are unorganized, over-stuffed rooms, starting with the entrance hall. Clutter accumulates on kitchen counters, open shelving, and the fridge door. Organize your laundry and pare down the kids’ toys, collectibles and piles of paper to create a tidy, peaceful home.

I’ve broken it down for you: the top reasons why our homes look messy and cluttered, even if they’re clean. To simplify your home and your life, reduce clutter home. You can start by getting rid of excess items so you have less to put away each day and fewer things on your surfaces.

When you’re creating a space to organize your items, it’s important to keep it simple. If it’s too complicated, then you and your family won’t stick with the system and your home will soon be cluttered again. 

Things that make your home look cluttered

Why Should You Reduce Clutter

A cluttered home is a matter of personal preference. Some people don’t like to see anything on counters or on shelves, but others want to display important, pretty, or useful objects on surfaces in their home.  

However, too much clutter can be stressful. It can be a distraction and lead to decreased attention and increased stress. 

You may look at a pile of papers or a too full shelf and become stressed thinking about how you will get rid of it or organize it.

Having less clutter also makes cleaning easier. Instead of picking up each item to dust, you can save time by cleaning the shelf without dusting each individual item.

Reducing clutter can save you time. If your possessions aren’t organized, you’ll spend valuable time looking for them and moving things out of the way to find what you need.

Clutter can cost you money too. Not only did you spend money buying the items, but if you have too much, you may lose items and have to buy them again. 

You may also need to buy more shelves or storage boxes to store your items in.

12 Things that Make Your Home Look Cluttered

#1. A Cluttered Entrance Hall

The entrance hall of your home is responsible for first impressions. When you welcome guests, do they have to step over a heap of backpacks and sneakers? Do you get home and feel overwhelmed by the immediate clutter?

An entryway is often the dumping ground for coats, hats, shoes, and bags. Unless you’ve got somewhere to put them, they’ll end up cluttering the space and looking messy.

A first step towards taming the mess is to set up a drop zone in the entrance hall: hooks or a closet where coats can hang; a basket or rack for shoes; a hatstand; a wall pocket or box for mail; and a bench for bags.

Children can quickly learn to hang up their coats before entering the house. Stopping the clutter from entering with everyone is an excellent start.

#2. A Free-for-All Fridge

My first stop on getting home is the kitchen for a quick cup of coffee and a scan of the fridge. Coming into a messy kitchen is depressing and doesn’t inspire a desire to make dinner.Your fridge is an enormous appliance central to the kitchen.

Your kitchen will look cluttered and messy if the refrigerator has become a free-for-all notice board, art gallery, filing cabinet, and home to your daughter’s collection of party invitations.

It’s tempting to use the fridge in this way. Unfortunately, not only does it look untidy, but it’s also not a suitable method of keeping track of everyone’s school, sporting, and social events.

You’ll likely miss the permission slip for next week’s track meet or visit to the museum.

A tidier option is to put up a neat bulletin board on the wall, only to be used for reminders and lists. Set up a monthly calendar and fill in important dates – you can use different colors for the various family members.

By all means, display your kids’ artwork, but do you really need to keep that finger-painting your teen did when he was three?

Beloved photos and paintings should rather be framed and put up on the kitchen wall, where they will be both decorative and sentimental.

Clean both the outside and the inside of your fridge weekly. For the inside, this helps get rid of expired or spoiled food. 

You’ll be able to find what you need, so you won’t buy more and waste any.  

#3. Crowded Counters

Kitchen counters are notorious for getting cluttered, and it makes your kitchen look dirty. 

You may not even want to cook or spend time in your kitchen because of the clutter. 

With so many kitchen gadgets and tools available, it’s easy to overbuy and keep too much. The waffle maker you haven’t used for a year; a tub of rice; that ugly vase your aunt gave you; and a dead pot plant.

My rule of thumb is to put away everything that doesn’t need to be used daily, and toss, give away, or donate what you’re not using.

Leave out the toaster, the coffee maker, the fruit bowl, and the knife block, for instance. Put the rice in the pantry, and the waffle maker on a back shelf, donate the vase and throw out the potplant.

To declutter your kitchen counters, keep appliances and kitchen tools in drawers and cabinets and not on the counter. As you are organizing, get rid of anything that you haven’t used in six months.  

You may have some holiday dishes or tools that you only use to make a special dish or dessert for the holidays. 

In that case, consider storing them in a box in the basement, garage, or in a closet so they are not in your kitchen.

Here are more tips on Keeping flat surfaces clutter free.

#4. Dishes

Dishes are also a source of clutter in the kitchen. Your kitchen will look many times better if there are no dishes sitting out, whether they are clean or dirty.  

Get into a habit of washing, drying, and putting away dishes every day. Your sink should be empty and clean before you go to bed each night.

Work out a washing-up schedule involving packing and unpacking the dishwasher.

#5. Piles of Paper

Despite living in a digital society, we still seem surrounded by paper. Coupons, bills, magazines, and the endless junk mail seem to breed in heaps and make a mess.

Paperwork can quickly take over your home if it’s not kept in check. It’s important to create a system for your family that is easy to use so you can easily find paperwork when you need it.

Have a spot for the incoming paper (in the entry hall): keep one basket for wanted (or necessary) documents and a recycling bin for the rest.

Consider getting a file folder and using a separate file for each category and one for each family member.  

If you don’t have time to file paperwork daily, set it in a basket or in one place so that you can go through it weekly or monthly. 

In an ideal world, we’d all file papers as they enter the house, but canceling subscriptions or going digital is an easier way to limit paper.

Here are more tips on how to reduce paper clutter.

A cluttered living room.

#6. Too Many Knickknacks

Decorating your home with family photographs, candy dishes, and beloved figurines personalizes and makes it unique.

I understand that and do it too. But having lots of dust-collecting doo-dads and ancient framed photos make your house look cluttered, messy and outdated.

Knicknacks that have accumulated and have no sentimental value can be binned. (That Spiderman figurine left on the mantelpiece has become invisible to you, but it can disappear.)

Or put favorite items to use: a pretty bowl can sit in the entrance hall as a drop zone for keys or be repurposed as a soap dish in the guest bathroom.

If you have a favorite collection of items, display them together on a shelf or table and keep them clean and dusted. Collectibles that look similar always have more impact when displayed together: cohesion is appealing, but scattering is not.

For photos, create a gallery wall with matching frames, immediately looking more up-to-date wherever you hang them.

#7. Disorganized Open Shelving

Many of us have leaped on open shelving to store and display our stuff simultaneously. Unfortunately, if you haven’t curated or at least organized the shelves, the impression is cluttered, and none of your items are shown to their advantage.

A first challenge may be that you have squeezed too much onto the shelves. “Declutter” is becoming a tiresome refrain, but having a lot of possessions and nowhere to store them will condemn your house to eternal messiness.

When you’ve decided what to keep on the shelves, choose a way of organizing or storing them. For example, paperbacks don’t need to be displayed with coffee table books.

They can go in a basket under the bed or be donated to charity. Games or CDs can be in closed boxes on the bottom shelves – displaying cables, movies, and toys looks untidy and man cave-ish.

Open shelves are at their best when they house a small collection of items without overcrowding. A combination of knickknacks looks appealing (books, plants, vases, etc.) when each has a space to shine.

#8. Stuffed Living Spaces (Over-Furnished Rooms)

Not everyone has a large home – the current trend is towards smaller homes – but you need to maintain a realistic sense of proportion as to what fits into your house and what belongs in each room.

Too much furniture can lead to excessive clutter. If each home is filled with furniture, it can be visually distracting. 

Your living or dining room will look messy if you’ve tried to squeeze in too many chairs, sofas, and tables. The space will feel cluttered and claustrophobic, not inspiring a relaxed mood.

There’s a difference between making sure you have enough chairs for the family to sit at the dining table and squashing in a huge buffet to store your collection of beer steins.

It’s great to have a comfortable sofa to sit on and watch a family movie, but do you need 10 throw pillows in all the primary colors?

A smaller home means you need to be creative about storage, but it also means pruning what you don’t need. You might be able to move an armchair into the study and make the living room a little more spacious. Or toss out those accent pillows and reclaim the sofa.

You may want to offer family heirlooms to other family members. If no one else wants it and you do not have a use for it or the space for it, then do not feel guilty selling it and creating a less stressful home.

For your remaining furniture, keep them clean and uncluttered. Make it a point to clear items off your furniture every night so that you don’t wake up to clutter.

#9. Tangled Wires

One of my pet peeves is wires and cords snaking their way across walls and floors or tangling into a rat’s nest. Untidy wiring looks messy, lazy, and careless. They can pose a serious safety hazard.

Detangle the wires and use cord organizers or covers to keep them neat and unobtrusive. There are plenty of ideas on the net for cord camouflagers and cord management systems.

#10. Laundry Blues

Like dishes, laundry never ends. Laundry, whether clean or dirty, folded or ironed, is a massive cause of a messy home. Baskets of clothes end up in doorways, ready to trip over.

Chairs are lost to mounds of clothes you’ve worn and aren’t quite clean enough for the closet but are too clean to put in the laundry. The pile of ironing threatens to overflow onto the kitchen floor.

Put a laundry basket in each child’s bedroom and train them to put their dirty clothes there.

Those fortunate to have a separate laundry room can close the door on the mess, but whatever your home looks like, you should have a laundry system or schedule.

Each family has their own laundry system. Some wash one day a week and put away all of their clothes at the same time. Others wash one load at a time.

If you find it overwhelming to put away laundry, I suggest washing one load at a time.  Do not start another load until the first load is washed, dried, and put away.  

Putting away one load isn’t as overwhelming as putting away several loads at a time.  

Do daily laundry – teens are quite capable – and finish it immediately. Don’t do a half-baked job if you don’t have time to finish the process from washing to folding. You’ll be left with piles of unfolded clothes.

No matter which system you use, be diligent about folding and putting away clothes as soon as they are clean. This reduces wrinkles so you’ll look more put together, too.

If your challenge is putting the clothes away because you can’t find space in your closet, you probably have too many. This is where your inner Marie Kondo needs to surface and clean out your closet. Decluttering your closet may mean a breakthrough in the laundry department.

#11. A Plague of Toys

Any household with children knows that toys can creep across the entire house.

You’ll find plastic dinosaurs in the kitchen, a set of racing cars on the dining room table, and a water pistol on the living room floor. Having toys everywhere is messy and overwhelming for you and the kids.

Begin by – yes – decluttering. Go through the toys with your kids and chuck out broken toys and those they’ve grown out of.

Chances are even after getting rid of several toys, your children will still have too many. Store half of them in plastic bins.

Then in a month or so, bring out those toys and store the ones they are playing with. Keep rotating them so your children have “new” toys each month. 

Decide which zones of the house can have toys and which are toy-free, and teach your little ones to pick up when done playing. Keep a large basket for toys to be dumped into at the end of the day to keep chaos at bay.

#11. Clutter Hotspots

Hot spots are places that clutter naturally collects. This could be your entryway, a kitchen counter, or your table. 

This is where family members place items quickly without putting them away. 

To reduce hot spots, keep track of what is placed there. Then determine where its proper place is.  

If it’s coats and shoes, determine why they aren’t put away. For example, younger children might not be able to reach a hanger to put away a coat. You might want to hang hooks on the wall so they can reach them.  

For shoes, place a shoe rack near the entryway. Then remind your family that only one pair of shoes per person can be out at a time. Other shoes belong in their rooms or in a closet.  

If paperwork collects in hot spots, create a dedicated space for paperwork and file it daily or weekly. 

Want more information on clutter hotspots? You may want to read this article on clutter hotspots and how to tackle them.

#12. Not Having a Place for Everything

Another cause of a cluttered home is not having a place for everything. It sounds old-fashioned, but putting each item away where it belongs creates order.

Final Thoughts

The two leading causes of a cluttered looking home are having too much stuff and not organizing it effectively. Clutter collects in the entrance hall, kitchen counters, fridge, and open shelves. Ditch unwanted paper, toys, books, and collectibles so that you can store or display items you want to keep and avoid a messy, untidy living space.

Related Decluttering Articles:

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Things that make your home cluttered

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Ailsa Peddie

Friday 9th of February 2024

Yes you have inspired me to get rid of stuff. Moving to a smaller house some things have to go. X


Monday 15th of January 2024

I adopted a new rule. If a chore can be done in five minutes or less do it now. Most only take two or three minutes it’s amazing how little and time it takes and how what a difference it makes.

Irene Madrid

Saturday 4th of November 2023

While I am a Maximalist, I am also a Neat Nick....and I have the energy to put things away right after using it. Just rewallpapered EVERY room during my remodel and , yes, I have a lot of furniture in my living room but I have a large family and I think it feels wonderful.


Wednesday 6th of September 2023

Thank you for not assuming like most of these posts that everyone has a dishwasher.


Friday 8th of September 2023

You are welcome.

Nita Johnson

Wednesday 30th of August 2023

My husband passed away 1and a half yrs ago . I didn’t know how much stuff he had and I learned way I never could keep things nice . But if I could have him back , he could clutter anything he wanted . Live is not about our houses . A home is family . Throw away what ever . But keep things that mean something to you .

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