You aren’t a clean freak. You don’t find joy and happiness from scrubbing your shower grout with a toothbrush.
(And if you do, bless your heart. You can come over to my house and find joy anytime.)
But, just because you don’t look forward to cleaning, doesn’t mean you don’t care about your home. You want a beautiful home. You work hard to buy your home and fill it with things you love.
But there’s more to a beautiful home than beautiful things.
I’m convinced that the first step to a beautiful home isn’t something you can buy at HomeGoods – it’s something much less sexy.
Yep. It’s about keeping your home neat. The best parts? Keeping a neat home is almost free. And keeping a neat home doesn’t have to take a lot of time, either.
I know that many of you struggle to create a home that really feels put together. I know it because you have told me. And I’ve struggled with that, too.
I also know that keeping your home neat can feel like a constant struggle – it’s not always easy for me, either. (Even though Ryan would tell you I’m a bit
finnicky crazy about having a neat house.)
Last year, I shared a post about lazy-girl tips for a clean house and it’s become the most popular post on the entire blog. None of this stuff is rocket science. But it’s also not always easy. Because you are tired. And busy. And not always motivated.
So if you ever wonder why you aren’t happy with the state of your home, here are four mistakes you could be making …
You have crap on your counters (and your tables).
Think of the last kitchen you drooled over on Pinterest … it doesn’t matter what the design or style or budget.
Did it have stacks of mail on the counter? Could you see every single small appliance the homeowner owned?
I’m going to guess … no.
It takes serious editing to keep your counters clear. But the less stuff you have on your counter, the more put-together it looks.
So, take stock of what’s on your countertop and consider what could be stored away. Because when kitchen countertops have less stuff, the space looks bigger, cleaner and simply more purposeful.
A few examples:
- We use our coffeemaker daily. But instead of having it out on the countertop, we created a built-in area in our cupboards where it can be used and then hidden away.
- We don’t use our stand mixer more than once a week. It’s much more practical to bring it out when we use it as opposed to keeping it out as a reminder of how un-domestic I am. (If you have to dust it before turning it on, that may be an indicator it can be put into a cabinet. Ask me how I know.)
- We created a few drop zones in our kitchen to corral paperwork and decorative items. Trays and cake stands are both great ways to keep extra items in one place. And as a bonus, the amount of space is finite. If there’s too many catalogs in the bin, we know we have to get rid of something or move it somewhere else.
It’s really easy to get lazy when it comes to stuff on the counters. (SO MUCH JUNK MAIL.)
And it’s not just paperwork or dishes or small appliances that can be an issue. Even too much decorative stuff can look cluttered. I like to have a few areas for decor in our kitchen, but I try to keep them restricted to certain areas and leave plenty of countertop space, which makes everything look a little more intentional.
Oh, and as a P.S. – the same thing goes for the dining room or kitchen table. I prefer to have my table set – at least with a table runner and centerpiece. (I don’t always have my dishes out.) This habit it much less likely that junk will find a home there.
You don’t have a place to store junk.
Here’s the truth. Every single home owner has junk that needs a home.
If you tell me you don’t, I’m giving you serious side-eye.
But you wouldn’t know that junk is an issue by looking at rooms in the magazines. I just want to know, “WHERE DO YOU PUT YOUR EXTRA SCOTCH TAPE?” (Or ink pens, kids art supplies, coupons, that case of paper towels … the list goes on and on.)
The key – finding a home for the junk that doesn’t have a home.
There’s an easy way to find out which of your junk items need a home. Look around and see what’s currently out of place. In our home, we tend to have problems with electronics and chargers, shoes and notebooks.
If you are consistently seeing stray junk, it’s a clue that you need to find it a better home. And this is true even if you technically know where something is supposed to be stored away. If you have a storage area for something that’s not being used, maybe it’s too inconvenient and you need to think outside the box.
In our home, anything that takes more than 5 extra steps is probably too inconvenient. We are super lazy.
One thing that’s worked for us is to use baskets and bins to corral the junk. It keeps things hidden in plain sight but keeps things relatively organized and neat to the general observer.
You let dirty stuff pile up and stare you down.
Dishes and laundry – two of the most dreaded tasks in your home – and also two of the most important tasks to keep your home looking neat.
I am convinced that doing dishes right away is easier than letting those nasty pans stare you down all day. Maybe I’m crazy, but a cleared out sink just looks better.
So don’t wait. Load that dishwasher or clean those dishes. Immediately. It will keep the pain from building up and boiling over.
This isn’t to say that this is easy. But making it a habit to do the dishes immediately is worth the effort. Because the kitchen really is the heart of most homes. And a pile of dirty dishes doesn’t give the vibe you are looking for.
In a similar way, find a process for laundry. Because if you have piles of dirty or clean laundry all over your home, it can be overwhelming. And I totally hate laundry, so seeing it staring me down stresses me out. I couldn’t let it stress me out too much.
My strategy for laundry is to keep things in one place – our whole family puts our laundry in one bin. And when it’s full, I wash and dry it as soon as I can. (Preferably before it takes me days to finish.) And then I fold and put it away in one fair swoop. Because even stacks of clean laundry can haunt you.
And if you hate these, that’s what kids are for. Am I right? 😉
The bottom line – you can create a home that looks pulled together.
Let’s just say it – your home doesn’t look like the room you drool over on Pinterest. It’s okay. Mine doesn’t either.
And there’s a good reason for that – WE LIVE IN OUR HOMES. And I’d venture to guess that the perfection we drool over on Pinterest is carefully curated and edited and photographed.
But that doesn’t mean that your home can’t look amazing in real life – even if you live in it and squash your pillows. It just takes a little focus and some simple habits to create a home that looks more like the rooms you love.
What are your tips for a neater home?
Psst: If you want more tips to create a neat and clean home but don’t have a lot of time, check out my lazy-girl tips.
And if you like it, put a pin on it.