Common design mistakes that make your home cluttered

You clean your house all the time, but for some reason it always looks a bit messy. Which give? It could be one of the most common design mistakes – an undiagnosed clutter.

When you live in the same space for a long time, it’s easy to pile up a whole lot of stuff, and you might not even notice all the little things that make your home visually messy. Cleaning up the clutter can lead to some pretty positive benefits, such as reducing anxiety, reducing feelings of guilt, and inspiring deeper creativity. So it’s worth the time and effort.

We’ve put together a list of the common culprits of the mess, so you can create a clean, calming atmosphere you’ll love living in.

1. Hang up your curtains the right way around

Hang the curtains high and wide. | Jovy86 / Getty Images

Follow any design blog, and you’ll see that they recommend hanging your curtains “tall and wide”. But what does this mean exactly?

You might be tempted to mount your curtain material directly on the trim around the window. But that could make your windows smaller, which in turn makes the whole room look tiny and cluttered. Instead, hang curtains all the way to the floor and place the hardware as close to the ceiling as possible. Also, place them a few inches wider than the windows themselves. This creates the illusion of larger windows, which makes the whole room look bigger.

2. Get rid of those counters

Get it all over the counter. |

Just because it’s a flat surface doesn’t mean you have to fill it with stuff. Whether you’re staging your home for sale or just looking to live a more minimalist lifestyle, try to keep as few appliances as possible on the counter to avoid looking messy. That blender that you only use once every three months? Store it in a cupboard and only take it out when you need it. It is also easier to clear the counters when they are completely empty.

3. Let in the light

Small bright and cozy room with refined decorations

Reflects sunlight. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images

Dark rooms naturally look more cluttered, no matter how much stuff they contain. To brighten up your space, consider hanging a mirror directly in front of a window to reflect natural sunlight. Other tips include choosing pale paint colors, adding tables and floor lamps in the corners, and selecting light-colored monochrome furniture wherever possible.

4. Hide the cords

modern living room

Visible cords look messy. |

Nothing looks more cluttered than a tangle of ropes. Televisions, game consoles, lamps, all of these require electricity. And when you add a limited number of takes to the mix, it’s easy to end up with a big mess. Rather than pushing your cord behind furniture, try some of these tips for camouflaging ugly wires. Your room will feel more arranged with almost no effort.

5. Rearrange the furniture


Float your furniture. | Robert Daly / Getty Images

Resist the urge to push all the furniture up against the wall. This common mistake can result in a cluttered look as it leaves fewer sight lines in the room and fewer unbroken paths for your eye. It also leaves a dead zone in the middle of the room.

Lack of space ? Do not worry. Even pulling your sofa away from the wall a few inches and adding a side chair can make a huge difference in creating the illusion of a larger room. Ideally, furniture should be at least one foot from the wall and you should have 3 feet of walking space.

6. Leave a place for your eyes to rest

colorful vase with flower on wooden table and sofa in living room

Group the elements into threes. | Ben-Bryant / Getty Images

You might have spent years collecting ceramic turtle figurines, but displaying them all at once leads to a visually cluttered space. Instead, try to group your knickknacks in groups of three and never fill a shelf or coat with too many items. The less trinkets, the better.

7. Choose the right mat

Beautiful living room interior

Make sure your mat is the right size. | Hiker / Getty Images

One of the most common mistakes home decorators make is choosing a rug that is too small for the room. It can make the room smaller and smaller rooms automatically seem more cluttered. Here’s a good rule of thumb: make sure you have at least 2 feet of your furniture on the carpet, so you never let a carpet “float” in the middle of the room.

8. Be aware of negative space

Living room interior background with wooden side table

Less is more. | Scovad / Getty Images

Just like with photography, what’s there is just as important as what’s not the. Leaving some empty wall space and empty shelves can help make your room less cluttered in general.

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