You may have tried a zillion organizational hacks to tame household clutter by obsessively shrinking and hiding everything in sight. But there’s another way to tackle a cluttered home: embrace the clutter instead of fighting it. “More than ever, everyone is being forced to live their authentic selves,” said Amber Dunford, design psychologist and style director for Overstock.com. For some, that means ditching the minimalist aesthetic in favor of “cluttercore” (a trend known for embracing densely packed decor, but not just dumping everything in a cluttered heap.)
You don’t have to beat yourself up about unattainable standards of perfection when it comes to cleaning and nailing down all the organization hacks in your home. Want to be true to the (messy) you? Here are seven hacks to keep the chaos in your household under control.
Design a system that works for you
The biggest trick to keeping the clutter out is to design a system that syncs with your own personal habits – one that makes getting tasks done easy. “If something feels too complicated and takes too much effort, it’s in human nature that we’re likely to avoid it or, at best, put it off,” says Dunford. For example, she points out that if you don’t take the time to neatly fold a towel over a towel rack, ditch the rack and opt for modern wall hooks. “These will make your space look stylish and good, and save you a little bit of effort every day.” For those who have given up on closet organization, investing in acrylic shelf dividers will force you to categorize clothes, or at least avoid a big pile of sweaters.
Create a place for everything
“Identify places where everything needs to go so it doesn’t go everywhere,” says designer Kim Coombs of KBCO Design in Orlando. That could be hooks for keys and other hanging items like dog leashes, or special baskets or bins for shoes or mail, like the Ivy Cove leather basket that looks sleek and keeps all the flyers at bay. A collection container makes dropping miscellaneous items a guilt-free habit.
That could also mean organizing entire zones of a room based on how you use the space or the items you keep there. “Bathrooms [especially] often have a lot of knick-knacks that can quickly get the better of you if you don’t have a system in place,” says Dunford. A shelf of hair products, a medicine cabinet, or a cabinet of bath essentials are a few zones that come to mind. Placing associated items in a common area increases the likelihood that you will return them when you are done.
Find stylish storage boxes
Organizing can be easier if you tell yourself, “It’s really just decorating!” “Find creative and beautiful storage solutions for everyday items,” says Kait Schulhof, founder of A Clean Bee. “I like collecting interesting vintage ships for exactly this purpose.” As an example, she suggests vintage blue and white tureens for dishwasher tablets, vintage baskets for children’s toys, and pretty wooden or stone boxes for storing office supplies. To keep your bedside table in order, store all your random essentials, such as a sleep mask, lip balm, and hand cream, in a pretty floral box from Rifle Paper Co.
Place popular items within easy reach
Another reason to use storage containers is that they provide easy access to things you use often, especially if they are open and take up some counter space. “Open boxes or bins store your items and make it easy to throw them back in their assigned area when you’re done, without the hassle of lids,” says Dunford. If you do place the containers in a cabinet, consider clear containers that let you see what’s inside so you don’t have to remember the contents.
Harmonize unkempt areas with existing decor
Take stock of things that make a mess—perhaps you’re an avid reader who has littered books—and find ways to artfully arrange those items to match the decor, says Dunford. “It can be a stack on a bench at the foot of your bed, an open nightstand where they can be placed on a shelf, or you can color them in stacks and rows on top of your dresser.” Take it one step further and buy a bookshelf tree, which maintains the ease of accessing novels without the worry of knocking over the stack.
Minimize the look of clutter with layers
“When it comes to shelf styling, create areas for the eyes to rest,” says Dunford. This can be done by means of negative space or by creating different height layers, she explains. “A simple formula might be to lean a larger piece of art, put a medium-sized piece of art in front of it, and then put a smaller element in front of it, like a plant or a cool found object from an antique store.”
Reduce mental clutter with calming colors
Clutter can be not only in your space, but also in your head. “Keep your color palette simple and create negative space to reduce psychological clutter,” says Dunford. “A contrasting color palette gives a lot of energy and creates visual tension. Working in a range of monochromatic colors provides calming energy and can create a relaxed emotional climate.” Not sure which neutral is right for you? Try the Lick x Kelly Hoppen sample box filled with six earthy peel-and-stick samples.