Does your home feel like a place you can relax and unwind? Or do you find it challenging to rest because all you see is clutter? Your home should be your haven, so today let’s look at how to make a room less cluttered so that you can more fully enjoy your space.

I find it interesting how different my husband and I are with how we view our home. When things are left out and by my definition, a mess, he is completely unfazed. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all, which is hard for me to fathom.

I, on the other hand, find it very difficult to relax at the end of the day if I look around and see clutter. When the toys are left out, the projects are waiting to be completed, and the countertops have attracted stuff, it’s both distracting and defeating.

And research shows that women especially have increased levels of cortisol when their home is cluttered. So how do we go about undoing this? In this post you’ll learn:

  • how to make a room look less cluttered
  • where to start when you’re overwhelmed with clutter
  • how to decorate your home without the clutter
how to make a room look less cluttered

Do you feel overwhelmed with too much stuff?

Does the thought of decluttering your home feel overwhelming? If so, you’re not alone. When I ask people what their biggest decluttering challenge is, the most common response I hear is “I’m so overwhelmed that I don’t even know where to start!”

For many people, that overwhelmed feeling turns into avoidance. When a problem feels too big and you’re unsure what to do, you do nothing.

Other people will search for answers. They watch the shows and youtube channels where people declutter and clean. They read all the books and blog posts and listen to the podcasts.

Consuming all the information from various sources may help motivate some people into action, but for others, it increases the overwhelm as they aren’t sure how to synthesize all the information and various opinions.

So how do people end up in this situation and completely overwhelmed by their stuff? There are a few contributing factors.

Why do we have so much clutter?

We live in a world where it is very easy to shop. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home. With just a few clicks you have new things on the way to your house within just a couple of days.

We’re used to instant gratification and that new stuff feeling is exciting…for a moment.

Sales can be quite tempting, but shopping is just one piece of the puzzle. There are also gifts we are given and things we get for free. There are a variety of ways that stuff enters our homes.

And then there are also quite a few reasons why those things stay there once they come in. The reality is we only use about 20% of our stuff.

Much of what we own becomes clutter when we no longer use or love it.

The reasons for hanging onto clutter vary from how much was spent on it to what if I want this someday to feeling sentimental and not wanting to let go. There are many emotions that get tied up in our stuff.

how to make a room look less cluttered

How clutter affects your brain

Clutter can negatively impact your health in a variety of ways. One physiological response is that it can actually impair your memory.

Your brain is constantly trying to make sense of the world around you. Clutter causes ongoing distraction and makes it more challenging for your brain to focus. It reduces the ability to think or remember as clearly as it’s going into overdrive trying to take in everything you’re seeing.

Additional studies have shown that clutter increases anxiety, depression, and stress. Cortisol (the stress hormone) levels are higher in moms whose homes were cluttered. The constant state of stress makes the body more susceptible to getting ill.

They’ve also found that people with very cluttered bedrooms are less likely to sleep well which has a significant impact on brain and body health.

What are the things that make your house look cluttered?

Sometimes clutter is very obvious. It’s clear when there is trash left out of things sitting out that don’t belong in that space. Some clutter can be a bit trickier to see initially in part because you get used to seeing your house the way it is.

These are some of the things that make your house look cluttered. I have a more extensive list here if you’d like to check that out.

  • Tchotchkes
  • Open shelving
  • Oversized furniture
  • Excessive pictures on the wall
  • Overstuffed bookshelves

Every person has a different comfort level with the amount of stuff in their home. Some people are more sensitive to visual clutter than others, so being able to recognize where you are on that spectrum will help you know how to make your room look less cluttered.

The key is to evaluate everything. Nothing is off-limits. Look at your space with a fresh perspective as you identify what is causing you to feel like your space is cluttered.

how to make a room look less cluttered

How do you know if you have too much stuff?

So how do you know if you have too much stuff? It all has to do with how you feel in the room. Some people are more comfortable with a minimal amount of stuff around them where for others that wouldn’t be comfortable at all.

However, most people don’t err on the side of having too little. Having too much stuff is typically the challenge. Declutter until you get to a place that you can relax, rest, and enjoy the room.

Is your house so cluttered you don’t know where to start?

When your home is very cluttered it can be a challenge to know where to start. You’ll need to have some patience with yourself through this process.

Remember that you didn’t bring everything in in one day and it’s likely not all going out in one day either.

Think about what your goals are for your home. What does success look like for your space? I can tell you how to make your house look less cluttered but at the end of the day, you need to be creating a space that you enjoy and that functions well for your household.

Which room should I start with to declutter my house?

I’m often asked which room should I start with when I declutter? For most people, I don’t recommend starting with a room exactly, but rather an area that can be decluttered quickly that will have a big impact on your space.

When you feel the effects of decluttering, it will help motivate you to continue with the process so those quick wins are very helpful as you get started.

If you’d like a list of 100 easy items to declutter and 12 areas you can declutter quickly, sign up below for the Decluttering Jumpstart! You’ll also get weekly simplifying and decluttering tips sent straight to your inbox.

After you’ve done some quick tasks to motivate you, then you’ll want to start with an easy room for you to declutter.

For a lot of people that is the bathroom. There doesn’t tend to be as much emotional attachment to products and many people have lots of expired items that are easy to toss.

How long does it take to declutter a room?

How long it takes to declutter a room depends on a variety of factors including how large the space is, how much stuff is in it, and how quickly you are able to make decisions.

People do tend to get quicker at the decision making piece as they get more practice with decluttering.

Some people like to approach decluttering fast. They are motivated, ready to let go, and want to get it all done quickly. Some may even be extreme in how much they get rid of.

Many other people are uncomfortable with that approach and would prefer to go at a slower pace which feels more manageable to them. There isn’t a right or wrong with that. It is an individual preference according to what works for your personality and schedule.

How to declutter a room step by step

To make a room look less cluttered, you’ll need to go through the process of decluttering it. You’ll start with the flat surfaces in the room, then work your way around the room doing one small area or category at a time.

The goal is to keep your projects manageable so that you aren’t continually overwhelmed throughout the process. Once you are done with that room, make sure to take all of the decluttered items out of your home.

Then move on to the next room until you have decluttered every room in your home!

How to decorate without clutter

Think a decluttered home looks sterile or boring? It definitely doesn’t have to! There are great ways to decorate without clutter.

If you want to know how to make your room look less crowded, make sure your furniture is the right scale for the space. Are there accent pieces you could do without?

Often the cluttered look happens because we’re trying to cram in too much.

Make your home a warm and inviting space by being selective with the items you display. How do you display knick-knacks without them looking cluttered? By having less of them.

Your favorite items don’t get to shine when they’re drowned out by the noise of excess stuff.

Does decluttering ever end?

While it would be lovely to imagine decluttering your home once and having it be done forever, that isn’t reality as stuff tends to continue to find a way in. So unless you stop shopping completely and no longer receive gifts, decluttering will need to become a habit in your life in order to maintain your decluttered space.

After you’re done decluttering it’s important to analyze where the flow of clutter tends to come from so you can work on making adjustments. That will help to stop the cycle of clutter in your home.

How decluttering improves your life

There are so many benefits from decluttering. They range from saving money to feeling more peaceful in your space.

The decluttering process can be quite enlightening. In my experience, it forced me to face mistakes I’d made in what I’d bought and what I’d held onto.

There were also surprises throughout the process, like how it taught me to be grateful for what I already had.

Decluttering shifted my perspective on stuff and made me much more thoughtful about what I brought into my home.

What are the psychological benefits of decluttering?

Decluttering also has psychological benefits including decreased stress and anxiety. It’s not uncommon for people to turn further inward when their home is cluttered and to fall into a deeper state of depression.

Decluttering helps to relieve the burden and weight of stuff that adds to mental health challenges.

If you really want a room to look less cluttered there is no easy way around it…You have to start decluttering!

If you want your room to look less cluttered, the answer is decluttering. It may sound overwhelming at first, but once you start taking action you’ll find it gets easier and you may even learn to really enjoy it (like I did!). There’s really only one way to know.

Want to keep up to date with The Simplicity Habit? Sign up on the form below and get weekly tips on decluttering and simplifying sent straight to your inbox! You’ll also get the free Decluttering Jumpstart with 100 easy items to declutter and 12 high impact areas to declutter in 10 minutes so you can start making progress today!

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  1. What a lovely article on decluttering with help to focus on one area of a room at a time. My difficulty is the size and proportions of a room and where the window is and this can be difficult to work with when putting furniture in a room to accommodate all one’s belongings. I therefore buy and have to give things away because it doesn’t work in the room. It would be good to work with an interior designer when planning a room. But if you already have an overcrowded room you can work with an interior designer to declutter and get some education in what works and what not to do. I have just removed a ton of clutter and so not much to do. But always room for improvement. I have stopped my shopping to only buy what I need now and it works better

  2. Personally, I find the taller an item is, the more cluttered the space feels to me. So I prefer a longer, lower dresser to a taller, thinner one, two 3-foot bookcases to one 6-foot one, a king sized bed without an elaborate head/foot board to a queen with them, etc.

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