Keeping things around the house looking orderly can be a challenge, and despite our best efforts, clutter somehow manages to sneak right up and rear its ugly head. When that’s the case, the trick to keeping things looking relatively put together is implementing a number of quick elements that instantly shape up a space. And while organizational design expert, Laura Cattano, isn’t quite a fan of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to organization advice — her methods are all about empowering people to make choices that make sense with their unique vision for their homes, as opposed to arbitrary rules — there are a few foolproof ways to reduce the appearance of clutter that she thinks apply across the board.
Ditch the open storage.
“If you have a wall of open shelving, an open television unit and side tables next to your sofas that are basically like open shelves — that’s a lot,” says Cattano. “You’re basically looking at everything you own!” Instead of a setup that leaves everything out in the open, Cattano recommends getting boxes where you can store basic, non-personal items — things like tape and light bulbs — that you need around the house but don’t necessarily want to be looking at on a regular basis. Whether those boxes are basic storage containers that can then get stacked in a closet or boxes that you choose to incorporate into your decor is a matter of preference. The main idea is to get things tucked away and out of sight.
Group things in defined spaces, like tabletop trays.
When it comes to random knick-knacks and items that do have to remain out and about around the house — think keys in the entryway, or creams and beauty products on the bathroom counter — Cattano suggests looking for ways to group the items together or defining their space with things like trays. This little trick is an easy way to make the placement of items around the house always look intentional, which in turn gives off a feeling of less clutter. “I have a little shelf by my front door, and I have this beautiful little tray that holds my keys,” says Cattano, offering up an example from her own décor. “The keys are literally the only thing that goes in there, but I do that because I don’t just want my keys sitting there on the table. And on my coffee table, I have another tray with candles and a vase on them. I could easily put the candles on the vase right on the table, but I like it on a tray.”
Make sure that you’ve got plenty of light.
While a desire to reduce the appearance of clutter may not seem quite as in line with adding more light to your space as you’d think, an abundance of light is a key element that helps create the illusion of a wider space. “It makes such a difference,” says Cattano. “Not only can light fixtures help work as an anchor to a space, but they totally open it up.” The organizational design expert adds that she’s amazed to find how few of her clients actually have enough lighting when she starts working them, noting that it’s rare to find someone who has quite as much light as they ought to make their space feel just a bit bigger in size.
Tuck away wires and plugs.
One of the biggest enemies to a clutter-free look in your home is the appearance of pesky, exposed wires stretching from outlets to your devices around the room. “If you’ve got a television unit, for example, get something closed so that you can just toss the cord in the back,” says Cattano. "I’m a big proponent of trying to make sure you have a way of tucking wires behind something." She does advise that you never want to try to hide cords by bringing in extra stuff to cover it up — in the end, that’s counterproductive and you’ll find yourself just left with additional clutter to deal with. Instead, simply grab a cord cover, or tuck wires behind sofas or under rugs to keep them out of sight.
Take the time to actually reduce clutter by “editing.”
Not surprisingly, one of the main ways to reduce the appearance of clutter is to reduce the clutter all together. But when Cattano talks about nixing clutter, she’s not talking about the system of purging that a lot of people think of when they imagine lessening the load. Rather, she has a system that she refers to as editing. “This is a much more thoughtful process. You have to figure out who you are, how you want to be, and how you want to live. Then, keep the stuff that enables you to do that and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t.”