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31 Days of Autumn Bliss {Day 3}: <br>The Secret to a Clutter Free Room

It is hard to feel content and love your home if your house is a mess. If you are like most of us (and some of the people I asked on Facebook!), you probably crave more order and less clutter in your house. For us to really enjoy the Fall season (and to be ready for the holidays this winter) I think it is important to address the underlying issue of what I call visual chaos in our homes.

When your home is filled with stuff, be it clutter, piles of papers, dirty laundry, projects, or even too many accessories or an abundance of furnishings, your eye has no peaceful place to land. All that stuff keeps us from seeing any beauty and often times prevents us from feeling energized and creative at home.

Visual chaos can take the form of random clutter, or it can be due to lack of cohesiveness in your decor.

Today we’ll attack the clutter, and later on we’ll talk about a simple way to create visual calm in your decor (and you don’t have to have a calm color palette!)

First, let’s deal with the random clutter! Notice I did not title this post “The Secret to a Clutter Free HOME.” I said ROOM. And that is because if you have an issue with clutter, as most of us do, we have to start somewhere to stop the craziness. We have to break it down to something we CAN manage or we’ll be paralyzed.

I believe if you start in one room, and you commit to keeping that room clean, it will become a habit you won’t want to break. And that habit will spill over into wanting that same visual calm in other rooms. At my house, we keep our family room, kitchen, living room, dining room and powder room as clutter free as possible most of the time. I would rather enjoy a few clutter free spaces than spread the clutter out all over the house and have NO peace anywhere.

31 Days of Autumn Bliss {Day 3}: <br>The Secret to a Clutter Free Room

Just so you know my house is not perfect, here is what I find in an upstairs bedroom on a regular basis. Yikes! Most of this stuff is what we bring to church (although I see a random sock and a paint can), we bring it back home on Sunday afternoon and don’t know where to put it so it ends up in a heap somewhere. We all have random stuff like that, don’t we? (humor me here people).

In spite of the secret I am about to share, you house will still get messy because people live there. That is a good thing! My rooms are often in disarray because we have kids and we hold music rehearsals here so furniture gets pushed every which way. But I can easily put the room back in place because we don’t KEEP CLUTTER in those rooms. So what is my secret to a clutter free room? (It isn’t really a secret because I’ve shared it here before a few times, it isn’t revolutionary (and it is a little crazy so neat freaks don’t hate me!!) but it WORKS for me!)

The Grab & Box Technique

1. Pick a room that has too much clutter.

2. Grab some bags and run around the room,  filling the bags with any clutter that fits in the bag. Don’t over think this, if it is random, doesn’t belong there or you just don’t know what to do with it right now, IT GOES.

3. You can toss ALL THE CLUTTER in one bag or box, no matter what it is (this is a super speedy way to tidy up one room). OR, if you have a little more time and want to somewhat organize it as you go, have bags labeled as  “GIVE AWAY” “THROW AWAY” “DEAL WITH LATER” so you can separate each item appropriately. Obviously if you run across bills or things you need to deal with immediately, set those aside.

4. Don’t get hung up on micro-organizing clutter right now or worrying about what to do with everything you put in the bags. Try to make quick decisions so you can move on.

5. Then, schedule a specific time to deal with the bags one at a time on an upcoming weekend. Put it on your calendar. Or, if you are really brave and ready to let things go, toss the bag in the trash and don’t look back.

You’ll be amazed how fast you can transform your house, one room at a time, with this technique! I love INSTANT gratification so it helps me tremendously to SEE the clean room right away and then deal with the junk as a separate project!!! Just don’t let the bags pile up, deal with the contents or toss them in the trash before you move on to the next room!

By tackling this little project today, Autumn nesting will be more fun! YAY!

Which rooms in your house do you need to declutter?

Click below to follow this series!

31 Days of Autumn Bliss {Day 3}: <br>The Secret to a Clutter Free Room

Click here to visit the other lovely 31 Day ladies (including Nester who is dishing out daily help for our messy nests and Emily of Remodeling This Life who is helping us focus on simplicity!)


  1. Handy Man, Crafty Woman

    our house isn’t TOO bad (we’ve been decluttering for a while now)…but I really really need to work on my office & scrap area. Papers, photos and memorabilia are taking over, aaack!

  2. Aunt LoLo

    Oh, fabulous! You know, I use a similar trick with my whole house? If you start in one room, with a HUGE bag, you can take it to the next room and put away what goes in there, and pick up anything that doesn’t belong. Then go to the next room. If you can devote about an hour to this, it’s a really slick way to get the whole house’s clutter BACK where it belongs. You end up back in the room you started in, and you’re done!

    • Melissa

      Yes, that is awesome. We do that sometimes too when we need a whole house spruce up in a hurry! It does work and it feels SO much better to not see that clutter all over any more! I’d much rather see it IN A BAG. :-)

    • Jenny

      I love that idea too! I’ve done a version of the idea in this post (it’s usually when someone is coming to visit and I’ve gotten desperate; I throw the full basket in my upstairs bedroom). I think really quick before church, I am going to go do a little of this. I want sooooo badly to decorate our house up for fall but the clutter, most of which is thanks to our two little girls, is depressing.

  3. Ad K.

    I am in the middle of this right now. The house can become overrun with clutter so fast. The office is our biggest problem right now. Trying to figure out what we need to keep and what we can get rid of is a pain and I have to get my DH to give me a hand. We are painting our house in 2 weeks and we have to get through this paper mountain.

  4. Abbi

    My office/craft room is where the real clutter problem is in our house. Though the laundry room is looking pretty bad right now too and the rest of the house wouldn’t hurt having some work either! :-) Clutter does seem to multiply!

  5. Christin

    Most definitely my bedroom. It has been a dumping ground for far too long. Overloaded with laundry, mostly. Not sure I can just bag that up. Need to just get it taken care of!

  6. erin

    I love that bag method, I started doing it last year and it helps me SO much!

  7. Julia

    I declutter in a similar way until I realised I was then just throwing those bags and boxes into another room so now I have to use a little psychology on myself :-) I love a perfect bed so to ensure the clutter actually gets sorted out of the the house I dump everything on my bed – has to be dealt with by the end of the day or sooner! Guess there’s method in my madness!

  8. Sarah

    Frankly, I need to declutter the whole house, but I am finally on a mission to do just that – I’m selling our beautiful but fiendishly uncomfortable Victorian chesterfield, the piano (which with a toddler, a baby on the way and my own new business I simply won’t play) and a cumbersome chest of drawers which draws junk like a magnet and replacing these three articles with one – a huge, cream corner sofa. I CAN’T WAIT. Then a box is coming out and all extraneous items are being put in it. Anything I don’t want back after a month is being rehomed.

    THEN because our attic is being converted into a third bedroom (see mention of baby on the way above) we are going through everything up there with BRUTALITY – ebay, charity shop, bin and storage. And new baby’s room too, of course – I concede that a lot of what is up there is baby stuff – changing table, Bumbo and the like.

    I am VERY excited about this.

  9. Sharon

    Sadly I did this over a month ago with a laundry basket… the laundry basket is still sitting in the hallway. (though it is not in the Living Room) but I never seem to have enough time to empty it. So having read this, that is my goal this week. thanks!

  10. Lee

    Like Sharon, I seem to get stuck at 90%. We are constantly coming and going and my four kids are always dropping and going. Drives me crazy. Maybe I’ll have a clean and uncluttered house when they move out? Eek!

  11. Courtney

    I love this whole series, and I love your suggestion today. Clutter is possibly my WORST enemy at my house! I am embarrassed to admit that while we make the kids clean up every night before bed, we don’t hold ourselves to the same standard. If I did, my house would be a totally different place! I like that your suggestion is an attainable one and I think I’ll get started today. Right now. :-)

  12. cathy

    I totally laughed at your bedroom picture, I always have a room like that. We are never finished. Everything is always a work in progress.

  13. Leslie, the Home Maker

    Somewhere along the way, our blessings turn into clutter, don’t they? I try to remember that each item that is in my home had a reason for coming inside in the first place. And if that item is no longer serving the purpose for which it came home with me, it goes in the donation pile!
    I love the bag idea!! Instant gratification, is right!
    My favorite statement: “I would rather enjoy a few clutter free spaces than spread the clutter out all over the house and have NO peace anywhere.” Amen and amen. :) Great post…now where are my Glad bags?

  14. Carmen

    Somehow this week my whole house has gotten out of control. It’s really embarrassing. I guess it’s because I was helping my mom get ready for her yard sale so I was at her house a lot. And also going through some of our things to sell too. Anyway, I do the bag thing and somehow end of up not going through bags until a year later. haha! It is an easy and fast way to declutter though.

  15. Carin

    Ha, I recognise that picture- that was like our guest room in the old house. Here it’s always the studio/ office. Looking out over it now and it’s just ridiculous. Thanks for the motivation! I’m on it!

  16. Sandy

    This is a perfect post for me, Melissa, because I’m always feeling the need to de-clutter. I love this:
    Don’t over think this, if it is random, doesn’t belong there or you just don’t know what to do with it right now, IT GOES.
    I use a box, and then it goes in the garage. But then I look at the box in the garage and I wander what to do with the “stuff” which eventually gets tossed. I took a huge load to Good Will last week and it felt so good. Great post! Thank you!

  17. L.Duncan

    Melissa I just tweeted this! I’m catching up on everyone’s 31 days post now. I purchased some clear storage containers with lids the other day from Target and was trying to figure out what to do with them. Now I know! Grab one, go into my family and toss all of the clutter in it and put it in the garage until I can deal with it. And hey, if I don’t miss anything in the container, I’m trashing everything in it!

    Thanks for the tip!

  18. Darcy

    Our main living areas we keep presentable. We could have it company ready in 1/2 hr or less.

    Our worst area is the master bedroom. Currently it houses not just our room, but the entire contents of what will be the studio. All the props, lighting equipment, fabric, hats, etc. And even though I know it’s just temporary while we’re building the studio, I cannot stand to be in that room.

    But I love the idea of taking a bag or basket, putting everything in there… and telling my boys to rescue it or lose it. I doubt they’d miss most of it.

  19. Amy

    I just blogged about this yesterday! I have one room in my house that is almost always tidy and clutter free – my master bedroom. That way I know at the end of the day I have somewhere to retreat to that is going to relaxing even if the rest of the house stresses me out. I also love the box it up and deal with it later technique. As a mother to two little ones my time is really limited so if I focused on deep sorting all the time I would never get anything done.

  20. kathy T

    Paper clutter everywhere -You are so right -We have no where to rest our eyes for calmness -I will be checking back everyday -I am going to start with our family room.

  21. heather ritchie

    No matter where I live, my clutter room has always been the spare bedroom as well. We just moved this August and I’ve got the clutter contained the best I ever have but it’s about to get super organized before Christmas so I can have a peaceful home to share with people…and so when they open the closet and avalanche won’t hit them in the face! I’m loving your 31 days, it is so encouraging for me. Thanks for making the commitment.


  22. Megan

    My whole house needs to be decluttered. I’m working really hard to declutter right now. I wanted to do a yard sale last week so I uprooted way too much clutter. I can’t wait until next weekend so I can do the yard sale or haul it all away! I’ve got a vision in my head that I’m trying to stick to.

  23. Tiffany

    What a timely post! I just did this yesterday with our bedroom and oh how freeing it was. And our room looks so much better and more peaceful. Love that feeling.

  24. Kelly

    Melissa, I laughed when I read this post because this is exactly the project I set out to do today! My main goal is to do the laundry AND put it away!!!

  25. Abbie

    Thanks for the kick in the pants to just do one room! It’s too easy to get overwhelmed thinking about all of the things that need to be done/put away/finished. But I’ll just take a few minutes and do one room – I think the living room b/c I know it doesn’t have too many things … :)

  26. Piper Green

    I love all these beautiful fall suggestions; getting your house in order is such a refreshing, purging feeling!

  27. Mel

    Possibly every room right now? But more so our office, which seems to be our dumping station.:) It’s just so easy to take things we don’t know what else to do with and dump them there. I think I need to get a timer and just start clearing clutter little by little. My kids too….I actually just wrote in on their chore chart, a 15 minute fling and clear 3 days/week in their room alone. We’ll see how it goes.:)

  28. Debbie

    Oh Melissa, this is so helpful! Since we moved from a home with almost 4,000 square feet home to a temporary one with 1,100 square feet, I’m finding it hard to not have clutter. When there were more closets and space, it didn’t seem like there was much stuff as it all had its place.

    I am determined to work on my office since that’s where I spend most of my day working. Your tips will definitely help me. I think I’ll add some fast music and get myself going. My husband used to make cleaning fun. He’s play a Beach Boys song and see how much we got done by the end of the song. LOL.

    I’m loving this 31 days in October and trying to visit your cohorts too. Each blog has such great suggestions.

    Blessings and love,

  29. Kristin

    I’m doing this tomorrow! I have a room that needs a little help in this area!.

  30. paige whitley

    I would like to get the left side of my house, the Kitchen, Living room and MY room, clutter free. I’ll work on that this week.

  31. Jody

    We all have to have some stuff lying around home. I call it “signs of life.” It always tickles me when I see a BH&G mag with some cute rubber boots staged in an entryway because I usually have several pair of muddy/dirty boots in my mud room and they never look “staged” and attractive.

    When our 5 kids were little, we used to do a “5 minute pick-up” where everybody ran around the house (usually the main living area) and picked up everything in sight and put it away. That’s what I call “quick relief.”

    I’m loving your Autumn Bliss.


  32. Dina Marie

    My home office is cluttered with papers. I notice when my papers is not organized on my desk, I get quite confused. I also try to figure out of what I need to accomplish! I also need to have my carpet in the home office to be shampoo cleaned.

    I think it is a good idea for me to get started by organizing my Home Office tomorrow! This way I can get fresh start this Fall.

  33. Charlotte

    I tend to take the less is more approach when it comes to decorating a room. One suggestion is to try and apply the 80% rule to achieve a visually pleasing room. For example coffee tables and end tables should have approximately 80% free space on top of them. I consider myself lucky if I have 60 to 70% of free space.

  34. Debi

    I’ve done the basket thing for years now and it really works! When I’m feeling snowed under by stuff … I habitually grab a basket, bag, box or whatever I can find and start filling it with debris. In fact, I’m so motivated by your post – I think I’ll do it again – NOW!

  35. Rona

    It’s very funny that I’m reading this post today because yesterday I was organizing our teens’ closets.
    I spent 30 minutes in our son’s but 2 hours in our daughter’s closet. I love the way her’s turned out.
    I’ll have to post photos as soon as I get some batteries for the camera.

  36. Scooper

    Grabbing a box right now. : )

  37. Teri

    Your first sentence is so true. We moved into our home 2 years ago and I haven’t felt “nested” yet. Then I realized it was because nothing was peaceful because of clutter. Not bad clutter… but enough that it bothered me.

    My goal for 2010 was to deal with the clutter we’ve gathered over 29 years of marriage (and more since we brought some of the stuff with us!). It has gone well. The only place that won’t be done by the end of the year is my office/hobby room. And I’m OK with that.

    … for now…

  38. Mary

    Ugh…I made the boyfriend do some serious purging last weekend and fought him on every. last. item. He’s a closet (no pun intended) hoarder, and we are moving to a much smaller apartment, so his head is ready to explode. I just might print this out and lay it on his pillow tonight!

  39. Betsy from Belly Feathers

    This is a really inspiring post…it speaks to exactly how messy my house is right now due to weeks of moving from one project to the next. Thanks!

  40. Kim

    I currently hate how much clutter I have, though I’ve gotten rid of insane amounts of things in the last year. A year ago yesterday (woah, hadn’t thought of that) I moved back to my parents house into my old bedroom. My old bedroom had a lot of old school and random stuff and clothes and all. I brought with me enough stuff to fit 2 of my bedroom here. Luckily my parents have a lot of room downstairs to store my extra bed and dresser, shelves, seasonal and nostalgic clothes (going to make into a quilt one day when I stop getting more summer camp t-shirts) kitchen stuff, and all the stuff that I’ve collected for my future classroom (I am now a substitute teacher.) But still WAY too much!!!!! I’m so excited about the amount of stuff I got rid of over the last year. I’ve been in a really good place to get rid of a bunch of stuff that just sat for years of not going through it to realize I don’t need some random thing I thought was sentimental but isn’t. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m getting there. It doesn’t help that I have 3 different “wardrobes” for summer camp, fun/casual times, and teaching all in my room that I use frequently and that we don’t have drastic seasons here in WA so I can’t just switch out half my clothes for the other half.



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