Maybe I’m in the minority, but my bedroom is the easiest place in my home to keep clutter-free. I absolutely love walking into our bedroom, simply furnished in soothing neutrals and soft purples, and feeling all the tension in my body slough away. As a result, I’m willing to set up the framework of habits to keep it that way. Most people focus on keeping their common areas the cleanest, because that’s what visitors will see, but I would rather have the clutter out there than in our room!
See, I believe that your bedroom should be used for a few select purposes: sleep, intimacy, and calming activities like meditation or reading. You’ve heard for years that your bedroom should be a sanctuary, and I firmly espouse that view. That means my husband and I don’t take things into our bedroom to hide them for guests or deal with later. We keep minimal furniture in order to make it feel as airy as possible. There is nothing in the room that glows, moves, or makes noise (except the fan). It’s wonderful.
Does a serene bedroom sanctuary sound good to you? Here are 7 steps to make it happen.
- Visualize what you want your room to become.
Forget everything that you currently use your bedroom for, and spend a happy few minutes thinking of what you want your bedroom to be for. Close your eyes and imagine walking into your ideal bedroom. What does it look like? What words would you use to describe it? What would make you feel most relaxed and content? When you know what you want out of your space, it’s much easier to adjust the space to suit your goals.
- Remove everything that doesn’t fit your vision.
One of the most important steps to your clutter-free bedroom is this: Get everything out of your room that doesn’t belong there. The ironing board that’s been standing tiredly in the corner for months? It’s stressing you out and making you think of housework. Put it back in the laundry room or in a closet. The bookshelves crammed with brightly colored tomes? If they don’t match your vision of a soothing chamber, move or remove them. (Of course, if your idea of a sanctuary involves a library like in Beauty and the Beast, by all means keep the books.) Kids’ toys, dishes, board games, paperwork…if they don’t fulfill your goal of sleeping, intimacy, or relaxation, they don’t belong in your bedroom. Commit to keeping them out.
Note: In my opinion, trash cans fall into the category of “not belonging in the bedroom.” If you’re in agreement with my sleep-intimacy-relaxation philosophy, you shouldn’t require one. The only thing I can think of that might create trash is birth control, but you can dispose of such things in your bathroom trash can. The bedroom is no place for the inherent clutter of trash cans.
- Declutter the things that belong in your room.
Now that some of the clutter is out of your way, it’s time to take a hard look at the items that remain in your bedroom. Get rid of the dozen throw pillows that spend all of their time on the ground tripping people. Edit your wardrobe mercilessly so that you only own what you love and what actually fits you. Now that you have fewer clothes, maybe you can remove some furniture and open up refreshing amounts of space. As much as you can, put items behind doors or in drawers (which should have some space now). Once you’ve decluttered your stuff, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel in your room, even though you haven’t actually cleaned or redecorated a thing.
- Commit to having bare (or sparse) surfaces.
The more items you have in your sight, the more uneasy you feel. In our place of refuge, that’s not what we want at all! So as you declutter and move things around, focus on keeping only a few items of simple décor in order to leave your surfaces as clear as possible. This includes the walls—dozens of framed pictures staring at you won’t do much to relax you. I understand the need for lamps, especially if you’re like us and have no overhead lighting. And it’s certainly nice to display one or two beloved items. But remember, your bedroom isn’t supposed to be work. It’s not supposed to be a museum. It’s supposed to be a place to unwind and recharge. So keep décor minimal and reduce that visual noise. You won’t miss the extra photos or knickknacks at all.
- Reduce distractions to your senses.
The more information your brain takes in, the harder it is to relax. So in addition to keeping your surfaces clear, think about other ways your room is affecting your senses.
Sight: Consider keeping colors more muted or neutral, or at least in the same family. You can still have color, of course, but by doing the whole room in shades of blue (for example), your eyes will be more relaxed than if they’re confronted with six different bright colors. Example: In our room, the walls, floor, bedspread, and furniture are all neutral, but the curtains, sheets, and art are all soft, warm purples. A bright green glass vase adds a little energy without visually shouting at you.
Sound: Make a point to also listen. Is there a ticking or buzzing noise? Does your fan rattle? That kind of noise pollution can keep you up or on edge, even if you barely notice it. Do your best to remove or repair the culprits. We want our sanctuary to be peaceful.
Smell: What about scent? How does your bedroom smell? Maybe it’s eau de dirty laundry, or the stale scent of a closed-off chamber. Find a way to prevent off-putting smells, such as fitting a lid to your laundry bin, opening your windows while you’re away during the day, or misting Febreze on your pillows in the morning. Something I love to do is add a few drops of essential oils to our humidifier, so that the scent of chamomile, lavender, and mandarin diffuses over the room at night as we sleep.
Touch: Is your room habitually dry and stuffy? Does it tend to stay warmer than the rest of the house? Does the idea of stepping onto the cold bare floor every morning make you not even want to get up? All of these are solvable issues, and can be done fairly cheaply. Try a humidifier or dehumidifier to get the right sleeping environment. If your bedroom doesn’t regulate temperature well, consider adding a quiet fan or a heated mattress pad (they exist!). Find creative solutions to make your bedroom a truly comfortable place.
- Be brave and creative in challenging yourself.
Life change happens only when you leave your comfort zone. When you’re curating your clutter-free bedroom, try things you never would have thought you’d do. All those figurines you’ve been displaying for years: Do they still spark joy for you, or are they just habit? Try putting them all away for a week and see how you feel about the difference. If you don’t miss them, maybe it’s time to let them go. Or, create a capsule wardrobe a la Unfancy or Project 333 (storing your other clothes somewhere else for the time being) and see how it feels to have that kind of closet space.
Move things around, make yourself a little uncomfortable, and compare how you feel in your decluttered bedroom to how you felt in the old version. You may be surprised at what you can live with or without, when you never thought you could before.
- Develop habits to keep it perfect.
Once your ideal bedroom has been realized, you’ll want to keep it that way. Note that this doesn’t have to (nor should it require) a total remodel or facelift. Remember that we’re going after a feeling of peace and coziness, not a specific HGTV look. You may well be able to totally change how your room feels without spending a dime, all through decluttering and a mindset shift. So how can you prevent the rest of your life from creeping back into your bedroom? Here are a couple of tips:
– If you have time to pick something up and hide it in your bedroom, you have time to actually put it away. Make a habit of not putting down an item until it’s in the correct place.
– Set a nightly routine of picking up the clothes off your floor before you go to bed.
– Inform your family that anything they bring into your bedroom (a book, a toy, a briefcase) needs to leave when they do.
– If it takes less than five minutes to do a task, don’t procrastinate on it. For example, you spend fifteen minutes spending laundry and then feel too spent to put the stacks away. Fight that urge! It’ll take less than five minutes. Do it correctly and save your clutter-free bedroom.
– Make your bed in the morning.
So now it’s your turn…is your bedroom a sanctuary or a dragon’s lair? What other tips help you with your clutter-free bedroom? What room do you find easiest to keep clean? Let’s talk about it!