Welcome to my new series, Homesong readers! It is with great pleasure that I invite you into the heart of our home and share with great detail some of the ways I keep our space looking tidy while raising a family.
I am a tidier at heart, and always have been. I cannot think of time in my life that I wasn’t, even back to the year I got my first Playskool kitchen from Santa and would spend hours tinkering around, rearranging the utensils and food items, until they felt as though they had found their rightful home. Ever since, the art of homemaking has been my utmost passion, something woven within me that truly gives me life and a deep sense of purpose. As the years have gone by, I’ve quite enjoyed tweaking my methods here and there as the seasons have danced on and our family has made this current house our home.
On to what this series will entail…tidying and tidbits about tidying, of course! Several times a month I will share with you a tidy tip or tidbit that will be sure to help you along your path as a mindful homemaker. Rather than give you a long list right off the bat, it is my intention to offer one at a time, both to allow for more detail on the subject, and also more time for me to reflect on the ways in which I keep our home. When thinking about what to choose for the start up of this series, it became rather clear that I share my most prized tidy tip with you, which is to clear the surfaces. It might sound ridiculously simple, and after you get the hang of it it is, but it’s not that easy if clearing surfaces is foreign to you. Let me unpack this piece of sage advice and share how and why it helps me so much.
First of all, surfaces are collectors. They are magnets for odds and ends, for things we need at the ready, as well as for things we don’t know where else to put. They are often large and available for the makings of pies and suppers, for spatters and spills, and if sat unattended to for a time—heaps dust both on the surface and on all the things that sit upon it. Surfaces are where we work and where we dive into the processes of making and transforming, thus it’s natural that they accumulate our belongings quickly. Alas, the problem with this is clear: cluttered surfaces clutter mind as well! To begin to create a calmer atmosphere within the walls of your home, you must take into account your senses, and perhaps first and foremost, what it is that you see. We humans are indeed very sensitive to our environment, our homes being no exception. Keeping surfaces clear, means what the eye sees is simplicity, an ethos that favors quality over quantity, thereby keeping our home clutter-free and our mind more soothed and softened. But what does one do to keep the surfaces clear and the clutter at bay? My first piece of advice is to follow these words of William Morris, an English designer:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
From there, making sure that the belongings you do own have a home of their own, a space kept hidden from the eye and off countertops, dressers, cabinets, etc. Begin to ponder the essential question, “How much do we really need in our home?” And begin taking inventory of your belongings. Once you’ve established what is both useful and beautiful to you, choose one or two items to display, and tuck the rest away for when they are needed. This can be a challenge if you have a lot of useful and beautiful things in your home, but with restraint will come satisfaction, and your home will be in tip top shape before you know it!
Now for a but of good fun, the action piece that I am going to share with each post in this new series. I suggest you go through your home and clear every surface. Yes, each and every one! Take everything off and clean them well. Then look through your belongings and choose only what you feel is most essential to you, selecting one or two things to display in each space. This will be a challenge at first, but keep going. Next, take the rest of your belongings, the things that didn’t make it to display, and find them a home of their own in a drawer or cupboard. Next, walk around your home and breathe in the new energy you’ve created. Let your home sing to you, and take the time to absorb its song. With a calmer space, you’re sure to have a calmer mind, and therefore, a calmer energy altogether. I have shown you our kitchen above, but this principle can and should be applied to every room to create the feeling of peace and serenity. Kitchens are often times the most cluttered space within the home because they are the most frequently used, so I advise you to begin there. As you can see above, there are both necessary items on display that lend themselves to utility, along with items of beauty and nostalgia that bring me joy. The enamel pan and pitcher in the center island was my grandmothers, and it means a great deal to me. I use it as well for collecting the scraps when I’m making meals, so it happens to fall within both categories of usefulness and beauty.
Now, to my dear readers, what do you think about this new series and my first piece of advice? Is this something you practice in your home, or have you found it to be helpful when needing to refresh the energy where you live? And if you’ve got a tidying quandary, feel free to drop it below in the comment section, for I will be taking note as I always do to create thoughtful content that is sure to offer bits of wisdom when it comes to the art of mindful homemaking around the seasons.
Olivia Atherton - I really love this series already!!! And am looking forward to it’s continuation=) I’m a tidier as well, but love seeing what it would look like in a person’s life who has children…
Fran - Absolutely love this advice! Thank you! I have a question about how you choose to keep, and/or display crafts your children have made. Particularly curious about those crafts and art projects made outside your home (at other events, art classes, church, school, etc.) that don’t particularly “sing” within the walls of your home? I’m always finding that these seem to take up permanent residence, and are starting to multiply as my children are getting older. Thanks for your insights!
mykael - I am a tidier as well. But not everyone in my home is. What I find most difficult is convincing the “keepers” in the family that they simply have too much, and what they have can be kept differently. What is a tidier to do, when a keeper wants an abundance on display?
Lauryn - Thanks for posting this. I am a tidy person like you. I can’t stand clutter as like you said it helps my mind be calmer. I look forward to any and every tip you have about keeping a cleaner and more simplistic home. I have young children so it has been harder but I try to always pickup at night so when I wake I am in a clean space starting a new day. It helps me out a lot.
Stefanie - Love this first tip, because it was your inspiration from a long-ago post that made my daily goal to keep our kitchen island cleared (except for a simple centerpiece of flowers and a candle). It really changed my life! I try to apply it other places as well, but I really does wonders for my mental health if the kitchen island is clear and tidy (even if there is an explosion of kid-related stuff all around). Thank you!!
Sonja Bee - I am going to love this series as well. I am mostly a tidier but I live with my sister who is the very opposite of tidy. Over time I have learned to ignore her clutter because otherwise I would be stressed all the time but seeing how much peace your kitchen gives my soul l I realize that I need to make our home calm and tidy. We garage sale and used to have a rule of something in, something out but lately it has only been something in. I am going to start with our kitchen and bag up things we are not using and donate them. I want that light feeling again that I used to have when I lived by myself.
Jess - I’m so thrilled that you are giving tidying advice and tidbits! I already feel so inspired. Thank you!
Megan - Yes to all of this! I get overwhelmed so easily when my home is not tidy. I cannot have a clear mind if my area is not clear. I’ve always known this wise bit of advice for keeping spaces clean, but I’m bad at not putting it into action most of the time. That’s something I need to work on. Thank you for this new series! I love that you go into detail about this tidy tip. I look forward to your future tips and all the work you do! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
vanessa - I am beyond exited about this series. I was just looking at my kitchen countertops this morning and thinking what is all this JUNK!!! ahh it made me want to scream. Ive been on a mission this year to live more tidy and simple. Im not all the way there but i want to be and teach my kids how to tidy as well! thank you!
Brooke - I love this and need this so much in this season. I have one question and I’m not sure if you’ll relate.. My husband loves to collect and have things out “at the ready.” He doesn’t like for things to be put away where he needs an extra step to access things.. He also keeps a lot of unnecessary things because he thinks we will need them down the road. Have you and your husband had any issues like this where you want simplicity and minimal clutter and he wants something different? I’m not sure how to go about putting things away when he always wants his things out in the open (which stresses me out). I want to get him on board but am not sure how.
melissa - Brooke, I just wanted to tell you what works-ish for us, me being super tidy and clean surfaced and my husband being a maximalist (I have surrendered to that actually being a thing! My oldest son is the same way, and our daughter is like me). And the way we make it work is: RECEPTACLES. Bins, baskets, ect. for his stuff and I don’t die of stress and he doesn’t feel like I’m destroying all he holds dear. 🙂
And Amanda, I always love your tidy home and thoughts, thanks again for sharing! <3
admin - Melissa, indeed! Baskets are almost always the answer 😉 xx Amanda
Rachel - I love that you shared this one first! My two main areas where I struggle with this is my kitchen and bathroom. I have this one large + long countertop in my kitchen that just screams “clutter me!” Time to get it cleared!
Amanda - Life at Cloverhill - I LOVE this new series and the way you’re going to let it all unfold. It gives you time to think about it, but it also gives us time to reflect on it as well and add new practices into our homemaking one at a time. Thanks so much for sharing.
admin - Amanda, exactly! I am someone who needs to do one thing at a time and let that marinate, rather than have a big overwhelming list of to-do’s, so it’s helpful knowing there are others who prefer the same! xx Amanda
Yulia - This is so usefull for me. As I am trying to clear out my home right now. But didn’t know where to start. So need new fresh air and energy ✨ Thank you
admin - Yulia, so wonderful…I can feel your lightening spirit from here 🙂 xx Amanda
Amy Graham - I am very excited about this new series. I find my kitchen is always filling up with all the paperwork that my kids bring home from school. You have inspired me to take some time this weekend and start fresh and find a new system that will fix this problem. I look forward to reading your next post in this series.
admin - Amy, ahh papers papers papers. This is on my list of topics to write about! Do share if you find a method that works for you! xx Amanda
Gemma - Thank you! I know how important it is for me to see clear worktops but I’m not consistent. With three babies, clutter wins too many days for my liking! Feel inspired to keep on top of it now.x
admin - Gemma, I am so glad you’ve found inspiration here mama. xx Amanda
Erica - I am not a natural tidier, so this series will be SO good for me. With a 3 year old and 3 month old, I feel like I’m drowning in clutter! We moved when the baby was 2 weeks old, so I feel like we unpacked in a hurry and I’ll never catch up. So a simple step like clearing surfaces feels doable and is such a good goal for me. I can hardly remember to brush my teeth in this season, so a simple goal is just perfect. Thank you for sharing with us!
admin - Erica, with kids comes SO. MUCH. STUFF. It’s definitely not a one day, or even one week, job to minimize and declutter, but more of a lifestyle and overarching home ethos, so take comfort in that dear one. Just do one thing at a time, and let go of the rest. Grace. Grace. Grace. xx Amanda
Jessica - LOVE this series. And the quote about the useful and beautiful things staying and the rest going- I look forward to other tips!
admin - Jessica, thank you, my dear! xx Amanda
Adrienne - I really love this post. Naturally, I am not a tidy person. But motherhood has shown me how crucial it is in the home. I do take strides to keep surfaces clear but often get weary of the messes my family makes (myself included). This is a wonderful and poetic-like reminder. Thank you!
admin - Adrienne, thank you mama! I am so glad you’ve found inspiration here. xx Amanda
Daisy - Love those series already! My husband is more of a tidier than I am and I have been trying to do better with a new addition at home! Looking forward to all your advice!
admin - Daisy, thank you! My husband is a tidier, too and I’ve always loved that about him 🙂 xx Amanda
Hannah Eding - I love this! The clutter struggle is real in this house. This is a simple yet super effective first step and I can’t wait to do it! A!so, I have been using your cleaning rhythm and I’m addicted. I feel like I can finally keep up! Thank you for sharing your wisdom. You’re an inspiration 💞
admin - Hannah, thank you dear one! xx Amanda
Ashley - I love your kitchen! It is one of my favorites 🙂
admin - Ashley, thank you – it’s my favorite room in our home for sure! x Amanda
Chelsea - Looking forward to this series ! I’m very much in tune with your need for things to be tidy. And, like others have mentioned, my husband is not ha. We have invested easy access storage for his must haves and we’re both more at ease ! A question I have is where you choose to store your kitchen appliances… our home is small and limited on storage so, while I’m able to store the majority of appliances, I have trouble with things such as the coffee pot and espresso machines (both of which we use daily), my kitchen aid, and our microwave. With these alone on our kitchen surfaces it seems to abound in clutter. What are your suggested solutions?
admin - Chelsea, great question! I plan on sharing more “behind the scenes” of our home so to speak, in the coming months, which will provide readers a glimpse of internal organization inside drawers, cupboards, closets, etc. etc.! As far as our large appliances, I keep all of those tucked away, but we don’t have an espresso machine (gave it to a friend in need) nor a kitchen aid (something I’d love to own one day!) and if we have those, I think I might keep them out and give the rest a home tucked away somewhere. My advice, get rid of your coffee machine and get a French press. The flavor is wonderful and the it takes up no counter space. You could always tuck your kitchen aid away as well if you only use it several times a month, which is my rule of thumb for our Vitamin, toaster, juicer and other cumbersome items. I hope this offers some ideas your way, my dear. xx Amanda
rachael - I am so excited for this series! I am perpetually trying to “get on top of things” at home and find I spend a vast majority of my time rearranging, cleaning, editing, fussing with SO MUCH STUFF that doesn’t even feel useful or necessary. Because my entire house feels such, it has been incredibly daunting. Also, I have a lot of place holder items that are technically useful but aren’t beautiful to my eye – they have been handed down or thrifted to fulfill a necessary task until I can purchase whatever I would prefer. Unfortunately my taste far exceeds my wallet 🙂 Anyway! Thank you for this series. I am genuinely excited to dive in. I too am a tidier by nature, so this current domestic upheaval weighs very heavily on my energy and my spirit.
admin - Rachel, I am thrilled that you are excited as much as I! I too have some useful items that are not as beautiful as I would like, but they are useful nevertheless so here they stay, just tucked away! I am also a believer in using what we have if it works before purchasing new just for purchasing’s sake, which makes Christmas and birthday’s all the most exciting! xx Amanda
Janet - This is so very wonderful Amanda. We have begun doing this a few weeks ago. We are definitely a low or no clutter home already but as a former Longaberger consultant I have a lot of baskets, pottery and fabrics. We will be offering them at a garage sale in a few weeks. I will keep a few. And I definitely agree the kitchen is the hardest.
I would love to know the paint and colors you’ve used in your home. It’s beautiful!
admin - Janet, I am picture your home and it sounds like a dream! Baskets are all over our home too and I find their beauty so timeless. We have 4 white paint colors in our home:
Ski Slope by SW (light blue/grey) | Living room, dining room, master bedroom
Snow Bound by SW (soft white) | Kitchen and loft walls
Varnished Ivory Behr (creamy white) | Kitchen cupboards
Extra White (bright white) | kid’s rooms, bathroom, hallways
MaryAnna - Simplicity and decluttering clears my mind and makes me feel at rest and more “complete”. You’re writing style makes it feel meaningful and beautiful. Thankyou
admin - MaryAnna, thank you dear one. I am happy you are a part of this little online community of homemakers 🙂 xx Amanda
Jennifer Janechek - Love this series and this piece! I was wondering how you handle storing kids’ toys. Our kids’ rooms are small so there’s not much space for toy storage in their rooms. And our main play area for them is in the finished basement, which isn’t practical when we’re all upstairs. So basically we have a huge toy corner in the living room, which makes the already-small room feel very cluttered to me. But I’m not sure where else to put them… we already have most of the toys in baskets but there is a house play set, and a baby doll crib, and bins of legos… We’ve tried to go through and eliminate some toys but they’re all ones with which my toddler regularly plays. Any ideas? Would love to see a piece on toy storage!
admin - Jennifer, the topic of toy storage is an ongoing on here too! Right now we have two large toy boxes, one in the boy’s room and one in our main living area. For the larger items, that’s always difficult but I find if they are beautiful and made of natural materials they fit right in with our decor so we just leave them up. Most of the toys are in the kid’s rooms though, which works well for us right now. I am going to be making an indoor play corner in our living room now that we are inching towards colder weather, and I will share that on Homesong this season. Basically it’s a small bookshelf with a nice but minimal selection of toys for the living room. I honestly believe that kids don’t need a crazy amount of toys to be creatively engaged in play, and that less is indeed always more! Hope this helps, mama. xx Amanda
Stephanie - I find my kitchen counters fill up with 3 types of things by the end of each day
1. “To Do” items such as things I need to return to the store or small items that need repair (e.g., a favorite book whose cover was ripped off, a small wooden toy that was colored on and needs to be sanded)
2. Kid stuff – Art projects the kids were working on and got interrupted or books (always books!)
3. Items or paperwork I need to talk to my husband about before filing/proceeding but don’t want to forget about (which happens if I place them in folder)
I have had some success with making Monday a filing day and clearing off every surface possible in the kitchen, but it seems to come right back. Any tips? Especially for kids stuff and papers — even when they have a place I can never seem to find time each day to return them to that place. Also, I tend to like to declutter but my husband hates getting rid of things which makes it tough…
Chelsea - SO excited about this series. As others have said, I need one thing to work on at a time. Love this tip and the ones in the comments! In the future, I too would like to know what you do with treasures the kids have made. Seems like we get more and more ceramics from art class every year. Would love to know what you do with these sorts of things. Love having a couple of them on display but they’re adding up!
Giana Vasconcellos - SO excited for this series! We are aspiring to live as simply and intentionally as possible so this im sure will create great inspiration.
Amy Beck - I love this series! I’ve been so pulled to figure out and adjust our rhythm in our family, weeks, days, and your posts are so inspiring. Clearing the surfaces is a great way to enter autumn, clearing away what is no longer serving us and preparing for the darker time of the year. You can’t burn candles with lots of “stuff” cluttering up the surfaces.
Jenny - Sounds fun. Ive had a couple of spaces in a rut and big surprise the surface isnt bare. Funny, i thought having a few items out for tasks would inspire me. A few items becomes many and though a lot of things are pretty as a masse its still visually cluttering. Thx for the inspiration.
Jackie - Such a simple tip, but oh so important. Thank you! I know this, clear the surfaces, but this reminder was so poignant and helped the state of my house SO MUCH. Thank you once again!!!
Janet - Hi Amanda. I tried to hit reply but it didn’t seem to work. Haha. Thank you for replying and posting your paint colors and what rooms they are in. We are in the process of painting our living room and well it’s hard to pick a good white or some version of white. 🙂
If you are looking for a basket to fit a need you might have or if you have a specific basket in mind let me know. Most are in good condition and I’d be happy to send you one or two or……… 😊😘
Sara - I suffer from ADHD and tidying up is really hard for me. I am hopeful I will learn something from you.
Amberly - Great new addition to your blog! I love this!!!
Kate - Such a well timed post Amanda- I always think Autumn and spring are perfect times of year to declutter the kitchen and am looking forward to more of your tips. I wanted to share with your readers who asked about managing their children’s craft results- I have found that my kids are their own best critics! Usually the work they think should go up on our dedicated mini art gallery wall, is worthy of display, and other pieces they’re happy for me to just admire and then declutter..I usually change around the wall art each season and anything really wonderful goes into a special folder in their own storage box. I’d love to see how you store your craft tools/ paints etc- no matter how I arrange them, they always look messy in my kitchen!
Kate - Such a well timed post Amanda!- I always think Autumn and spring are perfect times of year to declutter the kitchen and am looking forward to more of your tips. I wanted to share with your readers who asked about managing their children’s craft results- I have found that my kids are their own best critics! Usually the work they think should go up on our dedicated mini art gallery wall, is worthy of display, and other pieces they’re happy for me to just admire and then declutter..I usually change around the wall art each season and anything really wonderful goes into a special folder in their own storage box. I’d love to see how you store your craft tools/ paints etc- no matter how I arrange them, they always look messy in my kitchen!
katherine - Love this Amanda! i’m a tidier person too. And it’s true that a tidy environment brings calm and peace to our mind. This is a great series that you have started. Looking forward to more tips in the coming days/weeks!
Lauren - I am so excited for this series! And this post motivated to finally clear some of my most cluttered surfaces. I really want to focus on simplicity in our home, especially as we enter the busy holiday seasons. Thank you!!
sarah davis - Please keep these posts coming! It is not intuitive to me how to keep a house tidy, and try as I think I might be trying, our house tends towards disarray. I really appreciate this!
Lauren - Love this so much!! Can’t wait to follow along! I am in the process of deep cleaning my house and this is encouraging! I’m in the “worse before better” stage. 🤦🏻♀️ Do you have any thoughts or tips about keeping kids toys neat, weeded through, and orderly! Thx Amanda!
admin - Lauren, oh yes yes yes. The worse before better stage can be overwhelming indeed. BUT YOU’RE SO CLOSE! You got this. Think about how much positive energy you are stirring up at home! I am doing a two part series on toys coming up soon! xx Amanda
Tidy Home Tips & Tidbits No. 3 | Have Toy Rules » Homesong - […] Tidy Home Tip & Tidbit No. 1 | Clear the Surfaces […]
Stacey Belk - I love this series, thank you so much for sharing! One of my recent daydreams is clearing off my kitchen counters and just scrubbing away then rearranging everything. Tonight, after the kids are in bed, I shall do it! And after this post, I’m looking forward to it!
My one question to you is- I don’t see a toaster or a coffee maker or things like that on your counter. Are those things you do not use or that you tuck away in between uses?
We use those two items almost every morning, but they are also items that take up a lot of counter space…my counters would look a lot less jumbled without appliances of those sorts on them, but I’m wondering how to go about removing them if we use them every day
Tidy Home Tips & Tidbits No. 4 | Make Soul Space First » Homesong - […] TIDY HOME TIP & TIDBIT NO. 1 | CLEAR THE SURFACES […]
Corey - I am a cluttery person at heart, I like my floors clean but usually leave everything else cluttered up. This post has inspired me to go home and take stock of the things I have, the things I don’t need, and the things I find beautiful. Thank you!
Joy Moore - I am so looking forward to hearing more of your ideas about home
& home decor. I also would like to see your photos of home decor.