We’ve all heard about how the bedroom should be our personal oasis, a haven where we can retreat and then emerge, completely refreshed for whatever the next day might bring. The reality? Most of us end up falling asleep somewhere between piles of bills, unread magazines, and clothes of questionable cleanliness. Just making the bed can be a challenge, much less cleaning the whole room on a regular basis.
That’s why this week’s “New Year, Clean House” segment is all about this essential personal space. We sat down with organizing professionals from all over the country to find out exactly how you can keep your bedroom a clutter-free zone—for good. So if you’re ready to take back the bedroom, here are the five clutter categories you’ll want to tackle first.
1. Clothes mountain
“You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule that applies to so many things, and clothes are one of them,” says Liz Jenkins, owner of organizing company A Fresh Space. The rule suggests that 2 out of 10 items will be worth more than the other eight items put together.
“Most people have so many things in their closet that never see the light of day, which means the items that actually get worn float at the top. This creates a cluttered closet that doesn’t actually function,” she explains.
Keep the clothes that you like to wear, plus the ones you actually wear regularly—then plan on cutting out the rest.
“Cutting your closet down to clothes you love and use regularly will make your life (and mornings) easier,” says Afoma Umesi, editor of Oh So Spotless. “My go-to way of handling gently used clothing is giving them away. Pop into a Salvation Army, give them to a friend who could use them more often, or even to your local thrift store. It’s better for your closet, you, and the environment.”
2. Avalanche of accessories
We know you thought you were getting off easy, but accessories and shoes also need to be weeded if you’re really going to reclaim your bedroom.
“Shoes and accessories are the things that so many of us buy on a whim,” says Jenkins. “But just like with clothes, if we don’t edit them regularly, they clog up our storage and make it hard to find what we want.”
To keep from getting lost in the avalanche of accessories, Jenkins recommends having dedicated storage areas for each category of things: shoes, jewelry, scarves, handbags, and so on. Then be picky about what gets to actually stay in each section.
“Select only what you wear,” says Hannah Hearin, owner of Home Refreshment Professional Organizing. “Even if it’s a gift, even if it’s expensive—you should really [keep] only the accessories you wear on a regular basis.”
3. Other-room overflow
This is just a nice way of referring to all the stuff that really doesn’t belong in your bedroom. We’re talking about the drying towels, the hair dryer, cups and plates from the kitchen—you name it. It can live in your house, just not in the bedroom.
“I’ve noticed that I’m 80% more likely to break or lose things when they’re in the wrong place,” says Umesi. “Everything from that glass of water to the MAC lipstick I knocked over and broke because it was on my bedside table instead of the bathroom. Save your things from damage by returning them to their place. Yes, it takes a bit more time and energy, but it saves you money—and a lot of heartaches, trust me.”
4. Your (dresser) junk drawer
We all have one; the key is to keep it manageable.
“Everyone needs a junk drawer, but if yours is overflowing, it’s time to organize it,” says Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving.”
Throw out trash, outdated technology, broken headphones, and random buttons. For memorabilia like old concert tickets, Wenzke suggests taking a photo of it or creating a memorabilia box that you can tuck in your closet instead of taking up valuable drawer space.
Once you’ve cleared out the drawers, you can remove the clutter on top.
5. The bedside table
“The bedside table is a magnet for clutter,” says Jenkins. “It’s also really easy to get out of control, so I recommend regular clean-outs.”
When it comes to maintaining the surface of your bedside table, Emma J. Carter, owner of It’s a Lifestyle Organizing, has a few tips.
“Put a small tray or dish on your dressers and bedside tables. These will be your go-to spots for little, random items,” Carter says. “I use my dish for jewelry mostly, but a bobby pin and some change might end up in there as well.”
Carter advises her clients to spend a few minutes every week putting away things that wind up in the dish: “I’m a strong believer in giving yourself a place for your loose ends, as long as you take the time to put them away.”
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