10 ways to enjoy clutter-free living without filling your space with bulky furniture

Don't sacrifice your floor space while trying to keep the mess of family life at bay

Three image of smart storage solutions
(Image credit: Alice Lane Interior Design / Nicole Hill Gerulat / Future / Brent Darby / Joanna Henderson)

Studies have shown that having a tidy home soothes the soul. Gaining control over your environment is an instant de-stressor as your home and furniture emerge from beneath mountains of cast-aside clothes and shoes, abandoned toys, and piles of neglected and forgotten ‘stuff.’

It also makes rooms safer to navigate as there are fewer things on the floor to trip over or step on. And you don’t have to worry about coming up with creative excuses to prevent unexpected guests from crossing the threshold.

Clever storage ideas are key to creating this orderly oasis, but adding too many heavy-looking cupboards and mismatched dressers can make your home appear just as cluttered, and the rooms appear smaller. Smart and softer solutions can help keep spaces clear while encouraging you to be more organized. 

Here are our expert tips for staying tidy without over-furnishing your rooms.

1. Over the top

A mint green closet in a mudroom with storage above it

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

If you’re struggling to fit all your clothing into your existing free-standing closet, use the top of it to store out-of-season outfits when you swap t-shirts for sweaters or summer dresses for winter coats.

But choose soft storage bags or structured boxes that cover the whole wardrobe and are in colors or fabrics that match your bedroom design scheme. Coordinated bags or boxes will look like they are considered part of the design, unlike a jumble of old bags and boxes perched precariously on top.

Add some cedar balls or herb sachets of crushed lavender, bay leaves, cloves, rosemary, and thyme to the bags to deter moths.

2. Under bed storage

A white washed bedroom with a white wood panelled ceiling

(Image credit: Ryan Wicks / Future)

The space under the bed isn’t just for hiding half-drunk cups of coffee, odd socks, and dust bunnies—it is valuable storage real estate. You can purchase a range of shallow but wide boxes and baskets that will slide neatly underneath your sleep spot and are perfect for keeping shoes, bags, holiday clothes, blankets, or even extra towels.

Choose under-bed storage ideas with wheels to make it easier to pull them out. If they zip up or have lids, this will help keep the dust off.

3. Find the gap

‘One approach I've found particularly effective is the integration of built-in storage flush with the home's architecture,’ says Drew Hamblen, an interior designer adept at finding places to put things that still preserve the elegance and openness of a room. ‘This can include recessed shelves in hallways or living areas, and built-in nooks in showers for toiletries. These provide ample storage while maintaining a sleek and seamless aesthetic.’

4. Floating storage solutions

Kitchen wall decor ideas with open shelving and crockery display

(Image credit: Future PLC/Matthew Williams)

Wall-hung furniture will make your room look bigger as it reveals more of the floor. A floating bedside drawer or shelf is a stylish, space-saving alternative to a bulky floor-standing cupboard or drawer. They are easy to fit yourself, and the brackets or long screws needed to support the drawers or shelf are concealed behind – maintaining the ‘floating’ illusion.

You can make it even more streamlined by positioning a wall sconce above it instead of placing a bedside lamp on the top.

5. Door adornment

Your doors can perform double duty as a space for vertical storage ideas, suggests professional organizer Marta Parfan

‘Over-the-door organizers made from canvas are great for shoes and accessories like hats, scarves, and clutches. They're also amazing for nurseries to put supplies for the changing station and stuffed animals in,' she explains. 'A metal organizer works great for pantries and kitchens, as it can hold heavy cans, spice jars, snacks, tea and coffee, and small appliances.’

6. Reading room

Living room with floor to ceiling red bookcase and grey couch

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

If you’re a bookworm who loves hardbacks or paperbacks, your favorite reads could take over your home if they are packed haphazardly into heavy bookcases. Open shelving will make them seem less intrusive, or you could turn them into a display feature with unconventionally shaped wall-hung shelves.

Alternatively, you could take advantage of high ceilings and have a single bookshelf going around the room at picture rail height – complete with a rolling library ladder to reach them. If you want to try a DIY project, turn a door into bookshelves to conceal a secret room.

7. Multi-purpose marvels

Dual-purpose furniture makes an ideal hiding place for household essentials you don’t want on show or to convert a room from a daytime playroom to a living room for adults to relax in after the kids have gone to sleep.  

‘Optimize space and add a unique design element to the room with custom-built furniture such as a dining table with a base that includes wine storage or a modern credenza that hides office supplies and tech gadgets,’ says Drew Hamblan. ‘Additionally, using furniture with hidden compartments can keep accessories, toys, and gadgets out of sight, contributing to a clutter-free environment.’

8. Hooks and pegs


(Image credit: Ted Todd)

Rearrange your closets to make better use of the storage that you do have and avoid having to buy or build more. By putting hooks on the walls to hold cleaning supplies like vacuums and brushes or hanging pouches for shoes or bags, you will leave the floor clear so you can pack more in without overwhelming the space.

Lining up chunky coat hangers on a single rail isn't the most efficient use of your wardrobe. Instead, invest in multi-hangers designed to hold several pairs of pants, skirts, or shirts on one hook. 

9. Under cupboard

Put favorite accessories or utensils you use every day on the show, and make a collection of seemingly random items into a style feature, says Jay Sanders, owner of a home remodeling company, Castle Dream Construction in Baltimore, MD.

‘Mount rails under cabinets to hang frequently used items like utensils, which can free up drawer space for kitchen appliances. In living spaces, install hooks or a wall-mounted rack for hanging clothes, hats, and other accessories.’

10. Decorative baskets

Simple but clever storage solutions. Blankets, towels and baskets in bedroom alcove store.

(Image credit: Joanna Henderson)

Incorporate some beautiful decorative baskets into your scheme. Whether big or small, these add a textural, natural element to any room and can be used to quickly tidy things away when visitors call.

Use wicker hampers with lids in living rooms to double as storage or a side table. Add rustic charm in the kitchen with baskets full of produce, utensils, or table linens. Place large baskets in the bedroom or bathroom to conceal laundry or toys. Small baskets hung from hooks or placed on shelves in the powder room are perfect for filling with beauty, bath, and shower products. 

For a charming way to add discreet storage, and to make the most of a picturesque view, add a window seat. Cover with cushions to create an inviting space to curl up with a book, enjoy a mindful moment of peace, or provide extra seating for social occasions, while the deep base conceals a multitude of items. 

Alison Jones

Alison is a contributing writer for Homes & Gardens. She was previously Co-Editor of Real Homes magazine and now works as a freelance writer for a variety of homes publications. Originally a newspaper journalist, Alison has worked as a film critic and celebrity interviewer, and has also written on property, fashion, lifestyle, entertainment and the arts. Having purchased a Victorian property in severe need of updating, much of her time is spent solving the usual issues renovators encounter.