I'm a professional organizer, and this is why your house always feels untidy

If you think you’ve tried everything for a tidy home, and it still doesn’t feel tidy, one of these reasons may be the culprit.

A kids bedroom with open shelves and a messy bed
(Image credit: Future)

You’ve worked hard to declutter and organize your home. Your closets, cabinets, and drawers are in great shape. But, for some reason, your home still feels untidy...  Sound familiar? 

This is a common problem because we usually focus on cleaning out a closet or emptying the junk drawer rather than creating systems to handle the daily flow of objects into our home.  

As a professional home organizer, I see my clients make the same mistakes time and again. Here are three reasons why your home always feels untidy – and what to do about it.

1. You don’t have drop zones

storage bench in entryway

(Image credit: Alice Lane Interior Design / Photography Nicole Hill Gerulat)

You've just walked in the door after a long day of work, errands, or picking up the kids. What's the first thing you do? If I had to guess, it’s unloading the items you carry on a counter or the floor near the door. You probably have great intentions to put those items away at some point, but once we get into the day’s routine or other chores, those items rarely get put away.

Instead, incorporate one or multiple drop zones in your home designed to contain items that generally end up on the kitchen counter. My house has a drop zone for the kids’ backpacks and lunch boxes. They hang them up as soon as they come in rather than leave them on the floor. We also have a drop zone for our keys, sunglasses, and my husband’s work bag.

Think about the items that are placed on the kitchen counter or the entryway table and end up looking like clutter. Are they little things that could be placed in a drawer or hung on small hooks? Are they larger items that could be hung in a coat closet or larger hooks?  

A drop zone doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate.  A few hooks on the back of the door could be all you need for a tidy home.

2. You don’t have a drawer or cabinet for “in progress” items.

In-progress items require action in the short term. They often include a field trip form, something to show your partner or roommate, a store return, a dish to return to a friend, a gift to be wrapped, etc. These in-progress items usually turn into counter or floor clutter without a designated space.

An organizing task I swear by is creating a space for in-progress items. I try to keep this space in the hub of the home, which is often the kitchen, entryway, or mudroom. I love that these items are tucked away so they are no longer cluttered, yet you can open the cabinet or drawer to see what you need to handle.

3. Your décor translates to the eye as clutter

Shelves filled with blue and white ceramics

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

It is so easy to accumulate decorative objects in your home. I love cute throw pillows, and I’m a sucker for pottery at our local makers’ market, but what I’ve learned is that I can admire and appreciate something without having to purchase it.

Look around your home. Have you accumulated objects that look more like clutter than intentional décor? While I’m not an interior designer, I’ve worked with many clients who have an excess of beloved objects and have a few strategies for streamlining décor.

1. Only display objects you love

Remember to have a critical eye on the things you already own. Is it time for any of them to be discarded, donated or sold? It’s easy to buy new objects and much more challenging to let go of things you already own.

2. Rotate your décor 

The key is having storage space for items not on display, which is a luxury in some homes. One of our clients has a cabinet for sentimental items from her travels, so she can easily swap out pieces when she wants to see something new for a while.  Other clients have holiday closets that allow them to store off-season décor easily.  If you don’t want to part with decorative objects and you have storage space, then this strategy is for you.

3. Group like items

Just like we group like items when decluttering, we group like items when we want a space to look tidier. When items are scattered across a room, they are a lot for the eyes and brain to process. As soon as you move them together, they become a collection that looks thoughtful and less cluttered.

If you think you’ve tried everything for a tidy home, and it still doesn’t feel tidy, one of these reasons may be the culprit.

Caroline Roberts
Contributing expert

Caroline Roberts, a certified KonMari Consultant and professional organizer, founded the organizing agency The Simplified Island in 2019. Caroline believes being organized goes much deeper than pretty bins and can be life-changing. She recognized her organizing and streamlining skills were unique as she ran her marketing agency, Coastal Connections Marketing, and raised her two sons.