Living Large (while living small): Keep it Tidy

Living Large“The danger of a small space is constantly feeling cluttered.  Inundated by stuff.  Necessary stuff… but stuff, nonetheless.”

Once when my husband and I were attending a missionary training in Colorado, we were given a very small room in the training center.  It was big enough for a bed.  A small dresser. A small desk.  A closet.  And a bathroom.  From the minute we walked in at the start of our three-week course, I knew that that cozy space could comfort us or kill us.  I said, “Babe… the only way we’re gonna make it through this month is by keeping this room picked up.”  And for probably the first time in my life, I really, really did.  I made the bed.  I kept the clothes and shoes in the closet.  I picked up the towels.  I organized the desk.  Every day.  We kept it clean and tidy and we survived.

Now, in our 1,008 square foot townhome, the same rule applies.  Keep it tidy or risk being overrun.  This holds true in every inch of the house.  From the kitchen to the closet.

Think about it… if the kitchen is covered in dirty dishes, you’ve already lost that extra 12 square feet of useful space.  If the dining room table is covered in paperwork and craft supplies, 8 more feet are lost.  If the couch pillows are on the floor… if the dirty laundry is not in the basket… if the toys are scattered.  You are losing precious space.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am the worst worst WORST at this.  I’m the girl who walks in the door and dumps everything on the floor by the kitchen table and moves on to the couch.  My husband is the one who takes off his socks and his sweatshirt and throws them into a neat 3-point swish onto the floor… in the middle of the hallway.  And my kid is that kid who gets out all the toys on her shelf and leaves them stranded all over the house.  We have a lot of “lego” moments here.

But my goal.  My attempt every day.  Is to keep it tidy.  I promise you, I have a place for everything.  And when everything is in its place, we live in 1,008 square feet of pure bliss.  When everything is not in its place?  1,008 feet of pure disaster.  Not to mention stress.  Wasted time.  Conflict.

So what’s a girl to do?  First of all, I try.  It’s not perfect.  And as a wife, mom, friend, blogger, and small-business owner, there are days (or weeks) where I have to simply turn my head and say “I’ll do it tomorrow.”  Or I have to apologize to my husband and assure him that he has not married a complete slob.  Or I have to (gasp!) ask for help.  But whatever the case, I always try to keep it tidy.

Besides trying, here are some other helpful tips for keeping your small place tidy so you can breathe, move, relax, and live large:

  • PUT IT AWAY:  When you walk in the door, put that stuff away immediately.  Hang up coats.  Put shoes away.  Hang up bags.  Sort mail.  Throw away trash (you have to clean out your car every day, too, right?!).  Put away groceries.  Teach your kids to do the same.  It will delay your bolt for the couch by a couple minutes, but they will be worth it!  For a great idea for organizing your mail and coupons, check out this thrifty DIY wall organizer!


  • PICK UP THE PILLOWS:  This summer I found six throw pillows on a yard-sale site for $5.  I was so excited!  My house would finally have some decoration.  I could sew those pillow-cases I’d been wanting to try.  We’d have some place comfy to sit and lean.  And… my toddler would have six new toys to drag all over the living room.  At least three times a day I am picking pillows up off the floor and folding blankets.  If I do nothing else in this house all day long, I will do this.  Because while it’s a small thing, it makes the biggest difference.  This applies to your bedroom, too.  If you have throw pillows on your pretty little bed at night, then you have throw pillows all over your pretty little floor in the morning.  Pick them up.  Make your bed.  And watch the chaos drift away before you even start your day.
  • DishesDO IT IMMEDIATELY:  Not only is our kitchen the first place you walk into when you enter the home, it’s also where I spend much of my time.  If the kitchen is cluttered and dirty, my whole day is cluttered and dirty.  So far, the only thing that works for us is to wash the dishes immediately (or at least put them in the dishwasher).  Because one dish in the sink turns into three.  And three turn into six.  And six turn into a dozen, and suddenly I am beyond discouraged at the amount of time it will take to wash them all.  I find that doing things right away, instead of waiting, keeps my house the tidiest.  Whether that’s washing the dishes, making the bed, hanging up the towels, or putting things away after using them.  Don’t even get me started on the laundry…
  • GET CREATIVE: I’ll do a whole post on getting creative with space, but really… get creative with your space!  The less you have sitting out, the less cluttered your home will look.  If that means you put toys in baskets to hide them or buy a multi-functional storage ottoman, the more stuff you can hide, the more space you will have to… live large!

What tips have you found helpful to keep your small space picked up and tidy?


Read the Series:

Purge OftenWall Organizer Dishes Creating SpaceThe World is Your Playground


3 thoughts on “Living Large (while living small): Keep it Tidy

  1. Pingback: Living Large (while living small) | Rediscovering Yesterday

  2. Pingback: Living Large (while living small): Creating Space Where There is None | Rediscovering Yesterday

  3. Pingback: Living Large (while living small): DIY Wall Organizer for Mail and Coupons | Rediscovering Yesterday

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