Before I start, let me say that I am writing this post with one giant caveat — I do not believe that keeping your house in a constant Instagram-ready state is necessary for a beautiful and happy home! Then “why write this post at all?” you might be asking – well because hands down the number one question I get asked is “how do you keep your house looking put together with kids and pets?” So I figured why not put together my best tips in one post and let you guys decide if you want to try them out at home, or NOT!
Personally, I keep my home the way it is for three main reasons:
- I work from home so having things orderly and clean helps me live a less stressful and more productive life
- I am constantly taking photos of my home for both this blog and my Instagram page so keeping it ready to photographer saves me tons of time
- To me it’s important to have the pictures that I’m presenting to my followers represent my reality, or as close to it as I can
Does that mean that we don’t have our messy days – No…..Does that mean that every surface is sparkly clean at all times – Absolutely No…..but I like to know that we can get the house ready for Instagram (or ready for company) in 20 minutes tops without too much effort. So now, while we’re anxiously awaiting the time when we can host company again, why not take advantage of this time to put some new of my tricks to work for yourself.
Things to consider when you’re planning your spaces…….
- Above all else, I want my home to be relaxing and that means that it has to work for all of us — dogs included. Every time I makeover a room I design it function first and make sure that I’m not adding anything that is going to be too hard for us to maintain. Your level of acceptable maintenance may be totally different than mine so make sure you’re honest with yourself about how much time and energy you have to devote to your home and let that be your guide in deciding what you add and what you eliminate.
- Always add more closed storage – especially if you have young kids. As much as I love beautiful open shelves and a super organized pantry, there is definitely no shame is also having a few hiding places to shove things when you just need the mess out of view as quickly as possible. Cabinets, big baskets, even furniture with built in storage compartments can all get the job done.
- I don’t know if it’s just me, but I love the view through a door frame into a beautiful room, so I started to really pay attention to that little detail when I designed all of my bedrooms. I then realized that as long as the view into the rooms were put together, I could kinda ignore the messier areas that may lay behind. The best part is that you don’t need to do a full room makeover to make it happen – it could be as easy as moving a messy bookcase or dresser to a different wall or adding some artwork to improve the view.
- As much as I love creating a fun tablescape and switching things out on my mantle from season to season, I actually keep the level of decor in my home very minimal and I let the bones of my house speak for itself (my front room is a good example – the real “decoration” in this space comes from the wallpaper, the fireplace, the ceiling and not from the accessories). From my kitchen counters to my bedroom nightstands, I make it a priority to keep the surfaces in my house as clear as possible (even our coffee table is empty most of the time) and the bulk of the accessories I do have live up high, out of the reach of little hands and puppy tails — this way I have so much less to straighten up to make things look put together.
- I feel like we all have at least one drop zone in our home (either official or unofficial) but I suggest making sure that you have multiple drop zones throughout your house. I have a few designated spots where we put things that either need to be put away in a certain place (like the garage or the basement) OR where we put things that need to go up or down a level. Then I make it a habit to always make sure I’m checking to see if there’s anything we can take with us as we move around the house during the day, especially every time we go up and down the stairs.
Changes you can make to keep things in order……
- Make sure that you’re setting up organization and storage systems that work with the way your family lives, not the other way around. A good example – adding two big baskets in our mudroom to collect everyone’s shoes because I knew there was no way they’d put them back nicely in cute little cubbies no matter how much I asked.
- Set up a “straighten up” schedule for the whole family; ours is every other Sunday night before our cleaning service comes on Monday morning (NOTE: we hired a cleaning service last year because I am horrible at cleaning, but before that we added cleaning jobs to our bi-weekly schedule too). With my boys, I find that two weeks is just enough time to give them a chance to have fun making a mess of things before it gets to the point where we have to spend hours cleaning it all up.
- In addition to our schedule, we also set house rules for our family and stick to them. I really think it’s important to let my boys know that small things like “no eating messy stuff on the white couch,” “clean up one room before you go play in another one,” “make your bed in the morning (and even just make an effort to make your bed in the morning)” are not only good habits for them to get used to early in life, but also good ways to show me that they appreciate all the hard work I put into making us all a nice, comfortable home to enjoy.
- Make de-cluttering a year round process. I probably sit down and de-clutter my house at least four times a year (especially the boys stuff — not just their clothes and toys but also the papers and random junk they bring home from school). It’s not something I look forward too all that much, but it is so much more manageable then trying to squeeze it all in at once.
- And on that note, once you de-clutter, don’t bring more stuff in the house than you have space for. I really believe that re-examining my shopping habits and becoming a much more conscious shopper was the linchpin for being able to stop my house from becoming un-manageable. These days before I buy anything (other than food and necessities) I ask myself do I have a place to put it AND/OR do I have a place to store it.
If you’re looking for more specifics on some of the organization systems we use, feel free to visit my home tour page to find links to each room, or you can check out some of my older posts on my favorite bathroom and kitchen products. Or if your home already works perfectly fine for you and your family already then just ignore everything I said and enjoy!