How to Control Shelf Clutter

How to Control Shelf Clutter

We all have stuff, lots of stuff and are continually urged to keep buying more stuff. Most of us also have those well-meaning friends who give us stuff. Not only for special occasions, but most of us have been mistaken for a human recycle bin when others want to get rid of stuff without throwing it away.

So, we get more shelves and even buy bigger houses that come with extra storage and wonderfully built-in shelves. A lot of us operate under the assumption that more shelves means we can store more stuff. That is actually a misconception. Just because shelves exist does not mean every inch of space has to be occupied.

Shelves for today’s lifestyles are meant as accessories, not storage. Just watch any home and garden show on TV and you will get some ideas of how shelves are really to be utilized.

In order to get rid of shelf clutter, the first step is to analyze shelf by shelf how important the items are to you. A lot of us simply display items because it seems expected. For example, we want our friends and relatives to be able to see that we really use what they gave us. We are taught to believe that it is in bad taste to not use and appreciate gifts and displaying them is supposed to show our appreciation.

However, good friends and relatives are supposed to know us well enough not to give us items we can’t use or appreciate. If you do not feel items should be displayed, then simply take them off the shelf. If you can’t make yourself donate them because of guilt, pack them away in a closet, the attic, or the garage.

Other popular items that are guilty of shelf clutter are books. Many of us love to read (and rightly so). We try to show that intellect by trying to display every book we ever read, or at least as many of them as we can. Unfortunately, unless you have a room designated as a library, books can clutter up shelves very quickly and make an otherwise orderly household look cluttered and unorganized.

To cut down on book shelf clutter, choose a favorite author and only display books by him or her. Another way to make books on shelves more appealing is to only display hard cover books.

Another big contributor to shelf clutter are collections, especially if several members of the family have different ones. The correct way to display items that are part of collections is to pick the most treasured ones for shelf display and store the rest. You can rotate the items on display every month or so if you wish.

By now, you hopefully have packed away a lot and are left with only the items you actually want to display, which are the most meaningful. Now it is important to arrange them properly. The key is to arrange pieces in groupings of items that relate to each other. However, don’t be too rigid and break it up with an enhancing accessory, such as a candle or vase, but keep the look balanced.

Books should be arranged in different ways. Some can be side by side, some can be stacked on top of each other. Again, break it up a little with some other items but maintain a balanced geometrical look.

Any extra stuff that is not on display, if you can’t part with it, should be kept in areas meant for storage, such as an attic. Controlling shelf clutter will not only enhance living space, but also save time on cleaning.


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