Living in a new place always feels like a fresh start. For R and me, moving into our first home together was a big deal. We love having our own space, especially since we renovated and designed it ourselves. And while we never officially sat down to go over rules of the house, there are several habits we try to follow that help keep our space clutter-free.
1. Keep countertops clear and clutter-free.
Living in a limited space like an apartment, we’re compelled to be smart and creative about storage space. First, we didn’t bring absolutely everything we own to our new place, just things we would need and use on a regular basis. Second, we try to use up every nook and slot we can fit our stuff into, allowing for clear desk and countertops.
2. Put things back immediately.
This applies to everything from the vacuum cleaner, mop, remote control, screwdriver, ladder to the pencil, pen, stapler, scissors, paper clips, and especially the ubiquitous eraser, rubber bands, and bobby pins.
3. Don’t let dirty dishes pile up.
I always try to wash a dish right after it’s used and not wait for the sink to fill up. But when I’m in a rush, I try to get it done by the end or the night or first thing the next morning.
4. Choose what to save and splurge on.
We are very picky when it comes to household products everything, but some things are more important to us than others. For example, we invested in good quality kitchenware like pots and pans, knives, rice cooker, oven, microwave, dinnerware, and silverware because we cook and eat at home most days.
5. Always make the bed.
The bed is the most significant and noticeable piece of furniture in our bedroom, the first thing we see when we enter it. Apart from doing the dishes, making the bed is probably the quickest and easiest thing to tackle to keep our home looking tidy.
6. Keep ringers on low for bedtime.
I’m a heavy sleeper while R is the opposite. But even so, there are times I get awakened in the middle of the night by a text. While I used to completely silent my phone before going to bed, I stopped doing it in case of emergency and somebody needed to reach me. So I simply keep the ringer on the lowest setting.
7. Only pajamas in bed.
We never jump into bed with clothes we’ve worn outside the house because they’ve been everywhere! That way we know we always have a clean zone we can enjoy, worry-free.
8. Always have snacks around.
Snacks are essential for guest visits, particularly surprise visits. We like to have easy go-to nibbles like crackers, cookies, and nuts on hand so our guests would have at least something to eat. Chilled drinks are also great to serve.
9. Set a time limit for messes.
At some point there will be a little mess, and that’s okay (not really). As long as it doesn’t stay there forever. For example, there is currently a toolbox in the shoe closet that clearly doesn’t belong there, and that’s because the closet door is being installed. And once the job is done in about a week’s time, the toolbox will return to its rightful place: the storage room. Just last weekend when I was getting ready to go to a friend’s wedding, I tried on a few dresses before settling for the third. I didn’t have time to rehang the other dresses so I had to do that when I returned later in the evening.
10. Keep the house 10 minutes away from being guest-ready.
Since R and I live close to both our parents, we aren’t surprised when they visit every now and then. And although guests always call before showing up at our doorstep, we like to keep the house manageable at all times.
11. Let the light in!
We’re lucky to have floor-to-ceiling windows so we get plenty of sunshine everyday. Although it gets very bright early in the morning, we always open the curtains by 10 or 11 AM. We like getting daylight so there’s no need to turn on the lights at all during the day, and at night, a beautiful view of the city.