Clear A Surface

When you walk into a room and see stuff on every single surface, it looks cluttered. Even if it is neat, it is still busy. When it isn’t neat, it is stressful. But I didn’t need to tell you that, did I?

One secret to keeping your home looking less cluttered is really very simple.

Have at least one clear surface in every room.

In the living room it could be a coffee table or end table. At the very minimum, have at least an end table that only has one large item like a lamp, but nothing else.

In the dining room it could be the table.

In my kitchen, I have one shelf in a cupboard that doesn’t have anything on it.

Clear. Clean. Empty space. Ah!


One thing you will notice as you do this is that it is more relaxing. A visible empty space in the living room gives our eyes a place to rest. When we are tired at the end of the day, we need somewhere to gaze that is not busy. It is much more calming if there is one place in the room for our eyes to rest after a long day.


An empty shelf in a cupboard or closet is amazingly satisfying. For one, you know that you always have room for something. The feeling of every area bulging with stuff is gone. Sigh. There is one shelf that is completely empty!

You will find that you will enjoy that empty space so much that you will hate filling it up. Have you ever noticed how a cluttered surface just keeps accumulating stuff? The reverse is true as well. A clear surface tends to stay clear. Instinctively, we don’t want to mess it up.

Right above my kitchen sink


Have you ever wanted to play a game, but had to spend five minutes clearing the table first? Or maybe you simply want to serve a tray of coffee and cookies, but your coffee table has so many decorations on it that it becomes a juggling game to keep everything balanced. Or maybe, you just want an open space for your kids to build a Lego creation.

I recently just moved my empty shelf in the kitchen cupboard lower so that it can be used as extra counter space when I need a place to momentarily set a bowl. I don’t have much room, so having an extra shelf becomes a workable space. A closet becomes easier to reorganize when you have one empty shelf to set things down while you work.

This doesn’t mean that every surface is empty. Aiming for one area in every room is a good rule of thumb. Give yourself a relaxing, satisfying, and useable space. Clear a surface. You will find that it is a very simple idea that yields big impact.

Check out this post for some more thoughts on the same idea.

What simple tip that yields big impact do you have? Please share!


  1. I love a completely clear surface. It makes me feel so much better about life.

  2. Your words are music to my ears! Yes, I love a cleared space – anywhere! Especially my master bedroom. I need that to be a haven – a place of true rest and peace at the end of the day. Not much on the walls or on bedside tables, just calm.

    My tip is ironically on my blog today as well – or not so ironic – I can’t decide! I’m always catching myself saying, “I was JUST thinking that very thought, or struggling with that… “. You catch my drift.

  3. I love having cleared spaces!! I really like to have my kitchen table cleared off, but it doesn’t always stay that way as much as I’d like. There seems to be something about a flat open surface that screams, “Drop something here!” :)

    I also like to have an empty shelf or drawer. It’s just a good feeling. That doesn’t always happen either. I love organizing, but I’m not always organized. Stuff just seems to UNorganize on its own accord!!

    On another note, that’s so cool that you know two languages. I’ve never studied a second language. I can also understand why you love simplicity in part because of moving! We recently moved and I decided that if we moved very often, we would have much less stuff!

    • Johanna says:

      Thanks, Deborah! Moving definitely has a way of making you hate clutter! And I can’t really take credit for the two languages…and wonderful advantage of growing up in another country! :)

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