How to Conquer the Living Room Mess

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“I have no idea where to start. My parents lived like this and now I’ve taken these awful habits with me to my husband and 1 year old son. My husband and I fight about it all the time. I want to save a lot of clothes because I hope to lose weight and fit back into them. I picked 1 room which is the living room. We are in a 2 bed 1 bath apartment and the rooms and kitchen are just as bad if not worse. Please help me!” – Chelsea


Yesterday I offered some marriage encouragement to Chelsea in this article about what to do when your spouse is mad about the mess. I also provided a few basic tips about how to decide which too-small clothes to keep and which ones to donate, so make sure to check out that article if you haven’t yet!

Since Chelsea wants to start in the living room, that’s what I’m going to cover today…

Living Room


First of all, I think the living room is a great place to start! Since it’s a more public location, you can’t just close the door when company arrives. Plus it’s easier to organize than somewhere like the kitchen :)

It looks like you have some good storage in your entertainment center, so I’d start there. Go through the movies and toss anything you don’t love or don’t think you’ll watch again. I don’t know about you, but my family tends to watch movies on Netflix or Amazon, so even the movies we do keep rarely get watched!

Next, think about setting a limit for toys. It’s usually a good idea to keep toys on a shelf or in a toy box because doing so sets a natural limit. If you make room in your entertainment center, you could even use the lower shelves to house some of the toys. Once a shelf or toy box is full, it’s time to choose something to donate! For tips about how to decide which toys to keep and which ones to get rid of, read this article.

Since you live in a small apartment, I’d also consider the necessity of a high-chair. We used one often for my first child, but by the time my second child came along, we realized that we could get rid of the high chair and use a booster seat at the table to save space!

Once you’re finished with the entertainment center and toys, go ahead and start tackling your desk. I have an article here about how to quickly conquer the paper clutter so make sure to read that post for great tips. Since you have your office area in your living room, I also recommend reading this post about how to successfully use one room for multiple purposes.

After you have those items finished, you’ll be well on your way to an organized living room and will probably be able to finish the rest of the space without too many problems!

Fun Rewards

I hope this helps you, Chelsea! Please let me know if you have more questions and don’t forget to submit your after photos so you can receive your gift card!


Don’t forget that if you submit your own mess by October 30th, you’ll receive a free copy of Chaos to Clutter-Free, plus you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Details and submission information are here.


When Your Spouse is Mad about the Messy house

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“I have no idea where to start. My parents lived like this and now I’ve taken these awful habits with me to my husband and 1 year old son. My husband and I fight about it all the time. I want to save a lot of clothes because I hope to lose weight and fit back into them. I picked 1 room which is the living room. We are in a 2 bed 1 bath apartment and the rooms and kitchen are just as bad if not worse. I have to learn where to start somehow. Please help me!” – Chelsea

Marriage Encouragement

Chelsea, I completely understand how you feel! When my husband and I were first married (and for several years after…), I didn’t know how to be a great homemaker. For me, it wasn’t that my mom didn’t try to teach me – it was that I just didn’t get it.

Learning how to keep things tidy isn’t an easy endeavor, but it is a worthwhile one.

Can I offer you a little marriage encouragement? I read in His Needs, Her Needs that usually the things a spouse complains about is what the spouse needs the most.  For example, if someone’s husband complains that dinner is never ready on time, there’s a chance that acts of service fill his love bank. When that need isn’t met, it’s depleting his bank.


So the next time your husband complains about the messy house, try answering with gentleness instead of defensiveness. Sincerely say something like, “I’m so sorry that I haven’t kept a clean home for you. I want to do better. Can you offer grace to me while I learn?” Then give him a hug. Keep doing that every single time he complains and see if it helps!

Make sure that you really are working on decluttering your home so he can see that you’re genuinely trying, even if the progress is slow.

Ask your husband what his top three housekeeping priorities are and focus on those. Maybe he doesn’t care if your son’s room is a mess but he doesn’t want to trip over toys in the living room. If so, let your son’s bedroom go for a little bit and focus on keeping things picked up in the living room! You can also pray for your husband to have a compassionate heart about your struggles.

As you work on decluttering and improving your cleaning habits, you can add more things in later, but for now focus primarily on the three areas that are most important to your husband.

And don’t forget that it’s okay to not do everything by yourself! If your husband is working outside the home and you’re not, then your primary job right now is to take care of your one-year-old child and your home. Keeping your outside activities limited will help you to be home enough to care for your home. If you’re working outside the home as well, then go ahead and discuss how to divvy up some tasks.

Tips for the Other Spaces

If you’d like specific bedroom and kitchen tips, email photos to me! For now though, here are a few basic decluter tips:

1) Take it one room at a time. Don’t even try to declutter your kitchen while you’re simultaneously sorting your clothes and cleaning out the bathroom!

2) Consider putting clothes that are too small for you elsewhere so you don’t have to see them everyday. Under-the-bed totes, or even a box in the top of your closet may be all you need so you won’t have to dig around clothes that don’t fit.

3) When you’re sorting your clothes, ask yourself a question: “If I saw this item at the store right now, would I want to pay to buy it?” If your answer is no, then donate it. Only keep the clothes that you really love and will be excited to fit back into!

4) Purge items like crazy! For more clothing advice, read step one of this article. And for a great kitchen declutter how-to, read this.

Fun Rewards


I hope this helped you, Chelsea! My new book should be in your inbox! I’m going to post your living room photos, and answer your specific living room questions, later this week but I wanted to cover the heart issues first.

If any of you reading this are thinking that you have the opposite problem – you want to declutter but your spouse won’t let you – then make sure to read this post about what to do when you’re married to a pack-rat.

PS If you submit your own mess by October 30th, you’ll receive a free copy of Chaos to Clutter-Free, plus you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Details and submission information are here.


Incredible Books about Relationships

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Many of my in-real-life friends know that I love to recommend books – even if it’s something I haven’t read yet! I’ll say things like, “Have you heard about this book? So-and-so read it and it’s really good – you should read it too!”

But today, my friends, I’m only telling you about relationship books that I’ve actually read and LOVE.

Hands-Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford

I completely agree with the author when she says that, “Hands free Mama is your guide to putting down the phone, burning the to-do list, and letting go of perfection to grasp what really matters!”

Rachel removes the shame that comes from parenting guilt as she offers hope to the mama who’s struggling. This is a must-read for any mother who spends a lot of time on technology or who thinks she’s too busy to spend quality time with her kids.

His Needs, Her Needs by Williard F. Harley Jr.

It’s no big secret that men and women are different! So it makes sense that we need different things from each-other. Harley thoroughly discusses those differences and needs, as well as teaches his readers how to meet their spouse’s top desires.

My husband and I read His Needs, Her Needs together when our oldest was just a baby and the things we learned in this book have been invaluable to our marriage throughout the years.

Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst

I read Unglued with the hopes of gaining a few new tips about handling negative emotions a little better. I came away with so much more than that.

I learned that burying feelings inside is just as harmful as letting them out improperly. I was given tips, tools, and scripture for how to properly handle confrontation, disappointment, anger, and other types of conflict.

{Read my full Unglued review here or view the book on Amazon.}

Frumps to Pumps by Sarah Mae

Does a book about clothes even belong on this relationship list? I believe it does because it can be hard to be taken seriously by others if we’re always wearing old t-shirts and ratty jeans, or if we’re frumpy and grumpy.

Frumps to Pumps was just what I needed for the motivation to get – and stay – dressed in cute clothes every day! Since starting Sarah’s challenge, I feel better, I look better, I’m more productive, and I don’t panic when the doorbell rings.

{Read my full Frumps to Pumps review here or view the book on Amazon.}

The Bible by God

From marriage and friendships to parenting and loss, The Bible is the wisest relationship book that will ever exist, and the more I read it, the more I learn. It’s a book that never stops being new!

What fabulous books have I missed – let me know in the comments!

Organizing a Small Craft & TV Space

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Today’s messy situation was submitted by Christine and I’m going to tell her how organize her craft and TV room!

“My organization challenge is my craft/sewing/tv room wannabe . The couch will be moved out, and I have a reading chair I want to put in there. Every time I go in there to do something with it I just turn around and walk out it is so overwhelming! It is a very small room.” – Christine


{Photo Credit: Winnond at{

Christine, thanks so much for e-mailing your photos and questions – I’d love to help you out! We’re going to break this down into a few sessions to make this feel more manageable for you.

Step 1: Envision

I have bad news for you - you’re going to have to get brave and brace yourself before you walk into your craft room because there will be no more turning around and leaving!

The good news? You don’t even have to start cleaning during your first session. You need a game plan, so before you even start organizing, go ahead and envision how you want your space to look. Do you want to keep the furniture laid out how you currently have it or can you do a little rearranging?

Don’t just do something because that’s what you’ve always done – really think about configurations that would work for your family. I personally think it would look nice if you want to put your new chair at an angle in the corner of the room (a little to the left of where the couch currently is). You may also want to consider either moving your desk  in front of your window or putting cubbies above the desk to hold craft supplies..

While you’re thinking about furniture placement, also think about creating little areas or zones for your items.  For example, if you have any important documents or business supplies in your craft room, those should be put on a shelf or in a bin together, so they’re easy to access but out of your way.

Also consider the craft supplies that you have and think about how often you’ll use them as well as where you’ll use them. Will you sit on the chair to knit while you watch a movie? If so, you’ll know that you want to fill a little basket with knitting supplies and put it next to your chair!


And, unless you have a really great reason for keeping two desks, I think you should also consider getting rid of one of them – having too much surface space is like practically begging for clutter piles to accumulate! Lastly, think about the artwork you have leaning against a shelf. Do you love it and will you hang it up soon? If not, then donate it.

Again, don’t actually do anything yet – just breathe, dream, and envision. Once you’ve thoroughly completed these suggestions, session one is over! Go take a break!

Step 2: Declutter

Step two is when you’ll actually start to declutter. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Step 3: Organize

  • Corral like items. Pens with pens, fabric with fabric, etc.
  • Rethink your current systems. Maybe you currently keep fabric in a drawer but you think it might be better on a shelf – try that out and see how it looks!
  • Rearrange your furniture. Remember that if you don’t like where you put something, you can put it back and nobody will ever have to know!

Step 4: Beautify

You can start making your craft room beautiful by hanging your existing artwork on the walls. I also recommend checking out Dani’s post about office organization because she’s amazing at decorating and has some fabulous ideas that are frugal, simple, and beautiful!

If you’d like to see even more specific ways to break down declutter sessions, check out this office mess sos post!

I hope this helped you Christine – don’t forget to send after photos so you can receive your gift card! I can’t wait to see your organized space!

PS If you submit your own mess by October 30th, you’ll receive a free copy of Chaos to Clutter-Free, plus you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! Details and submission information are here.


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