5 Ways To Live Happily With A Clutter Bug

A cluttered bathroom sink
To keep the peace, try designating "clutter-free" and "clutter-friendly" zones in your home. Image: Cranky Pixels blog

Do you constantly clash with the clutter bug in your home? Here are tips on how opposing clutter styles can live in peace.

If you live alone, you never must tolerate anyone’s clutter but your own. Add another human to the household, and you’re bound to butt heads over how and when stuff is stored, piled, and put away.

The Wall Street Journal feels your pain and recently hosted an online chat about clutter styles. Writer Alina Dizik and psychologist Patty Ann Tublin advised readers — mostly women complaining about packrat husbands and boyfriends — how to navigate relationships between clutter bugs and neatniks.

Here are 5 tips we culled from the conversation:

1. Determine if arguments about clutter are really power struggles. Is the rift really about piles of paper or an attempt to acquire more control? If you can’t figure this out, consult a professional organizer or counselor.

2. To reduce stress in your home, designate “clutter free” and “clutter friendly” areas. Perhaps the guests-only living room is a No Clutter space, while a mudroom or small den can accommodate some clutter. Also, investigate unusual places to store clutter, like under the stairs, or these space-saving hacks.

3. Suggest that your clutter bug digitalize records and read magazines on a computer pad.

4. Don’t attempt to find clutter solutions in the heat of an argument. Set a specific time to discuss clutter styles (when tempers have cooled), and throw in some humor to lighten the atmosphere.

5. Try the “5 things” approach. Ask your clutter bug to put/throw away five items each time he exists a room. Sooner or later, the space will empty out.

Do you live with a clutter bug? How do you resolve conflicting clutter styles?

Housing And Real Estate Expert Lisa Kaplan-Gordon
Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Lisa Kaplan Gordon is an award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer who contributes to real estate and home improvement sites. In her spare time (yeah, right!), she gardens, manages three dogs, and plots to get her 21-year-old out of her basement.