Tidying Up Your Home When It Doesn't Look Like a Magazine
Tidying up your home when it looks far from perfect is not going to happen without a plan. BUT it doesn’t have to be complicated for it to work.

Vacuuming over the stained living room carpet for the second time this week I looked around at the tidy toys and carpet with pride. It was good progress. Then my eyes strayed to that stupid stain on the carpet where my then two years old daughter had spilled her big sister’s purple nail polish.

It wasn’t that big of a deal at the time as it added to the other spills and spots from over the years. But really?! The chipped dark blue paint, the half-broken table lamp propped up with a Thomas the train toy track. The mismatched curtains, one of the said curtains to be slowly dying a horizontal ripped death.

And don’t even get me started on the sofas.

With their broken cushion zippers and holes underneath through the springs and footrest that used to close but now hung half-open. Yep, this was our living room after 5 kids in 8 years. 

Maybe you can relate. If not with the purple nail polished carpet, maybe you can relate to looking around your home and seeing it with new eyes just how rough it’s gotten. And in cases, like ours … there was nothing we could do about it. 

Our kids were still little so the fixing, or in this case a complete overhaul, would be in our point of view … useless as they were still in the “color-on-the-wall” stage. As well as the funds that we didn’t have at the time to update the 30 years old room. It was coming … but not yet. So we kept scrubbing, fixing, and tidying up. 

And that is okay. If you are in this style of space … I need to tell you that is okay! 

  • It’s okay if your toddler rips through the toy room every day and adds a few more scratches to the wall.  
  • It’s okay if you are still using the same carpet from three decades ago.
  • It’s okay if you are working towards a family vacation saving fund rather than a new kitchen.
  • It’s okay if you are still using mismatched curtains. 

Permission to use the broken, the half fixed, the old, the out of date, the ugly, the mismatched, the ripped, the stained. 

This is about the motivation and the perfectionism that goes with tidying up your home. That even though you don’t have a magazine tidy home or things may not be what you want. You can still achieve the decluttered look and value that is not to be unestimated.

Here are the two main keys when you just want to tidy up your home even if the end result doesn’t look like a magazine. 


The feeling of peace that you get when you realize you are living your best life that you can be living now. 

Making peace with what you have 

This is not the same as settling. I think of the feeling of settling as “giving up” in this context. Making peace —— on the other hand, is when you know that things are not perfect (when is life ever perfect?) and you have a feeling deep down in your bones that that is okay. You are going to plan for the further look of your home but right now, in the season of life that you are in, it’s all okay. 

Making A Priority Based Plan On What You Want For Your House 

Organizing our house and getting rid of the clutter when it looks far from perfect is not going to happen without a plan. When you need to make a plan with where you want to bring your home. It doesn’t have to be intense or complicated for it to work. 

Dream big and write it down 

This is the fun part where you can dream big for how you want your house to look or more importantly how you want your house to feel when you walk in the door. 

  • Clean and spacious? 
  • French revolution transported back in time to good manners?
  • Country cozy like a warm hug and cup of coffee?
  • Bright and exotic like the beach house you’ve always dreamed about even though you live nowhere near the Bahamas?

What are you dreaming your house to look like and feel like if you stripped it bare and had to build it back up again? (mine was clean and clutter free spacious … as in room to breathe no matter the size) 

Related Post: Create Your Version Of A Clutter Free Life

Crunch your numbers

This is the fun part, to check your bank account to see what is actually possible to make this happen because more or less this is going to take a bit of money and some time, so let’s get started today. 

  • What is your MVI? Your minimum viable income amount that you need every month without living off of rice and beans.
  • Do you have any debt that you need to pay off first? If yes, what can you do to pay off that debt and make the timeline shorter? 
  • If you do have debt but really want to start working on the house right now what are the little expenses you can sacrifice from debt payment and put towards the house that would have the biggest impact to change? Maybe a can of paint, new cabinet knobs, or special cleaning products that take out those carpet stains once and for all. 

Related Post: How Much Do You Really Need Of Stuff?

Tweak the dream

Now that you have the numbers go back to your dream. Is it possible? Is there anything more you can do to get there? (as in a side hustle to help pay off debt faster?) Do you need to tweak the big dream to make something happen around your home today? 

Plan out step one

Planning out step one for me was as simple as creating my family budget and then following it. This meant that I needed to make it a habit to check in on my online banking once a month and track what was going on and tweaking what needed to be tweaked.

Because when I watched what I was spending I was able to pay off my $5,000 credit card debt in one year! And then start saving up for the thing that I wanted to update and fulfill the dream about what I wanted our home to feel like when I walked through the door.

I was able to invest in decluttering courses and learn how to take back my home and be on top of what was going on so I could fulfill my dream of our home feeling like peace and calm whenever anyone walked through the door. 

Related Post: The Joy Of Clutter Free Living

How to tidy your home when it’s far from magazine ready. 

1| Open the curtains and a window

Letting the light and fresh air in will do wonders to help get that feeling of “home” started. 

2 | Walkthrough with a trash bag

Going through the room first with a trash bag will help get the motivation building as this is an easy step toward tidying up your home.

3 | Tidy up the piles

I don’t know about you but the pile stresses me out. So to really tidy a room and make it homier I’ll attack those piles first. 

4 | Run a quick clean

Quickly running the Swiffer or vacuum will give any room a facelift and help in tidying up your home. 

5 | Make a list

Put on your grocery list carpet stain remover, or Magic eraser. What can you buy that with a little bit of elbow grease will give your room a face lift. 

6 | Pick one area at a time to tidy

If the entire toy room is too much to take on today. What about just the toy bins? Or the carpet of the toy room? Vacuum clean and stain scrubbed. You don’t have to be tidying up your home all today. What little thing can you tidy up today? 

Messy, imperfect, and banged up can describe my home.

(and maybe yours) But with a little TLC in the form of tidying up your home with what you have, (and a few special cleaners) finding peace and contentedness about where you am in your heart, and with a plan that is flexible to change … the messy doesn’t matter. You’ve got this. 

By Sharon Schuler