How to create 20 percent open space and a life with less clutter

January 25, 2017

Going full minimalism might feel unrealistic or overwhelming but we can learn from minimalism ideas and start by creating more open space. One easy way to reduce clutter is the idea of creating 20 percent open space. So what does more open space look like in practice? 

Make your collection a standout, not a clutter magnet 

If you tend to collect books, collectibles and decorative pieces, taking just a few away from a shelf can make a collection stand out more and not feel like clutter. How do you identify which items to give away or sell? Look for duplicates, items that are damaged, in poor condition or are not a top favorite. 

We asked one of our favorite designers, Jessica Klein from Oh I Design Blog to give us a few tips on keep shelves and collections looking their best. 

leave open space on shelves to organize collection and books

"When styling shelves with books and other tchotchkes, be sure to leave some air for the pieces to breathe. You do not need to line up all your books all the way across your shelves - break it up by placing some forward-facing and some stacked horizontal vs. vertical." Oh I Design Blog

oh i design blog styling shelves

"When placing books stacked horizontal, you can then add a decor piece (i.e. a vase, bowl, sculpture) on top to anchor them and add dimension."  Oh I Design Blog

Simplify and update you holiday decorations 

It can be easy to over do it when it comes to holiday decorating. Before filling your home with Santa and snowman figures (we know it's tempting, especially after a visit to Home Goods), take the time to pick through and find the decorations that truly matter most to you. Less is more when it comes to holiday displays and natural elements can often create a big impact and add to a peaceful and balanced feel in your home. Remember the rule of 20% free space and not crowed your tabletops and shelves. 

The berry branches red color pops against the neutral colors adding a seasonal and festive element to this home dining area.

(Image credit: Fantastic Frank)

The berry branches red color pops against the neutral colors adding a seasonal and festive element to this home dining area. 

free infographic to declutter your home

Live like you are about to move to your dream home

It's common to need to move many times in college and the years following. This means you had to live and pack light and added benefit of this was that every time you moved you got to look at your items and purge anything that was not needed for your new place. The longer we stay put the easier it is to accumulate "stuff" and clutter. We may no longer to fit everything we own into our car but we can still apply this living light lesson to removing clutter.  

A fun way to start a new decluttering project is to imagine you can move into your dream home. Look at a room you are working to declutter and take inventory of items you would absolutely find it worthy to physically move if you needed to. 

start a declutter project by imagining you are moving to your dream home
What could be left behind and would not serve you if you got to move to your dream location or home?   

Do the math to remove clutter 

I once counted how many items were on my desk and then did the math and removed 20 percent. This simple trick made it easy to visualize how much to get rid of and what a successful decluttering would look like.

This is the challenge we leave you with if you are not sure where to start. Look at a closet or stack of items and simply do a quick count. Once you have the total find 20 percent of the items you can toss, recycle or give away. A little simple math can get jumpstart your decluttering efforts. Next, challenge your friend by sharing this post on Pinterest. 

 the declutter calculation for 20 percent less clutter

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