How to prevent guest room clutter creep

It’s lovely to have a guest room in your home, but it can ever-so-easily turn into yet another place to store things you rarely use or never use at all.

Guest bedroom

What gets stored in guest rooms

We’re talking clothes and shoes you haven’t worn in years, and other household items you can’t squeeze into any of the other storage areas of your home but don’t feel ready to part with just yet.

Guest bedrooms are also sometimes used as a place to hang washing to dry, or to put laundry that is waiting to be ironed or folded.

Maybe it’s where you throw your yoga kit or sports equipment when it’s not in use? Or put items that need to be repaired?

And, of course, if you’re having a clutter clearing purge, where better to stash all the things you eventually plan to donate to charity?

The problem is that most items dumped in guest bedrooms tend to take up permanent residence there, so the room is never actually available for guests.

When a guest arrives to stay

When an actual guest arrives to stay, you have some urgent choices to make. You can gather up all the things you have stashed in the room and temporarily put them elsewhere (usually in your own bedroom, because that’s the area they are least likely to see). You can remove some of your stuff to create just enough room for them to unpack their case and store their things. Or you can simply leave everything as it is and expect your guest to put up with it.

The problem is not unique to private homes. A surprising number of landlords wantonly inflict their clutter on paying guests too. You won’t see it shown in any of the photos advertising the property, but when you start opening cupboards and drawers, they may very well be filled with the owner’s belongings, especially in holiday lets and Airbnb.

An immaculate one-bedroom apartment my husband and I recently stayed in turned out to have nowhere at all to store our clothes. When we asked why the closet was locked, the landlady admitted it was full of her own things. She had run out of space in her home next door and couldn’t resist using the storage area herself.

How to prevent guest room clutter creep

The best strategy of all is to pretend the guest room doesn’t exist. Nothing gets stored in there. It’s a clutter-free zone, only for guests.

What that means is, if your personal belongings won’t fit in the storage space you have available in the rest of your home, you’ve got some clutter clearing to do. And, if ever you find yourself tempted to put something in the guest room just for now, think again. Make it off-limits, out-of-bounds, strictly verboten.

‘But I only have guests once or twice a year,’ you may say. ‘Surely I can use the room the rest of the time?’

Well, it’s your decision. But clutter of any kind stored in your home will affect you in some way. The stagnant energy that accumulates around it will cause you to feel stuck in some aspect of your life. And guest bedrooms are usually stuffed full of things you never use anyway. If you didn’t keep things there, would you have guests more often?

Many studies have shown that social interaction of the face-to-face kind is an important key to living a happier, longer life. In 2010, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University, Utah, undertook a review of 148 of these studies, involving 308,000 people over a 7.5 year period. Her conclusion was that having a close circle of friends, neighbours or relatives gives a 50% better survival rate than taking more exercise, losing weight, giving up alcohol or quitting smoking. In other words, close relationships make life worth living.

So, the choice is yours ­— your clutter or your friends?

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2017

First published at on March 9, 2017

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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3 Responses to How to prevent guest room clutter creep

  1. Hi Karen and Richard,

    I have been occasionally following your writings over the years, having bought a small copy of your book ‘Clear you Clutter with Feng Shui’, 1999. I bought it in 2006, 8 yrs after my daughter died and the year my marriage ended. I remained in the same house my ex-husband and I had lived. So, I found the section on space-clearing particularly useful, and had marked copious pencil notes inside the little book. I have recommended your books and website to various friends, some interested, some sceptical.

    So was thrilled to know that you were moving to Perth, which I may have commented to you before you came that Perth so often is left out of visiting speakers visits, entertainers, etc. Which is a pity as we are a growing population and quite different to the other states and even though business is going through tough times at the moment. I am convinced we have a strong, creative future.

    Anyway this is a long-winded way of asking if you are likely to have any public talks in Perth so I can bring my friends along to hear your Feng shui/healthy homes ideas.

    1. Hi Jan

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the first edition of my Clear Your Clutter book. It is now in its fourth edition, and has had many updates and revisions over the years to make it fully relevant to 21st Century living, and two new chapters have been added. If you’re interested to get a copy of the 2017 edition, it’s available from our online store.

      Richard and I moved to Perth in April 2017 and are completing some renovations on our new home at the moment. In the New Year, Richard will be launching a new branch of our company called Total Clutter Solutions, and will be appearing on talk-back radio shows as well as giving some talks around Perth to get the word out. If you’d like to receive news about this when dates are announced, you can request it here.

      My main focus at the moment is on teaching online courses and writing new books. I don’t have any plans to give any live talks at the moment but will be releasing some new audio recordings of talks next year. If you’d like to be kept in the loop, the best way to do this is to sign up for my free monthly newsletters.

      Hope all this information is useful 🙂


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