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

The type of things that get stored in guest rooms are usualy 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 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

If a guest does come to stay, you have some urgent choices to make. You can gather up all the things you have stashed in the guest 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 Airbnb 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.

An immaculate one-bedroom apartment Richard and I stayed in once 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 to prevent guest room clutter creep is to pretend the room doesn’t exist. Maintain it as a clutter-free zone, only for guests. Nothing of yours gets temporarily stored there ever.

This means that 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?’

What you need to consider is that 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.

Another consideration is that 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 2024

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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 fifth 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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