Whether you go to bed at night to sleep, or simply go to your bedroom to rest and get away from the bustle of life, you want a haven of tranquility. Somewhere you can recharge your batteries. But wait. Your nightstand is a mess of books, medication, coins, makeup, glasses and other bits ‘n’ bobs that have made themselves at home. What’s more, your drawers are full and you hate going through them to find what you need. When you go to get dressed in the morning, you’re paralysed by indecision about what to wear and can’t find your favourite pair of jeans. And forget about sitting on that chair which the heap of clothes is enjoying.
If any of it does, you won’t truly be able to rest or get any quality relaxation because your eyes will be constantly drawn to the clutter and the to do’s.Even when hidden from sight, clutter causes hidden stress and makes you want to avoid certain parts of the room. Like the living room, bedrooms can also end up part of regular mammoth organising sessions, when all you should really have to do is make the bed and put away laundry.
Bedrooms should only ever contain the things you need to get dressed and help you relax.
Because night stands are often a clutter magnet, I am going to bullet point the things to keep in a nightstand so that you end up with a clear surface which only serves to hold a lamp, clock, glass of water, and glasses if you wear them. Surprised I didn’t say phone? That’s because phones don’t belong in a bedroom – ever! Not only can the blue light they emit disrupt quality sleep, they are temptations to access at inappropriate times and clutter your mind with digital noise. They’re also incredibly tempting to pick up and browse after a bad dream, which would, of course, have the opposite effect of getting you back to sleep. In fact, no kind of technology that could pose as a distraction should reside in bedrooms. TV’s and laptops are a no-no because they emit blue light, and also have the potential to take away intimacy and conversation if you have a partner. Keeping technology out of the bedroom trains your mind to associate the bedroom with rest and relaxation instead of entertainment and anxiety.
Without further ado, here’s a guideline to minimalistic and stress-free bedside tables and drawers:
- Glasses if you wear them
- Glass of water
- Lamp or small plant
- Alarm clock (NOT a smartphone alarm)
- A book or magazine you’re currently reading
- Pocket tissues
- Medications you might need during the night such as an inhaler. Other medications should be kept in a secure medicine container in the bathroom or kitchen.
- A notebook or journal. Keeping a journal in your bedside drawer is fantastic for brain-dumping worries or to do’s that can keep you awake, and is infinitely healthier than simply picking up your phone to do some mindless swiping. Instead of posting how anxious or awake you feel to social media, journal it. It’s far more therapeutic than a screen. It’s also perfect for recording dreams and for taking inspiration if you’re a writer.
- A small makeup bag if you wear makeup (I don’t personally wear makeup).
- A small puzzle book. If you can’t get to sleep, some simple puzzles can help your brain to tire and distract it from going around in circles.
- Anything else that is personal to you that you frequently access during evenings or times of relaxation.
Now that we’ve spoken about good rest hygiene and bedside drawers, it’s time to tackle other problem areas, such as accent chairs that end up drowning in clothes. As family, chronic illness and work life took its toll, I used to leave my clean laundry for weeks at a time. Clothes would spill out of the laundry basket until it became a makeshift wardrobe full of random socks, crumpled tops and long-missing jeans. Meanwhile, my actual wardrobe would be three quarters empty and it took much longer to find the clothes I wanted, which would often be so creased I simply moved them aside and dug for more until I had no choice. Eventually, I decided enough was enough and that I was going to iron out my procrastinating ways once and for all. Ever since then, I always put my clothes away as soon as they are dry, therefore, I have no need for a spare laundry basket to be taking up space. It takes five minutes and it’s far less overwhelming to put away a washing machine load than a week’s worth or more.
Unless you have a very good reason (and I don’t mean catching up on Netflix) put washing away immediately and never, ever sling them over a chair or other piece of furniture. Once you do that, I can guarantee that the next time you look it will seem as if the clothes have been breeding. Storing clothes on a chair, or even on the edge of a bed, gives subconscious permission that it is OK to store clothes there ‘temporarily’. And we all know that ‘temporarily’ becomes ‘accidentally permanent’, because in the end, you block it out as if it’s part of the furniture itself. In a room of peace and tranquility, that’s not what you want to happen. If you do have a chair in your bedroom, keep it clear and use it for drying hair, reading a book or having a conversation.
A few more spots of interest to consider are the window ledge and the top of the wardrobe or dresser. The top of my wardrobe used to be a miniature city full of boxes, wrapping paper, soft toys and other random stuff. Be aware that the top of your wardrobe is a place which can quickly accumulate loads of storage boxes where random objects get stowed away. It’s fine to keep a box of out-of-season clothing stashed up there, but do not, under any circumstances, start to use it as a general storage area. Remember: clutter attracts more clutter. If you find that is an issue for you, perhaps it is time to consider whether those objects add any value to your life, are simply taking up space, or belong elsewhere. The same goes for under-bed storage. It should only really be used for clothes and spare blankets or linen. With other surfaces such as a dresser or window ledge, it’s perfectly fine to have a plant or a couple of photos dotted around; just don’t go overboard or it starts to become cluttered, distracting, and hard to manoeuvre a duster round. A jewellery box or ‘pocket junk’ dish are perfectly practical things to stand on a dresser, as is a precious photo or object.
Finally, for those of you who wear jewellery and makeup but struggle to store it; a great solution is to buy a standing floor mirror which doubles as a jewellery and storage cabinet. This removes the need for a jewellery box and frees up drawer space, as well as giving you a convenient mirror. They’re often lockable, too, giving you peace of mind for your more precious accessories.
You may be wondering why I haven’t talked about the inside of wardrobes. That’s because I am going to dedicate an entire post to sorting them out once and for all, along with dresser drawers. Now I have covered the main living areas, my next posts are going to cover kitchens, bathrooms, hobby rooms and attics.
Something I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments, or simply tell me about your own minimalism journey. I’d love to hear it.