Your Home Needs a Clutter Gatekeeper, and Here’s How to Build One

published Jan 24, 2022
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Apartment Therapy’s January Cure is a free 20-day program all about loving on your home and preparing yourself and your space for the new year. Sign up now to get daily lessons sent straight to your inbox!

We’re in the final week of the Cure! And I’ve already spent some of this time writing about how messes are just a byproduct of living life. So I hope you’ve taken that lesson to heart and learned that whatever the state of your home — at the start of the Cure, or even now as we begin to wrap things up — it’s just fine the way it is.

That said, if you want to be able to work on reducing the mess without adding to it, the best thing you can do is work a little bit of clutter-gatekeeping into your home and your routine.

That’s right. You need a landing strip!

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Credit: Sylvie Li

Day 16: Set up a home landing strip.

Set up a welcome zone — we call it a landing strip — near the front door (or garage door, or wherever you most often enter your space).

You can compile this together from pieces and things you already own. Raid the kitchen for a bowl, for example, or borrow decorative items from other rooms.

The components of your landing strip might include:

  • A rug or mat to wipe off your shoes.
  • Wall hooks, or usable space in a coat closet to hang your outerwear and bags.
  • A dish or hook for your keys.
  • A bowl or container for change and your wallet.
  • A surface — like a shelf or side table or small corner of a console — to sort the mail and other items (newspapers, books, magazines, purchases) as they come in.
  • A small wastebasket and/or recycling bin to hold your discarded incoming mail and other stuff to be recycled (you can also consider a shredder here).
  • A mirror for last minute check ups before you walk out the door.

It doesn’t matter how you orient or style these things. They can be clumped in one stop-and-drop area, or scattered around a small space. All that matters is that you can easily unload your things when you walk in the door. Then you just have to make it a habit.

If you’ve done the Cure before, you may already have a space like this set up, but there’s always room for improvement. Do you need more hooks? A place for papers? Use this time today to assess how your existing landing area is working for you.

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More Ways to Participate in the January Cure: