5 Genius Tips From the Latest Home Design Books

Got a New Year’s resolution to spruce up—or tidy up—your home? These tricks from the latest decorating and organizing books will help you pull that off.


Arrange Objects By Shape

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The “rule of threes” is a smart styling trick for a surface (mantel, console, coffee table, dresser), but if the three decorative objects you choose are similar sizes, they can compete with each other and look chaotic. Instead, try this no-fail formula: something vertical, something horizontal, and something sculptural to tie the two together.

To buy: Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves by Emily Henderson; $20, amazon.com.


Put Something Eye-Catching on Display

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Create a focal point in your entryway—something eye-catching that a guest will focus on when she first walks in, like artwork, a mirror, a tall plant, or a fun piece of furniture. Zooming in on one intentional, attractive feature helps distract from any small bits of clutter.

To buy: The Inspired Room: Simple Ideas to Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels; $19, amazon.com.


Don't Be Afraid of White

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People think white is off limits if you have kids, but that’s a misconception—it’s actually pretty childproof. You can wash and bleach sofa cushions so they look good as new, and a white laminate table can be scrubbed clean.

To buy: At Home: Sarah Style by Sarah Richardson; $19, amazon.com.


Set Up a Catchall Corner

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It’s not realistic to think your house can be totally clutter-free. Instead of putting that pressure on yourself, dedicate a space—a drawer, cabinet, or closet—for the things you don’t use on a daily basis but want to pull out from time to time. Try a carryall on top of your dresser for loose change, buttons, and receipts, or a junk drawer for stamps, coupons, and other odds and ends. The key is to give that spot a once-over every so often to pare the stuff down (for example: expired coupons, buttons you no longer need).

To buy: 52 Small Changes for the Mind by Brett Blumenthal; $17, chroniclebooks.com.


Organize Your Entry

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An entryway is the front line for preventing clutter from making its way deeper into your house, and for processing everything you’re carrying in. It functions best if you set it up with the right equipment: a charging station for mobile devices, an umbrella stand, a durable (and washable) indoor/outdoor rug, hooks or cubbies for backpacks and bags, a bench for taking off and putting on shoes, a tray for wet or muddy shoes, a hamper for dirty athletic clothing, containers for sports gear, a message board, and a stack of sticky notes and a pen for leaving quick reminders.

To buy: Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter: Simplify Your Life One Minute at a Time by Erin Rooney Doland; $12, amazon.com.