Clutter Control: The Home Lost Property Station

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Keep your home tidy – easily and quickly.

When your surroundings give you joy and pleasure, life is so much better. This is especially the case in your own domain – your home. And looking round and seeing a neat and tidy environment isn’t just good for your soul – it’s been proved that clutter can damage your well-being.

But it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? In fact, it can be so easy and take up very few of your precious minutes — if you establish a home ‘lost property station’.

Clutter control

Of course, we all know that if there is a place for everything and everything should be in its place but that’s so hard if you’re not a naturally neat person, if the person / people you live with are untidy or if you’re pressed for time. (Aren’t we all?)

So designate one area or container in your home as a ‘clutter’ dump’ or ‘lost property office’. This could be a drawer, a cupboard or preferably, a special basket, box or hamper. The size will depend on the size of your house and family; there are just two of us in a small home so I use a lidded hamper.

I use the larger of a set of three – very similar to the one you see on the right. Mine is 9″ tall, 9″ deep and 18″ wide.  Every morning I scan the house and if anything is in the wrong room or doesn’t have a designated place, it goes into the basket.

Within just a few days, your family, partner or kids will stop saying ‘hey, have you seen my [whatever] anywhere?’ because they’ll know that you’re going to say ‘it’s in the lost property basket’.

And eventually, if you’re lucky, they learn that it’s much easier to put things in their proper place rather than find their stuff in the bottom of the basket!

A decorative basket is ideal because it can be placed on a shelf, in an unobtrusive spot on the floor or anywhere you choose — and it will look great.

Of course, there are many different looks you can choose from. I like baskets and use them a lot in my home but something like the trunks you see here might blend better with your décor.

I like to take my basket into the bedroom, add anything that’s out of place, then carry it through to the lounge and do the same.It takes one minute, tops, and now my small home is tidy. In a larger home, you may prefer to have one ‘lost property box’ per room.

In a more antique setting, old-time trunks might look perfect. You can buy them new online or, if you’re lucky, find originals in thrift or consignment stores.

These are great for so many things as well as making excellent décor pieces. I know people who stack the pair and use them as temporary or permanent coffee tables.

Unless you have a lost property box in every room, it’s best if your container is lightweight and has at least one handle so you can carry it from room to room.

If you devote just one or two minutes to using your lost property box before you go to work every morning, you have a nice, neat place to come home to. If you work at home, then you’ve got a lovely calm atmosphere with no distractions.

Of course, the items you find during your morning trawl will need to go into their proper places eventually. When your box is full, it’s time to reorganise. If you live alone, or if the clutter is mainly your own, take ten minutes to empty it by putting every item in its rightful place.

If you’re feeling generous you can relocate other peoples stuff too or – better – persuade them to do it themselves. Before long, they’ll realise that it would be easier to put their things away in the first place.

If odd items of garbage are a problem in your home, carry a plastic bag with you when you are tidying your rooms.  (A supermarket carrier bag is ideal). Place anything that needs throwing away into it – cardboard toilet roll middles from the bathroom, pieces of paper from the floor, an empty soda can – then toss it into your kitchen trash can. Easy.

Bonus tip!

Be sure that everyone in your household knows that because you are the one who’s doing the tidying, any money you find belongs to you.  In our household, this averages a dollar a day with a couple of quarters and other change here and there.

That’s not much? Well, that’s over $350 per year which is a handy bonus. 🙂


Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.


Author: Jackie Jackson

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1 Comment

  1. My wife is a one-woman lost property box and anything she doesn’t recognise goes straight in the trash. Many’s the times I’ve had to trawl through a garbage can to find something I needed which she simply binned!

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