Beauty-zoning: Clutter-proof your home's surfaces

I’m blessed, and cursed, with a large flat surface between my kitchen and living room. When it’s tidy, it’s beautifully stained wood that could seat maybe 6 people who want to get cozy. When it’s not, it’s rolling hills of receipts, mail, papers, and other assorted flotsam and jetsam.

So, this weekend, I decided to do something about it. I didn’t want to just clean it. I wanted to make it feel “whole.” That’s the only word that comes to mind. And I think it’s relevant in relation to Marie Kondo’s philosophy about space. Too much in a space feels cluttered, but too little and empty space can become a void that attracts “things” into it.


When we have beautiful things that we love, we innately treat them well (i.e. we are less inclined to toss receipts and scraps of mail on them). So, for those areas you find difficult to keep clear of clutter, I recommend putting something beautiful you love to look at in this space.

This can also be a good test of your “Does this spark joy?” skills. You’ll know you’ve got something in the right place if you find you naturally start keeping an area cleaner, especially around the piece that sparks joy.

For my space, I put a decorative tray with a plant and a vase with a red flower in the center of the large wooden surface. It almost feels like a force field. Even with my clutter-y ways, I find this area repels clutter. It’s like I’m playing psychological warfare with myself. But it’s working!

Beauty zone ideas

You know those giant decorative balls they sell at stores? Sometimes they’re glass, sometimes they’re made out of wood. But they are purely for decoration to put inside some decorative bowl? I used to think these were so frivolous. Now, I see their benefit especially for the idea of making a beautiful space.

While I don’t think anyone needs to buy these, we can take a hint from them. Especially if you have plenty of decorative, beautiful items you love already and want to enjoy them, why not put them front and center?

Some display ideas include:

  • Vases with flowers

  • Plants

  • Photos inside frames

  • Candles

  • Figurines

  • Collected items from your travels or family

A great way to display items, to give them a nice boundary, is to put them on or inside:

  • Trays

  • Dishes

  • Bowls

How do you fare with empty surfaces?

Or, empty drawers and cupboards? Do you find it easy to keep them clear, or do they slowly attract things until it’s more full than empty?