Week 5: Dining Room

Dining rooms, in many homes, are the places where items get stacked on the table until they’re ready to be dealt with—at least in my home! Let’s change that! After this week, your dining room will be neat, tidy, and decluttered! If you don’t have a dining room, take the week off or tackle another area of your home!

It's Week 5 of The Less Mess Challenge and we're cleaning and organizing the dining room!

Dining rooms may not get used as often as living rooms do, but they should still be clean so you can easily find what you need, host a dinner without having to spend a few hours cleaning it up first, or just be confident and relaxed about the state of your home.

My Dining Room

I’m a firm believer in making your home work for you. To me, that means what you store in your dining room may not be the same things I store in my dining room, but that’s okay if IT WORKS. I believe this so strongly that my dining room is actually in a space that’s intended to be a formal living room in our house.

My dining room has a dining room table and six chairs. It also has three pieces of furniture that store other items:

  • A sideboard. This matches our dining room table and stores traditional dining room items such as dishes, linens, and candles. We also have a drawer dedicated to birthday items like streamers and candles.

Sideboards are effective for storing items in the dining room.

  • A (repurposed) jewelry box. This used to live in our bedroom, but when I minimized my jewelry a few years ago I wasn’t ready to let go of this box. It moved into our dining room and now stores all sorts of random household necessities like batteries, command strips, and felt sliders. This might be one of my favorite storage solutions in my house.

In our dining room we repurposed this jewelry box to store miscellaneous household items.

  • An antique secretary with a cabinet. A friend gave my husband this cabinet and he uses it to store his bourbon collection.

This antique secretary holds bourbon instead of stationary, but that's what works for us.

These storage solutions work for us, our space, and our belongings. Being creative with your space will help make your house a home.

Organizing and Decluttering Your Dining Room

As you declutter and organize the dining room, constantly evaluate whether you need, love, and use the items you’re coming across. Dining rooms seems to be a place where people KEEP a lot of items, but don’t necessarily USE their things.

If you’re not using something, let it go!

Hopefully, this space won’t take you too long to tackle. If you’ve got piles in the corner or stacked on your chairs, get rid of them! Your home is for living, not for storing!

Our "birthday drawer" lives in the dining room and stores birthday candles and other fun items.

If You Only Have 30 Minutes: Quick Declutter

Remember, there are three levels to this challenge, so choose the one you feel you have time to accomplish.

If you’ve only got a half an hour…

  • Clear the dining room table.
  • Return all items that don’t belong in the dining room to their proper location.
  • Quickly evaluate knickknacks you’ve got on any shelves—add ones you no longer love to the donate bin.
  • Dry dust any open surfaces.

Clean and tidy your dining room this week during The Less Mess Challenge.

If You Have an Hour: Declutter & Surface Clean

If you’ve got an hour…

  • Clear all your shelves, if you have them. Dust them off. Put nothing back without looking through it and deciding whether you’d like to keep it. Be realistic about what you’ll use and what you won’t.
  • If you have any drawers or cabinets, look through them quickly. Spend a few extra minutes doing the worst ones.
  • Vacuum the floors in the living room and dining room.
  • Dust any additional surfaces.

If You Have a Few Hours: Declutter, Deep Clean & Organize

  • Thoroughly go through all drawers and shelves. Evaluate the items within, keeping only what you love and need.
    • Do you need all those tablecloths?
    • Surely you won’t use those stained placemats.
    • Can we let go of the half-burnt birthday candles?
    • Do you really need that box of 40 tea lights?
    • You have HOW MANY cake cutters?
  • Liquor Cabinet: If you’ve got a liquor cabinet or other alcohol items in your dining room, let go of those you don’t like. 

Don't forget to declutter that liquor cabinet while you're tidying the dining room.

Related Post: Decluttering & Storing Alcohol and Liquor

  • China: If you love your China, use it! If you have old China, you don’t love or use, look it up at Replacements.com to see if they’re purchasing it back for a good price. Here are some other ways to upcycle China
  • Dust, wax, or polish all furniture. Dust Baseboards and windowsills, wash windows and curtains. Wipe down light fixtures and switches. Vacuum floors, couches, and chairs.

A Note on Saving Items for Special Events & “Someday”

When I was younger, I had quite the sticker collection. I’d get a sheet of stickers I loved and put it in a binder, waiting for the perfect time and place to use it. After all, once those stickers were stuck to something, I could never use them again!

Guess what happened?

I grew up and gave all my unused stickers away. I was so busy waiting for someday, I never enjoyed them.

Many times we think everyday life isn’t special enough for the stickers or the fancy china, but what will ever be special enough?

If you have China you love, use it. If it breaks, at least it got broken doing what it was meant to. Bring it out for birthdays, good report cards, Sunday dinners… whatever.

Why are you saving your fine china for special occasions? Use it if you love it.

It’s not doing ANYONE any good sitting in a cabinet protected for someday.

Decluttering & Organizing the Dining Room

Decluttering and organizing the dining room may be a ton of work for you this week, or they may not be much work at all. Do what you can to clear your space and make your home work for you!

Remember, if you’re not using something, it’s probably better to pass it on to someone else who will!

Next Up: Playroom & Toys

Last Week: Living Room

Return to the Less Mess Challenge

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