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We can all agree that the dining room seems to have been made for a pretty singular purpose— to dine—can’t we?

And yet it feels like if you’re not careful, you can start to see the mess from other rooms begin to accumulate in the dining room instead. Junk mail, coats, backpacks, even unfolded laundry can start to make a comfortable home in the dining room. Which, as we agreed on earlier, is not what the dining room is for.

So what is there to be done about it? The dining room can be decluttered without a ton of fuss and effort, and you can get back to using the table for meals and family gatherings in a much cleaner and easier way.

Ready to get started? Here’s our five favorite ways to declutter a dining room:

 

Move that mailbag

The dining room table in most houses winds up being a landing spot for mail simply because it’s long, flat, and there. After it starts to build up, most people decide to just eat somewhere else instead of going through all the work of clearing off the table. (It’s okay, we’ve all done it once or twice.)

What you could do to prevent this is to make sure the mail has somewhere to go in the first place. Somewhere in the entryway, the kitchen, or any nearby room that isn’t the dining room, set up a couple mail organizers to help give your letters and magazines a place to sit until they’re needed that won’t stop you from eating at the table.

 

Look for unusable silverware

It’s never a bad idea to have ‘too many’ forks and knives, but over time flatware can really start to show its age. If you have table settings or silverware that you’re embarrassed to use when anyone else is home, don’t be too shy to throw them away—it’ll help you focus on the actual usable forks, and it’ll reduce the amount of things taking up previous drawer space throughout the kitchen.

 

Sort out those wayward jackets

Coats have a way of finding themselves draped over the back of dining room chairs. In some houses this is a good way to mark whose seat is whose, but on the other hand it can start to make the whole room feel too cluttered and busy. Hang up a few coat hooks in an adjacent room and give those coats somewhere to go that won’t be in the way of mealtime.

 

Clean up after the kids

In a lot of homes, the dinner table becomes the ideal place for kids to do their homework without distractions (or at least under the watchful eye of mom and dad), but this can lead to things getting left behind. Get your kids in the habit of taking everything back to their room when they’re done, or at least putting it in their backpack so it isn’t taking up space in the dining room.

 

Prioritize your space

Even above and beyond the table itself, clutter can start to take up room in your dining room cabinets. Think about all the fine china, fancy silverware, and other table settings you save for the big occasions, and then think about how much room they’re taking up. Find some other dining room shelves to keep these on and use the easily-accessible cabinets for the sort of plates and cups you use more often.

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