Declutter a Coffee Table

If you are looking for a quick-win decluttering project, then you are in the right place. I am going to show you a step-by-step approach to how to declutter a coffee table.

How to declutter your home all starts with success and if you struggled with seeing things all the way to done, then this project is exactly what you need.

how to declutter coffee table

Most rooms in a home have an anchor piece of furniture. That one area where our eyes are drawn when we enter a space.

For the kitchen, it’s the kitchen table, for the bedroom, it’s the bed, and for the family room, it’s the coffee table. This post will walk you through how to declutter a coffee table, making it a neat and tidy anchor for your family room.

Family room couch, coffee table and lamp

When my kids were younger, they would love to line up their Matchbox cars on our coffee table. Each car was carefully parked side by side, making our table in the family room look more like the world’s biggest parking lot.

Over the years, that table got a lot of use and has so many memories from the kids to holiday parties. It’s where we play games, where we place snacks for movie night, and now it’s a large bench for our grandkids to sit on while watching their favorite television show.

two boys sitting on a coffee table watching tv

For most folks, a coffee table is just another piece of furniture in a room. It is meant to fill a space at the foot of the sofa and loveseat. But the truth is, a coffee table is so much more. In a room that has little to no storage space, a coffee table is quite useful for housing things you need.

The problem is when a coffee table serves as a “catch-all” of sorts. A place to toss the day’s mail and newspaper, a holder for snack bags and paper plates, and a spot to lose your remotes.

What if, instead, your coffee table was there to serve a more specific purpose? A cabinet that is there to house your extra family room items so you can quickly find what you need right when you need it and, more importantly, put your things all the way away in seconds.

How to Declutter a Coffee Table

Let’s break this project down into small steps that are quick and easy and stress-free.

Step #1. Prep

Before you begin, you will want to get your supplies ready and set up. This means a sorting area where you can put all the items in this space into specific categories that will allow you to organize them quickly and easily when you are ready.

When setting up a sorting area, your main goal is to have large and clearly labeled bins for tossing things into. The most common labels you will need are:

  1. TOSS: This is for anything that needs to be taken to the trash area or recycling bin.
  2. DONATE: This is for anything that is still in good shape, but you no longer need, want, or use.
  3. PUT AWAY: This is for any items you find that belong in another room or area.
  4. KEEP: This is for any items you plan to keep in this space.

The bins you use for sorting are important as they will help you to take the things found inside all the way to where they belong. This is a step that most declutterers tend to skip. When you are done working in a space, it is important to deal with any items you have in your sorting area.

Remember, decluttering means removing the stuff you no longer need from your home…not just from the room. Relocating is not decluttering; it’s simply shuffling. our goal is to get the clutter all the way gone and out of the house.

woman putting donation boxes into the back of a car

Best containers for sorting.

  1. TOSS: Use a trash bag. Put any full bags out to your trash area just as soon as they are filled up.
  2. DONATE: Use a labeled box with your address label removed. Put this box into the trunk of your car just as soon as it is filled up.
  3. PUT AWAY: Use a laundry basket. Walk your home with the basket in tow and put things away as you go from room to room.
  4. KEEP: Any container will work for “KEEP” since it will only hold those items for a very short time.

Once you have your sorting area set up and ready to go, you can get busy with the decluttering.

Step #2. Do the 3 Core Steps

Wait, is all of that stuff on your coffee table really clutter? I bet if you take a closer look at the things you see, you might find that it is not. Some of it is trash, some of it is empty water bottles, some of it is dirty dishes, and some of it is food, clothes, toys, and even office supplies.

I have found over the years that the most overwhelming part of decluttering is getting started. If you always start with the 3 Core Steps, not only are you actually starting but you are whittling down a large intimidating pile into a more doable one.

Read: What are the 3 Core Steps and How to do Them

Step #3. Declutter

Keep your sorting area nearby so you do not risk any distractions. This way, you will be able to put all of your focus on one item at a time. Remember, do not be tempted to look at the whole area; this will do nothing but stress you out.

Do this in steps, one item at a time.

Quote: how do you eat an elephant_ One bite at a time

The entire area is your elephant, and each step is your bite.

When you can put your energy just on the item in your hand, you will get so much more done. Overwhelm has this scary ability to slow us down and sometimes stop us in our tracks altogether. By making each goal a step, or an item, in this case, you remove the scary and get back to just getting it done.

Pick up the first item you see and place it into the container where it fits best.

  1. Trash
  2. Donate
  3. Put Away
  4. Keep

Move on to the next item doing the same thing. Trust in your decision, and do not be tempted to go back and revisit any of the sorting boxes. This one tip will be gold in your ability to make progress in every decluttering project going forward.

Keep sorting until the top of the coffee table is completely cleaned off.

Man holding a book and clothes donate box. Donation concept.

Step #4. Clean

Once you have the surface free of everything, I’m talking nothing on it and completely bare, take a few minutes, seconds really, to wipe your coffee table down. Please do not be tempted to skip this step. Trust me on this; it is so much easier to clean a bare surface than one covered in piles and stuff.

Step #5. Repeat

Do the same sorting steps for the rest of your coffee table. I like to start at the top and work my way down. This allows me to keep moving in the right direction at all times as I continue to make progress.

Since the surface is done, you can then put your focus on each drawer and shelf until the entire coffee table is free of anything that does not belong.

Step #6. All the Way Away

We have a saying here at Declutter in Minutes. Be sure to always put your things all the way away. This means taking the few extra seconds to put your items into their homes, so you have less stuff lying out.

For this step, you are going to focus on your sorting area. Since this project is done, you will want to deal with the containers you used for decluttering your coffee table.

Trash – Take the bag out to the can.

Recyclables – Take them to your recycling containers.

Donate – Close up the box and put it into the trunk of your car.

Put Away – Walk your home and put things away as you go. Continue until your container or basket is completely empty.

Keep – This is the container you will work from as you organize a streamlined coffee table for your family room.

Once you have a step-by-step plan set and ready to use, you can tackle just about any area. This time you can declutter a coffee table, but using the same exact steps, you can conquer your entire home!

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