The One Thing Interior Designers Do to Fake a Clean Home

bathroom

Design by Emily Henderson; Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

In a perfect world, your home would be immaculate. With the exception of a throw blanket lazily draped over your couch, all your belongings would be organized, color-coded, and stored to a T, making your place a pristine paradise worthy of a glossy magazine spread or a feature on your favorite design blog.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world—and your space is far from immaculate. No matter how good your intentions are—after all, nobody wants to live in filth—life gets in the way and you’re left with a home that’s cluttered with dirty clothes, unopened mail, and the occasional dust bunny. And we’re not going to even talk about how long it’s been since you properly made your bed. (It’s okay, you’re not alone.) 

But just because your home is less-than-pristine doesn’t mean it can’t look tidy. To help make your life a little easier, we asked a handful of designers for the one thing they do to fake a clean home. While their responses run the gamut from enlisting scents, to prioritizing certain rooms, to investing in some double-duty décor, one thing’s for sure: Hacking your way to a tidy place is a lot easier than you’d think. 

Straighten Up

“A clean home doesn’t always have to be clean, but it has to be organized. Simply pushing in chairs evenly, folding blankets, fluffing pillows and keeping your countertops free of clutter presents as a clean house. It’s amazing what a five to 10 minute trip around your house straightening, fluffing and folding will do for the overall appearance of the home.” —Kristen Peña, owner of K Interiors

It’s amazing what a five to 10 minute trip around your house straightening, fluffing and folding will do for the overall appearance of the home.

Get Sneaky With Scents

“There are a few things I do to make my home appear to have just been cleaned when unannounced guest drop in. Because I have three dogs, a candle is lit at all times and I Swiffer every night before I go to bed. I wipe down surfaces with a Lysol wipe. I also spray Windex in the vestibule, first thing in the morning. The scent stays and makes it seem as if I just finished cleaning.” — Gail M Davis, interior designer 

A Blank Slate

“My favorite trick to fake a clean home is to keep the countertops clear! From the kitchen to your office desk to your bathroom, keeping surfaces clear of any clutter really helps a home feel cleaner than it is.” —Ashley Moore, interior designer

Decide on Double Duty Design

“Invest in closed storage pieces for your living room, dining room, or family room. These pieces allow you to organize and hide your clutter, so surfaces stay clean and minimal. My husband and I lived in an under 500 square foot apartment for years and I learned the crucial lesson of storage. Without storage, your space gets messy and disorganized and that can bring out the worst in people. Invest in quality storage pieces if you plan to be a small space dweller for a long time and then layer in pieces like baskets, cute boxes and shelves.” —Alessandra Wood, interior design expert and vice president of style at Modsy

Simplify Your Beauty Sleep 

“I love a great duvet or coverlet. That way if your sheets aren't newly ironed or your bed isn't perfectly made you can still make the bed look well kept.” —Melanie Fowler, founder of Clos-ette

If guests are coming over, I simply turn the duvet cover upside down and tuck the end into the bottom of the bed so the buttons on the underside don’t show.

“Living in the country with a spoiled dog, I can’t turn around for two minutes without him getting his dirty paws on my freshly cleaned bedding. If guests are coming over, I simply turn the duvet cover upside down and tuck the end into the bottom of the bed so the buttons on the underside don’t show. That way, no one knows that my dog has taken over my furniture and that I don’t sleep in perfectly clean bedding at all times.” —Christina Coop, co-founder of Hygge & West

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

“I tend to focus on tidying the main living spaces, including the kitchen and powder room, where I will be entertaining my guests. If I am truly tight on time, I close all the bedroom doors and store anything extra in my laundry area.” —Maggie Griffin, interior designer

“Clean your bathroom! Nobody really cares if your floors are a little dusty or if your windows aren’t sparkling clean but if your bathroom is less than ideal it will be noticed.” —Kelley Mason, stylist at Lulu & Georgia 

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