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"The Sims 4" Building for Beginners: Layering Clutter for a Lived-In Look

Kenzie needed a quick escape from real-life pressures, and found "The Sims 4." She now enjoys playing, writing, and YouTubing the game.

Redecorating a Tiny Home in "The Sims 4"

In my previous The Sims 4 building tutorial, I showed you how to use some essential cheats, functions, and how to think about laying out your space when you redecorate it. This time, I'd like to take those concepts a little further and show you how to layer items and clutter up a room to make it look more realistic.

To demonstrate, and in the spirit of the new stuff pack The Sims 4: Tiny Living, I'll redecorate this tiny home: a trailer found in Strangerville.

"The Sims 4" Comfortably Cluttered Tiny Home Decor

There are some tips and tricks you can employ to arrange and group items in "The Sims 4."

There are some tips and tricks you can employ to arrange and group items in "The Sims 4."

My Project: Redecorating the Tiny Mobile Home in "Slip 42" in Strangerville

For my project, I chose to redecorate a small mobile home in a trailer park found in The Sims 4: Strangerville game pack. You can use the techniques demonstrated in this article in any room or home your Sims might have.

In my mind, this cheap, run-down trailer was purchased by a young aspiring female artist. She is low on funds but high on creativity. She likes things aesthetically pleasing and somehow has to squeeze everything she owns and loves in the world into this small space.

How can we help her make this space pretty and functional? It's easy if you know a few of the tricks.

Speed Build: Watch Me Decorate My Artist's Tiny Trailer Home

Why Clutter Makes a Home

What's so great about clutter? I don't mean clutter in a negative sense; I'm talking about the things that make a house a home. Without common household objects like dish racks, toilet paper holders, collectibles, photographs, etc., Sims houses look barren and sad. Even if the furnishings are beautiful, without little decorative accents, realistic items, and personal touches, it just doesn't feel like a home.

Clutter can be placed wherever you want: nightstands, tables, counters, shelves, bookcases, desks, walls or even floors. Just look around your own home—even if you're a neat and tidy minimalist you can probably find examples of clutter that make your space reflect what's unique about you.

Before and After

Slip 42 in Strangerville got a tiny home makeover.

Slip 42 in Strangerville got a tiny home makeover.

Build Mode Limitations

Here is the way the game's build mode works typically: when you try to put an object on a surface, such as on a counter or desk, the object will try to "snap" and "lock" in certain spots. If you try to group items, you are confined to specific snap and lock spots that surface offers, which could result in a messy, awkward, or sparse arrangement.

Given these standard features of build mode, how you have to know a few advanced functions, build cheats, and there is at least one piece of custom content (fan-made) that's not necessary, but that you might find useful.

Basic Build Functions vs. Advanced Functions and Cheats

I used random items on the  image and was very limited; using build mode cheats and advanced functions, I was able to fit everything on the shelf in a way I wanted them to go.

I used random items on the image and was very limited; using build mode cheats and advanced functions, I was able to fit everything on the shelf in a way I wanted them to go.

First Thing's First

Step by step, the first things I'm going to do to prepare for my build are the following:

  1. Open build mode.
  2. Turn on "testingcheats true" and "bb.moveobjects."
  3. Click on the top-down view button so I can see the layout better.
  4. Clear the space so I can start with a blank canvas (if there's anything you want to hold on to, just put it in your inventory temporarily; otherwise, you can delete anything you don't think you'll need).
  5. Figure out my layout for interior walls, doors, and furnishings (it's easy in this small space).

I'm Using This Colorful Rug for My Inspiration

This colorful rug is from the "Island Living" expansion pack, and I am inspired by the cute polka-dots and color palette.

This colorful rug is from the "Island Living" expansion pack, and I am inspired by the cute polka-dots and color palette.

Step by Step: How to Add Clutter to a Surface

You can get around the build mode limitations that make items "stick" to certain spots. Let's say you want to decorate a kitchen counter with some plants.

  1. Decide where you want the counter (surface) to go. Place it there. Make a mental note of the boundaries of the counter surface space where the items will go. Let's call this space "X."
  2. Temporarily move the counter at least two or three "grid squares" away from X.
  3. Select the items you want to arrange on X. For now, click them with the mouse and move them to the counter. Don't worry about how they are arranged here as you will be moving them again shortly.
  4. Click on one item with the mouse to "grab" it. Hold down the Alt key and move the item to X. Notice the item will "float" in mid-air at the same height even when you click to let go of it.
  5. Move each item to X, arranging the items to your liking.
  6. When you're done arranging items, move the counter back to where you want it. The items should look like they're sitting on top of the counter now.
  7. If you like the arrangement as it is, keep it; if not, move the counter away again and try moving the items around again. Bring the counter back and check that items are in the right place. Do this until you're satisfied.

Floating Items

Because of the way surfaces are designed it's hard to arrange multiple items on top of them. Arrange the items while they're "floating" and then you can put the surface back in place to create an illusion.

Because of the way surfaces are designed it's hard to arrange multiple items on top of them. Arrange the items while they're "floating" and then you can put the surface back in place to create an illusion.

Some Helpful Functions and Tips

  • Press Ctrl+9 to raise items higher.
  • Press Ctrl+0 to lower items.
  • Press Ctrl+[ to make items larger.
  • Press Ctrl+] to make items smaller.
  • With the Sim 3 camera on, grab an item with the mouse and press the Alt key to spin them freely. This will help you if you wish to set an item down slightly askew.
  • Move any surfaces at least two or three grid squares away from where you're putting the items you want to arrange. If your floating item gets too close to a surface, the surface will attract it to those snap and lock spots like a magnet.
  • When decorating individual wall shelves, if an item won't go high enough, lower the shelf first. Put the item on it, then move the shelf to the desired height. Then you can grab the item with the mouse, press Alt and move it to the X spot.
  • Clutter can get in the way of certain functions. If functional (interactive) items, like computers and coffee pots, stop working, make sure they're locked into their right spot on the surface and try moving any clutter away from them.
  • Make sure to keep a clear counter section if you want your Sim to cook.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Kenzie Cartwright