Before we go room by room, there are a couple guiding principles to live by for long term organization solutions. You can go on a weekend long spring cleaning and organizing, but your spotless home may not stay that way unless you adopt a new mindset.
- Have less stuff. A smaller house is easier and faster to clean than a big house, right? The same goes for possessions. The less you have, the easier it will be to get and stay organized. If your home is bursting at the seams with stuff, there are only so many places to hide the contents. If you want to get rid of some stuff, check out Cat’s post on decluttering 2015 items this year. It’s a lofty goal, but Cat has inspired many to do the same over the years.
- Every item should have a place. Just like dishes probably have designated spots in the cabinets of your kitchen, every other item in your house should have a homebase. Where does ____ go when it isn’t in use? Keys go on the key hook. Remotes go in the magazine rack. If your goal is to get organized, the answer should rarely be, “in the junk drawer” or “under the bed”. Creating piles or shoving things out of plain sight isn’t solving anything.
Tying these two concepts together, I often evaluate purchases by asking myself where it would go. Where do I have room to store it when not in use? If I can’t think of anywhere it can go and I’m not going to die without it, it’s probably not getting bought.
And now for the main event!
Don’t give in to one use, novelty kitchen tools. They’re clever and often cool looking, but if it only serves one very specific purpose, how often will it be used? If it’s not used often then it’s only taking up space and likely junking up your drawers. A tool that pulls leaves off thyme and rosemary sprigs? I have fingers for that. A tool that perforates an orange peel? I have a knife for that.
Look for unused space. If you have a small wall or backsplash over a countertop you could install a magnetic knife strip. This may free up a drawer or counter space if your knives currently sit in a knife block. You can look like a professional chef with pots hanging from a ceiling rack. Do you have unusable space next to your refrigerator? Look at this genius pull out shelf.
Use height to your advantage (and keep a folding step stool around). Can you store gadgets on top of cabinets or purchase a tall, freestanding rack or shelving unit? Or are your cabinets themselves tall with wasted space on the inside? Think about installing sturdy shelves or purchasing freestanding shelves. Look at our kitchen organization Pinterest board for inspiration.
Canvas or fabric bins are fantastic for organizing. They can also bring color or decor into your theme. I have one below my TV with cords, chargers, and batteries and a second that contains throws and blankets. They hide the contents and make any room look more organized.
Furniture pieces can serve more than one purpose. I love coffee tables and ottomans with hidden storage. No room for side tables? What about one that fits over the arm of your chair? If something is going to take up room in my house, I want it to be useful and serve me well.
Digitize stuff. Yes, this is vague, but think of the physical space you could clear with digitization. Receipts, documents, health records, photos, recipes, and more can be kept organized within your computer and cleared from file folders, drawers, and shelves.
Utilize hidden space. I know I said don’t shove stuff under the bed, but you can in an organized manner. You can have drawers under beds or purchase long, flat storage containers. This might be a great place for extra bedding, off season clothes, or wrapping paper. Containers or drawers will keep things clean while just stuffing under probably won’t.
Hidden space can also be the back of a door or a full length mirror/jewelry holder. I’ve wanted one of these for a long time! This goes back to having furniture that serves multiple purposes because it will help your home look cleaner and tidier overall.
Our closets are not just for our clothes; they’re our only real storage. We’ve had to get creative. If you have tall closets, can you build up with shelves? If your closet is deep, can you add a second bar for a hanging rack? Again, use the space on the back of the door for scarves, jewelry, ties, hats, or shoes. Can you add a set of drawers on the floor under the hanging clothes? I created drawer dividers using cardboard boxes to organize things like travel toiletries and nail polishes.
I actually wrote a full post on just closet organization where you can see my organization
madness tendencies on display.
I’m starting to repeat myself now, but you can see how the same organization techniques can be applied over and over again. The bathroom is another place to utilize the back of doors and cabinet doors using hooks, baskets, shelves, etc. Using all available hidden space to make a homebase for items will help you declutter and stay organized. Our home organization Pinterest board has additional ideas to make this work.
If you tend to leave your hair and makeup products all over the bathroom after getting ready because you never have time to put everything back where it goes, at least separate your drawers by type. Have a hair drawer and a makeup drawer. Toss in the corresponding items when finished. They contents may not be organized, but separating by type can help streamline your process so you aren’t searching high and low for your hairspray.
Again with the double duty furniture, I love my clothes hamper/ironing board for serving multiple purposes. I don’t have to store an ironing board anywhere and I have surface space for temporary jobs like folding clean laundry.
Whew! That was a lot! Now I want to know your favorite ways to organize any area of your home.
Photo courtesy of Gregory Han.