It’s no secret that the American home has been growing in size, becoming bigger, on average, than the homes of just a generation ago. With more space comes more stuff — and more time spent taking care of and maintaining that stuff. You could consider upsizing to a bigger home, but that would likely lead to the accumulation of more stuff. It’s no wonder interest in minimalism continues to grow.
While you may not be ready to embrace minimalism and part with most of your possessions, having a plan that keeps your living areas organized and decluttered not only frees up your physical space, but your mental space as well.
Moving from one home into another is a great opportunity to purge your belongings, so you’re bringing less into your new space. Before you pack those moving boxes, it’s wise to pare down your household goods, keep only what you need or love, and then donate, sell, or say goodbye to the rest.
Before you unpack at your new place, have a plan, and have your organizing and storage supplies nearby. (If you lucked out with a good home-buyer rebate, you can use the money to purchase organizational systems or other tools you’ll need.)
- Store Like With Like: Whether you’re unpacking dishes, jeans, or garden tools, think about storing like items with other like items. You’ll be able to take a quick visual inventory of your items and determine what stays or goes.
- Label It: Certainly, you’ve heard the phrase “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Labels are helpful reminders of where things live in your home, especially for kids. Use anything from a label maker, to tags, to color-coded tape with a marker. Remember: Don’t put it down, put it away.
- Create a Donation Box: Store a box for donations somewhere out of the way, and regularly check spaces in your home for items you no longer need or want. You can set reminders on your phone to survey the kitchen one week, kids’ closets the next, the garage another week. Once the box is filled, drop it off at your local thrift shop, and start a new box so you’re in the habit of decluttering regularly.
- Tidy a Little Every Day: Sort the mail, unload the dishwasher, fold one load of laundry. Choose a few tasks to do every day that take no more than 10 to 15 minutes — rather than one marathon cleanup session on the weekend.
Organize the Kitchen
Before organizing your kitchen, conduct a thorough inventory and purge. Toss expired food, spices, or supplies. Get rid of broken utensils. Donate items you never use but keep “just in case.” Consider giving away small appliances that have been used once and now occupy prime real estate in your cupboards.
- Create Zones: Store baking supplies in one area, and designate another for coffee, tea, and breakfast items, for example. Store canned goods together, and dry goods like pasta, grains, and rice in another. Create a snack drawer that kids can reach themselves. Everyday dishes can be kept in a cabinet close to the dishwasher for quick and easy unloading.
- Adjust Your Shelves: The shelves in your cabinets are usually adjustable. Customize the shelves to different heights based on your needs, and use tiered shelf organizers to double the storage space in your cabinets.
- Customize Your Storage: You’re not likely to find the one perfect storage solution that fits all your needs. Experiment with a blend of drawer dividers, baskets, refrigerator storage, and shelf extenders until you find what works for you.
Organize the Living Room
The living room is often the focal point of a home. Create an inviting space by:
- Organize Bookshelves by Color: While not a necessity for organizing, this trick creates a look that’s pleasing to the eye and has a calming effect.
- Designate a Home for Remotes: Find one place for TV remotes to live and return them to their home every evening.
- Clear off the Coffee Table: Tidy magazines and books, remove dirty dishes, wine glasses, and mugs. Remove fingerprints regularly.
- Store Blankets: Neatly fold blankets and drape them over a chair or sofa, or store them in baskets or in other furniture with under-seat storage.
Organize a Closet
Does looking at your closet give you anxiety when you see clothes stuffed into drawers, spilling over shelves, and a mountain of shoes on the floor? It’s time for closet organization and bring some serenity to your wardrobe.
- Take Inventory: Pull everything out and take inventory. Clothes you haven’t worn in a year or more can go into the donation pile. The 25-year-old concert T-shirt you’re never going to wear for several reasons? Take a picture of it for posterity, and out it goes. Organize everything that’s left into categories: tops, jeans, sweaters, workout gear, etc., and store like with like. You’ll be able to see everything you have at a glance.
- Maximize Hanging Space: Install a second rod halfway down the closet wall to double the available space. Use baskets to organize top-shelf storage and keep seasonal clothing out of the way. Save a little rod space to hang purses and bags for easy access.
- File Fold Clothes in Drawers: File folding (storing items like T-shirts, for example, sideways instead of stacked in piles) not only saves space, but lets you view everything when the drawer is pulled out.
- Shoe Storage: Depending on the type and amount of space you have, shoes can be stored on shelves heel-to-toe to conserve space. Place shoe racks inside closets to keep shoes off the floor and prevent shoe mountains from forming. Additionally, consider extra shoe storage with a hanging shoe bag over a door.