When you look around your house, does it feel like you have too much stuff and no place to put it all? It’s hard to restore order in your kingdom once you feel like you’ve lost it, but if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and tackle the chaos, there are plenty of home organization techniques and resources available to help.
While organization experts don’t all approach their work with the same methodology, they do agree that eliminating clutter leads to reduced stress and increased productivity. It can also save you money, because when you know where things are, you know your personal inventory and won’t buy more of what you don’t need.
If you’ve worked with one of her certified consultants, tuned into her Youtube channel or watched her Netflix series, you already know that Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo, author of the best-selling “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” wants you to live your best life.
Kondo has even transformed the tedious chore of folding laundry into a meditative activity. And she urges that, as part of the purging ritual, you hold each belonging as you ask yourself whether it brings you joy. If the answer is no, then it’s time to say thank you and goodbye.
Her KonMari method for organizing and storing focuses on category rather than location. You start with one category at a time such as clothes or books. Gather every book from every room in the home and make one big pile so you can get honest about the true quantity.
Other home organization tips from Kondo include putting loose change into your wallet so it can be spent rather than in a drawer where it will be forgotten, selecting clear storage containers so no labels are needed and remembering that storing before sorting results in hoarding. Pretty bins and baskets disguise clutter without addressing the problem.
LESS IS MORE
“Decluttering/purging is the process of editing your inventory piece by piece, deciding what is important to you and discarding the rest,” says Wendy Silberstein, founder of The Aesthetic Organizer in New York. According to Silberstein, home organization is most effective when working with your fully pared down inventory. Then, it’s a matter of categorizing and classifying inventory in a system that works for you.
When editing with her clients, Silberstein takes a more direct approach than Kondo to get it done. “We don’t spend as much time analyzing if an item ‘sparks joy.’ We ask whether it has been productive or useful in the last 12 months,” she explains.
There are three home organization tips that Silberstein has found to be especially effective. The One in One Out Rule, she says, is a very simple tip to grasp and it’s effective when respected. For each new item you bring into your home – a new pair of shoes, a new pair of jeans or a new toy for your child – one item must get donated or recycled.
Another tip she suggests is to embrace drawer organizers. Use them in your kitchen for cooking tools and cutlery, in your bathroom for makeup, your desk for supplies and even the junk drawer. “Wherever you have a drawer with multiple items, separate them with drawer organizers,” she says. “Be sure to measure twice before purchasing.”
Her third tip is clear canisters. But, unlike Kondo, Silberstein says, “Label, label, label! Remove groceries such as cereals, snacks, grains and pasta from unsightly and bulky packaging and place in clear pop-top canisters for all family members to see. And label them!” she emphasizes.
Home organization can be especially challenging for those living with children in apartments. San Francisco-based interior designer Lisa Rybak, founder of Complete Wonder Home Design, is also a home organization expert whose designs create order out of chaos.
Furniture with the right storage solutions – especially units that take advantage of unused vertical wall space – can help an apartment with toys everywhere become a tidy home.
“We bought a lot of new pieces with storage,” says Rybak of a client with that very living situation. “When everything has a place, it can be neatly put away. The child actually had more space in the new furniture unit than she did when she was taking over the apartment. It was an amazing transformation.” Now her clients have a place to eat dinner, open walkways throughout the apartment and the balcony can be enjoyed because it isn’t being used for storage.
The decision to move can also contribute to improved home organization, according to Rybak. “With an organized pack, a more conscious effort is put forward to grouping like items before you move.”