Do you get anxious at just the very thought of organizing your home? Maybe you look around and all you see is clutter and so much stuff. But trying to figure out where to even begin is too overwhelming. So, like most people, you put it off and think, I’ll do that another day. Well, another day has finally come. Let’s get it done. In this post, we’re going to effectively organize your home, the right way!
7 Tips to Effectively Organize Your Home
Step 1: Start With a Plan
Like any project, the best way to tackle it, is with a plan. Following a simple plan will help you stay on track AND see the progress. When we just haphazardly jump into a project, we most likely will end up quitting before we even really begin.
With a notepad, walk through your house and take an assessment of each room.
- What areas need the most attention?
- What are your goals and priorities for each space? Are you looking to declutter? Create more storage space? Or just improve the overall aesthetics of the room?
- What are the supplies you will need for each room? For example, write down whether you need storage bins, shelves, labels, cleaning supplies, etc. Shoe boxes work great for storage also.
- How long will this project take you? Give yourself a realistic timeline for each room. Consider it’s size and just how unorganized each room is. If need be, break it down into manageable tasks. Focusing on one area of the room for one cleaning session and another area during the next one.
The key is to write it all down. Here’s an organization guide to help you through the entire process. My type A personality loves to make a list and check things off. There is something so rewarding and motivating in seeing that you are making progress, not only in the room, but also on paper. 🙂
Step 2: What Room to Tackle First to Effectively Organize Your Home
Ok, so we have our plan written out and now we’re ready to begin. But where do we start? When organizing my entire home, I like to start with my storage room.
Yes, this is the room that no one really sees. But it is also the room where any items that need to be put away for a season or an extended period of time are going to land.
Therefore, I want this room to have as much space available as possible. I also want it to be a very organized space, so I can easily put things here when I’m decluttering the rest of my home.
Don’t have a storage room? No problem! What is that one room or space that becomes the catch-all for all the stuff? Tackle that room first.
What does tackling the storage room/catch-all space look like? We’ll cover the break down for each room further down in the post.
Step 3: Set a Timer
Give yourself a realistic set time to work on a particular space. When the timer is up, take a break and come back to it in 15 minutes. This will give you a clear mind as you’re purging items and figuring out where you want everything to go.
If it’s a space you’re able to walk away from even if it’s messy, set a timer for how long you want to dedicate to it. And when the timer goes off, do something else. If you can get back to it that same day, great! If not, get back to it the next day.
Step 4: Declutter the Space to Effectively Organize Your Home
Starting with one room at a time, the first thing we want to do is declutter the space. If you’re tackling a closet, pantry, or any other small room, take everything out. This will give you a fresh slate to work with. Not to mention, fresh eyes to see all of the space you have available.
Once everything is out of the entire room, sort items into the following categories:
- Put away
It will be helpful to have a large bin for each of these categories.
I know this process can be hard. But what if that trend comes back? Or what if I want to wear that shirt I haven’t worn for 10 years again? These 3 rules will help you make this step a lot easier.
- 80/20 Rule: As a general rule, people tend to use 20% of their possessions, 80% of the time. Therefore, you most likely have 80% of your belongings that you never, or rarely ever, use. Imagine if you got rid of all of that. You would free up so much space AND you wouldn’t have to move those items around anymore.
- 20/20 Rule: This leads us to this next rule. If you can replace an item, you no longer use, for $20 in less than 20 minutes, get rid of it. For example, let’s say, you have an extra set of measuring cups in the kitchen that you never use. If, in the future, you decide you need more than one set of measuring cups, it’s likely it will cost you less than $20 to buy another set. And, most likely, you won’t need to drive over 20 minutes to purchase said measuring cups.
- 5 Second Rule: If you can’t remember in less than 5 seconds, the last time you used something, get rid of it. I.e: the shirt you haven’t worn for 10 years. 🙂
Applying these rules, as you’re going through all of your stuff, will make decluttering a lot easier.
If you’re tackling a bigger room, like a bedroom or a kitchen, break the room down into segments.
For example, if you’re tackling the kitchen, focus on the pantry first and then the kitchen cabinets and so on. Don’t try to do it all at once. This will be overwhelming and you’ll end up spinning your wheels and in turn, you’ll get nothing done.
(We’ll break down how to tackle the kitchen further down in this post).
Step 5: Sort Through Everything
Now that we have our 4 categories sorted out, we’re ready to group like items together.
But first, remove the “Donate, Toss and Put Away” items from the room. We don’t need those items getting mixed in with what we want to keep.
Put the “donate” items in your vehicle and the “toss” items in the trash/recycle bin. Set the “put away” items off to the side. Find a new home for those items when you’re finished with the room you’re currently working on.
Organize the “keep” items into categories. For example, if we’re working on the kitchen, we’ll want to stack all of the bowls together, all of the plates together and so on. Do this for every item. We’re not ready to put anything away just yet.
Step 6: Utilize Storage Bins, Baskets, and the Like
Once we have everything sorted into categories, it’s time to figure out our organization system. What will be the easiest way to find everything? That is the goal! We want everything to have a place.
For example, if we’re organizing the pantry, utilizing baskets and plastic storage bins is key.
After transforming my boring pantry into a butler’s pantry last year, I invested in some baskets and storage bins. Now, all of the chips go in a large basket. All of my baking supplies are easily accessible in a wooden bin.
I love that I can pull out the entire bin from the pantry when I’m baking and everything I need is right there next to me on the countertop. All of the pasta has its own bin.
The best thing: finding what I need, is so much easier now. Baskets are a great way to organize a space. They help you corral all of the like-items together while still making the space look good.
Adding labels to your baskets and bins will make things even more organized and easily accessible.
Step 7: Keep It Clean Moving Forward to Effectively Organize Your Home
You’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating an organized home. So how do you keep it clean moving forward?
My number one rule I try to follow is: “Don’t put it down, put it away.” Instead of putting a dish in the sink, put it in the dishwasher. Instead of dropping the clean laundry on the bed, fold it up and put it away. And the list goes on.
I’m always trying to be mindful of, “if I put this down, it will still be there waiting for me later, so why not take care of it now.” It’s a great rule to follow to eliminate clutter. Now, if I could just get my kids to follow it. 🙁
Another rule is the “One in/One out” rule. I have to admit, I’m not too good at this one. Being in the design world, I have a hard time bringing a beautiful decor item into my home and getting rid of another decor item.
Usually, if I don’t like a decor item, I’m quick to get rid of it, before I ever buy a new item to replace it. But this is a great way to take on a minimalist mindset, if that is your goal.
It’s a good idea to continue the timer method once a week or for a short time once a day. If you’re going to utilize this method once a day, set a timer for 20 minutes and go through the house decluttering every room. This should be much easier, now that everything has its own space.
If making it part of your daily routine is not feasible, implement setting a timer once a week instead. Sweep through the house and make sure everything is in its place. Doing this every week will help keep things from getting out of control again.
Tips for How to Effectively Organize Each Room
The Storage Room
If at all possible, remove everything from your storage room. Now you have a blank slate to work with. Removing everything from a room also helps make getting rid of it easier. When you’re ready to put it all back, you’re less likely to put back the things you haven’t used in years.
Depending on the size of your storage room, designate a space for specific seasons. For example, we have a rather large storage room. Therefore, I have dedicated areas for all of my Christmas decor, board games, craft supplies, etc.
You can use bins to store a number of items. This will make things easier to stack, freeing up a lot more room. Be sure to label bins on the top and the sides. So that you can find what you need.
Use shelves for all of the miscellaneous items that don’t fit well into bins. This will help things stay organized. Add baskets to sort like items together.
The Laundry Room/Mudroom
An organized laundry room makes laundry day much easier and maybe a little more enjoyable. Maybe. 🙂 Here are some helpful tips to organizing your laundry room/mudroom.
- Go through everything. Get rid of bottles/products you no longer use. Only keep what you need.
- Create Zones:
- Divide the space into functional zones. Common zones include laundry, cleaning supplies, outdoor gear, and a drop zone for keys, mail, and bags.
- Assign specific shelves, cabinets, or areas to each zone.
- Install Storage Solutions:
- Invest in shelving, cabinets, hooks, and bins to maximize storage and keep things organized.
- Use clear bins or labels to easily identify the contents of containers.
- Laundry Organization:
- Set up a laundry sorting system with labeled bins or hampers for whites, darks, delicates, and other categories.
- Install a folding table or countertop for folding clothes and a hanging rod for air-drying or storing clothes temporarily.
- Keep laundry essentials like detergent, stain removers, and dryer sheets within easy reach.
- Cleaning Supplies:
- Store cleaning products in a dedicated cabinet or on shelves.
- Use organizers or caddies to group similar items together, making it easy to find what you need.
- Keep hazardous items out of reach of children and pets.
- Mudroom Essentials:
- Install hooks or a coat rack for jackets, hats, and bags.
- Place a shoe rack or boot tray near the entrance to contain dirty footwear.
- Consider a bench or seating area for putting on and taking off shoes.
- Use baskets or bins for scarves, gloves, and other small accessories.
Want to really up your mudroom game? Check out this post on how I built lockers and a bench for my mudroom space.
The most-used room in the house, the kitchen, can be very overwhelming when it comes to fully organizing it. Therefore, it’s best to break it down into little projects. For example…
- the pantry
This is where your 4 bins are going to really come in handy. Let’s break the kitchen down…
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- Take everything out and thoroughly clean all of the shelves. Starting with a clean slate is always best.
- Sort and categorize: Group similar items together. Common pantry categories include canned goods, dry goods, spices, baking supplies, snacks, pasta, and condiments. Place items in piles on your kitchen counter or a nearby table based on their category.
- Check expiration dates: As you sort through your pantry items, check for expiration dates. Discard anything that is past the date or donate unopened, non-perishable items that you won’t use but are still good.
- Utilize baskets, wooden bins and clear containers to sort like items together. I like to put all of our cereal in clear containers, making it easier to see when we’re running low. I put all of our pasta in one or two wooden bins. Cans and jars I keep on the shelves by themselves. I tried putting these in bins too. But found that it was way too heavy to get them down off the shelf. Not convenient at all. (Convenience is key!) If it’s not convenient, you won’t stick to it!
- Put all of the baking items in one large wooden bin. This will make baking a lot easier. Just pull the bin down and place it on your countertop for easy access, when you’re baking.
- Label everything: Label containers, shelves, and bins so you can quickly identify what’s inside. You can use adhesive labels, label makers, or even masking tape and a marker. Clear labels make it easy to find what you need. This is especially important when using wooden bins, since you’re not able to see what’s inside the bin without pulling it down.
- Organize spices: If you have a collection of spices, consider a spice rack or drawer organizer to keep them easily accessible. Arrange them alphabetically or by type for convenience.
- Maintain order: Regularly check and reorganize your pantry to keep it tidy. Put items back in their designated spots after use and try to stick to your organization system when grocery shopping. If you find that your organization system isn’t working, tweak some things til it feels like everything is easily accessible.
- Just like we did with the pantry, start off by emptying them all out. Wash them all down.
- Next step, sort and categorize all like items together, making piles.
- Assess your space: Take a look at your kitchen layout and available cabinet and drawer space. Consider which items you use most frequently and where they would be most accessible. Reserve the most convenient and easily reachable spaces for these items.
- Invest in organizers: Use kitchen organizers such as drawer dividers, shelf risers, pull-out trays, and cabinet racks to maximize space and keep items organized. These can help you make the most of your cabinets and drawers.
- Empty it all out and throw away any expired items. Then wash the refrigerator down completely.
- Sort and categorize all like items together, making piles.
- Use clear containers and labels: Consider using clear, airtight containers for leftovers and food storage. Label containers with dates and contents to easily identify what’s inside. This helps reduce food waste and keeps your fridge organized.
How to Organize the Living Room
The key to a well-organized living room is making sure the furniture flows well. Is it easy to move about within the room? If the furniture is too large, it will make the room feel crowded.
Be sure to leave plenty of room between pieces, so that people can easily move from one piece to another. See my living room arrangement post for more help with this.
Add baskets to store like items. If things are easy to find and put away, it will also be easier to keep the room organized.
Put remotes all in one basket. Store blankets in a basket. (See my blanket storage ideas post for more ideas). If the baskets will be sitting out, make sure they flow with the style and aesthetics of the room.
Your bedroom should be calming and inviting. But any space that is in disarray is the complete opposite of calming and inviting. Here are some key simple steps to organizing your bedroom
- The first steps to an organized bedroom is to get rid of clutter. Clear off your nightstands and make sure you only put back what needs to be sitting out.
- Utilize under the bed storage options, such as bins. This is a great way to maximize your storage space.
- Empty out your entire closet. Only keep what you still wear. When putting items back, sort them by their season.
- Last thing, but most important, make your bed! If you do nothing else but this one simple step every morning, you’ll be amazed by how much more organized your bedroom feels.
Bathrooms can get messy fast. Especially if you have kids at home. Here are some pointers to keep a tidier bathroom:
- Once again, start with a clean slate. Empty out all of the drawers and cabinets.
- Throw away any expired or empty containers.
- Use drawer dividers for cosmetics and such.
- Hang towel racks and hooks. I prefer hooks. Especially with younger children. Much easier for them to hang their towels on a hook, rather than weaving it up and over a towel rack. Who am I kidding? Hooks are better for older kids too. The easier it is, the more likely it won’t end up on the floor. Maybe. Haha!
How to Organize the Linen Closet
It’s amazing what more you can fit in a linen closet/hall closet that is clean and organized. Whether it’s a large or small space, you may just have more extra room in there than you thought you did. Here are some tips to organize this space.
- Empty the entire closet. Get rid of what you don’t use anymore.
- Group Similar Items:
- Group linens by type and purpose. Common categories include bed linens, towels, blankets, and tablecloths.
- Within each category, further subdivide by size or use (i.e.., twin sheets, queen sheets, bath towels, hand towels).
- Use Storage Solutions:
- Invest in storage containers, baskets, and shelves to maximize space and keep items organized.
- Consider clear bins or use a label maker to label containers, making identifying contents much easier.
- Fold Neatly:
- Fold linens neatly to save space and maintain their condition. Use a consistent folding method to keep items uniform in size.
- For fitted sheets, consider folding them in a way that keeps the corners tucked inside for a cleaner look.
- Arrange by Frequency of Use:
- Place frequently used items at eye level or within easy reach. This might include your everyday bath towels and bed linens.
- Store less frequently used items, like seasonal linens, on higher or lower shelves.
- Label Shelves:
- Label shelves or bins with categories or specific item names to make it easy to find what you need.
- Consider using chalkboard labels that can be easily changed as your storage needs evolve.
- Roll Towels or Use Dividers:
- If you have limited shelf space, consider rolling your towels instead of stacking them. This can save space and make towels more accessible.
- Use shelf dividers to separate different types of linens and prevent them from mixing together.
- Keep Sets Together:
- Store complete sheet sets inside one of the pillowcases to keep everything in one place and prevent items from getting separated.
- Store Seasonal Items Separately:
- If you have seasonal linens (e.g., holiday tablecloths or flannel sheets), keep them in a separate container or at the back of the closet until needed.
Where To Put All of the Unwanted Items
If you’re planning a major home organization project and planning on tackling several rooms, you may want to consider renting a dumpster. Another option is to hire a service such as Fire Dawgs to come and take it all away for you. We’ve used them before and they are awesome!
While organizing your home may seem like a daunting task, these 7 steps will make the project a whole lot easier. The key is to start with a clear plan, tackle one room at a time, set a timer to stay focused, declutter, sort and categorize. Continue ongoing maintenance of each space, so as to not let it get out of hand again.
It’s amazing what a huge difference an organized house will make in your life.
Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!