By Lea Schneider
Winter can sometimes feel like the season of “too much stuff.” Maybe it’s because we’re spending more time inside and are making more messes. Maybe it’s because we just finished the holiday season of giving—and getting. Or, maybe it’s just the fact that there’s something about a new year that calls for a fresh start. It’s no wonder getting organized is one of the top New Year’s resolutions.
Start Getting Organized
It’s the time of the year to get the car in the garage, the new holiday gifts in the closet and the kitchen counter chaos cleared. As a professional organizer, I know people bring two main complaints to me this time of year. They tell me they have too much stuff and that they don’t have a place for all of it. In truth, it is probably a bit of both, but there are easy steps to take to get your home back under control.
Do You Have Too Much Stuff?
If you can’t really relax because clutter makes the house seem less than peaceful, you are probably suffering from too much stuff. Likewise, if can’t do the things you want to do because of the mess, you likely have too much stuff.
Before you can actually organize your space, you really must go through your things. Try to follow these easy steps to get started:
- Work in one room at a time.
Otherwise, you’ll be all over the house and won’t feel like you’re making any progress.
- Don’t work on putting things away.
That is for another time! Get started by focusing on removing clutter.
- Ask yourself if you love it, use it, or need it.
If you can’t identify the item as one of those three, then out it goes.
- Get rid of your discarded items.
Gather the unneeded items and plan a garage sale, go to a consignment shop, or drop off donations.
Where Do You Put All Your Stuff?
Sometimes we think we need a bigger home when we really just need to make the best use of the space we already have. Once you’ve removed the extra items from your house, you are ready to maximize storage.
Organize Like A Pro
Look at your storage with fresh eyes and figure out how you can better use that area, then try some of these ideas for getting organized.
Get Creative with Your Closet
- Think of adding a small stepstool to permanently live in your closet.
This inexpensive addition could give you lots of extra room. It will allow you to go vertical and use areas that were previously hard to reach.
- Maximize shelf space by rolling garments.
It stores them with fewer wrinkles, and it’s easy to pull one out without causing everything to fall off the shelf.
- Use containers to hold smaller items.
You can fill a basket and easily slide it out to find the socks or tank top you want. This helps you stay organized in a way that prevents a jumble on the shelf.
- Use space-saving hangers.
Increase hanging room by using hangers that are designed to hold more than one garment and folding items that don’t have to hang, such as sweatshirts and jeans. Store any off-season clothing in tubs under the bed or in a storage area.
Store in Plain Sight
If you are thinking you don’t have room for your stuff, you might be thinking about closets and dressers. There are other ways to find storage space by making use of walls and doors.
- Use the back of bedroom and bathroom doors.
Over-the-door organizers have been designed to hold everything from shoes to purses to cosmetics. In the kitchen, add an over-the-door shelf system to the pantry door to hold spices and canned goods.
- Look for available wall space to hold coat hooks, freeing up closet space. Tall bookcases or cabinets use vertical wall space and give you tall storage without a big footprint.
Maximize Cabinet Space
Clear kitchen counter clutter by storing things in cabinets instead of sitting out on the counter. If you think your cabinets are too full, open all the doors at one time and stand back and view them. It is likely you’ll see pockets of vertical space and shelves that are empty. For example, you may see one row of canned goods with a good number of inches of air space above them. Try to maximize cabinet storage with these ideas:
- Make use of adjustable shelves.
Move shelves up or down so you can better utilize the empty areas.
- Use cabinet organizers.
Plate stackers, that create two levels on a given shelf. Lazy Susans make corners and awkward spaces more usable.
- Put like items together.
It is easier to nest like items, such as bowls or measuring cups, when they are stored together and you can stack one inside the other.
- Make use of the inside of cabinet doors.
Adhesive hooks can hold potholders or hang cooking tools. Or, add organizers to the inside of the doors that are designed to hold everything from pot lids to boxes of plastic wrap.
Make the Best of Your Storage
From an apartment with a storeroom to a condo or home with a garage, every place has some kind of storage. No matter how small it is, you can make the most of it. The answer is to go vertical. Use these ideas to get organized in storerooms and garages:
- Add shelving.
Use as much of the wall space, instead of floor space, as possible.
- Sort garage items into like kinds.
Put all the tools together, all the holiday decorations together, and so on.
- Use containers on the shelves to maximize the space.
Be sure to label them.
- Add hooks or pegboards.
This way you can hang tools, garden equipment and other items up and out of the way.
- Keep walking paths and exits clear.
You may start out the new year thinking you have too much stuff and not enough room for it, but with some decluttering followed by a new storage strategy, you may find everything fits just right after all.
About Lea Schneider
Professional organization expert Lea Schneider provides tips for getting organized, decluttering the home, and better leveraging storage space. Lea writes her tips on homes and family life for The Home Depot. For a variety of storage options, see offerings at Home Depot.