How To Organize Your Home: A Place for Everything
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When buying or building a dream home you often picture your items throughout the house. What would your couch look like in the living room? Will your bed fit between the windows in the master? You walk through homes decorating them in your minds eye. It’s normal, natural, and fun! But we often don’t think about how we will organize our belongings.
Don’t get me wrong, of course you’ll make sure your home has a great walk-in master closet and plenty of storage in the kitchen. But what about your holiday decor or the kids sporting equipment? Where is that going to go? The garage some where of course. Okay, what about gift wrapping supplies? Clothing the oldest has outgrown but the youngest still has a year or two before they’ll fit into them? Your suitcases? Your crafting/sewing/painting supplies? Do these things all have a place as well? They’re about to!
Declutter Before You Organize
There are many, many blogs and books about decluttering and purging items from our homes we don’t need, use, or that don’t bring us joy. I’ve written some myself! If you’re still in that stage of your journey to organize your home then check out my posts on decluttering a garbage bag a week or this list of 12 items to declutter from your dream home. Many people just like you have found them helpful places to start. I’m still not done decluttering my home but I’ve been making some progress! Since we are building our dream home from the ground up I am simultaneously purging junk and designing storage for things I plan to hold on to long term. This got me thinking this week about how I wanted to organize the items we are moving with us to our new home. I knew I was going to have to have a plan or my new house would end up like my current one.
Organize Your Home
Maybe you’re in the same boat as me. You’ve already decluttered, donated, recycled, and thrown out many items but your home still feels cluttered and messy. That’s because having an organized home requires additional steps. You can’t just get rid of things and expect your house to be clutter free! You have to organize the things you’ve decided to keep.
In her now famous book, The life-changing magic of tidying up, Marie Kondo encourages us to have a place for every item. In her chapter on Storing your things to make your life shine, Marie states:
The reason every item must have a designated place is because the existence of an item without a home multiplies the chances that your space will become cluttered again.
I found that sentence so powerful. Of course my home is always cluttered because I have many items that don’t have a home! For example, I currently have gift wrapping items in 3 different areas of my house: my closet because the extra long rolls of wrapping paper I bought at the end of last year don’t fit in the original tote I bought for storing wrapping paper rolls, in the garage – where the tote resides, and in my “junk room” on a desk because I was too lazy to put the tissue paper I used a couple of months ago back where it belongs! Honestly at this point I don’t even remember the occasion that I got the tissue paper out for in the first place. What I do know is that I obviously need a system for storing gift wrapping supplies.
Are you also struggling with storing items rarely used but that you aren’t going to purchase and throw away every season? I’ve come up with a list to work through to find storage and organizing solutions to prevent clutter in my next home. I hope you find these ideas and tips helpful so you can organize your home too! I’ve included decluttering tips along with organizing advice so we can kill two birds with one stone. This isn’t meant to be an extensive list either. I’ll be adding another list of items in our homes that need a place in the future. But this will give you some areas to get started organizing for now and make sure to check out Part 2 of How to Organize Your Home Here.
Organize Gift Wrapping Supplies
Items that need to be organized in this category: Wrapping paper, gift bags of various sizes, bows, tissue paper, ribbon, boxes of various sizes, scissors, tape, cards, and gift tags. Phew!
First of all, pare down your stockpile to the necessities. Toss/recycle any broken or ripped items that are no longer useful or nice. Be honest with yourself – how many rolls of wrapping paper do you NEED. Have you ever noticed how long wrapping paper lasts? Years typically. Some families like to have a different paper for each person at Christmas to easily identify which presents go to whom. Other families just pick what paper has enough of the roll for the size of the present. Decide on the number of rolls you NEED and then donate or give away the rest. I’ve decided 10 rolls of Christmas paper and 5 rolls of non-specific wrapping paper is all my family needs.
Then go through the same process for bows, ribbon, tissue paper (tip: stick with just a few basic colors and avoid glitter!), boxes, and gift tags. Get rid of the extra or out of date items (your kids are not going to turn 1 again…) and then you can organize the rest!
Tip: For birthdays, baby showers, graduations, etc purchase wrapping paper that is “non-specific”. Examples below. The idea is that each of these sets contain colors or patterns that could be used for a male or female for nearly any occasion! Including Christmas technically so you could even decrease your entire stockpile to 6 rolls. This will save on the total number of items you need overall and pare down your storage space requirements.
I rarely use bows on presents. Most kids aren’t going to notice if you put a pretty ribbon or bow on their gift. It’s more money wasted and more trash created so typically I skip this part. I have a couple of rolls of ribbons and a few bows that came in wrapping paper sets that I’ll be keeping but these items should fit into a tiny storage space. Also, I have quite a few gift bags which our family reuses to save money. I generally toss a couple each year because they get ripped. You can purchase these at the dollar store to save $$$. I should add that tip to my list of 11 ways to save money. One mistake I made with the current way I organize my wrapping supplies is that I really didn’t consider gift bags or boxes which purchasing the tote. I was really only thinking about the wrapping paper itself.
If I could do it again I would consider a system that has a little more efficiency for ALL the items that needs to be stored. One of these options would be a great choice, just make sure to measure your wrapping paper rolls before buying!
Since we are building our new home and are making our laundry room a multipurpose utility room, we’ve decided to include a gift wrapping station as part of the design. I haven’t narrowed it down yet but I’ve found some really great ideas on pinterest. The idea is to keep it organized, easily accessible, and easily re-organized when the task is complete. Some may prefer to hide everything in a cabinet while others may prefer an easier grab and go type approach; or maybe a mixture of both. I do know whichever I choose, I’ll have to make sure to only keep items that can fit and not over purchase just because its on sale after the holidays! These are some of my favorite ideas so far:
Once we have our laundry/utility room designed I’ll definitely share! I can’t wait to organize and create a truly functional space for my family’s needs. It’s going to be epic. At least, it will be to me. Speaking of laundry. We need to organize our clothing too!
Specifically clothing that’s not currently being worn. My daughters are 2 years apart. Which means that there is a year between when the oldest outgrows her clothing and the youngest can fit into it. I’m not about to donate and repurchase an entire wardrobe a year later! Most of you aren’t either! So what do you do with those in-between clothing items? I currently have square tote for these items on the upper shelf in my closet. Preferably I’ll have a better system when we move. I do go through their clothes twice per year. Once for spring/summer and once for the cooler months. Things the youngest can’t wear gets donated. But I’m still not in love with this organizing system.
I also store off-season clothing in totes for all 4 of us. The kids share a tote and I’ve pared down my winter clothing into just 1 tote. My husband hasn’t joined my decluttering band wagon yet but we will be doing a closet clear out for him before we move. However, I’ve realized this isn’t the best solution for storing off-season clothing. The issue is, in my 1 winter tote I have light weight sweaters and long pants stored with sweat shirts and flannel pajamas. I don’t use all of the items throughout the whole winter. So I’m basically pulling this huge tote off the top of my closet and sorting through it every other month from October-March. Typically what happens is it sits on the floor of my closet for a few months half-filled with summer and winter wear. Case in point:
I got these down a couple of weeks ago and just went to snap a pic!
I’ve realized I’ve not been organizing this well. For a better option in my dream home I’ll be purchasing some bins that I can label and place on the shelves in my closet. I’ll organize them so similar items are placed together. For example: 1 bin can hold sweatshirts, 1 bin can hold dressy sweaters, 1 bin can hold warm weather sleepwear, and 1 bin can hold long-sleeve t-shirts. Then I can pull down just the bin I need at the time. Not only is this more efficiently organized, it’s also safer than me standing on a chair pulling a 30 pound tote off the top shelf! Wellesley and King has a great post about this organizing system. Every closet in our dream home will have this option for off-season clothing storage! I might also implement it for the in-between clothing sizes for the kids.
Click here for a cute DIY tutorial on these dollar store bins from Lemons, Lavender, and Laundry!
On the opposite side you can label swimsuits, shorts, tank-tops, etc for when you swap out the clothing for the season. Then you can place it back in the closet with the summer wear and just turn the tote around. You also won’t have to hunt for a particular item at the bottom a large tote with this option. You can purchase see-through bins, wire bins, stack-able bins, or any mixture that will fit your needs. Here are some excellent storage bin options to organize your off-season clothing:
Organize Coat Closets
I realize I just talked about storing off-season clothing. How on earth could coats deserve their own category? Be honest, do you pack up and store your coats every year or do they sit in your coat closet all year long? The thing with coats is, some of them get worn nearly every day or at least several days per week during the winter while others tend to just hang out in the back of the coat closet for special occasions. Make sure to be honest with yourself on what coats you wear regularly. If you haven’t worn a coat in the past couple of years it’s probably time to get rid of it. Coats and jackets that are worn consistently can be stored in the mudroom. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Mudroom here.
But what about the ski coat you bring out every year for your annual ski trip and then never wear again? Or the special rain gear that only gets used in emergencies? Hunting and camping gear is another example. These items aren’t used regularly but they still need a place to be stored for the few times each year they’re used. Designate a pace in your home for them. We are planning on adding a small coat closet in our laundry room or incorporating it into our mudroom for these types of items. It doesn’t need to be a large space but they do need a place to go. We can also clear out the mudroom clutter during the summer time by having a place to store and organize coats and jackets during the off season.
Great example of garage coat storage via creative closets
Organize Your Luggage
Want to know what takes me weeks to complete? Unpacking after going on a trip! I know I’m not the only one. We travel pretty regularly since our family lives out of state and we also have a 5th wheel. We have 2 large suitcases, 2 carry on suitcases, and several duffel bags, backpacks, and other bags of various sizes and purposes. I used to store the smaller bags inside the large bags to save space. However, this is really annoying when we use our smaller bags 3 times as often as we use the large suitcases but I still have to pull the entire set out to find the bags I need. For the large suitcases and large camping gear some type of garage storage would work just fine (watch out for pests).
Via Zillow. See the suitcases on the top right.
But for small bags this type of organization system would be extremely inconvenient. Meaning they would probably sit on the floor of the closet even longer! Use space wisely. Most guest room closets would make a good option for storing extra luggage or even the floor of your own closet depending on the size. Some people opt to hang luggage or store on shelving. Here is a great post from The Sunny Side Up Blog on organizing a luggage closet. Here is another good post of 7 ways to organize luggage on Make Space. Check out these ideas below for finding a place to organize your luggage.
Via House of Anais
You will need a basket or shelf to organize the smaller toiletry bags as well. One hack I have implemented is I now store my small travel bottles inside my toiletry bag so I don’t have to search for them when it’s time to pack. I know exactly where they are and just refill them before the next trip. This will help you stay organized and prevent stress when you’re packing for your next trip! Also, if you haven’t decluttered these items yet – do a thorough assessment before storing.
Are any of the bags ripped? Missing a zipper? Are the straps frayed or broken? if it’s not repairable the toss it. Only keep items in this category that are useful.
Organize Cleaning Supplies
You need cleaning supplies. You also need a place to organize and store them. Often you need several places! Most people have brooms and vacuums that will go in a larger pantry area with other large, bulky, or other general cleaning supplies. Under the kitchen sink typically there are additional cleaning supplies needing to be organized. Somewhere in the bathroom there is usually toilet bowl cleaner and a plunger. It doesn’t make sense to store all of these items together and then carry the items to the specific room you’ll be cleaning that day. You need easily accessible and easily re-organized cleaning supplies. Let’s start with the main storage area and work our way through the home. Below are two great posts on creating a main cleaning supply area.
Find more info on the School of Decorating Cleaning Command Center here
Using their tips you can organize your large and small cleaning supplies in a neat and accessible system. I particularly like how School of Decorating incorporated plastic bins to carry cleaning supplies to different areas of the home and The 36th Avenue’s tip on storing paper towel rolls for easy access. Although you could create a kitchen sink bin to carry, its much more likely that you will store kitchen cleaning supplies in the actual kitchen. Here are some ideas to organize the area under the kitchen sink.
Little Bit Funky used a tension rod
Just a Girl and Her Blog got a little fancier
Bathrooms are another area in our house that we often store cleaning supplies. Typically just a few items are needed but we don’t want to forget them as we organize our home.
Morganize with Me has a How-to Create a Cleaning Kit Post.
This kit would easily fit under a bathroom sink!
The Kim Six Fix has a great DIY tutorial on this under sink storage system with pull out baskets.
You might have trouble thinking of everything off the top of your head that needs a place so do a walk through of your home. What areas need to be organized that contain cleaning supplies? Can you consolidate some of the items? Do you have cleaning supplies from the early 2000s you haven’t used in a decade? Toss items that are expired or that don’t work well. Here are some items that can help you get started on organizing your cleaning supplies:
These two can work well if you aren’t very handy or much of a Do-it-yourself-er
Here are some handy baskets or bins that you can store and carry:
Finally some hardware to help you organize and hang those brooms, buckets, and other items:
I know there are more items in my home that need a place. In fact, I’ve already been brainstorming my next post on this home organization topic. I would love to hear from you what areas in your home always seem to be cluttered and what items you are struggling to find a home for within your home. I’ll do my best to help you find more solutions in my next post! Please leave your top clutter areas and top clutter items in the comments section.
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This post was so popular I created part two; check out How to Organize Your Home: A Place for Every Item Part 2. Also, I have an entire post for organizing holiday decor so check that one out too!