It’s something many homeowners struggle with: how to keep an organized and tidy home. Even with the best of intentions, life, kids and pets all add to the amount of clutter in our lives and it can seem overwhelming just thinking about where to get started when it comes to decluttering and getting organized. However, the benefits of an organized home are well documented – it quiets the mind and allows you to focus on other things and not get distracted by the constant nagging in the back of your head, “I must get organized!”.
Although I admit I am a work in progress and still have more ‘stuff’ than I could ever need (despite my Marie Kondo-esque clear out efforts), as a tidy and organized person, many people ask me how I keep my home so organized. I can tell you upfront that I don’t spend a lot of time on it on a daily basis, so what are my secrets to keeping an organized home?
It’s too overwhelming to think about clearing out an entire room, so start with a drawer or cabinet and work your way up. Think of things in ‘keep, donate, trash’ categories. Some people also like to go by the 80/20 rule i.e. we use 20% of items in our home 80% of the time. Keep the 20%, but be ruthless with the rest.
I also find it really helpful to have a designated place to put items for donation and schedule regular pickups. Organizations like Green Drop will even come to your door so no more excuses about not having time to drop off items! Read more about ways to repurpose and recycle household items here.
Little and Often
I am a BIG believer in this. Starting small is one thing, but it only works if you keep doing it on a regular basis. It might be as simple as moving the homework and discarded pens off the kitchen counter, but it all adds up! Being tidy is like a lot of things in life, keep doing it and it becomes habit forming. Add a task in your calendar for fifteen minutes a day to get organized if you need to help you stay on track.
One of my daily habits is to also do a quick tidy up (especially in the family room) before going to bed. It might be as simple as plumping a few cushions and putting any remaining items in the dishwasher, but it really helps prevent the build up of clutter and reduces the level of mess-stress in the morning!
A Place for Everything and Everything in it’s Place
I am quoting my grandmother here and, yes, I rolled my eyes when she used to say it, but this is now an adage I live by. Having designated spaces for things really helps you stay organized.
There is rarely a time I go up or down the stairs without something in my hand that is being returned to it’s place. I often leave items at the base of the stairs that need to be taken back up to a bedroom or down to the basement. My kids get an “F” when it comes to this life skill and will quite happily step over things, but it’s something we continue to work on as they get older. Again, forming habits takes time but will eventually win the day.
Designated Junk Drawer (or cabinet if that’s what you need!)
Hey, I’m not an angel, I have a junk drawer. Personally, I think everyone needs one. If you don’t, then you need your own TV show and a book deal. From pens to paper clips and sticky notes to receipts, it doesn’t matter what’s in it, it’s a designated space for all those pesky little day-to-day items that make spaces look cluttered if they are left out on countertops and tables.
Don’t lapse, though. Junk drawers do eventually need to be cleared out, too! If it’s overflowing and you’re having a hard time closing it (guilty), take fifteen minutes to sort it out.
Yes, it’s obvious, but getting your storage solutions in order and keeping things that are used together in the same space will help you stay organized. It’s well worth investing in a number of lidded plastic tubs for storage of seasonal items like holiday decorations, beach/pool items and seasonal items.
If you have cabinets USE them! Why put something on a countertop or shelf when you could OPEN A DOOR and put it inside? I am often amazed at how much wasted space I see in homes that have items stacked on top of one another on a counter or shelf and then open a cabinet to find it more or less empty!
Put storage solutions on your “must have” list the next time you are thinking about a home remodel or home update. At Synergy, we talk to all of our clients about how they use their space. From cookie trays to small appliances and general household items, there are tons of great ways to put the space in your home to better use and keep it clutter free.
For more ideas on how to organize your kitchen read this.
Synergy Design & Construction created this storage system in the mudroom/laundry of my previous home. I loved it so much, I created the same thing in my new home! Image Credit: Synergy Design & Construction
Set Expectations of Partners & Kids
True story. When we lived in a flat in London many years ago, my (now) husband was not the tidiest of people at a time we REALLY needed to be tidy in such a tiny space (it was London, of course it was SMALL!). He had an uncanny ability to start piles of things that would eventually overflow and then start another pile. He was also adept at being able to not see things. At the time, I was traveling a lot for work so, one week, I left a fresh-from-the-laundry sheet hanging on the hall closet door just to see what would happen. Five days later, I came home and it was STILL hanging there. Exasperated, I asked him why he hadn’t put it away and he said, “I thought you’d put it there for a purpose”. What possible purpose would that be?! Needless to say, he’s now a convert and is actually more organized and ruthless than me when it comes to closet clear outs! So, there’s hope for everyone.
If you have kids, I am also a big believer they have a part to play in keeping the family home tidy. It can seem like an impossible task when every day more stuff just appears and gets left where it was put, but persevere. From a young age, kids should be able to take on simple tasks like clearing their dinner spots or helping tidy up their toys at the end of the day. As soft toys began to take over our life some years ago, I added a “if you buy a new one, you have to give an old one to another child” rule. There was a lot of resistance at first, but it helped my children think about whether they really needed that new stuffie if they had to give away an existing furry friend.
Now my children are older, I also encourage them to make some additional allowance by helping them to sell items on local sale sites or even EBay. I *might* also be known to bargain with my children. One of them wanted to buy some cool shelving to display her treasured positions (yes, proud parent moment as she wanted a curated look), but she wasn’t allowed to buy them until she cleared out her existing storage unit and shelves. Even she laughed at some of the items she found stuffed at the back of some cubbies and filled a bag with things for donation.
Invest in a Roomba or Handheld Vacuum
OK, so this isn’t rocket science or specifically home organization related, but getting a handheld vacuum was one of the best investment decisions I ever made – especially when we had kids. To this day, it still amazes me how much mess they can make eating just one snack. When we added a dog to the mix, it was time for a roomba. These are definitely two of my 80/20 (see above if you don’t know what that means!) when it comes to usage and helps me keep on top of dog hair, dust and daily messes.
As a full service kitchen and bath home remodeler, we don’t offer home organizing as a standalone service, but we certainly know a thing or two when it comes to design thoughtful remodels that incorporate storage and organization solutions. Find out more about us and how we can help you renovate happy here.