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If your home is disorganized, you know what you need to do: you need to organize your home. But knowing that is one thing, and actually doing it is another.
When you’re inundated with clutter, it can be tough to take any kind of next step if you don’t know where to begin. But according to professional organizers, the way forward isn’t actually that daunting—you just need to ask yourself a few questions, and then, develop a plan.
“Ask yourself the following questions: what room are you most embarrassed about when friends or family come over?” Joanna Wirick, life and home professional organizer at Joanna Organize, says. “What’s the room in your home that you associate as disaster or chaotic or overwhelming?”
Meet the Expert
Once you have a sense of what’s overwhelming you the most, devise a game plan. “The key to successfully completing any home organizing project is to set a specific goal,” Wirick says. “Fill in this sentence: By __ date, I will __, so that I can __.” Then, consider logistical questions—like how you plan to achieve your goal and when you can start working toward it.
If you need help getting started, though, we’ve got you covered. We asked three professional organizers (including Wirick and Markland) how they’d organize every major room in your home, and their tips are definitely worth heeding.
“For many people, the heart of the home is the kitchen,” Holly Blakey, professional organizer at Breathing Room, says. “Since we spend so much time cooking meals, reaching for snacks, and sitting down to enjoy meals together, this is a natural place to start the process.”
What You’ll Need:
- Sticky notes
- Drawer dividers
- Rolling bins (optional)
- Baskets (optional)
- Lazy Susans (optional)
- Clear storage containers (optional)
Tip 1: Declutter
“Do a good edit before you start to organize,” Markland says. “Take everything out—shelf by shelf or drawer by drawer.” Then, toss expired items, and donate any duplicates you find. “I am a big cook and baker, and even I do not need four whisks,” she adds.
While decluttering, Wirick recommends getting rid of items that don’t fit comfortably inside your drawers and cabinets. “Get rid of that potato masher that never seems to go back in right,” she says. “Invest in one that easily fits in your drawer.”
Tip 2: Use Sticky Notes to Lay Out Your Space
Once you know what you have, you need to organize it—and Markland recommends keeping your planning process flexible:
“Use sticky notes to map out the kitchen cabinets and drawers before you start to move items around.” This should help you save time and effort.
“Split up your kitchen utensil drawer,” Wirick says. “Move your cooking utensils (spoons, spatulas, flippers, tongs, etc.) to a drawer near the stove. Keep food prep utensils (can openers, juicers, garlic presses, etc.) in a drawer under your prep area.”
Tip 3: Tidy Things Up With Drawer Dividers
“Use drawer dividers to keep items organized,” Blakey says. “From organizing dish towels to utensils—these will look nice and they're super functional.” Markland agrees: “Drawer dividers and organizers are key when organizing kitchen drawers.”
Tip 4: Adjust Your Shelves
“Remember, your cabinet shelves are movable,” Wirick says. “Adjust the height so you can easily grab items.” (You can also free up space so items aren’t precariously stacked.)
Wirick recommends keeping go-to items on lower, easy-to-reach shelves. And avoid overloading your shelves. “Leave enough space so you can grab items and put them away with ease,” she says.
Tip 5: Mix and Match Your Storage Solutions
Odds are, you’ll need different kinds of storage solutions to tidy up your kitchen. “For under the kitchen sink, add in rolling bins or roll-out drawers,” Markland says. These should help you take advantage of all the space under your sink (including the space in the back).
She also recommends using baskets for snacks and breakfast items, using lazy Susans for sauces and oils, and keeping dry items in storage containers. “Don't forget to write the expiration date or cooking time (for rice, pasta) on the bottom,” she says.
How to Organize Your Living Room
The living room is a focal point in any home. And with a few simple steps, you can keep it neat and tidy.
Tip 1: Clear Off Your Coffee Table
One of the most visible items in any living room? The coffee table—so keep yours decluttered.
“Keep the coffee table clear of papers, remotes, etc.,” Wirick says. And if you want to take things to the next level, you can always decorate yours with fresh flowers or a few coffee table books.
Tip 2: Keep Remotes Where They Belong
Few things are as frustrating as going to watch the TV—only to realize you don’t know where your remote is. So give your remote a home, and keep it there. To keep your living room tidy, Wirick recommends putting away your remote every night before you go to sleep.
Tip 3: Tidy Up Dirty Dishes
Is your living room littered with dirty dishes? Put them where they belong. “Drop any empty glasses off in the kitchen,” Wirick says.
Tip 4: Fluff Your Pillows and Fold Your Blankets
“Follow this one-minute routine each night before you go to bed: Fluff decorative pillows and place them back on the couch [and] fold any blankets,” Wirick says. Come morning, your future self will thank you. “[You’ll] wake up to a calm, organized living room!” she adds.
Tip 1: Declutter Your Surfaces
Take a moment to declutter all the major surfaces in your bedroom. That includes nightstands, armoires, desks—and any other furniture in sight.
“Reduce the number of items on surfaces like your dresser and bedside table,” Blakey says. “Your bedroom should be a place of rest and calm, and eliminating surface clutter will greatly help.”
Tip 2: Make Your Bed
“Make your bed each day,” Wirick says. “This easy task takes less than 1 minute and makes a huge visual difference.” And when she says each day, she means it. “Your room [will] instantly feel more put together, and the nightly ritual of peeling back the duvet is lovely,” she says.
“If your closet is cluttered and your drawers are spilling over, it’s going to make for frustration first thing in the morning,” Blakey says. “Having a peaceful space to rest at night and get ready in the morning sets the tone for your entire day.” (In fact, if you only have time to tackle one room in your home, Blakey recommends organizing your closet.)
What You’ll Need:
- Matching hangers
Tip 1: Categorize Your Clothes
Take stock of all the clothes you own, get rid of the stuff you no longer wear, and organize the rest. Markland recommends sorting your clothes into categories (like tops, dresses, skirts, etc.), then color-coding your clothes within those categories.
“Not only will this help you get dressed, but it will also help you see what you have in your closet—looking at you, seventh white tee,” she says.
Tip 2: Streamline Your Hangers
“The biggest difference you can make in your closet is switching your hangers to matching hangers,” Markland says. “It immediately adds a sense of uniformity to your closet.”
And Wirick agrees. “Invest in the same type of hanger,” she says. “I recommend wooden hangers because they allow your clothes to breathe, rather than letting them get smashed together like they can on velvet hangers.”
Once you’ve stocked up on matching hangers, make sure your clothes are hung uniformly. “Hang all of your items facing the same direction, and make sure the top button is closed on button-ups,” Wirick says. “This keeps the look streamlined.”
Tip 3: File Fold in Your Drawers
When organizing your drawers, consider file folding your clothes, turning your folded clothes sideways, so that the folded edge of each item is visible.
“File folding in drawers will save so much space,” Blakey says. “You'll be able to see everything, and it just looks nice.”
Bathrooms see a lot of wear and tear. But the good news is that they’re small, so they should be pretty easy to tidy up. Here's what to do.
What You’ll Need:
- Stackable storage bins
- Drawer dividers
When organizing your bathroom, your storage set-up is key. And stocking up on stackable storage bins can help you make the most of your space. “Use stacking bins to maximize space under the sink,” Blakey says.
And Markland recommends doing the same with stackable drawers: “Add stackable drawers to bathroom cabinets to take advantage of the height.”
Tip 2: Sort Your Stuff With Drawer Dividers
Bathrooms are typically loaded with drawers. So naturally, it’s worth it to snag a few drawer dividers,” Wirick says. She recommends finding dividers that fit perfectly inside your drawers. And she recommends pairing taller drawers with taller dividers.
Your laundry room may be out of sight and out of mind, but don’t neglect it during your home organization process.
What You’ll Need:
- Storage containers
Tip 1: Put Clean Clothes Where They Belong
If your laundry room is littered with clean clothing, fold it and put it away. Then, stay in the habit of doing that every time you finish the laundry.
“Put away clean clothing as soon as it’s dry,” Wirick says. “Laundry rooms can instantly feel cluttered when there are stacks of clothing ready to be folded. Keep those counters and appliances clear.”
Tip 2: Keep Your Tools Organized in Containers
“One of the biggest—and quickest—upgrades you can make in your laundry room is to store your laundry tools into containers that you enjoy looking at,” Blakey says. This will make your go-to tools easier on the eyes—and easier to access.
Tips to Keep Your Home Organized Longer
Once you’ve organized your home, be sure to keep it organized. Repeat some of the smaller steps on this list every day—or at least, every week. Make your bed every morning, put dirty dishes in the kitchen every night, and put away your clothes as soon as they’re clean.
“Organization requires maintenance, just like cleaning the house,” Markland says. “But if you create a good system, it takes far less time to maintain it.”
And don’t get discouraged if things go awry. If your organization project doesn’t go the way you hoped it would, you may feel like giving up. “You may use this example as confirmation bias—to prove that you’re just not organized, which is far from the truth!” Wirick says.
“Repeat the goal setting and planning process until your project is complete,” she says. And remember to celebrate your successes. “So often, we rush onto the next thing and don’t take a moment to pat ourselves on the back,” she says.
So, congratulate yourself on your wins. And use setbacks as an opportunity to set a new, even more specific goal—then, try again.