5 Pro Tips to Know Before You Start Organizing

Updated 08/30/19
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At the start of the New Year, we all have the same looming to-do on our checklist: The Big Home Organization Project of 2017. It likely feels much more daunting than doable, but like any challenge, you just have to take it bird by bird. Our advice? Start with downsizing the clutter. Never mind your organizational chops (or lack thereof), because we’ve brought in expert organizers/designers Carly Waters and Shira Gill to get you out of the woods and into your dream space. And to help proffer some practical inspiration, we turned to our favorite go-to brand in times of need: IKEA

Keep reading for five stress-free tips to achieving a well-organized (and balanced) home. 

Remember: Organized Clutter Is Still Clutter

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Organizing requires strategy, of course, but in actuality, that should be the second step in your process. Rather, first scan each room and assess what stays in the “keep” or “toss” piles to clear the way for a more organized space. As seven-year decluttering vet Gill of Shira Gill Home explains, “Attempting to organize your belongings before thoroughly editing them will leave you frustrated and overwhelmed. If you get stuck, consider the vision you have for your space. Remember: Organized clutter is still clutter. Make sure you keep and invest in items you will use and love so you can feel happier at home.”

Neutral Equals Neat

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Once you square away storage, move on to choosing your colors and accent pieces to help round out the overall vibe and quiet the visual noise. Loud colors can overpower your space, but muted tans, grays, and creams accented with black keep things looking fresh and tidy. “I prefer to decorate with a neutral palette so items can be used year-round—think great bedroom staples like fluffy duvets, chunky throws, and uniform hangers—then rotating out accents to refresh,” says Gill.

Go Vertical

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The upside of being on a fast-and-furious organizational mission is that your space can surprise you with options. For example, strategically stacking your storage bins and shoe boxes atop shelving is a better way to utilize closet space than, say, tucking these bulky items into drawers or under furniture.

Waters, of her eponymously named business that merges organization and design, takes it further: “Balance comes from a clutter-free home, and the only way to achieve this is by providing designated spaces for the daily items that come into our homes. Think small bowls for keys, hooks for backpacks and jackets, and baskets for shoes.” 

Work With the Rule of "And"

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One clear sign your storage is doing right by you is if it follows the rule of “and.” An equation to explain: If Product X can do this and that, then you have a versatile piece at your disposal. A bedroom bench, for example, is an excellent area for seating and storage.

Waters’s favorite item to tuck away between seasons is bedding. “I keep two sets of sheets (and duvets) for each bed—one for the spring/summer and one for the fall/winter.” By tucking space-eating bedding away inside versatile storage pieces, you’ll keep extras out of sight and out of mind until it’s time to switch things up. 

Keep the Bathroom Minimal

IKEA

Small spaces like bathrooms may seem complicated to style, but the trick is actually thinking smaller; that’s when the possibilities start coming into focus. The bathroom is the one room in the home that requires instant utility, so it’s key to edit down to the everyday basics and keep them easy to reach. Mobility is top of mind when you need to move around this space, so foldable baskets, dividers, and mobile carts are useful rather than intrusive. “I constantly relocate first aid, medicine, nail polish, and backup products into matching labeled bins so my bathroom can feel more streamlined and minimal,” Gill says.

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