Popular opinion: We all strive to be better. If you’re setting goals to improve your relationships, career, and overall wellness, the list should start with an organized space where you can be the best version of yourself. After all, how can you constructively improve when your closet is overflowing, your entryway console is stacked with mail, your kitchen sink is filled with dishes, and your pantry is packed with expired food? That’s where learning how to declutter your home comes in.
Just like a clear inbox can make you feel more efficient, a well-organized home can boost your productivity levels. To help you start on the right foot, we tapped de-cluttering and organization expert Julia Pinsky of the Pinsky Project. Ahead, glean a few of her best general tips for getting your home in tip-top shape. Then, find out how professional organizer Shira Gill would approach each room in your house.
Don’t wait any longer to tackle your clutter. Start with a clean slate by using these decluttering tips in your own home ASAP.
01 of 19
Avoid Dumping Small Things on Tables
Though it might be convenient, dumping your keys, wallet, mail, etc. on a small table will make your house feel cluttered, fast. “Generally, when things get strewn all over, it’s because they don’t have a clear or intuitive place to go,” Gill says. Invest in hooks, catch-all trays, and under-bench storage so that everything (from keys to shoes) has a place.
02 of 19
Be Smart With Storage
Consider what kind of storage you’re investing in and make sure it works for your house and family. “Sturdy hooks work well for coats, dog leashes, and bags,” Gill adds. “Make sure the hooks are mounted at arm’s reach for kids’ backpacks and jackets so they can be responsible for their own things.” Shoe shelves, cubbies, or labeled bins and baskets will do the trick if you are a no-shoe household.
03 of 19
Divide and Conquer the Mess
In order to organize more efficiently, get everything out before you begin. “Take everything out of the medicine cabinet, and clear out drawers and shelves so you can edit before you organize,” Gill suggests. Once you have edited, you can relocate extra towels, occasional-use products, first aid, and medications into labeled bins in your linen closet. Drawer dividers or shallow bins will keep your toiletries and makeup organized in the bathroom.
04 of 19
Store Fewer Products
Quality over quantity holds true in your closet, and it can also apply to your bathroom. “Treat yourself to high-quality makeup, perfume, hand soap, and bath products, since they are items you use every single day,” Gill continues. After all, the more good quality products you have, the less frequently you’ll need to replace them.
05 of 19
Hang Some Hooks
No cabinets? No problem. Hooks are the solution you’ve been waiting for to contain your clutter in the bathroom. “Hooks are handy for hanging bath and hand towels, robes, and even watches or jewelry for when you are showering or washing your face,” Gill notes. If you’re short on storage space or don’t have a linen closet, don’t waste your cabinet space on clunky towels. Hang them up!
06 of 19
Don’t Neglect Your Counters
If your kitchen feels cluttered at all times, you’re definitely not alone—but there is a solution. Just make sure everything has its own unique place. “Kitchen surfaces tend to be a magnet for clutter,” says Pinsky. “The buildup happens when household items, mail, and paperwork don’t have a clearly assigned home. Take a few minutes to relocate what doesn’t belong in the kitchen and make sure to assign a permanent home for items like mail or current work projects that get dumped on your counter and turn into stacks of clutter.”
She has a point. These items may be small, but they can pile up pretty quickly and create an instant mess.
07 of 19
Edit Your Pantry
Just because it’s behind a closed door doesn’t mean it should be a mess. Cleaning up your pantry not only is aesthetically pleasing, but it also will make it easier to find things when you’re looking for them in a hurry. “Give your pantry a clean slate by taking everything out, wiping down shelves, and eliminating any expired items,” Pinsky continues. “Any unwanted products can be composted or donated to your local food bank. Once you’ve edited, take the time to group similar items together by type—pasta and grains, snacks and sweets.”
Once you have grouped everything by type, you can store items according to usage—items you use every day like breakfast cereal should be stored at arm’s reach, while holiday baking items can be tucked away on a high shelf.
08 of 19
Streamline and Strategize
Do you lust after Pinterest-worthy clean and orderly pantries? We promise, yours too can look like that. “For a stylish and sustainable pantry makeover, airtight labeled jars create a clean, streamlined look, and they keep your snack and pantry items fresher for longer,” Pinsky adds. “Using clear jars maximizes space and also makes it easy to see when items need to be replenished. Once you are all set up, it’s easy to restock your pantry by shopping in the bulk bins at your local market.” Nothing feels more organized than labels, right?
09 of 19
Refresh Your Nightstand
Clear your nightstand completely and wipe it down for a fresh start. Relocate any unnecessary or misplaced items, and stock your nightstand drawer with only the essentials: reading glasses, current books or magazines, lip balm, hand cream, or anything else you like regular access to before sleep.
Pinsky instructs, “Select a few pretty objects to style the surface of your nightstand. I find that intentionally styled surfaces discourage the dreaded clutter piles from forming. Favorite styling objects include fresh flowers or a potted plant, scented candles, pretty rocks or sculptural objects, a ceramic dish for jewelry, and framed photos.”
10 of 19
Make Your Bed
Making your bed is the simplest thing you can do to make your bedroom look instantly clean and put together. “In most bedrooms, the bed takes up the single largest percentage of space. So just by pulling your covers up and fluffing a few pillows, your room will look instantly more pulled together and polished,” Gill adds. “Think about how good it feels to check into a nice hotel. Why not create a relaxing sanctuary in your own home?” You get to decide how your space looks and feels, so make it feel as lovely and restorative as possible!
11 of 19
Clean out Your Closet
“Most people have overstuffed closets filled with items they rarely or never wear,” Gill admits. “Imagine if your closet was like a well-curated boutique filled with items that you loved.” Take some time to select the clothes that make sense for your weekly routine (work, fitness, events) and also fit and flatter your body.
Donate or consign the rest and make sure to keep a basket or tote bag accessible for storing donations as they arise. When the bag is full, drop off the donations so you can maintain a streamlined closet.
While a one-time clean-out is great, consider editing and organizing your closet once per season (four times a year) so that you ensure you’re staying on top of the clutter and regularly eliminating pieces that you just don’t or won’t wear any longer.
12 of 19
Always losing track of that one random shirt, dress, or pair of pants? It’s time to create zones. “Try to keep everyday wardrobe staples visible for easy access and formal, seasonal, and occasional items in the back of the closet or on a high shelf,” Pinsky encourages. “Formal shoes can be stored on high shelves stacked in clear shoe boxes. Flip-flops, sandals, and sneakers work well in a round basket on the floor for easy access.” Think about what you wear the most and start there, making sure it’s easily accessible and readily available.
13 of 19
Banish Wire Hangers
Wire hangers are a no-go if you want your closet to feel sleek and streamlined. Instead, opt for a chic wooden or velvet hanger to instantly make your closet feel more luxe. “Create a stylish, streamlined look by using uniform hangers and arranging hanging items by type, style, and color,” Gill instructs. “Pick one style and color of bin or basket for accessories to keep everything looking clean and easy on the eyes.”
14 of 19
Tailor Organization to Your Life
Before you do anything, stop and think about your lifestyle and what your needs are. “Think through how you want to use the living room and what items you need to facilitate the activities you partake in often,” Gill notes. “For example, if you want to spend time relaxing, reading, and watching TV, make sure there are comfy pillows and blankets, well-stocked bookshelves, magazine holders, and a tray to corral remotes. Other items should be relocated or stored elsewhere.”
15 of 19
Opt for Stylish Storage
Storage doesn’t have to mean ugly plastic bins. There are plenty of chic, stylish options (think rattan baskets or wooden chests) that can double as décor. “There is no good reason to fill your living spaces with storage solutions that don’t reflect your taste or style,” Gill adds. “Woven baskets are a much more stylish alternative to the plastic bins and poorly made storage cubbies I see cluttering up most living rooms and family rooms. Whether you need to store laundry, toys, blankets, or even firewood, try up-leveling your storage with some beautiful (and practical) open baskets.”
16 of 19
Create Dining Stations
If you don’t have a designated spot for your table linens and serving essentials, now is the time to create it. “Take a cue from the restaurant industry and set up a station stocked with all your eating and entertaining essentials,” Pinsky suggests. “If you don’t have built-in storage, a simple credenza or cabinet is perfect for storing napkins, placemats, tablecloths, candles, serving utensils, salt and pepper, and anything else you use for dining and hosting.” It always helps to store things where you use them and this simple setup ensures that everything you need will be at arm’s reach come dinnertime.”
17 of 19
Short on space? You don’t have to take up precious floor space—instead, create more storage by thinking vertically.” Maximize vertical space by installing wall shelves,” Gill starts. “Stock the shelves with books, jars, pictures, and anything else you love to look at on the daily. If adding built-ins isn’t an option, you can also buy a set of bookcases.
18 of 19
Clutter tends to build up in the laundry room since the space is out of sight and out of mind. But now is the time to get a handle on the mess. In your laundry room, decant powdered detergent into clear jars with scoops so you can see when you’re running low. Pinsky adds, “Stain removers and liquid soap can be poured into olive oil jars with spouts for spill-proof pouring.”
19 of 19
Sort Your Clothes
No one likes doing laundry, but with some strategic organization, you can make the task more efficient and get it done much quicker. “Save time by pre-sorting whites and darks in a divided laundry bin,” Gill instructs. “Keep a labeled canvas tote in your closet for dry cleaning and repairs and a small bin is handy for tossing unmatched socks. If you don’t find a mate within a month, it’s safe to say ‘adieu’ to those solo socks.” We never thought we’d learn any tips that would make doing laundry enjoyable, but this one did the trick.
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