Don’t Move, Just Reorganize

How to declutter your home

Decluttering and organizing can transform your home.
Don’t Move, Just Reorganize
Storage bins are a great way to organize many smaller items. (Igisheva Maria/Shutterstock)

Being organized is directly related to two factors: the amount of available space and the number of items to be stored in that space. When the volume of items surpasses the available space, clutter results.

There are several solutions: hold a garage sale or organize the items, both of which entail identifying anything that can be disposed of or relocated. Or, you can just give up and move to a more spacious home. The best option may be to devise a more efficient way to organize the items.

Knowing When It's Time for Action

Clutter is not all that dissimilar to dust; it starts off barely noticeable but, if left unchecked, can eventually become a problem. Being proactive can be an effective way to prevent clutter from occurring. This calls for being aware as more furniture, stereo equipment, cookware, exercise equipment, or anything else comes into the residence.

A sure sign of clutter is realizing items are stacked on top of each other. The trick is not to disregard it but rather to determine if there might not be a better, more appropriate place for the extra item or items. Living rooms tend to become cluttered, as these areas are natural gathering places and tend to have a reasonable amount of open space.

However, if the bookshelves are crowded with so many knickknacks that the books are no longer visible, there is no room to sit due to bags all over the sofa, or the tables are covered with piles of stuff, it is time to declutter.

Things Pile Up

For many people, the favored technique is to simply move the items to another room, which works for a while until those rooms become cluttered.

Kitchens are another easily cluttered room; handy new appliances such as slow cookers or air fryers take up room on countertops, and dining rooms can become a landing zone for boxes delivered by UPS or the mailman.

In the bedrooms, kids may have sports equipment piled in a corner or spilling out of the closet, while adults may use theirs to "temporarily" hold luggage or off-season clothing.

A garage is a room begging to be filled. While many people don't simply stash bicycles, lawn equipment, old furniture, and luggage into a garage, all that empty space can be tempting. A sure sign the garage is cluttered is if the car spends the night outside because there’s no room for it inside amidst all the other stuff.

What to Do With All That Clutter

Clutter happens to the best of us, so what is the solution? A basic organization technique is to place items where they belong and get rid of things no longer needed or used. This means exercise equipment goes in the home gym, which could be a dedicated corner, a bedroom, or a living room. Off-season clothes can be stored in hall closets or perhaps the garage, while holiday decorations go into the garage or attic in clearly marked boxes or containers.

Speaking of containers, bins are a great way to organize many smaller items, such as sewing supplies or book and photo collections. They are available in either solid colors or translucent shades that allow a view of the contents, and many have lids to allow them to be stacked. The danger is overuse of bins to the point of creating a wall of them, filling a room.

Another way to organize items is to add shelves to a closet or on a bedroom wall. Attics used to be the go-to place for off-season items like winter clothes and holiday decorations. Unless the home’s roofline is very low, an attic is still a handy place to stash smaller things, assuming access is easy and the attic space has not been filled with insulating foam.

Closets can be upgraded with systems such as those from firms like California Closets, which offers a system of drawers, shelves, and areas to hang clothes that can transform a closet into a shining example of organization. This can also be a DIY project, using components available at home improvement centers or made by homeowners with great woodworking skills.

Tackling the garage begins by emptying it to see what it contains, then determining what items can be disposed of, or in the case of lawn equipment, perhaps stored in a backyard shed.

Savvy homeowners and apartment dwellers adopt a rule of "not one more thing," meaning no new furniture, wall décor, bulky kitchen appliances, or a new entertainment system can come inside unless something is removed to make room for it.

If the garage is going to be used as a gym for great equipment found at a garage sale, the car might need to stay outside; if a new backyard alfresco dining set is being delivered, the old one, or perhaps the swing set, has to go.

Staying organized requires effort and discipline, but it is well worth it to come home to a neat, cozy abode.

Neatness Counts

How to organize everything.

Sell it

A garage sale is an ideal way to get rid of no-longer-needed items; be careful not to undo your hard work by bringing home more "treasures" you discover at a neighbor’s garage sale!

Organize It

Consider creating a system of shelves and drawers to transform a closet into an efficient, organized storage system. Add shelves and ceiling-mounted storage areas in the garage to make the most of every square foot of space.

Store It

If you have bulky items such as furniture or lawn equipment but no room for them in the house, consider a backyard storage shed or a self-storage facility.
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.