Conquer Your Clutter: Some Organizing Tips

September 5, 2012 Updated: April 3, 2013

By Cathy Hobbs, ASID

There are a lot of people who tend to hold onto certain items, such as mementos, clothing, and even furniture, for nostalgic reasons. When it comes time to show your home to a potential buyer, however, the sheer amount of stuff you’ve accumulated over the years can become an embarrassing problem. 

When staging a home, one of the challenges is to get the owner’s things stowed away. If you are planning to show your home, take the opportunity to cut down on your belongings.

To stay organized, follow these simple steps.

Maintain Your Wardrobe

Clean out your closet after every season. If you haven’t worn something for an entire season, chances are you probably won’t wear it next year. Unwrap dry cleaning; if you can see an item of clothing, it is easier for you to remember it is there and wear it.


When deciding what clothing to keep, ask yourself these questions:
– When was the last time I wore this item?
– Does it fit?
– Does it need mending?
– Does it have a stain on it?

After thinning out your overflowing closets, follow the “one in, one out” rule. Unless you need multiples of an item, when you buy a new white shirt, get rid of one that you already have. Taking stock of what you already own, and then committing to keeping a well-edited wardrobe, will also reduce the likelihood that you make unnecessary purchases.

The same principles apply for other items in the home. First, gather what you have, sort the items into piles for donation, trash, and keeping based on the likelihood that you will actually use them with some regularity—and then find a place for the items that are to be kept.

Best Organizing Products

When it comes to organization, in addition to new items, I also prefer using or repurposing ordinary household items into wonderful and useful organizational tools.

Here are some of my top picks:

• Using a drawer utensil divider to organize jewelry
• Using kitchen cabinets to create order and organization in a home office 
• Using a multi-drawer toolbox to organize everything from office supplies to makeup

My favorite new organizational items on the market include:
• Huggable hangers. They are slim and remarkably strong, so they reduce space and keep your closet orderly
• Clear bins. Put out-of-season items, or those you don’t use very often, in clear bins and then label with a marker or a photo that helps you identify what’s inside
• Erasable boards. They come in all sizes and you can also purchase erasable labels. Effective labeling is the key to effective storage and organization.


Five-time Emmy Award-winning television personality Cathy Hobbs is the founder of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes, a New York City-based firm specializing in interior design, home staging, and home staging training. Go to to learn more about Cathy, or to ask her a home staging or design question, send a tweet to @cathyhobbs.