First Thing First–purge! No matter what room you decide to start with, please please purge. You need two containers–a trash bag, for any garbage you find (like wrappers, old magazines, old mail, etc…); and a box or bag– we’ll call that one “Give Away”.
Once you’ve got that squared away, ask yourself these questions for every item:
-When’s the last time I used this? (If your answer is “longer than a year ago”, it’s time to let go–stick it in the “Give Away” container. If you’ve used the item within the last six months, hold onto it for now.)
-Do I suspect I’ll need this by the end of this year? (If you answer “no”, it belongs in the “Give Away”.)
NOTE: there are a few things to look out for! Shoes that are too small, clothes you’ve never worn (or worn only once), that shirt you hate but still keep for some reason, any gently used toys and books that your kids haven’t touched since Christmas…two years ago. These are all quick and easy “Give Away” items!
After you’ve purged the room, you’ve got to figure out what to do with whatever’s left…
Bathroom–an orderly bathroom is a clean and safe bathroom! Once you’ve gotten rid of old loofahs, those weird slivers of soap, and mostly empty shampoo bottles, organization comes easy.
-For your large, clunky bathroom appliances (like blow dryers, curling and straightening irons, etc…) check out your local dollar store for Command hooks and plastic baskets. You can mount the basket to a wall, cabinet or just the side of your sink counter for easy storage.
-Two recycled milk crates make for amazing, waterproof under-sink storage. In one, you can put extra toilet paper, paper towels, pads, tampons and the like. The other, put cleaning supplies like mirror cleaner, rubber gloves, scouring pads, Clorox wipes, and a toilet brush and plunger!
-Shallow wine crates can be mounted flat against the wall (four screws through the bottom of the crate into the studs in the wall) to create awesome shelves. You can make one for every member of your family to hold their toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, perfume, retainers, glasses, etc. You can add even more by installing a ring holder (so you can take your rings off before your shower and store them safely), and screw a hook to the bottom, to hang your loofahs or washcloths!
Master Bedroom–your bedroom should be a place of peace. This means cutting clutter and creating balance in your space, so you can sleep easy and wake rested and refreshed!
-No Tech! If you’ve got a TV or game system in your bedroom, that’s already a big no-no. Experts even suggest keeping your cellphone in a separate room, to cut the temptation to stay awake playing Candy Crush.
-Laundry hack! You know those awesome one dollar tote bags you can buy at most stores, in lieu of using a million plastic bags? TJ Maxx always has really cute ones! Did you also know that those hold exactly one load of laundry when full? For just five or six dollars, you can cut your laundry clutter big time. Even better? They store flat (unlike bulky baskets and hampers) and come with built-in handles!
-Under-the-bed storage is a godsend, especially if your bedroom is on the smallish side. You can store shoes, extra bedding and pillows, a keepsake box, even a box of extra cables and chargers right under the bed! Need some more space? Consider picking up a set of bed risers, that’ll add some extra inches!
-TJ Maxx offers an awesome closet accessory that’ll help keep your jewelry organized and out of that junk drawer! A hanging jewelry keeper—it hangs just like your favorite blouse, but holds up to 75 pieces of jewelry in clear pockets so you can find what you’re looking for, fast!
Kid’s Bedroom—your child’s bedroom(s) offer a whole new challenge. Why? Toys. Legos, Hot Wheels, tiny Barbie shoes, marbles, puzzle pieces…otherwise known as vacuum killers. Kids tend to play with reckless abandon, and thus, that spotless floor will get wrecked faster than you can say “My Little Pony”. But adding some fun ways to organize might just save your vacuum…and your sanity.
-Back to the dollar store for their amazing plastic shoeboxes and a stack of sticky labels. They’re clear and durable with locking lids and they stack like a dream. We recommend grabbing at least five per child, but you’re definitely going back to get more. We promise. Store anything from toy cars to dolls and accessories, as well as art supplies and much more. They’re so versatile, and they fit nicely under beds or on shelves. Once you’ve designated a box (as say, the “paint” box), write out a label and stick it to the front so you can quickly and easily find what you’re looking for!
-Color code your hangers! Buy a different color set of hangers for each of your children—then you don’t have to look through each item to find what belongs to who when you’re putting the clothes away (or trying to dress the kids in the morning!) You can do the same with baskets of socks and underwear, too.
-Twice a year (around the child’s birthday, and around Christmas, go through a “give away” purge with your child. They’ll learn what it is to give, and you’ll have room to arrange their new gifts.
Kitchen—this is the big one. Kitchens are the heart of the home! This is where you cook, you clean up, you eat with your family…and it can become a crazy dumping ground for backpacks, old homework, mail, lunchboxes and coats if you’re not careful!
-Makeshift mudroom—not everyone has a buffer zone between the outside world and the kitchen. If you don’t have a mudroom, pick the next best thing—maybe a stretch of wall or an entry hall. Add a bench (either with under storage or someplace to store shoes) and a set of hooks on the wall. Each family member will get their own hooks and own place for their shoes. You can even use smaller Command hooks to hang lunchboxes or a basket for gloves and hats! While you’re there, add a place for keys and mail, to keep them off the counters!
-Look at your ever-growing stack of kitchen utensils. It’s out of hand, we know. You can upcycle an oatmeal canister by covering it with contact paper or paint to make kitchen tool holders!
-IMPORTANT TIP: if you’ve still, in this day in age, got metal kitchen tools (like spatulas, tongs, whisks, ladles, slotted spoons, etc…), get rid of them! Most of us have a nonstick coating on our pots and pans, and all-metal utensils scrape the dickens out of that coating until it’s non-nonstick, if you catch our drift. Switch out for nylon or silicone kitchen tools to protect your pans! Same goes for glass cutting boards on your precious knives—just don’t do it. Bamboo or plastic. It’ll save you money and hassle!
-Consider putting a multi-tiered lazy Susan in your spice cupboard—so you can find every spice you’re looking for easily, as well as any other tiny kitchen essentials, like bamboo skewers, toothpicks, twist ties, etc…
-You can use Command hooks to hang up your pots and pans and their lids! Enough said.
-Dollar Tree carries some wonderful drawer organizers for your silverware drawer! Made of durable plastic, they’ll stand up against all kinds of abuse. Even better, you can buy them in sets of three and move them around however suits your drawer. And if they ever get dirty, just pop them in the dishwasher! (Oh, and while you’re over at the silverware drawer, now might be the time to find all those weird, lonely spoons and mismatched forks that clearly migrated from some other universe and get rid of them!)