Organize your home: 12 tips from the experts

We asked professional home organizers to share their best tips

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Let things marinate

Let things marinate

When you’re organizing, sort everything into five piles: “move to another room,” “donate,” “give to a specific person,” “throw away” and, finally, the “marinating” pile. Pack up all the marinating items, and label the box with a date that’s six to 12 months later. If you don’t open the box before that date, you can safely discard those items.

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Move forward-not backwards

Move forward-not backwards

Don’t call a personal organizer and say you need help adding storage for all your stuff. That’s just backwards. Your goal should be to remove the clutter, not create more storage space.

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Find its place

Find its place

Good news from the pros: Being organized doesn’t mean everything is in its place; it means everything has a place. If you can get your house ready for a surprise guest in 30 minutes or less, then you’re organized.

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Frame works of art

Parents feel so guilty about throwing away their children’s artwork. An art frame, such as this one by Snap ($20, is a great solution. It’s a frame you can hang on the wall, but its hinged door allows you to easily store even more pieces of art inside it.

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Invest in a label maker

Your family will be very grateful later if you label and organize your photos now and if you stick a note on keepsakes explaining details of their significance. When settling estates, it’s frustrating to the next generation when they don’t understand why something was left to them.

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Give up that rented storage unit

You could probably buy all the stuff in it for the price of the annual rental fee-not to mention the cost of the U-Haul that got it all there.

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Donate, donate, donate

You could sell unused items on eBay, but do you want to get organized, or start a career hawking stuff? Unless you need the money, give things away to charities and at community donation centres; it saves time and allows you to move on.

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Dress up flat surfaces

Countertops and tables quickly become drop zones for clutter. If you have a dining table, for example, that is always getting covered with junk, clear it off, put a flower arrangement in the middle, and add actual place settings. That should prevent people from parking stuff there.

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Make your car work for you

Anything that needs to go somewhere should be in your car, not in your house. Keep your shopping coupons there in a clear folder so they’re within reach when needed. Get an errand basket for the trunk to hold items to be returned. Use crates to store kids’ car toys and emergency supplies.

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Make adjustments

For extra storage in the kitchen, you could reposition cabinet shelves to create more space.

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Don’t put a lid on it

Avoid lids on laundry baskets, bins and other storage containers. They just make it that little bit harder for you to put things away.

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Avoid cardboard boxes for storage

One professional we spoke with recalled a client who needed help carrying a bunch of cardboard storage boxes into her newly renovated house. As they opened the first one, out came hundreds of cockroaches. (Ew!) You name the pest; you can be assured that it loves cardboard.


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