A common misconception around the idea of space in our homes is that if we had more space and a bigger home we would have no problems with clutter. Having organized homes over sixteen years, I would argue that a bigger home is not the solution to your space problem. The solution is how you use your space and how much stuff you store.
People routinely ask me to help them find space and to give them more space. During our organizing sessions, I assess the type of furniture present, the closet systems inside every closet, and the overall free space and occupied space throughout the house. Believe it or not, it’s often very easy to correct the spacial challenges and point out why they are stuck.
All of us want closet systems, products, and furniture that will practically work in our homes and keep us organized but how many buy and configure their homes with the right storage solutions? There are important criteria to consider when you’re deciding what to purchase and how to store items around the house. I will never choose beauty over functionality. Functionality wins every time in my book. When buying furniture or installing storage systems ask yourself three questions. Is this practical to use? Does this efficiently use my space and fit in my space? Does this realistically function within a family or household setting?
Six Storage Tips to Consider While Organizing
- Focus on furniture with great storage. Purchasing functional, not just stylish furniture is key. This is often where interior designers clash with organizers. Of course, we care about beauty but functionality should take precedence.The right bookcase, entertainment center, nightstand, and sideboard and china buffet can make a dysfunctional space into a working, organized system. These pieces are crucial and if you pick the right ones, they can hold a lot of stuff. Here are some examples.
- Instead of a plain four-footed coffee table, choose one with baskets or drawers underneath for storage.
- Instead of a short narrow bookcase, consider what size would hold the most and work well in the space. I’m not suggesting cover a wall full of bookshelves but if your current one is overcrowded or if you have no bookshelves, measure the wall space to maximize the bookcase size.
- Assess your nightstands. Books, tissues, a bottle of water, and phone chargers fill up the flat surface space quickly. Buy nightstands with storage to hide excess.
- Instead of an office desk with zero drawers, choose one with lots of drawers and built-in cabinets so everything isn’t out in the open cluttering up your desk.
- Stop buying in bulk. Often the reason everything doesn’t fit is that there are too many of the same kind. I know this can be a hard shift to change your mind but if you don’t have storage space, please don’t buy in bulk. It does make a big difference. Even having three extra tubes of toothpaste takes up precious space in a drawer where other more important things need to be stored that are laying all over the countertop
- Only keep what fits. I know this is strict and tough but if you only have room for ten water glasses, then keep ten. If your front closet only holds fifteen winter coats, narrow down your amount to fifteen. Before you shop, or as you’re shopping, consider where you’ll store what you’re buying and bringing home. Hopefully, this will change shopping patterns to help you have the home environment that you want.
- Think through your vertical door space. Is it usable and underutilized? Could you add hooks, a rack system, or a pocket organizer?
- Use your wall space. Consider using hooks and free-floating shelving. Add hooks to a mudroom, entryway, or hallway to hold coats, purses, and backpacks. Adding a shelf above a piano could hold a pencil cup and metronome for practicing. Small free-floating shelves in a bathroom could hold perfume or small jars of toiletries. It adds more usable space to a sometimes small, cramped space.
- Invest in good closet systems. They make a huge difference in maintaining the organization. If ANY of your closets are just a rod and top shelf, it’s time to redo the closet. The only exception I make is a front hall closet. That’s allowed to just have a rod and shelf but the rest of your closets deserve better. The job of a closet is to store, hold, and keep things out of sight but accessible in an organized fashion. They can’t do their job well if we don’t outfit them with functioning structure.