I think a lot of people confuse having a clean home with an organised one. And yes, they are similar when you’re talking about being able to relax in your home and not see piles of stuff everywhere but they aren’t exactly the same thing. Organising is essentially the step you need to take to make cleaning a lot more manageable. For me, making sure everything has a place to go ensures the cleaning and tidying process to go without a hitch.
And while our current home is larger than our previous home, the natural inclination to fill every available space with crap is still there. Despite the fact that we have a few rooms that look pretty decent now, we still have areas that we haven’t quite managed to do any work to and seemingly, they just become magnets for clutter. So my tips today are not just to share how I try to keep my home organised but also a reminder to myself that its possible to even get the worst rooms in my home under control.
So I thought I’d take you around my home to show you some of the areas that have made tidying and organising that much easier for me. But before you do anything else, you need to start with what might be the hardest step…
Edit and De-Clutter
Ahh yes. We might want to run out and buy a bunch of those big plastic storage containers and just throw all our shit in there. But, trust me on this, this is not the answer to an organised home. Not yet anyway. Because what ends up happening is you throw all the stuff you don’t feel like dealing with in those containers and you just forget you even have it. And now you have these boxes full of stuff cluttering up your loft space, under your bed, under your stairs and well, what’s the point of that?
So first things first, for every area of your home that seems to invite clutter, take it in turns to pull everything out and assess what you already own. Make four piles – one to keep, one to sell, one to donate, one to bin – and be ruthless about what is staying in your home. When we were preparing to sell, I shared four questions I would ask myself before deciding what would be coming with us to the new house and what wouldn’t.
These are the four questions: Is it useful? Is it valuable? Is it beautiful? Is it loved? Click the link to read further about those questions and how they’ll help you make a decision in terms of whether things stay or go.
This step will normally take the longest and be the most work but once this first de-cluttering step is taken, only then can you really understand your own unique storage requirements. It’ll also make you more aware of the space you do have to utilise, especially if you’re working with a smaller space. Be aware that even larger spaces come with their own complications and challenges because we may have a tendancy to hang on to things for much longer than we need to, simply because there’s room for it.
And trust me when I say this part of the process is on-going. I try to do a big declutter at least two or three times a year. It’s amazing how quickly things can pile up again when we’re not paying attention!
Living Room Organising Tips
In my own living room, I have plenty of areas to display things but my shelving unit holds lots of my interior design books (which I tend to hoard), there are even more books in the unit the TV is sat upon (this is also where the remote controls are left when the TV isn’t in use) and the vintage white cabinet holds a lot of smaller decorative pieces, candles, my incense collection, tealights etc behind those doors.
You may need more storage yourself so look out for pieces that do double duty like a coffee table that has drawers or shelves. Baskets are great in shelving units as well as they’ll hide all the stuff you might need access to but don’t need to look at on an everyday basis. If you have children, then using baskets in shelving units is a great way to store toys or games that can easily be tidied away when playtime is done.
You can also use baskets to hold throws or cushions. One of our baskets next to the fireplace holds wood for the fireplace as well. The nicest thing about baskets is that they are easily moved about, depending on where you want to use them. Stick a couple next to the sofa, in the alcoves, in the bay window – wherever you need a spot to store things.
Kitchen Organising Tips
As you probably know, I decided to incorporate a number of different options when I was designing my kitchen – from big pull out drawers instead of cabinets, to open shelving to a full-height pantry. While it was amazing being able to think about my storage requirements from scratch when this kitchen was designed, until this point, I have lived with and updated inherited kitchens pretty much since leaving home.
One thing you may want to consider is utilising whatever wall space you have to get creative with storage. I included an idea that I’d had in my old kitchen: a rail that goes along the underside of the shelves, perfect for freeing up space in cabinets or drawers for things like mugs and utensils. We tend to forget about vertical space but if you have a spot you can include some open shelving, hooks and rails are a great way to keep things within easy reach and I love that they add a bit of a decorative element as well.
For open shelving, I would always advise you to display those items you use every day – our most used glasses, plates and bowls are all stored here which means that you’re not needing to constantly clean the items stored. Inside the cabinets, look out for space-saving solutions like spice racks, plate racks and wire shelving and think about decanting dry goods into glass storage jars which not only look good but also tell you at a glance when it’s time to restock.
Bathroom Organising Tips
If you’re following along in our home journey here on the blog, you’ll know what I recently refreshed our bathroom and I followed that up with a post with how much storage I was able to incorporate into such a small space. But for those who may have missed that one, we have a small medicine cabinet, hooks for towels on the back of the door, a bit of open shelving, baskets to hold dirty laundry, extra loo roll and clean towels and I even have a little washbag to contain things that simply don’t need to be out.
Keep things as streamlined as possible by getting rid of products you aren’t using and try to incorporate a medicine cabinet taking advantage of vertical storage. If you can, a closed vanity is a great way to keep clutter at bay. I’m currently trying to convince Wayne we could easily share the same shampoo and conditioner to simply cut down on the number of bottles hanging out in the tub.
If you do have a vanity unit, think about baskets for open shelves and use drawer dividers to stash things into categories or by family member to prevent them from becoming a dumping ground. You might want to incorporate a stylish tray on the side of the sink to corral everyday items like handsoap or lotion or consider decanting items like cotton wool pads or cotton buds into stylish glass storage containers.
Bedroom Organising Tips
So the bedroom is another spot that tends to be a magnet for clutter – and that’s normally clothing clutter, laundry clutter, makeup clutter – you know the drill. Now, I realise I’m exceptionally privileged in this regard because it’s only two of us in this four-bedroom house so we have the space to spread out a bit in terms of bedrooms. One of the spare bedrooms is a combined space for my office and dressing room and then I also have a tiny little walkthrough space which holds my vanity unit so all my makeup/hair stuff and shoes are stored in there. And Wayne has the box room which has his own wardrobe and desk space.
However, as I said before, while it may seem hard to believe, having a larger space to spread out isn’t always such a great thing. It just means we end up hoarding more because we don’t notice it encroaching in the space quite as much. Despite having more space, I don’t enjoy a huge amount of clutter so I have a one-in-one-out rule for shoes and about twice a year I do a big wardrobe clearout of things I know I haven’t worn in ages. Over the last year or two, I’ve been concentrating on buying higher quality clothing but less of it. Years ago, I used to buy a lot of fast fashion but I find that if I buy one investment piece, I’ll get far more wear out of it than 10 items of clothing that I’ll only wear for a season.
I purposely chose bedside tables with drawer space just to store things like books I’m currently reading, handcream, tissues and whatever else I may need to hand. And if, like me, you don’t have a lot of closet space, free-standing wardrobes are your likely solution. I currently have a hanging rail but I’m desperate to get rid of it as I feel like it looks a bit cluttered. Built in wardrobes are always the best use of space if you can spare it but consider utilising the tops of wardrobes with large baskets or store out-of-season items or extra bedding in luggage or large baskets. Consider using drawer dividers in chests of drawers to keep smaller items organised and if you can squeeze it in, a blanket box or ottoman (rather than just a bench) for the end of the bed is another great double-duty storage option.
Home Office Organising Tips
It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed with miscellaneous paperwork, receipts, invoices and more clutter up our working spaces. I work from home so I know this first hand! I try not to keep physical copies of things if I don’t need to, preferring to scan items and storing them in a cloud system rather than holding on to lots of paperwork that needs to be filed. It’ll reduce the amount of storage you need if you’re able to reduce piles of paperwork.
Despite the fact my office is going to be completely overhauled later this year, I’ll be looking for ways to incorporate smart storage throughout. I realised I probably don’t need as much as I do right now and while that may seem counter-productive to reduce the storage, I am hoping it’ll simply keep me even more organised to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand. Currently, I have a desk with drawers and a sideboard which holds all manner of items from photography equipment, power leads, chargers and paperwork
In the future, I’m hoping to incorporate some bookshelves into the room which will include baskets to hide away the items I need access to but don’t need out on display. When it comes to your home office, I think its important to think about how the space will be used first and foremost and what you need to get out of the space. Most of what I do is online so filling drawers with unnecessary items simply becomes hidden clutter. You may need shelving, filing cabinets or storage boxes but don’t run out and buy anything until you’re sure you’re making the best use of your space.
I’ve tried to give an overview here as I was chatting about the entire home but where do you struggle to keep things organised? Any tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!