It’s common for people to accumulate a lot of stuff. Whether the belongings are sentimental, for a job, or for kids, they can quickly become unmanageable. If your home is full of clutter, it may be hard to relax, spend time with family, or entertain guests. Messes can be especially tough to handle if you work from home or have a large family. However, you can turn your home into a peaceful and relaxing haven by taking a few simple steps to manage your space.
Before spending your day sorting through old boxes or organizing your collection of pens, consider these storage hacks to help you get the most out of your space. Whether you live in an apartment in Boston, MA, or a house in Round Rock, TX, read on to take control of your home.
1. Designate spaces for your items
Before using clever storage solutions, start simple and figure out what you need and what you don’t. Decluttering and organizing are essential before putting anything in boxes.
Start by going through your home and designating certain items to specific spaces. As you do this, remember that “boundaries are your friend,” notes Emily McDermott, owner of Simple by Emmy. “For example, if you decide to only keep books on two bookshelves in your living room, take all the books off the shelves, clean the shelves, and then put only your favorite books back.”
When you run out of space in one room, store or donate whatever doesn’t fit and move on to the next room.
2. Create a home for every belonging
Every item should have a home in the space where you use it most. For example, “if you often play board games or snuggle under blankets in your living room, it may make sense to create a dedicated space for them,” says Alexa Cohn, Creative Director of Sort Joy. “This way, they’re easy to access and put away.”
3. Remove anything that doesn’t serve the function of the space
As you move through your home, keep an eye out for items that don’t fit – perhaps an old pair of shoes or a box of books from high school. Kate Englebrecht, owner of Home Love Method, suggests putting these things in their proper locations or getting rid of them. “For example, if you have office papers or old clothing in your living room, put these items where they belong,” she says.
Additionally, try to declutter regularly; if it’s easy, it won’t feel like a chore.
4. Group similar items together
As you continue decluttering, try to stay organized and “only keep belongings if they have a home,” notes Kristin Vreeland from Bee Organized. “Additionally, group similar items together to allow for easy access.” Also, this method lets you know if you have too much of one item.
Another reason to keep similar items together is to “showcase their meaning,” suggests Jessica Litman, CEO of The Organized Mama. “Show off what you have by creating an organized space for them.”.
Now that your preliminary decluttering process is complete, it’s time to move on to storing the items you have left.
5. Make use of bins
Bins are a simple and effective way to organize your belongings. Rachel Murphy from Simplify My Life suggests keeping a bin by the door for your keys, sunglasses, phone, and wallet. “Using storage bins is a great way to create zones for your room to operate while keeping your clutter at bay,” she says.
If you have kids, Maria Baer, owner of The Baer Minimalist, recommends using well-placed bins to make organizing easier. “Bins create a system that even your kids can help maintain,” she says. “For example, small, low bins can add semi-hidden storage to the lower level of a coffee table.”
6. Designate bins for donations
If your home often accumulates clutter, it may be a good idea to keep a few bins throughout your house for donations. “Many rooms in a home become a catch-all for clutter,” notes the team at Organized Jane. “Help by keeping a large donation bin in your living room to encourage everyone to get rid of what they don’t need.” Make a few trips to the donation center throughout the year to avoid unnecessary clutter buildup.
7. If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it
Stuffing items into a bin doesn’t help you in the long run; it just creates a headache later. To help, only store items that fit comfortably and “don’t cram anything into a bin to make room for more,” advises Tracy Bowers from Organize Simply. “When everything has a place and fits nicely, you’ll be able to enjoy your peaceful home much more. “
8. Use baskets to hide unwelcome messes
Baskets can be a great alternative to bins; they’re customizable, stylish, and can fit the aesthetic of whatever room you put them in. They’re especially great for bedrooms, sitting rooms, and living rooms.
As the colder months approach, Caroline Guntur, Organizing & Productivity Coach with The Swedish Organizer, LLC, suggests corralling cozy blankets, pillows, and slippers into a stylish basket. “This way, you can have quick access to them on movie nights,” she says.
Baskets can also hide a lot of mess in a matter of seconds. “If you have a lot of blankets in your living room, get a large, quirky basket that you can throw them into so you never have to fold them again,” says Erika Barczak, Principal Designer and owner of Spruce Austin. “If you have a lot of remotes and electronics, get a few small baskets to hide the clutter.”
9. Blend storage into your space
As you incorporate more storage solutions into your home, keeping your style intact is important. Don’t let bins and baskets overrun your space.
“Choose organizing products that fit your style,” notes Laura Bostrom from Everyday Order. “If you keep blankets or toys in your living room, choose a basket that seamlessly blends into the space.”
10. Get a handle on your books
Books are one of the most common clutter culprits. Without proper storage, it’s easy for them to overrun your home. “Pare your living room book collection down to essential references and important books only,” advises Julie Bestry, Certified Professional Organizer with Best Results Organizing. “Instead of keeping books piled up on coffee tables and in stacks on the floor, invest in a high-quality, stylish bookcase.”
Jenn Jordan from Orjenise recommends being honest about whether you will read the books you have. “If you aren’t reading them, either put them away or get rid of them,” she says.
You can also splurge on a Kindle or tablet to simplify your situation.
11. Utilize vertical storage solutions
With the proper storage, you can easily store supplies without cluttering up your space. This can be an excellent option for books, bins, photos, and more. Carly Adams, owner of Tidy Revival, suggests utilizing a mix of shelves and bookcases. She also recommends labeling bins, baskets, and shelving for quick access.
If you’re looking for a cheap DIY shelving system, floating shelves can be a quick and easy option. All you need is wood, a hammer, glue, and nails. Just make sure you install them securely.
12. Try using functional furniture
Stylish, multi-purpose storage solutions are perfect for most homes, especially homes with large living areas. Opt for baskets that double as decor, or “get an ottoman with hidden storage,” says Leigh Achenbach, owner of Suddenly Simple Professional Organizing. “Whatever organizational system you choose, keep it simple. Simple organization makes cleaning up quick and easy.”
Ruthie Staalsen, owner of Ruthie Staalsen Interiors, also suggests using ottomans for simple and practical storage. “They’re perfect for living rooms,” she says. “Slide ottoman cubes underneath coffee tables for a layered look. They usually have storage underneath, which is great for clutter like toys, blankets, and more.”
13. Make a plan for toys
With kids comes an abundance of clutter, the most common of which are toys. To avoid a toy takeover, “try pulling your living room couch two to three feet out from the wall and store toys behind it,” suggests MaryJo Monroe, owner of reSPACEd. “This way, your kids can still have access when they want them, and the toys are out of sight when playtime is over.”
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by toys. “Before throwing them all in a basket, sort through the toys with your kids to decide what to keep and what to throw away,” advises Emily Rooney, founder of Happy Organized Life. “Next, consider creative storage solutions – like baskets, bins, and ottomans – that can keep toys hidden and accessible.”
14. Pay attention to small items
It’s easy for small items to overrun your home. Remotes, sunglasses, books, and chargers are some common culprits. Alleviate the clutter by “designating a home for these belongings when they’re not in use,” says Cindy Greenleaf from New Leaf Organizing, a member of NAPO Michigan. “Additionally, functional furniture is a great two-in-one option if you have the budget.”
Make sure your small items have a home; when they do, cleaning up is quick and straightforward. For example, “take five minutes before you leave the living room and put anything you brought in with you back to where it belongs,” notes Pauline Hoffman, Certified Professional Organizer with Just In Time Solutions.
15. Create a sanctuary for yourself
Often, kids can overrun a home. To prevent this, try using smart storage hacks to create an adult sanctuary. “Start by confining toys to the kids’ bedrooms or playrooms,” suggests Kat Reichmuth, founder of The Simplified Life. “If they have playtime in the living room or family room, only bring in toys while they’re playing with them.”
Also, if you have a large home, you can designate a floor for kids’ belongings rather than a single room. Consider your budget, situation, and family when deciding how to create an adult haven.
16. Pay special attention to family photos
Many families keep photo albums throughout their homes, especially in living rooms. If you notice your family photos are covered in dust, “consider digitizing them,” suggests Mitch Goldstone, President and CEO of ScanMyPhotos.com. “Photo archival companies can help by providing same-day scanning and organizing solutions for everything from pictures, 35mm slides, film negatives, VHS tapes, and home movie film.”
If you want to keep physical copies of your photos, make sure to label and organize them before putting them in scrapbooks or hanging them on your walls.
17. Involve your family
Remember, your family lives under one roof, so everyone needs to help out. To quickly declutter your home, “establish rules for your family to make the process more efficient,” suggests Julie Coraccio from Reawaken Your Brilliance. “Be sure to focus on the present moment and work together.” Assign jobs if some family members are unclear.
Additionally, family cleaning shouldn’t be a one-time event, no matter how much everyone complains. Audra George from Pretty Neat advises planning a few minutes every day to clean and declutter. “These few minutes can add up to big things in your home, including more family time and less stress,” she says.
Another way to involve your family is to tie organization to rewards. “Try offering a reward for everyone who keeps their room neat for a week,” says Jenny Morin, Certified Professional Organizer with Efficient Spaces. “Surprise ‘inspections’ of their rooms can keep them motivated,” she notes.
18. Only keep family essentials
Take a poll in your family of what items they value most. This way, you can designate storage for things that matter. For example, if your family likes games, keep a stack of five or six at a time in your family room for easy access and store the rest. “Rotate other games in and out every month or two to keep everyone engaged,” says Melissa Corriveau, owner of Life with Less Mess.
19. Maintain your decluttered home
Now that you’ve worked your way through your home and organized your belongings, it’s time to build it into a habit. Because you’ve already incorporated simple storage solutions, this should be pretty simple.
Importantly, “don’t make this process a chore,” notes Elizabeth Nosal from The Modern Tidy. “At the end of the evening, turn on relaxing music and allow yourself a short time to fold blankets, fluff pillows, and declutter,” she says. “When you’re done, treat yourself to something small.”
There are also a few simple tricks to make your life even easier. Ben Tolsky from DSA Factors suggests using an entertainment center with doors to simplify daily decluttering. “You can easily hide accessories, power strips, and cables behind the doors, so all you see is a TV and soundbar,” he says.
Final thoughts on storage hacks
Utilizing clever storage methods is a great way to declutter and simplify your home. It can also help organize your life by making belongings easier to find. Remember, start by decluttering before focusing on storage solutions. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask your family. Finally, like with any organization project, take time every day to maintain your clean home.