10 Ways You're Organizing All Wrong
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Straighten Up1 of 11
By Natasha Burton
Even with an entire Pinspiration board dedicated to organized spaces, those closets, entryways and office areas could still use some serious de-cluttering. Luckily, the key to an orderly home may be as simple as knowing what NOT to do. Here, top experts reveal the ten most common organizing mistakes people make, plus share essential tips for conquering clutter for good.
The Entryway2 of 11
Messy Mistake: Using the foyer table as a drop zone for keys, mail and more.
Storage Solution: Designate a specific spot for each item—hooks for keys and pretty trays for sunglasses, for instance—so you don't waste time looking for things buried in a pile, says Danielle VanDusen, marketing coordinator for The Betty Brigade, an organizing company based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Short on space? Try a hook-and-shelf wall storage system to maximize floor space.
The Hall Closet3 of 11
Messy mistake: Making this a jacket-only zone.
Storage solution: "People have a tendency to spread out horizontally and overlook efficient vertical space," says organizing expert Elizabeth Mayhew. "Install shelving units that go as high as possible so no space goes unused."
The Kitchen4 of 11
Messy mistake: Stashing cooking tools randomly.
Storage solution: "You can't throw utensils, pens, matches and plastic wrap in drawers and expect to get dinner cooked on time," says Mayhew. "Store like items together and arrange things by how often you use them." For example, baking supplies can typically go on a higher out-of-the-way cabinet, whereas everyday plates and glasses should go in a lower cabinet close to the dishwasher.
The Office5 of 11
Messy mistake: Hoarding paperwork.
Storage solution: "Most documents like insurance, bills and legal correspondence only need to be kept for six years," VanDusen says. (A tax adviser will have a list of what should be kept longer.) Shred and toss the old stuff, then file important paperwork by category and year. Bills and invites you need to access weekly should go in a shallow tray so they don't pile up," says Jennifer Ford Berry, author of Organize Now! Think & Live Clutter-Free.
The Bedroom6 of 11
Messy mistake: Buying storage bins before organizing your stuff.
Storage solution: "Purge first, purchase later," says de-clutter guru Jodie Watson. "It's impossible to know exactly what type of storage you need until you've completed that process." Once you've taken stock of what's left, invest in uniform bins and baskets—and be honest about what you really need. "Don't buy 12 shoe boxes when you really need 24," says Mayhew.
The Bathroom7 of 11
Messy mistake: Counter clutter.
Storage solution: Display essentials, like Q-tips, tissues and cottonballs, in pretty glass jars that double as decor. Then stash less frequently used products, like face masks and bath salts, in bins under the sink. As for drawers, divide and conquer: "Drawer dividers are an absolute must if you don't want items to get mixed up," says Berry. "Make your own using small fabric containers or even a cut up shoe box."
The Kid Room8 of 11
Messy mistake: Using one catchall toy box or trunk.
Storage solution: Separate toys into categories (like stuffed animals, dolls, puzzles and games) and give them a designated bin or basket with labels, says Berry. Most importantly, Berry suggests giving kids access to only 50 percent of their toys at a time to help set limits and control the chaos.
The Garage9 of 11
Messy mistake: Spending all Saturday tackling the biggest storage area in your home.
Storage solution: "No one has the energy to spend eight hours organizing, so taking on too much at once will only make you frustrated and less efficient," says organizer Jill Pollack. Break up big organizing projects into manageable chunks by picking one area at a time and shoot for two to three hours max.
The Basement10 of 11
Messy mistake: Using dust-filled boxes that ruin sentimental keepsakes.
Storage solution: Protect nostalgic items by storing them in transparent boxes that seal tightly, like Sterilite bins. It's easy to see what's in them and the latching lids keep items safe from unwanted dirt and bugs, says organizing expert Donna Smallin Kuper.
The Living Room11 of 11
Messy mistake: Making it the "everything room" (as in the place you hang out, eat meals, pay bills).
Storage solution: "This should be a place you can unwind," says Pollack. (Not so easy if your coffee table is hidden under a stack of books and catalogues!) Make sure everything you bring into the living room can be put away: "Use book shelves, cabinets with doors and baskets to corral games, magazines and DVDs," says Pollack. Now you can actually put your feet up and relax!