I have a love-hate relationship with stuff. As a military family, we constantly move our stuff around while needing to find new and creative ways to store it. Although I feel that we purge before each move, I am always flabbergasted to see the number of possessions we own (you get a clear perspective when all your belongings are boxed up and fill a 55ft truck!) Finding simple tricks to keeping our things organized can be helpful when dealing with all the other stresses. Here is what I have found to be helpful for my family over the years.
There is no magic trick when it comes to getting organized. It comes down to hard work! The first step is to declutter. I know that is not what anyone likes to hear, but during the holidays we usually add to our already large amount of possessions. As a rule, for every item we bring into our home, we should get rid of one. After all, we can only organize so much and the easiest way to do it is to reduce the number of things we own. We can always find an excuse for keeping things but think hard about how much time you want to spend every week picking up and storing things.
You cannot declutter and organize your whole home over one weekend. If you aim too high, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up. Try to target one small space at a time. For example, you might start by decluttering and organizing your master bedroom closet, pantry or linen closet. By moving from one small space to another, you will feel like you are making progress and will be encouraged by the results. When going through your possessions, be very critical, because “less is more!” Do we really need five extra sets of bedsheets or 10 extra towels in case of visitors?
Once you have decluttered as much as possible, baskets are a fabulous and stylish storage solution. Baskets come in many shapes and sizes, and they are the perfect answer for storing pretty much anything around the house. Large wicker baskets can be used to store toys, magazines or almost anything else away from plain sight.
Medium sized baskets are useful in the entryway for gloves, hats, and slippers or even in a bathroom for storing toilet paper. Nowadays, baskets have beautiful designs and textures that can give style to your space, which is great compared to the traditional plastic bins that we like to hide in drawers and closets.
For smaller items, such as toiletries, keys or kitchen utensils, small plastic baskets from the dollar store are perfect. With so many small items lying around, it is easy for them to get lost in the bottom of a drawer and make you feel unorganized. For easy storage, buy a small basket for each item, so they are not mixed in together. For example one small basket for hair elastics and bobby pins, and one for makeup. This allows you to quickly access your items instead of hunting in a drawer.
Traditional plastic bins are always a good idea for storing and organizing items, but these are usually better for longer-term storage such as summer clothing in winter, winter gear in summer, or small toys like Legos. The lids allow them to stack easily and reduces the chance of losing pieces.
When buying furniture, I am always looking to buy pieces with storage. Furniture with a double purpose can help organize your space even more. This includes a console table with drawers for mittens and hats in the entryway or an ottoman with storage in the living room for blankets and remotes. For the bedroom, one idea is a bed with integrated storage for clothes or toys. If you are thinking of buying a new piece of furniture, consider the amount of storage it offers and what you can store in it. If you are buying a piece with less storage, you will now have to find a new way to store your items, and this may cause some. You can even find a new purpose for existing furniture! For instance, I had a bookshelf that I no longer used. I put all my son’s small toys in labelled plastic bins and now my bookshelf is a toy shelf!