101 Home Organizing Tips and Tricks

Alexandra Pauly

101-Home_Article-V11. Consider going digital. “Scanning old receipts, documents and important papers creates uncluttered space,” says professional organizer Justin Klosky. If you do go this route, make sure to invest in a backup drive for your computer.
2. Get rid of your old makeup—foundation lasts for one to two years, concealer for only one year, and lipstick for two years. Chances are high that you are hanging on to items that are way past their expiration date.
3. Use an over-the-door storage system in the bathroom for your hairdryer and other bulky tools to free up cabinet and counter space.
4. “If you haven’t worn it in two years, get rid of it!” — Wendy Clurman, former Vogue Fashion Director
5. Speed up your morning makeup routine by setting aside the products you use daily somewhere specific. Makeup artist Jenn Streicher places her BB Cream, concealer, and blush on a sleek white octagonal tray.
6.  Turn on music to help make the organizing process more fun. Sometimes all it takes is a little Beyoncé.
7. Toss, sell, or donate something for every new item you buy.
8. “The casual daytime belts I wear all the time are hung on a wall with hooks, while those that are more delicate or have tons of hardware, like my vintage Judith Leiber and Hermès belts, are coiled with tissue paper and kept in soft duster bags,” Rachel Zoe shared of her system for organizing her closet.
9. To help get motivated, create a deadline for clearing out unwanted items by calling a charity and scheduling an appointment for pick-up or drop-off.
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10. Store all of those empty plastic bags you’ve collected inside of an empty paper-towel cardboard tube.
11. Download electronic copies of appliance manuals and throw-out the hard copy.
12. Actress Angie Harmon organizes her makeup seasonally. “I literally have tubs under my sink that say Spring and Summer Lips and then Fall and Winter Lips,” she says.
13. Organize sunglasses on a pants hanger. Seriously, it works.
14. Bedside tables are tiny and don’t provide much storage space. Try a beside dresser, instead.
15. Shred or stamp any unnecessary documents that include account numbers, birth dates, passwords and PINs, signatures, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
16. “I encourage people not to spend too much time on filing. If you have an overly detailed filing system, you’ll have a harder time finding things. It should be really simple. Assign big categories: credit cards, taxes.” — Kim Anker-Paddon, organizing consultant
17. Use a big bookcase as a headboard for your bed—shelf and sleeping space all in one.
18. Store winter gear like hats, gloves, and scarves in designated baskets in your entryway.
19. Enlist a friend to help you organize. “You’re a better editor with someone else’s stuff,” says stylist Christine Cameron, who regularly helps one friend in particular clean out her closet. “I insist she let go of that ‘When-I-lose-five-pounds skirt,’ and she reminds me that a girl doesn’t need ten pairs of black pants.”
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20. Keep a basket for sneakers, rain boots, and other shoes that get messy by the front door or in the foyer closet.
21. To maintain as much open space as possible, store up instead of out. Tall rather than deep furniture takes up less room.
22. Scan business cards instead of letting them pile up.
23. “When you arrange your closet by color, items get lost. Instead, organize your clothes by sections of occasion. Keep fancy little black dresses separate from your long black sundresses.” – Deirdre Pursel, Owner of Organize & Edit
24. Display pretty perfumes on a cake stand or mirrored tray.
25. Store important documents such as your passport, social security card, and living will in a safety deposit box or fireproof storage.
26. The dining table can get cluttered, as it’s often used as a workspace. “Designate a bin for whatever tends to find a temporary home on the table. This can be permanent storage or a way to move things to their rightful room,” says Meryl Starr, author of The Home Organizing Workbook.
27. While sorting through unneeded clutter, you’ll probably come across unopened items. Re-gift them!
28. If you share a bathroom, get color-coded towels and washcloths for each person.
29. “A great goal is to clear the surfaces (the floor, tables and desktops, countertops) of your home before you go to bed. Waking up to an orderly, stress-free situation can set the tone for your entire day.” – Jodie Watson, Founder of Supreme Organization
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30. Don’t fall into the trap of cluttering your home even more that it already is by purchasing unnecessary storage products and organizational containers.
31. Organize your appointments and other commitments on a wall calendar. Writing out everything will make it easier to remember those lunch meetings and coffee dates.
32. “Put together tote bags for regular activities, whether it’s bicycling, sports, the beach and so forth. Fill them with things like water bottles, a little cooler, SPF, and snacks, so you don’t have to look for anything before you go,” recommends professional organizer Donna Smallin Kuper.
33. If a fire destroyed your home, would you really miss all of those extra pens or mugs that you never use? If it’s not that important to you, toss it.
34. In your home’s entryway, designate a hanger or hook for each family member.
35. Floating shelves are great for small rooms since they don’t take up nearly as much space as bulky, standalone storage units.
36. “If you have the space to hang everything, hang everything. You’ll wear more if you can see it,” says professional organizer Andrea Rapke.
37. Before buying something, consider whether you have an actual use for it, if you have something else that does the same thing, and above all, where you’re going to store it.
38. Store small kitchen containers, like Tupperware, in a large plastic bin. Keep the bin in a bottom cabinet so you can pull it out, take what you want, and then put it back.
39. Attach a magnetic strip to the inside of your medicine cabinet to store bobby pins, nail clippers, tweezers, and other small metal objects.
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40. Just say no to procrastinating. “Many people tell me they avoid cleaning out their drawers because they don’t know what to do with the items they don’t need any more. Making a donation to an organization like Goodwill allows you to turn gently used items into opportunities for people in need of job training or support services” says interior designer Michael Moloney.
41. Keep paper clips, rubber bands, hair ties, and other tiny items that tend to get scattered in Altoids tins.
42. Instead of cluttering the rim of your tub, store your shampoos and conditioners in a metal, tiered caddy that you can hang onto your shower rod.
43. Have a lot of scarves and no where to put them? Tension rods work well for just this.
44. Living in clutter? Lauren Conrad suggests decorating with furniture made of clear Lucite or glass. “Just one see-through piece can entirely reshape a room by giving it a more spacious and less cluttered feel,” she says.
45. Hang cords you don’t often use on hooks on the inside of a cupboard.
46. Use tension rods as dividers in cupboards to make storing trays and cutting boards easier.
47. Need somewhere to put all of your nail polishes? Go for a spice rack.
48. If you’re always searching for keys and other small but essential items, professional organizer Jill Pollack has a tip: “Make a command center for your keys, purse, wallet, and cell phone charger.”
49. Store batteries in a plastic tackle box.

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50. Have a system for incoming and outgoing mail, such as letter trays, baskets, or standing racks. Have a dedicated bin for junk mail, so it can be immediately recycled. File bills and other correspondence in separate in-boxes.
51. Get rid of anything that doesn’t make you feel good. “Surround yourself with things that are important, that make you happy, that are beautiful,” says designer Merit Elliot of Current/Elliot.
52. A magazine rack hung on the inside of a kitchen cabinet makes a great storage spot for pot lids.
53. For functional seating, get an ottoman with interior storage space.
54. Group like with like—designate spaces for different types of items, like office supplies, important documents, wires and cords, and gadgets. That way you’ll know exactly where to look for an item.
55. Stylist Brad Goreski owns 40 cashmere sweaters, but does anyone need that many? “Go through the things in your drawers and evaluate whether you really need a certain number of things you have in your closet. How many pairs of jeans do you really need? Just keep the ones you are really into right now,” he says.
56. Store perfume samples in old cigar boxes or other decorative tins.
57. Store cleaning supplies in a plastic caddy that you can carry from room to room.
58. Store off season clothes and linens in vacuum-sealed plastic bags. They save space and easily fit under a bed or in a closet.
59. When organizing your makeup, the key is to use small clear containers with no lids. “This allows you to see what’s inside and keeps items accessible. It also helps to repurpose glass containers for things like q tips, makeup sponges, and cotton balls,” says professional organizer Beth Zeigler.
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60. Stack bracelets on a paper-towel holder.
61. In the linen closet, store sheet sets together in one pillowcase to make it easier to find what you need when making a bed.
62. Store wrapping paper in an umbrella stand.
63. Keep an ice-cube tray in the drawer of your desk to store those pesky “I don’t know what to do with this” items like paper clips and thumbtacks.
64. “Plenty of walking space is best for traffic flow, especially in an [area] as busy as the kitchen. To make the room appear even airier, clear your rarely-used gadgets off counters and organize your cookbook shelf by color—you’ll be amazed at how much larger the room feels.” — Graham Elliott, chef
65. Store kitchenware by task. For example, all baking supplies in one drawer, pots and pans in another, and knives and cutting tools in a different spot.
66. If you buy food in bulk, transfer them from their unnecessarily large boxes and bags to smaller glass containers that are easier to store.
67. Store hairsprays, gels, and other products in a tub under your bathroom sink instead of cluttering sink space.
68. If you can afford the luxury of a housekeeper, hire one. “It doesn’t have to be every week. An excellent housekeeper can help you stay on track,” recommends professional organizer Kim Anker-Paddon.
69. Make your bed everyday. If the rest of your room is organized, what’s the point if your bed is messy?
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70. Store remote controls in a small decorative basket on the coffee table.
71. Keep kitchen tools by the place you normally use them—for example, pans by the stove and baking sheets by the oven.
72. “I use Lazy Susan’s to store oils, vinegars, and condiments which makes it really easy to access and find exactly what you’re looking for.” — Alejandra Costello, professional organizer
73. Use a small flowerpot with a drip tray to store sponges, scrubbers, and other dishwashing supplies by the sink.
74. If you don’t use it everyday, don’t keep it on a table, desk, or counter that is in plain view.
75. Keep items you don’t know whether to keep or toss in a box in storage for a year. Toss the things you don’t use for an entire year.
76. “Slimline hangers are an absolute must in any closet, no matter what the size! They are an incredible space saver, and the felt lining keeps all of your clothes in their perfect place. No more silk tops on the floor!” – Corri McFadden, Owner of eDrop-off
77. Stack trays and platters by shape: round platters in one stack, oblong platters in another. Or lean platters against the back wall of a cabinet (secure them using rubber bumpers) and stack plates in front.
78. Instead of letting magazines pile up, keep your favorite issues in a colorful magazine holder.
79. “Stackable plastic drawers are a great way to manage household supplies such as light bulbs, vacuum cleaner bags, and batteries.” — Stacey Platt, author of What’s a Disorganized Person to Do?
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80. Throw out anything that doesn’t work—be it a broken clock, stained shirt, or bracelet missing a clasp. Chances are, you won’t get around to fixing it.
81. Opt for adjustable shelves rather than fixed ones. They will allow you to change the arrangement of the closet as your storage needs evolve.
82. Organize your pantry by expiration date. Designate one shelf for goods that last one year and another for those you can keep around for two.
83. Organize one room at a time instead of spreading your efforts over multiple rooms at once, and “completing each area before you move on to the next,” says Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out.
84. Put things back as soon as you finish with them. We know, it’s easier said then done.
85. A shelving unit above the toilet adds tons of storage space without taking up much room.
86. “Keep a folder labeled ‘Tax Documents’ where you sort your mail. As statements come in, slip them into the folder. When tax time comes, everything you need is in one spot.” — Meredith Schwartz, Founder of Penelopeloveslists.com
87. Hide cords and keep them organized by drilling a few small holes in the back of your desk and threading them through. Then attach your surge protector to the underside of your desk.
88. On the first of the upcoming month, turn all of the hangers in your closet backwards. Whenever you wear something, put it back with the hanger facing forward. After six months, donate everything still on a backwards hanger.
89. Keep knives on a magnetic strip above the stove or sink in the kitchen to save counter or drawer space.
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90. Get a handheld label maker. “You can get as many containers, bins, and baskets as you want, but what good are they if you can’t tell what’s inside?” Jodie Watson, founder of Supreme Organization, points out.
91. Organize wires and cords with small stick-on labels.
92. Use a cabinet or a shelf as a TV stand to create extra storage space.
93. Have a designated bag or box in the house for items you want to donate.
94. “Hands down, [trays] are my favorite way to make my less-than-organized piles of random items look streamlined and put together.” — Abby Giffin, Founder of Semigloss Chic
95. Rolling clothes instead of folding them saves space and minimizes wrinkles.
96. Attach a metal sheet to the inside of a kitchen cabinet so you don’t have to clutter your fridge with recipes, notes, and magnets.
97. If you’re short on closet space, store winter blankets between your mattress and box spring.
98. Use bed risers to maximize storage space under the bed. Or, get a bed frame with built-in drawers underneath.
99. Store pet grooming supplies in a caddy and pet treats in a labeled cookie jar. Keep leashes and doggie bags in a basket by the front door.
100. “Allocate a realistic amount of time for editing thoroughly (a minimum of two hours). Real editing involves trying things on and going through a lot of items. You don’t want to have to run out to your appointment halfway through and loose your clearing out momentum.” — Sarah Hogan, Head of Styling at Vault Couture
101. If you don’t have a laundry room, mount an ironing board cabinet on the wall in a corner of a hallway. You can purchase one that’s ready-to-install or get one custom made to perfectly match the color scheme of your home.
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