Getting your whole home organized can be an overwhelming task—especially if you have too much stuff. So, SpareFoot spoke with Annette Reyman, owner of All Right Organizing and president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), to get some tips for organizing a house room by room.
The kitchen sometimes is referred to as the heart of the home, but it can easily turn into a disaster zone. What are the most common kitchen organizing problems?
People often will say, “I don’t have any cabinet space.” But when you look to see what’s being stored in the cabinets, it’s often things they rarely or no longer use. Sometimes there will be holiday items, like Christmas mugs. Or maybe they have baby cups and plasticwear from when their kids were little. What tends to happen, then, is that the things you use every day start to pile up on the counter.
Storing rarely used items in a different place gives you some breathing room—you don’t worry that every time you open a cabinet everything is going to fall on top of you.
Are there any products you recommend to help people organize the items they do use often in their kitchens?
Large plastic containers can be used to store other containers, like Tupperware. I recommend using these containers in bottom cabinets so you can pull out the whole bin, take what you want, then put it back in.
The master bedroom is another area where many people spend a lot of time. What organizing issues are common there?
Closet space and storage can be very challenging, especially in older homes. So, I recommend that people write down what occasions they have regularly. For example, if you work, you need clothes for work. You need clothes to relax in on the weekend. You need clothes for church or temple and maybe an occasional fancy outfit for a wedding. Figure out what percentage of your life these occasions represent, then go into your closets and drawers make sure you have the same percentage of these types of clothes. Clothes tend to build up, so it’s a great idea to go through them seasonally.
Do you have any favorite tips, tricks or products for organizing closets?
There’s a broad range of closet organizers—you can go from wire shelving to California Closets. But getting a double-hung bar for hanging clothes doubles your area right away. You can hang shirts above and pants below.
How about the garage? If you can barely squeeze the car in, how do you get a handle on clutter?
The most important thing is to have shelving so you don’t start piling box upon box. In garages, basements and storage units—spaces where there’s a big, open storage area—piled-up boxes make it difficult to even get to your things. But there are so many options for sturdy shelving—from plastic shelves that hold a lot of weight but don’t cost much all the way to really expensive metal industrial shelving. The other thing is to make sure any boxes you use for storage are labeled on the side as well as on the top.
Do you have any tips for keeping tools and garden implements organized in the garage?
It’s great if you can have hangers along the wall for rakes and shovels. NAPO doesn’t endorse any particular brand, but Gladiator makes great garage solutions and Rubbermaid even has (products) for hanging long tools on the wall. If you just start piling them against the wall, you’re creating a hazard and a real mess.
Trying to organize a whole house is such a big project—where do you start?
Start in one small area. In the bedroom, for example, maybe start with the dresser top or the nightstand. Set a timer and say this is all you’re going to do for 20 minutes. During that time, plant your feet because it’s very easy to lose track of what you’re doing when you go to put something away—you can grab a glass from your nightstand, go into the kitchen, realize you need to load the dishwasher, then notice you’re out of dish detergent. So it can definitely set off a chain reaction.
What if you have trouble getting it done? How do you know if you need a professional organizer?
I think everyone needs a professional organizer. I can’t tell you about anyone I’ve ever run into that hasn’t said, “Oh, I could use you.” The industry is growing. We really study all sorts of personalities and situations. We’re here to help everyone get the best out of their time and their life.