Not everyone can afford to pay a team of closet-cleaning ninjas $250 an hour, or spend weeks thanking their belongings before tossing them out to spark joy. But watching the new series The Home Edit and rewatching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix has inspired us to reimagine and reorganize our closets and pantries into more beautiful and useful spaces.
Can reorganizing really save money? One thought is when you organize your home, and remove what you don’t love or use, you are less likely to buy items you already own but can’t find because of the clutter. (Another idea is that the calm created from a well-organized space is priceless.)
Here are some of the best low-cost (and free) tips we’ve learned about reorganizing our homes while binge-watching professional organizers from the comfort of our couches:
Tackling a tiny space and quickly seeing the results of your efforts will help keep you on track for larger projects. Consider starting with something that can be accomplished in an afternoon like a hall closet or junk drawer (we know you have one) before taking on a larger space such as a garage or bedroom.
Begin with the end in mind. On each Netflix series, organizers go to a house or apartment, inspect the rooms and ask homeowners what they want to accomplish with the reorganization. Determining what success looks like helps everyone stay on track. One California mother of three adult children lost her husband and needed Kondo’s help removing his clothing and other belongings from the home they shared for 30 years. Kondo talked to the widow about envisioning what she wanted her future to look like, and then discard and donate items that didn’t fit in with her next chapter.
SOMETIMES IT TAKES A MOUNTAIN
Kondo is known for removing every piece of clothing from a space to be reorganized and piling it up on a bed or table for review. The idea is, you don’t realize how much you have (and never wear) until there’s a mountain of yoga pants and aspirational denim stacked four feet high. Once removed from the closet, the clients are asked to go through everything to determine what should be discarded and donated to charity. Kondo instructs her clients to thank each sweater and scarf for its service before parting with it.
Investing in inexpensive products will help you see your stuff. The ladies from The Home Edit love the Container Store and even developed their own line of products. Their secret weapon for whipping a space into shape? Clear acrylic boxes for closets, pantries, refrigerators and anywhere you store things. We love the Container Store, but they don’t always ship everything, so we found some low-priced alternatives at Target. You can score clear Sterlite brand shoe boxes there for $1 each. Other retailers such as Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Homegoods, sell similar see-through storage containers at a discount.
LABELS DO MATTER
Whether it’s a clear label with crisp white lettering smoothed over the front of an oval Oxo container marked pretzels or freezer tape applied to a bin of fresh produce, clearly categorizing items and naming them will bring your organization skills to the next level. In Khloe Kardashian’s garage, members of The Home Edit team set up metal shelves across the back and side walls, then brought in dozens of clear acrylic containers, complete with matching labels, to hold back stock. For the uninitiated, back stock can refer to the extra cleaning supplies and household items such as diapers and shampoo you will need at some point soon. Don’t think of it as hoarding, think of it as preparing for the next stay-at-home order.
CONTAIN THE CHAOS
It’s amazing how much nicer cotton balls or cookies look stored in a glass jar sealed with a lid, sitting alongside similar containers in a pantry or on a counter. Same goes for mounds of T-shirts folded to fit inside a canvas bin on a shelf or inside a drawer. Pro tip: Remove items from packaging before placing them in a container. Take your cereal, or goldfish, or dry beans out of the box and pour the contents into an acrylic container with a tight lid.
CREATE ROOM TO BREATHE
Here’s something they don’t teach in college: your boots, handbags and accessories hate being dumped in a pile on the floor. The things you love enough to keep and display need room to breathe in your closet. The TV organizers believe your belongings can be configured in ways that are pleasing to the eye and soul. For example, allowing an inch or two of space between items stacked on a closet shelf or between hanging tote bags can bring a sense of order to an ordinary space. It’s form and function at its best.
ITS OK TO BE SENTIMENTAL
Reese Witherspoon, the actress known for film roles including Legally Blonde, is an executive producer and client of The Home Edit team. In the first episode, Witherspoon welcomes owners Clea and Joanna into her new Nashville home. The ladies discuss Witherspoon’s preferences (keep the bolera and the boots with the dress) then go to work organizing and displaying her costumes in an all-white space with adjustable shelving. For papers, photos and other keepsakes not ready for display, they brought in wide, pale blue boxes with lids and marked them “sentimental.” When her wardrobe was revealed, Witherspoon couldn’t contain squeals of delight. Surveying the transformation she exclaimed “It’s a system!”
LAZY SUSAN FOR THE WIN
It’s what you never knew you always needed to organize your life. Lazy Susans, the round, revolving turntables that held your grandmother’s spices grew up, grew side walls and now offer the perfect storage solution for jars of pasta sauce and olive oil in a kitchen pantry. The divided versions, made of clear acrylic, are perfect for holding pens and paintbrushes, and can also be used in craft rooms, home offices, inside bathroom cabinets and under sinks to hold soaps and spray cleaners. Some celebrity clients on The Home Edit use them inside the fridge for easy access to bottled waters and sodas. We think they could also keep your spirits handy on a beverage cart or wet bar.
Based in Nashville, The Home Edit offers less expensive virtual home organizing options for those on a budget, and those who don’t live in cities where the business operates. They will even suggest how many of which product you need to whip your space into shape.
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