Have you ever heard the saying, “An organized home is a happy home?” When your home is organized, life can be calmer. Everything in the home has a place, but sometimes finding that place isn’t so easy. Get inspired instantly by these expert home organizers on Instagram.
One look at these Instagram accounts and you may want to reorganize every room in the house. Seriously.
MindOverMatter: There is something so motivating about watching a ‘before and after.’ LeAnn Wolf gives you unique ideas and tips that help make organization easy and fun.
NeatMethod: This account is run by a professional organizer who posts daily organizing tips and pictures of beautifully organized rooms. We hope that it will make you feel inspired to color coordinate a closet or two.
A Bowl Full of Lemons: When life gives you lemons, get organized. Toni Hammersley’s covers everything from how to clean and organize a bathroom to how to pack lunch. Help simplify your life by doing the tasks she describes almost daily.
Simply Organized: As a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and owner of the blog “Simply Organized,” Samantha Pregenzer is more than qualified to offer organizational advice. Her Instagram account is filled with beautiful photos of perfectly placed binders, baskets, gorgeously organized closets, and much more.
What are you waiting for? Get some inspiration then start organizing!
After nearly a year of being stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, many are trying to cope with the stress by tackling some long-overdue home organization projects.
“COVID has amplified the urge to organize, because we feel like we should be doing something productive and we can only watch TV or sit at a computer for so long,” says Ana Cummings of the eponymous home design firm.
But is “stress-organizing,” as it’s called, truly effective? Sometimes, nervous energy is the exact fuel you need to take on some decluttering. But certain home organizing tasks don’t lend themselves to anxious attacks—in fact, they might have the opposite effect and make you even more stressed.
“I don’t recommend organizing anything when you’re worried—how effective can you really be?” asks Julie Coraccio, a professional organizer at Reawaken Your Brilliance.
Some say that the key to successful stress-organizing may be to pick your battles wisely by selecting the right areas of your house to tame that won’t overwhelm you. For some help when you’re anxious yet also feel compelled to organize something, here are six areas of the house you should tackle—and three spots to definitely skip since they’ll likely drive you insane.
Do organize: The junk drawer
Photo by CHW Cabinetry
Cleaning out the junk drawer is an easy task for a newbie organizer, or someone who’s feeling stressed. It’s a small area that can often be completed in under 15 minutes.
“This spot is good because it can build confidence and you’re less likely to have an emotional attachment to the random bits inside,” says Coraccio.
Do organize: Kitchen counters
Photo by Manhattan Cabinets Inc
Two more quick hot spots are kitchen counters and tabletops in the living room. You might set a timer and give yourself 30 minutes to zip around and clear away stuff.
“I aim to keep my kitchen and living space surfaces decluttered so that when I walk through my home, I know where to focus to keep a sense of peace and calm,” says Katie McCann, the organizing professional at Haven.
Do organize: The linen closet
Photo by NEAT Method St. Louis
Folding soft rectangles of fabric is soothing, and it’s easy to part with stained washcloths and frayed hand towels.
“Get rid of anything you don’t want or use, and then refold and organize by category so everyone in the household knows exactly which items go where,” says Cummings.
Do organize: The makeup or medicine cabinet
Photo by Organization & Relocation
“Ditch those free samples and half-empty tubes of whatever product you have, because they’re taking up too much real estate in your vanity,” urges Cummings.
A fast way to whip this little spot into shape is to insert drawer organizers or an old utensil tray—and if what you have doesn’t fit, purge some more.
Do organize: The crafts room
Photo by California Closets of Indianapolis
With the holidays over, midwinter is an excellent time to take on a crafts room or gift-wrapping station.
“Paper, ribbons, and art accessories can get pretty messy in a heartbeat, so it’s worthwhile to get this spot under control,” says Cummings.
Do organize: The freezer
Photo by Hill Farm Furniture Ltd
At last, you’ll finally see what’s lurking in this dark box once you toss those bags of peas and carrots from 2010.
“How amazing is it to get rid of a bunch of frozen, desiccated bananas—because are you really going to make banana bread?” asks Cummings.
Don’t organize: The attic
Photo by Case Design/Remodeling of Indianapolis
This area is a no-go as it’s likely filled with sentimental items (photo albums, your parents’ wedding china) that you should really consider with a clear head.
“You don’t want to throw away something of value either, so wait and take the time to get it appraised,” says Cummings.
Don’t organize: The home office
Photo by brownwilliam art + design
You’d think this space is one you should clean up since a neat desk can make work tasks easier to accomplish. But your home office is one spot to hold off on.
“Paperwork takes a ton of time to sort and figure out with very little visible reward,” says McCann.
In short: You’ll quit this area quickly since it’ll feel like you’re getting nowhere.
Don’t organize: Your clothing
Photo by Mountain Sky Closets
You might be able to sift and sort through your shoes and boots or even scarves and hats, but when it comes to actual clothes, this spot should be skipped.
The clothes closet requires a steady mind and a couple of hours to try on items and carefully consider whether they’re worth keeping.
“I’d also avoid this area if you’ve gained some weight due to COVID, which is very common as we’re all less active lately,” says McCann.
Matt Paxton is best known as the host of “Hoarders,” but these days he’s busy uncovering history in his new show, “Legacy List.”
In this series, Paxton and a team of home organizers visit old homes and help not only declutter and organize the home, but also uncover some valuable items hiding within.
In the Season 2 episode “You Gotta Have Art,” Paxton and the team visit a 54-acre estate in Coventry Village, CT, that is filled to the brim with sculptures and canvases. The family home and the large barn are filled with the artwork of artist David Hayes Sr. Now that he has passed on, his son and homeowner David Hayes wants to turn this estate into a living museum.
During decluttering, Paxton uncovers incredible finds—including a Picasso sketch, a couple of pieces by Salvador Dali, and even what may be part of the Underground Railroad.
Read on to learn more about how to unearth hidden treasures amid a mess. Who knows, similar items might be hiding in your own home, too.
1. Limit your keepsakes to a handful of items
Paxton says that everyone should have a “legacy list,” a collection of items that tells a family’s story. But he says that this collection should be limited to just a handful of items, small enough to be manageable but big enough to tell a story.
So when Paxton first arrives at Hayes’ property, he asks if there are specific legacy list–worthy treasures he’s hoping to find in his house. Although many of the items may be financially valuable, Hayes is interested in the things that are personally meaningful to him.
“Everything you see around here is art,” Hayes says. “I’m thinking about some items that are maybe not art, you know, things that were significant to us as children as we were growing up.”
He asks Paxton to save just four items: his father’s childhood model airplane, the badger-hair shaving brush his father used every morning, a carved wood grouse, and the family copy of his mother’s published cookbook, “French Cooking for People Who Can’t.”
While this artist’s house is filled with valuable objects, this just goes to show that sometimes the best treasures are the more sentimental items.
2. Remember to research your treasures
Sentiment aside, Paxton and the team also turn up some incredibly valuable works. Not only do they find a sketch by Pablo Picasso, they also discover not one, but two, Salvador Dali works!
“Your dad is probably the only guy that’s just going to have some Salvador Dalis up in the attic,” Paxton says to Hayes.
Of course, Lex Reeves, a member of Paxton’s team, reminds them that the pieces are valuable only if their authenticity can be verified by an expert.
Still, it’s an impressive find and a good reminder to always research the old items that you bring out of storage. You never know when you might have a Picasso on your hands!
3. Old clothes are often vintage and valuable, too
When going through the house, Jamie Ebanks and Mike Kelleher find some items they didn’t expect. In a closet full of art, these two pull out a couple of old auto dealer uniforms with “Moriarty Brothers” on the back. As it turns out, these belonged to Hayes’ father when he was a teen, working at an auto dealer.
These shirts bring up a good memory, but as Ebanks points out, these vintage finds are valuable in their own right. Old clothes almost always come back in style, and these shirts are no different.
“I would wear that today,” Ebanks says.
4. Sometimes the best treasures are part of the house itself
While the team finds a lot of great stuff in this house, one of the best finds is in the house itself. Paxton comes across a secret door, which is disguised to look like a bookshelf. Immediately, he thinks back to a rumor about the house.
“You know the family folklore of possibly this being on the route of the Underground Railroad?” he asks fellow organizer Avi Hopkins. “I’m thinking this might be it; this might be one of the spots.”
Hopkins points out that this house is near the Connecticut Freedom Trail, so it could possibly have been part of the Underground Railroad. Hopkins investigates by climbing into the space.
“There’s some room here,” he says. “Yeah, a small family could definitely spend some time back here.”
While the team may not be able to confirm whether or not this house was used to help enslaved people escape, this space is proof that a home’s treasures are sometimes built right into its bones.
Paxton and his team work overtime to clean up this home. They take some of the art to a nearby facility where it can all be documented, and the rest of the works can be displayed and stored safely on the property.
This was a big job, but Paxton and his team are able to get the home and barn looking much more organized. Plus, they’re able to find all four of Hayes’ legacy list items. Overall, this project is a big success!
The coronavirus pandemic didn’t just force us to stay home—it also forced us into the kitchen, whether we liked it or not. And we don’t know about you, but our kitchen drawers are starting to look less gourmet and more like the dollar aisle at Target: a chaotic swirl of spatulas, whisks, serving spoons, tongs, and more.
While it can be sometimes fun to dig around and see what you come up with, it’s not very efficient for cooking. If you’re as sick of the chaos as we are, then we bet you’re ready to take action—to rethink your space, declutter, and get organized.
That’s why we’re launching a new series with tips from the pros on how to bring order to every space in your home. In our latest installment of “Decluttering for Dummies,” we focus on corralling your kitchen clutter and organizing those overflowing utensil drawers. Here are six tricks of the trade to get your space organized in no time.
1. Purge your utensil collection (and have no mercy)
Start by emptying all your kitchen utensils—big and small—onto a workable surface. Then, begin sorting through them and ditch any redundant, broken, or otherwise unusable items.
Another way to go about your kitchen utensil purge is by using this trick from professional organizer Amy Bloomer of Let Your Space Bloom.
“We have this simple rule that makes sense for most clients. For example, if my client cooks frequently and she hasn’t used a utensil in a year, then we donate it,” says Bloomer. “For clients who don’t cook that often, I’ll use a two-year rule instead.”
Take a good look at your collection of utensils, and ask yourself how likely you are to use them anytime soon. If the answer is “not very,” add them to your donation pile.
“For items in good condition, you can donate them or sell them in a virtual yard sale on sites like Facebook,” says Ali Wenzke, organization expert and author of “The Art of Happy Moving.”
“Nonprofit organizations are always in need of kitchen utensils and small appliances as well,” she adds.
Your unwanted utensils might just be able to help someone in need.
2. Store sharp items safely
Before you get into the nitty-gritty of organizing your utensils, make sure your sharp objects are carefully stored. A good rule of thumb is to put away knives with the point facing in and handle facing out.
If you have really sharp knives, consider buying blade protectors. Not only will these help keep your knives in good working condition, but they’ll also prevent accidents when reaching in drawers.
3. Create kitchen ‘kits’
“I love creating ‘kits’ or ‘zones’ with all of the items needed to accomplish a task,” says Sarah Giller Nelson of Less Is More. “Avid bakers will love having measuring cups, icing tips, off-set spatulas, and other baking tools contained in one bin, drawer, or cabinet so they don’t have to waste time opening every drawer in the kitchen looking for the right product.”
Watch: To Achieve Your Baking Ambitions, Make Sure You Have These Essential Tools
To create a kit, Nelson recommends brainstorming whatever you would need to get a task done, and then figuring out how to best store all of those items together. Maybe this means purchasing drawer organizers, clear plastic bins, or even some cute countertop storage. Just make sure you have the space for these kits before getting too invested in this organization method.
4. Organize utensils by size
“The size of the items is a good starting point,” says Esther Konz of Uncluttered Simplicity. “For example, utensils like ladles, slotted spoons, spatulas, and sauce spoons are all larger and can be stored together, either by hanging them on a kitchen wall—which saves precious real estate space in your kitchen—placing them in a jar on the countertop, or storing them in a special divider in your kitchen drawer.”
The same can be done with small items. For instance, you can keep smaller spoons, measuring cups, and tea infusers together.
5. Organize utensils by usage
Focus on keeping your most used items at hand, like in a utensil holder on a countertop. Keep things you use less often in drawer organizers, and consider storing rarely used items (like utensils used only on special occasions) in other spaces—like those impossibly high cabinet spaces.
Having everything you use most within sight will help when cooking, and you’ll be glad to have the extra space not eaten up by things you need only once a year.
6. Use your walls
“When drawer space is limited, I recommend that clients store any metal ‘go to’ utensils on a magnetic wall strip,” says Bloomer. Think: cooking knives or serving spoons.
You can also invest in a set of hooks to hang your most used large utensil on vacant wall space.
For other items, consider arranging them by category in a set of large Mason jars. Always a classic look, these jars will keep things accessible while still looking organized, and eliminating the need to rummage through your kitchen drawers ever again.
Transform your standard-issue rental kitchen with these tips.
Is there some kind of law that requires rental apartments to supply no more than a single square of kitchen counter space to each unit?
Between the white walls, scarce and often outdated cabinets, and a lack of amenities, it’s rare to find a solid kitchen in the world of yearlong leases.
But no good makeover starts with a beautiful subject, right?
All you need to transform that bleak little kitchen into a well-designed, functional space is a bit of imagination, some basic home maintenance skills, and a few solid pieces.
Here’s where to begin.
Before moving into your new space, make sure to get rid of all those things you don’t need anymore.
Have you actually used that discounted bundt pan in the past year or two? If not, donate to your favorite local charity shop. Someone else might get use out of it, and you’ll be saving yourself from more clutter in your new home.
Vertical storage is a tried-and-true method of using space, and the kitchen holds some unique opportunities for making the most of it.
Hanging pot racks, magnetic knife strips, mounted dish-drying racks installed above the sink, and rods with hooks for towels, aprons, small tools and oven mitts are all excellent ways to keep clutter in its place — and keep the surfaces and lower area of the room free.
Find beautiful cleaning tools
The ugly truth is that a lot of everyday items just make sense to keep out — but that doesn’t mean they have to be such an eyesore.
Skip the plastic and get yourself a classic wooden broom, natural fiber dish brush and a glass soap dispenser. These items don’t cost much, but they add a softer look while also getting the job done.
Tap into change
Just because your place didn’t come equipped with a dishwasher doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Installing a quality faucet with a pull-down sprayer can make your chores less of a chore (and, as long as you swap it back before you move out, it shouldn’t violate your rental agreement).
Have space and the budget for something more? Portable dishwashers are a massive timesaver. From small countertop models to wheeled butcher-block-top options, there are sizes that fit into almost any space and require nothing more than your standard sink to function.
Live the island life
A kitchen island is a versatile tool for almost any space — even the tiniest micro apartments!
Whether you choose a larger center-of-the-room-style piece or a small butcher-block number, these additions create more counter space and storage, all in one piece.
Bonus: If your island has wheels, it can serve as a portable bar for your next party. (Hey, if we can call bingeing our favorite shows with a few of our closest friends a “party,” so can you.)
Light it up
Another timeless tip: Good lighting is everything.
If your kitchen is dedicated to getting things done and starting your day, invest in cool lighting — the kind that washes everything in a bright, sunlit glow. A refreshing, cooler light wakes us up and creates an invigorating feeling.
If you’re more of a romantic and enjoy taking your time in the kitchen, keep relaxing, warm lighting around so that you can let the day melt away as you sip your merlot.
For those who prefer a bit of both, app-enabled bulbs can customize the mood for any occasion, and some even use every color of the rainbow.
Think (temporarily) BIG
If there’s one common complaint about renting, it’s the stark white walls. Removable wallpaper adds a touch of personalization and won’t break the bank — or at least, it doesn’t have to.
To keep costs low, stick to one accent wall. Finding a large-scale print will make the space feel larger, and layering a sizable mirror on top will maximize the look and any light.
Curate unique displays
One of the best ways to keep an assortment of oddly shaped kitchen items is to dedicate either one section of the room (think: the top 12 inches of the walls) or one wall to showing them off.
Whether it’s your grandmother’s antique creamer collection or the jumble of cookie cutters that won’t fit into your drawers, making them into a vignette adds a layer of personalization to your space while also providing covert storage in plain sight. Easy-to-install hooks or some simple shelves are great ways to achieve this solution.
Keep it alive
Every room deserves a plant. Not only do they look good, but they also improve the quality of the air around them. If you don’t have the floor or counter space to spare, a hanging plant will do the trick.
No natural light in your kitchen? Or perhaps you’re better at killing plants than keeping them green? No matter — there are plenty of realistic artificial plants these days, which means everyone can benefit from the organic shapes of ferns, succulents and the ever-popular fiddle-leaf figs.
Last year changed the way we do a lot of things—especially the way we live at home. Between mandatory shelter-in-place orders, canceled vacation plans, and working remotely, we’re all spending a lot more time inside our four walls than ever before. And with our houses now doing extra duty as offices, gyms, and even classrooms for the kids, there’s undoubtedly no shortage of clutter.
If you’re as sick of the piles as we are, then we bet you’re ready to take action. And there’s never a better time than a new year to rethink your space, declutter, and get organized.
That’s why we’re launching a new series with tips from the pros on how to bring order to every space in your home. First up: all those books you bought to read (and never did) during quarantine. Here’s what the experts say on how to comb through your bookshelves and organize those seemingly endless stacks.
How to declutter your collection
“Clutter is postponed decisions—and that’s true of book clutter as well,” says professional organizer Barbara Hemphill.
“The first step in decluttering books is to determine how much space you’re willing to allot to books,” she says. “To decide whether to keep a book, ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst thing that would happen if I got rid of this book, and then wanted it?’ If you can live with your answer, donate or toss it.”
Get rid of ugly or old books
While some books might be obvious keepers (like the ones you’ll reread or reference later on), you’ll likely end up with a good-sized pile of maybes. For those, Barbara Reich, founder of Life Organized, has this pro tip.
“I look at whether a book is in good condition, and if it’s something I’ll want to display,” she says. “For example, you may not want to display every self-help book you own.”
Donate your unwanted books
Once you’ve narrowed down your pile of keepers, it’s time to get rid of the rest. While you might try to sell any valuable or collectible editions, most other secondhand books won’t fetch a ton of cash—which is why donations can be a great way to get rid of your unwanted volumes.
However, Sherri Curley of The Practical Sort notes that the pandemic has made the usual outlets—libraries, used bookstores, nursing homes and hospitals, consignment stores, and even certain nonprofit organizations—reluctant to handle secondhand goods.
“I caution my clients and readers to save time, hassle, and gas by contacting the organization prior to heading out, to ensure that they are accepting donations and what their current protocol and hours are,” Curley says.
How to organize your remaining books
Arrange your books by color
With your permanent collection of books established, you’re ready to start organizing them. One great way to get started is to group your books by color.
“This works for the very visual client who enjoys their books as a collection, rather than searching for specific ones to read or reference,” says Lucy Milligan Wahl of LMW Edits.
Organize by author
If a colorful display isn’t your style, then you might just consider organizing by author instead.
“This style works best for those who love to read and are looking to be able to access specific books on a regular basis,” says Wahl. “This is also a more time-intensive method, since it should be adjusted and updated whenever you add a new book to your collection.”
Organize by genre
If neither a color- nor author-based organization system works for you, consider a simple genre-based one.
“Organizing by genre works well for most clients, especially when they’re storing books in multiple rooms,” says Wahl. “It helps to match the genre to the space: for example, cookbooks in the kitchen, business and self-help in the home office, fiction and travel in the bedroom, etc.”
This might also be extended to other rooms of the house, like putting your kids’ books in the playroom and sports books in a basement or workout room. Finally, be sure to put aside a few favorite display books to decorate coffee tables, guest rooms, and even bathrooms.
Use leftover books as decor
While decluttering and organizing might be adequate for most book collectors, some might just find themselves with a few leftovers that still need sorting. Here are some creative tips from the pros that can help.
“I love using large art books stacked under lamps or small art objects to personalize a space,” says Sarah Giller Nelson of Less Is More. “Using a few favorite books to decorate your entryway will make you happy every time you come home.”
Be creative with shelving
If you need more space than just a short stack, invisible wall-mounted bookshelves are another great option to display your favorites.
“Invisible bookshelves can be wonderful for adding an accent to a wall without needing to invest in art,” says Wahl. “A window seat can also be a great place for a row of books—perhaps your favorite novels for curling up on a cozy afternoon.”
Last but certainly not least, if it’s more shelving you need, consider this minimalist design—which is great for showing off your book collection, clutter-free.
“Hoarders” host Matt Paxton may be best known for helping pack rats purge their possessions. But in his new show, “Legacy List with Matt Paxton,” he focuses on a far more common problem: What to do with all the stuff your parents and grandparents hang on to that might eventually end up with you.
“Legacy List with Matt Paxton,” which airs on PBS stations (check local listings for times/dates), follows Paxton and his team as they visit homeowners faced with downsizing attics and basements full of family belongings. Paxton helps his clients not only whittle this mountain down to a handful of valued mementos—aka their “legacy list”—he also helps them pinpoint surprising items worth thousands of dollars, from old baseball cards to antiques.
Yet Paxton is the first to admit that even he has struggled to unload family possessions. We at realtor.com® chatted with him to hear his best advice for handling the toughest clutter of all.
You had a lot of responsibility when it came to your own family estate. How was that experience?
I don’t remember a lot. I was 25, I was a kid. My dad, stepdad, and both my grandfathers all died within about two years, so I was just going through all these houses. And when you’re grieving, it’s not really the best time to go through it. If you’re moving and that’s why you’re decluttering, usually that’s positive, so you can make the decisions easier.
What advice do you have for people who are purging stuff from family members who’ve passed away?
I always say, “Focus on the things you absolutely know you don’t want.” That’s an easy way to get started.
You recently packed up and moved. Did you have to purge beforehand?
My three sons and I had been in a house for about 15 years. And it’s funny, I do this on TV, been doing it with both “Hoarders” and “Legacy List” and for 20 years privately as well, but until you do it yourself, you forget how hard it is. I’ve helped thousands of families, but when you go through boxes of your parents’ stuff and your loved ones’ stuff, that’s when it gets hard.
Because stuff is memories—we keep it because they’re memories of people we care about. It’s not really the financial value; it’s the emotional value.
Did you find any surprising items during your move?
I did find a stick in a box that said “fragile” in my handwriting, so clearly I packed it. I don’t know what it was for. I don’t know why I saved it. But it obviously meant a lot to me at the time. Sometimes, if you don’t write down the stories, you don’t know why they meant so much to you. So, that I actually just threw away.
What tips do you have for people who want to get their home organized during the pandemic?
Try to do it now. Give yourself a box a week. You don’t have to do it all in one sitting. Bring one box down and do it while you’re watching TV. But give it the time that it deserves. If you try to cram it in a long weekend, you can’t get it done.
Many people have family heirlooms in their home that they don’t want, but feel guilty throwing out. What advice do you have for these people?
This is the hard part, when it matters emotionally to you but not enough to keep it. That’s when I tell people to call your family members and tell them about the item. If they don’t want it, it’s OK to donate, even if it’s something from someone you love.
I compare it to leftover pasta. You could say, “Do you want the pasta for dinner? Because if not, I’m throwing it away tomorrow.” Like, you don’t want it. Why are you pushing it on somebody else?
I really love those Facebook Buy Nothing groups. That’s a great way to empty your house quickly, and it doesn’t cost you anything. You know that those items will go to somebody in your community who can use them.
A lot of times people start going through boxes because it’s time for a parent or grandparent to move into a retirement home. What advice do you have for them?
Start small. I can’t ask my grandmother to work for 10 hours straight. Work for two hours every other Saturday. If I learned one thing from being on “Hoarders,” the worst way to clean out a house is five days straight, 10 hours a day. We do it that way on TV, and it’s the worst way we could possibly do it, but it’s the only way to knock out a job that big. At home, pace yourself.
I really challenge everybody that if you think you’re going to move in the next 10 years, now’s the time to start doing it. Give it an hour or two a week.
Your philosophy is to focus on keeping just five legacy list family mementos. Why five?
You have to have a limit. If you have more than five, it becomes 10, and then it becomes 30, and then you’re on “Hoarders.” It’s kind of like ice cream. If you eat it every night, it’s not really a treat. It’s just something you eat every day. The whole point of a legacy list item is that it’s special.
Do you mind sharing something from your own legacy list?
I have one of my dad’s old rings that he gave to me the night he died. I have my mom’s piano. I have a piece of art from my dad. I have a letter from my 9-year-old son.
When you come down to it, there isn’t a whole lot of stuff you really need. I think the older you get, the less you really need.
You’ve also seen people throw out things that are actually really valuable. Why does this happen?
People don’t go through the boxes. They’re, like, “Oh, this is china, this isn’t worth anything.” Put 10 minutes of research into everything. Google the value.
Now, don’t keep it just because you think it’s worth something. But it wouldn’t hurt to check, especially with things like baseball cards, coins, and stamps. The collections we’re finding now are often our grandparents’ collections, and those things can be a hundred years old.
What makes something financially valuable is scarcity. Beanie Babies? Not valuable, because there’s millions of them.
But the things coming out of your grandparents’ house, they may actually be financially valuable, even if you don’t want them. A lot of the midcentury modern furniture coming out of the ’50s is extremely valuable. I found a Picasso this year on “Legacy List” sitting in an attic.
What other advice do you have for sifting through family heirlooms?
With pictures, wear cotton or rubber gloves. You can ruin pictures and documents by not wearing gloves.
What has been one of your favorite finds from ‘Legacy List’ so far?
In the pilot episode while going through a client’s home, I actually found one of my dad’s paintings. My dad was an artist. We were filming the pilot, and there it was and I started crying. That was insanely special to me.
Of course, I had to buy it at auction because it was owned by a client, so I was just hoping no one would outbid me. I actually have that in my office now.
How do you let go of the items yet hold on to the memories?
Marie Kondo will tell everybody “What sparks joy?” Well, that doesn’t work for clients on “Hoarding” because everything sparks joy for them.
I just say, “Hey, tell those stories,” and document it. Either put it on camera, video, or audio. Somehow get those stories recorded and start sharing with your family. You spend 30, 40 years creating these memories, you’ve got to share the stories. Just get started an hour a week, and create your legacy list to share with your family. I think you’ll be amazed. You’ll hear the reaction of your family members; they’ll love the stories. And when you start to share those stories, you start to realize it’s not the items—it’s the people. You’ll find you’re able to let go of more items that way.
We need positivity right now in the world. This is a great way to just be happy.
If you’re anything like us, then you’ve resolved to make 2021 the year that you finally get organized (after making the same resolution last year, and the year before, and the year before that, of course).
But also, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea where to start.
That’s where having the right tools comes in. Not only can the proper supplies and products make organizing a breeze, but they’ll also make the process—dare we say—fun.
So after consulting with professional organizers from coast to coast, we’re bringing you the eight products you’ll need to finally get your home in tiptop shape in 2021. Go on with your bad organizing self—and have a blast!
1. Dividers for unruly drawers
Are your dresser drawers overflowing with underwear, socks, and other pieces of clothing you’ll never be able to find? Then you just might need a set of these fabric drawer dividers ($22) from Wayfair.
“These are amazing in drawers to create compartments and divisions so everything doesn’t get all jumbled up,” says Liz Jenkins of A Fresh Space. “They aren’t a permanent installation, but for clients who don’t have built-in dividers, they’re life-changing.”
2. Wheeled storage for cleaning products
You know that corner or cabinet of your house that’s stuffed to the brim with cleaning products and other household supplies? Well we’re here to bring those babies out into the light (where you can actually find what you need without creating a brand-new mess).
“We all know that cleaning items come in so many different shapes and sizes,” says Mary Cornetta of Sort and Sweet. “By having extra tall shelving or racks, you don’t have to worry about what can fit and what can’t.”
Stop stuffing all your cleaning products into a pile, and try this Whitmor three-tiered rolling cart ($40) from Macy’s.
3. Pots and pans lid organizer
Speaking of piles, we didn’t forget about the stacks of lids taking up all the space in your kitchen cabinets. Rather than constantly searching for the right lid for your Tupperware containers or pots and pans, you might try using a few of these steel lid organizers ($15) from The Home Depot.
“This is one of our favorite organizing products because of how versatile it is,” says Cornetta. “We not only use it to store lids—which makes them easier to grab—but also baking sheets, cutting boards, trivets, muffin tins, pie plates, and more.”
4. Can racks for your pantry
Nothing can make a kitchen feel chaotic quite like a precariously arranged tower of canned goods—especially during a pandemic, when many of us are guilty of stocking up on shelf-stable foods.
“These can racks help you to see what you have on hand, rather than blindly buying at the grocery store,” says Cornetta. “They also give you a limit to the amount of items you can store at once, thus reducing pantry clutter.”
Bring order to your kitchen with one of these six-tier, double-can racks ($60) from Kohl’s.
5. Not-so-lazy Susan
She might sound lazy, but this little organization wonder is anything but.
“Lazy Susans are a game changer in the kitchen,” says Hannah Hearin of Home Refreshment. “I love these for baking goods or oils, and the one with dividers is perfect for organizing medicine, school or art supplies, and bathroom essentials as well.”
Do yourself (and your cabinets) a favor, and pick up a two-tier Lazy Susie ($25) from Macy’s.
6. Clutter-defying paper shredder
One of the best ways to make more space in your home this year is by ditching all that extra paper clutter like old bills and bank statements.
“For security reasons, it’s a lot better to shred than simply throw out,” says Cornetta. “If you have the time, or teens who need chores, it can save money rather than bringing it to a shredding company.”
Clear your closets of all that extra paper with this PowerShred paper shredder ($180) from Kohl’s.
7. Irresistible label maker
The only reason I don’t have one of these in my house is that everything would be labeled—including the dog (yes, they’re actually that fun). If you’re someone with a little more self-control—and a number of real things to label—you can’t go wrong with adding one of these Dymo label makers ($25) to your toolbox.
“These are super helpful for families or roommates,” says Cornetta. “Especially when multiple people are using the same items and need to know where to find them and put them back.”
8. Handy closet utility rack
Somehow, cleaning supplies such as brooms, mops, and dusters seem to accumulate at rapid speed and, before you know it, they’re eating up an entire corner of every closet in the house.
No more, we say! Get yourself a few of these Whyalla closet mop and broom organizers ($14) and never compete in ultimate closet wrestling again.
If your relationship with New Year’s resolutions is anything like ours, then things tend to fall by the wayside right about—well, now.
Mid-January has been statistically proven to be the time when all those well-intentioned goals get left behind and replaced with well-worn habits of years past. So if getting organized was one of your resolutions in 2021, there’s a good chance you’ve thrown in the towel and are already starting to see the clutter pile up.
Don’t despair! We’re here to help get you back in the saddle, and we called in the pros for some reinforcement. We’ve pulled together their insider secrets on the easiest organizational resolutions you can actually stick to this year.
Read on for the simplest goals you can achieve, and all the tips you’ll need to make it happen.
Resolution No. 1: Practice a daily 10-minute ‘tidy up’
One of the best ways to ensure that maintaining a clean house becomes a lasting resolution is to practice tidying up daily. But it doesn’t have to take the better part of an afternoon. Small but regular spurts of time devoted to organizing can keep things in order.
“This is perfect if you have kids, or a partner who’s on the messy side,” suggests Afoma Umesi of Oh So Spotless. “Do a 10-minute ‘blitz’ every evening where everyone picks up and puts things back in their place. You can even set a timer, to make it more fun.”
Resolution No. 2: Make your dang bed
If we’re giving you flashbacks of your mother with this one, well, that’s OK—Mom knows best, after all. Right?
“Visualize your dream bedroom,” says Ali Wenzke of The Art of Happy Moving. “Imagine what it would be like to enter your room every day and have it feel like a five-star hotel. Declutter any items that take away from that feeling, and tie making your bed to a current habit like waking up in the morning. As soon as your feet land on the floor, pull up the sheets and comforter.”
Not only will making your bed please Mom, but it will also elevate the overall look and feel of your bedroom.
Resolution No. 3: Ditch bulky packaging
We’re all guilty of keeping too many cardboard boxes around, especially in this age of endless deliveries. But one easy way to keep your stuff (and clutter) in check this year is by ditching packaging as soon as you get it.
This is a tough one, and we know what’s going through your mind:
“What if I need it later?”
“It’s a really good box, though…”
“It doesn’t take up that much space.”
Well, we’ve got news for you: You can always find more boxes. And that packaging is killing your decluttering efforts: “Cardboard packaging often takes up double or triple the space of its actual contents,” says Amy Bloomer of Let Your Space Bloom.
Beyond cardboard, Bloomer also recommends removing plastic wrap or any other kind of packaging from products (as much as possible) before putting them away. One example Bloomer gives is frozen foods.
“Remove cardboard packaging and label the plastic bag with a Sharpie marker to make the contents easily identifiable,” she says.
Resolution No. 4: Get better at recycling and composting
While most of us have at least tried our hand at recycling or composting, it can be a hard habit to keep up.
“Don’t overthink composting,” says one professional organizer, Caroline Clark. “A mixing bowl with a lid works great, and is easy to move around the kitchen as you cook, and throw in the dishwasher after emptying it.”
If the actual compost pile is what’s dragging you down, check with a neighbor or even your city council to see if there’s a communal composting bin you can use.
As far as recycling goes, one of the best ways to ensure it that becomes a habit you can keep is by keeping a bin in the kitchen.
“Make sure your recycling bins are easy to access, without doors or lids that make it harder to put things in them quickly,” says Clark.
If the recycling bin is as easy to operate as the trash can, you’ll have no reason not to use it.
By ditching bulky packaging right away, you’ll be able to conserve more precious storage space for the things that actually matter.
Resolution No. 5: Get rid of your ugly stuff
We’ve all got some stuff hanging around the house we can’t stand—whether it’s artwork you bought in college that you thought was so cool back then, or well-intended Christmas gifts that didn’t hit the mark. This year, it’s time to get rid of it.
“The ugly statue you got from a distant cousin for your wedding? Don’t feel obligated to keep it,” says Marty Basher of Modular Closets.
“Let go of the guilt of getting rid of a gift you don’t want. This can be hard for people who might see it as an insult to the giver, but the reality is, if you hate it and are never going to wear, display, or use said gift, it’s better to donate or otherwise dispose of it.”
Resolution No. 6: Eradicate surface clutter
We’re all guilty of letting things pile up here and there, but clutter is especially problematic once it starts taking over every usable surface space in your home. Wenzke gives us some tips on wiping out surface clutter in 2021.
“Declutter like you’re moving,” she says. “Get rid of items you wouldn’t want to move again. Then, with whatever’s left, put similar items together, and return them to your closets or drawers. The only items that should remain on display are the ones that you love and want to look at every day.”