When you’re wondering how to get organized at home, it’s easy to find yourself getting lost in the TikTok world of beautifully organized kitchens, clutter-free bedrooms, and cheerful color-coded playrooms where nary a Lego is out of place. While it’s super satisfying to watch as junk drawers get tidied up in fast forward, your own home isn’t going to get organized by itself! And the fact is, having an organized home saves you precious time, and at the end of the day, you feel more peaceful in your home. Organization guru Marie Kondo has noted that “Life truly begins only after you have put your house in order.”
To help you turn your “organized home dreams” into reality, we enlisted the help of pros to give you some home organization ideas. Here, they share their tried-and-true strategies and weigh in on some of the more popular online trends, helping decode which ones are worth their weight in clutter-free countertops and which are better to scroll on by. These tips offer simple-to-implement ideas for kitchens, kid areas, living rooms and bedrooms that’ll whip your spaces into shape in about as much time as it takes to watch an Instagram Reel. Ready, set, organize!
Room Organization Inspiration:
You need space for prep work and cooking, and to be able to find and store necessities. Here’s how experts make their kitchens user-friendly.
- Try a Lazy Susan. You may have seen these round spinning trays at work on countertops, in pantries or refrigerators holding a myriad of objects: condiments, oils and vinegars, spices, snacks. Turn them around to access the item that’s needed. Are they worth trying in your home? Yes, say the pros, in certain areas in the kitchen. “I love Lazy Susans in kitchen cabinets, if they’re the right fit,” says Elise Hay, a professional organizer and founder of Organized Sanctuaries. Hay recommends carefully measuring the height, width, and depth of your space to be sure you get the right size. However, she notes that a Lazy Susan won’t work well in a deep space like a refrigerator because “you don't want to have to reach behind them to get to something else.”
- Decant spices, dry goods, and cereals into other containers that have a unified appearance. Interior designer Sara Gilbane uses clear containers to store rice, cereal, and pasta: “I like that we can quickly see what we have, and the containers look nicer in an open pantry situation.” Oils and vinegars can also look pretty in decanters. Hay finds it valuable to decant kids’ snacks (crackers, pretzels) and cereal. “You end up wasting less,” she says. Plus, as a mom of two, she finds that plastic containers are easier for kids to use. “My 5-year-old can pour cereal for herself from the containers. Whereas when cereal is in the box in that plastic sleeve, it gets stuck and spills.”
- Label things. Plastic storage containers, shelves, bins, spice jars…the trend is to stick a label on it. Hay organizes her refrigerator with labels. “I call my fridge idiot-proof,” she laughs, “because I even labeled the shelves so that everyone can put things back where they belong. I don't want to search for the bread in the morning to make a sandwich. I want it to be on its proper shelf. Labels are a visual reminder of where things go and it's one more step that helps keep things simplified. And if you use a nice font, labels can look really pretty, too.”
- Use file sorters to organize lids and other kitchen supplies vertically. File sorters, the type found at office supply stores, are a popular go-to for corralling a range of bulky kitchen items. Hay likes them for baking sheets, cutting boards and muffin tins. They can also be used for pot and container lids, trays, and platters.
- Store water bottles together. Water bottles piling up on the kitchen counter? First, edit down to the ones you regularly need and use, then allocate a specific spot for water bottles to live. Gilbane stores hers on a shelf in the mudroom. Hay uses drawer dividers to make columns within deep kitchen drawers, so bottles don’t wobble or fall. She also suggests repurposing a wine rack for water bottle storage.
- Minimize countertop storage. Clutter-free countertops look and feel more peaceful, so it’s a trend to strive for. Use trays to corral loose items (oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.). And think hard about what you really use. Items that see action every day (coffee makers, toasters) can stay out; put other items away, preferably in drawers or cabinets near where you’ll be using them. Transform that recipe box into a coffee table-worthy recipe book.
- Stash reusable grocery bags near where you need them. A hook by the back door is a great strategy, recommends Gilbane, so you’ll remember to grab them on your way to the store. Or keep a few in your car. And, as with water bottles, paring down the amount is key. “Think about your biggest grocery store shop,” Hay suggests, “and save the number of bags you use.”
Room Organization Inspiration:
The bedroom is meant to be your place of peace, so be strict about getting clutter under control. Start with these bedroom organization ideas.
- Utilize wall and over-the-door storage. It’s common to see over-the-door organizers used for everything from shoes to bags to kids’ toys. And it’s a handy strategy, say the experts. “Vertical storage is often overlooked,” says Hay, whether its back-of the-door storage in a closet or using hooks to get bags up off the floor. Gilbane is also a big fan of hooks. “Instead of throwing clothes on the floor or a chair or bench, you can hang them up on the hooks. Even my husband seems to be able to do that,” she laughs. “He may not fold his pants back up and put them on a hanger, but he will hang them on a hook.”
- Add more hanging space in the closet. Online, you may see people repurposing shower tension rods in a closet for more hanging space. That could work, says Hay, but she prefers double hanging rods, available at many home goods retailers, for their friendly price (between $15-30, depending on size) and usability. They hang down from existing rods wherever you need a little extra space and are especially great in kids’ closets to make things easier to reach.
- Keep tops of dressers and nightstands clutter free. Carefully curate items on these surfaces down to the ones that have the most meaning or use to you. A photo? Jewelry box? The book you’re reading? Thumbs up. But find homes for all non-necessary objects where they won’t take up visual space. “Having clutter-free surfaces allows you to use those spaces when you need them,” says Gilbane. “And it’s visually peaceful to have them clean.”
- Use drawer and shelf dividers. Drawer dividers can be used for anything and everything. Experts recommend picking and choosing where they’re most helpful for you. For example, “I call it a Sweater Avalanche when people stack their sweaters on one shelf in their closet, and they all tumble over when one is pulled out. Dividers work great for that kind of thing. I also like modular drawer systems that can be tucked into a gap in a closet.” Dividers and bins also come in handy for smaller drawer items, like socks and lingerie.
Room Organization Inspiration:
The Kid’s Room.
Seems like you blink, and the kid clutter has piled up again. Sound familiar? Fight back with these strategies for kids’ room organization.
- Store toys in bins. Bins win big in the toy storage department, getting a lot of love online and from real-life experts. “I always use open storage in kids’ rooms so kids can see and get at everything,” says Gilbane. For example, in her 11-year-old daughter’s room, low, square bins hold hair ties and other small items on top of the dresser. In her 9-year-old son’s room, containers store Legos, Pokémon toys, and other treasures. Even shoeboxes can be handy. “I keep shoeboxes and put them in my son’s closet so he can fill them up and write on them any way he wants to,” Gilbane says. For younger children, Hay likes to label bins with icons instead of words to help kids decode what’s inside and learn the habits of putting things away on their own. [Link from underlined part of previous sentence to the article, “How to Keep the House Clean With Kids.”] “When my daughter was little,” recounts Hay, “I would be like, ‘Can you show me where this shirt goes?’ She would say, ‘Oh, Mommy. It goes in the bin with a shirt label on it, obviously!’ It turned into this little game that she thought was hilarious, and it got her into the habit of figuring out where things go.”
- Try zippered pouches for board games. You may have seen this trend online: ditching board game boxes and instead, stashing pieces and, when they fit, boards in sturdy zippered pouches. The pouches are less bulky and, some experts say, easier to store. Decide what works for you and your space.
- Sort through kid art with your kids and save what’s important. Both Hay and Gilbane set aside art and kid memorabilia in dedicated boxes or bins, then go through them every so often with their kids, like at the end of a school year. Decide which artwork you want to display [link to the article “Creative Ways to Display Your Kid’s Artwork]; for other pieces that your child still doesn’t quite want to part with, use clear file boxes filled with hanging folders to keep art organized. Store kept items chronologically (by age or grade). Services like Plum Print can turn kids’ artwork and treasures into beautiful keepsake art and memory books, something Gilbane has done multiple times. If plastic bins are well organized, then they can be sent directly to Plum Print, who can design the child's book by age/grade, or by child [NOTE FROM HH: Could link to article, “TK Tips to Help Plan Your Personalized Book.”] Plum Print can also turn artwork into stationery and hi-res digital images. Trophies, medals, and other 3D objects piling up? Turn them into a Sports Book.
- Keep kids’ books accessible. Kids’ books should be easy for them to get to, say the pros. Baskets that can be moved from room to room are a great solution. Or put books on low shelves that children can reach. As they get older, organize books by color or genre as long as it’s a system that’s simple for you and your kids to maintain.
Room Organization Inspiration:
The Living Room.
Since this room is for relaxing but also for entertaining, it’s nice to have a few systems in place to keep things looking tidy. Check out these ideas.
- Use closed storage for toys. For any toys living in the living room, Gilbane loves closed storage solutions: shelves with lower cabinets, ottomans with lids, a console table with a skirt around it. “I have found that kids don't tend to open up and go through those spaces,” she explains, “and it allows you to bring out one thing at a time. Kids will play with that toy for a few days and, when they're bored of it, it goes back in the cabinet. It’s a way to keep living spaces clutter-free.” Gilbane recommends baskets for items like bigger stuffed animals or electronic toys.
- Designate a spot for remotes. One online trend organizes remotes by hanging them on hooks, but Gilbane uses another tactic: She corrals them all on a pretty tray on her coffee table. “That way, everyone knows where they are,” she says. Speaking of trays…
- Use trays to organize otherwise unrelated items. “I am a tray fanatic,” says Gilbane. “I have tiny trays that hold four bottles of perfume, I have really big trays on my coffee table that kind of hold everything, I have trays on our bar to hold alcohol. Things just look prettier when they’re contained.” Try rattan or lacquered trays, recommends Gilbane.
- Create a pretty book display. You may have seen beautiful bookshelves with books arranged in a rainbow of colors. This is something Hay does in her home. Pay attention to books’ sizes as you group them on a shelf, going from small to large or vice versa for a more graceful look.
How to Keep It That Way!
Maintain an organized home. When it comes to keeping your organized spaces looking tidy, consistency is key. Consider trying these expert tips.
- Make your bed. “Making your bed starts your day off by completing a tidying task,” says Hay, “and it’s a fabulous habit. It’s something I make my kids do before they leave for school every day. I don't care how well they do it; it's just about putting the effort in.”
- Take “The Tidy Train.” Professional organizer Lindsay Downes uses this strategy: At the end of the day, she walks through the rooms in her home with a basket (such as a laundry basket). Anything that doesn’t belong in a space goes in the basket. As she goes through various rooms, she puts things back in their correct room or area. It might take a couple of rounds through the house, but in short order, everything will be properly restored to its rightful place.
- Establish habits for storing everyday items. When you come into the house, maybe you take your shoes off, hang up your bag and put the mail all in one spot, explains Gilbane. She has a little tray where she stashes sunglasses and car keys. And those regular habits have a big impact when you’re in a rush. “Whether it's me or my husband trying to run out the door quickly, everything is all right there. Because that can make all the difference in the world, whether you miss the bus or the train or whatever you're trying to do.”
From the kitchen to the living areas to tackling kid stuff, an organized home is all about setting up straightforward systems and putting time in every so often to maintain them. The result? A home where you love to spend time. “Our homes should be sanctuaries for our stuff, our people and the things that matter to us,” emphasizes Hay. “That calming effect makes a big difference in how we live and enjoy our lives.”
Once you’ve got the house organized the way you want it, get your kids to help you keep it clean. Read “How to Keep the House Clean with Kids" Here