Home is a haven where we share stories around the kitchen table, tuck our kids into bed and put our feet up after a long day at work. So, if the home is at the core of our daily lives, then why not make it a more beautiful, decluttered place to be?
Whether you’ve got an endless supply of seasonal holiday decor or a shoe collection that would rival any department store, there’s always a way to organize your belongings. Storage is as artful as it is flexible and you can create personalized solutions that work for you and that maximize your space’s full potential.
At TheRedPin, we reached out to a formidable roster of celebrity interior designers and professional home organizers and asked them their top three tips for keeping your house (and closet) calm, collected and clutter-free.
Here’s what they had to say:
- Sarah Richardson – Award Winning Designer and Television Personality
1.) Small spaces are typically at high risk of clutter and disorganization. Investing in a customized storage solution will help tame the beast. A well-planned built-in that provides surfaces, seating and storage space can help fulfill a number of goals by combining various functions. I designed this tiny urban space to include floor-to-ceiling storage that offers lots of shelving, while the lower section does triple duty as a console, stereo cabinet and desk or dining table for two. To cap it all off, a floating shelf above the console serves as a kind of mantel for holding candles and artwork, keeping any clutter above table height.
2.) No matter how many tricks and techniques you use to hide away your bits and bobs that you just don’t want to part with, nothing comes close to the result of a good weekend purge. Start with your bedroom and empty out the contents of every closet and drawer and decide if you really need each item. Recycle stacks of old magazines and pare down everything in your wardrobe. If you haven’t worn a garment in a year or more, donate it to a local women’s shelter. Try to live a “less is more” existence. I guarantee your room will feel fresh and new when you’re done.
3.) When it comes to organization, I live by the wise words of William Morris: “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” This way, you’ll not likely find yourself in a cluttered mess anytime soon.
Sarah Richardson is the host and co-producer of five HGTV lifestyle series seen in over 100 countries where she shares her practical, endearing and inspiring approach to décor and design with viewers.
- Melissa Davis – HGTV Designer
1.) It’s difficult to see through the clutter and focus on what should remain. Start by removing all the small items and accessories and leave a nice clean slate with just the key pieces. It’s so much easier to look at the space like this with fresh eyes. As a general rule, I try to only put back 50% of what was removed. Those magazine perfect rooms you love, typically are quite clean. This also allows your favourite pieces to really shine without getting lost in the crowd.
2.) Set yourself up for success by creating a place for the daily ‘stuff’ we inevitably accumulate. Pretending it doesn’t exist won’t make it stop, so instead think through how you use your space in a typical day and answer the needs with solutions. Make a cabinet for keys at the door. A big drawer for tools and the ‘junk’ tucked away and add storage over the toilet to hold all those pesky products that fill the counter. This is part of the design process we take our clients through. If the kids do homework in the dining room, we plan a cabinet to hold their supplies right there beside the table to save the alternate where it starts looking more like a desk, than dining!
3.) Something in, something out. I have a rule at home and help clients with this as well. If we bring something new into the house, something needs to leave. It’s ok to fall in love with a new toss pillow, but that means one of the others needs to leave. My son knows that if he asks for a new toy, we need to select one to donate to charity. It’s a great way to also put a spotlight on our need for things versus the want. Now new shoes are a different story. The shoes can all stay in my house!
Toronto-based celebrity designer and contractor Melissa Davis is known for her appearances, creative design and reno work produced for various HGTV shows. Her work has been profiled nationally in print publications. With almost two decades of reno and design experience, her firm continues to service clientele throughout Ontario & GTA, specializing in value-adding ROI and resale.
- Laura Kay – Director of Communication for Professional Organizers in Canada (POC)
1.) Always Apply the One Minute Rule: If an action takes less than a minute to do, then do it now. Return the email if it’s a quick one, pay the bill, gather the dry cleaning and put it near the door, pick up whatever’s on the floor that doesn’t belong there and return it to its proper “home.” If something is meant to go to a different floor of the house, put it on the staircase to go up. Do not go up the stairs empty-handed if there are things on that staircase that need relocating.
2.) Don’t just put it Down – Put it Back! Have you finished using an object? Don’t just leave it anywhere. Make sure you put it back where you got it right then and there. Eliminate ‘just for now” from your vocabulary (that could be a tip on its own).
3.) Start small: To avoid procrastination and overwhelm, don’t plan on organizing large sections all at once. Choose a drawer, a closet or a corner of a room. Complete the task before moving on to the next. In other words, don’t walk away from it and leave part of it incomplete. Fair warning: During the process, the situation will look worse before it starts to look better.
Laura Kay is a Silver Leaf accredited professional organizer and currently the Director of Communication of the National Board of Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) serving over 600 members across the country. Laura was also awarded the POC’s Ambassador Award, which recognizes contributions made as a mentor to the professional organizing community.
- Dvira Ovadia – Award Winning HGTV Designer
1.) When designing, updating or renovating a home, I always ask my clients to communicate and consider how much “stuff” they have, this begins with clothing, dishes and kitchen gadgets, office papers, books and personal belongings. Typically these are all items that we should be stored away behind closed doors to minimize the clutter and maximize space in our homes. There is nothing more unsightly than a cluttered room simply because proper storage has not been allocated! In fact, a disorganized space can make a room look smaller.
2.) When designing any room in the house, it’s important to pick key walls to allocated built-in storage. Taking advantage of full height and the full width of the wall will allow you to store away all of your belongings in a neat and orderly fashion. Considering what needs to be stored in that specific room allows you to customize those built-in storage compartments by taking it to the next level with the introducing smaller partition, extra drawers and speciality pullouts to accommodate all your personal needs.
3.) When designing on a budget, one of my favourite design tips is sourcing prefab cabinetry. When working closely with my contractors and carpenters we optimize the products to create that custom built-in look that is far more affordable.
Toronto-based celebrity and award-winning designer Dvira Ovadia Principal of Dvira Interiors is known for her appearances and design work on various HGTV shows. Dvira and her team use their profound understanding of design to create stylishly smart spaces – servicing clientele throughout Ontario & GTA.
- Janette Ewen – Decor and Lifestyle Expert
1.) Host a closet Intervention: We all know the rules if you haven’t worn it for two years, it’s time for it to go. So why is it so hard to let go of items that spend their lonely lives not seeing the light of day. Stage your own closet intervention. Invite a trusted friend over (one with great taste) and spend the entire afternoon sorting your closet. Start with the items you love but don’t just try them on – think about new ways to wear them and see whether they can be tailored. If you figure out a new way to wear them take a picture, store it in a fashion file on your mobile device. This way when you are stuck on what to wear you can just check your phone. If you and your very honest and stylish friend agree the item doesn’t work either donate it or sell it to a consignment store. Next, remove all items that are worn looking, repair what you can, eliminate the rest.
2.) Time to organize: Create an organization system with the items that remain in your closet. I would recommend arranging items by category—shirts, blouses, jeans, etc. Use a non-slip “huggable” hanger to maximize space to keep your closet looking organized as well as preventing clothing from falling to the floor. At the front of your closet group 4-7 prepared outfits, (complete with accessories) for dressing on the run. These looks should be refreshed every one to two weeks. *If you have space for rolling racks invest in a high-end one and place it in your dressing area. Place prepared outfits on this rack with items that tend to get forgotten. This is how professional stylists work when on set and I find it also works in the home.
3.) Time to shop: Now comes the fun part, shopping for new items and refreshing your look. Make a list of items you are missing, pants that need to go to with a shirt, closet staples like a pencil skirt and so on. Once you have your list, pop onto a website like Pinterest and put together a style board of trend items and outfits you are drawn to. From that style board, you can head to the shops with a list in hand and a strong focus on the look you want.
Janette Ewen is a lifestyle expert and designer at Parker Barrow Creative studio, as well as a frequent guest expert on lifestyle shows City Line and Global TV.
- Linda Vanderkolk – Principal Lead Organizer and Project Manager at ClutterBGone
1.) Flat surfaces: One of the most important tricks is to keep horizontal surfaces clear (we like to call them “clutter magnets”) – especially the kitchen counter. It’s so easy to toss something down with all the intentions in the world to come back to it. But before you know it you have a pile or piles of “stuff” laying somewhere that it shouldn’t be. I preach this a lot and cannot emphasize it enough. Keep all flat surfaces clear. I know you can do it!
2.) Write It Down: I keep an agenda-type book and I write everything down in there. I mean every single thing. Appointments, things to follow up on, people to call, items to purchase, places to research and more. My book is my bible.
3.) File It Away Right Now: Paper must be dealt with as soon as it comes into the house! When a bill or any other piece of mail comes to the house it goes to the “In box” (it can simply be a small bin or basket by the door or a designated place in the kitchen until you can act on it). Simple enough.
Once you can dedicate a few minutes to sort through the paper, place them in what I call “Action Files” where your papers are further designated to a file with the specific task at hand. Maybe it needs to be paid, filed, there’s someone I need to contact or something I need to research. I have separate action folders on my desk for each category and the paper goes in the particular category of action for next steps.
- Linda Chu – Member of Professional Organizers in Canada
1.) Colour-Code: Remember ROY G BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). Use it in your closet or in the crafts room for your art supplies to make finding things easier and getting dressed in the morning a breeze.
2.) Get Kids Involved Early: Teach your kids organizing skills at an early age so they can help around the house. One way to do this is by labelling your containers and bins using colours or images – your children will begin to understand that their items go into the blue bin versus reading the words on the label.
3.) It’s about the process: Concentrate on creating systems in your home that work with your organizing habits.
Linda Chu is the founder of the BC Chapter of Professional Organizers in Canada and has made frequent guest appearances on CityTV’s Breakfast Television, CBC Radio’s BC Almanac, The Globe and Mail (and more), divulging home organization and decluttering tips.
- Marie Potter – Member of Professional Organizers in Canada
1.) Liberation: Free yourself of duplicates and duds. Give yourself permission to release things that clog up your home, you don’t really like or are out of style. Increase the liberation factor by donating or recycling your goods for the better of the planet.
2.) Location: Ease and accessibility are everything when it comes to a smooth residential operation. Ensure items are where you need them, with the most frequently used items closest at hand. This also means, make sure items you rarely use are stored further away.
3.) Label: Labelling just means you’re serious about getting things back where they belong. It’s mandatory in organizing boot camp and is one of the most helpful elements in training other members of the household to put things back.
Marie Potter is a professional project manager and was one of the founding partners of Professional Organizers of Canada (POC) BC Lower Mainland chapter. Marie currently serves as the Director of Marketing on the board of POC.
- Heather Knittel and Susan Borax – Members of Professional Organizers in Canada
1.) Establish a purpose for each room or section of a room. Populate each room or area with the items you would need, both utilitarian and decorative, to optimize the space. This is particularly important for managing papers. Do it in one place.
2.) Make visible and accessible all the items you need on a regular basis and find alternate locations that hide the rest – under-the-bed bins for out of season clothes; banker’s boxes for archived paperwork; out of the way locations luggage and seasonal decorations.
3.) For stubborn items that wander, like keys, phones and tickets, you need to create special homes and systems to minimize wasteful searching. Find strategic locations for keys and chargers and create launch pads for items you need to take with you when you leave the house.
Heather and Susan are both members of the POC and together authored the book: Good Riddance: Showing Clutter the Door.
- Clare Kumar – Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant
1.) Prioritize: Identify the purpose of the space – both what you want to do and how you want to feel. Aim for five or fewer activities. Find words to describe the atmosphere of the room – serene, energetic, calm, homey, minimal, lived-in. Articulating your vision is important for it is your guide through the other parts of the organizing process.
2.) For each activity, create a zone to house furniture and storage related to it. Place items in your space so that they are comfortable to access and are well-preserved.
3.) Creating order is one thing. Maintaining it is another. We all have different tolerance levels for chaos, so it is important to develop habits that suit you. This may mean cleaning your desk at the end of every day, or the chair in your room of clothes every three days.
Clare is a Toronto-based professional organizer and founder of Streamlife. Passionate about helping people reduce mess and stress to get more out of life, Clare marries a love of working with people, natural creativity and problem-solving skills.
- Janice Kirwin – Member of Professional Organizers in Canada
1.) Use shower curtain hooks – you can use them on a closet bar to hang your purses to get them off the floor or free up shelf space.
2.) Use a desk organizer to sort cookie sheets and cutting boards in your kitchen cabinet for easy access and no more crashing sounds.
3.) Dispense plastic grocery bags with ease by stuffing empties into an old Kleenex box stored under the sink, simply pull out one when you need it.
Janice Kirwin is the owner of Lighten Up! providing professional organizing and senior move management services in London, Ontario.