How to Reorganize the Main Rooms in Your Home
From the family room to the kitchen and everywhere in between, here's how to streamline the most frequently used living spaces in your house.
If you have lived in your house for an extended period of time, there's a good chance that you have accumulated quite a bit of "stuff." The junk drawers are full, the pantry is a dark zone, and the space under the bathroom since is crammed with shampoo bottles that may or may not date back to your move in. Does this sound familiar? If so, we understand—navigating this level of clutter can be overwhelming, especially if you have a house full of people (not to mention little ones). And while streamlining your space might seem like a major undertaking, the benefits are sure to outweigh all of the time and energy spent, say our experts.
"Being organized increases the amount of time you have in your day and the amount of money you have in your pocket. At the same time, it decreases the amount of stress you carry on your shoulders," explains Stacey Agin Murray, a professional organizer and author located in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. "When you're organized, you're able to spend less time searching for things, which gives you more time to be productive and focus on what is important to you."
Decluttering also helps you make room for new things in your life—new items that will bring you joy and peace of mind, Murray notes. "There is so much to gain from decluttering and organizing every room in a home—a peaceful, relaxing space to live in, an easier space to keep clean, and the feeling of being surrounded only by things that are meaningful to your current life and lifestyle," she adds. Ready to reorganize and declutter all of the main rooms in your home? Ahead, experts offer their best tips for sprucing up these central spaces.
The Living Room: Define How the Room Will Be Used
The living room is likely where you and your family spend the majority of your time together (especially these days), so it's only natural that this might be the most cluttered room in the house. Before you decide how to tackle the job, Adriane Weinberg, an organizing and home staging consultant at An Organized Approach in Philadelphia, suggests first defining how the space will be utilized. "Will it be used formally for hosting guests or more informally, for a family room?" she asks, noting to consider post-pandemic entertaining plans. "If kids play here, set up an area or corner with a small table and chair, cabinet for toys and activities, and shelves for books."
The Living Room: Utilize Baskets
Felice Cohen, a professional organizer, recommends utilizing matching totes, baskets, or bins for storing or hiding certain items that don't add to the décor landscape of this room. "You can put the labels on the sides if you don't want to see them—one tote for electronics, one for office supplies, school supplies, toys, etc.," she says. "This makes organizing the space at the end of the day easy to do."
The Living Room: Go Vertical with Storage Pieces
"Living rooms are multi-purpose spaces that benefit from both open and closed storage," notes Agin Murray. She recommends investing in furniture that doubles as an organization systems, such as TV cabinets, entertainment centers, and bookshelves. "Regardless of the size of the living room, I always advise clients to go as close to the ceiling as they can with their storage pieces," she says. Her motto? "When you can no longer organize outward, organize upward!'"
Main Bedroom: Declutter Horizontal Surfaces
Bedrooms are supposed to be for sleep and storing clothes, but they can easily attract clutter from the rest of the home, notes Murray. As a good first step, she recommends clearing out nightstands and dressers, which can be catchalls for clutter. "Create a bin or space for items that need a 'home' or need to be returned to a 'home'—or another room—and make decisions on those items when you're most energetic," she adds.
Main Bedroom: Filter Out Clothes by Season and Formality
Expert Ben Soreff of House to Home Organizing suggests this system for clothes: Sort and review what you are keeping, make note of its seasonality, and then determine where it should live in the house. "When space is limited, do the winter-summer swap," he says, noting to put out-of-season garments in clear bins and store them elsewhere, if not under the bed. "Additionally, when closet space is limited, consider taking out all the formal clothes you wear infrequently. Store them in the guest room closet—or even the attic or basement."
Main Bedroom: Organize Clothes and Accessories
When it comes to the clothes and accessories that you do plan on wearing in that given season, Weinberg recommends organizing everything in a way that makes sense to you. "For example, you can organize closets by category (slacks, dresses, shirts, and so on) or color," she says. "You can also organize accessories the same way—sorting jewelry into categories such as real or costume, silver or gold, or by type (watches, necklaces, and rings)."
Main Bedroom: Make Use of Wall Space
"Cubbies or shelves that go up to the ceiling can store a lot of stuff," says Cohen, who recommends using matching colored boxes or baskets to store (and hide) items—and make your room look neater overall. "There are storage boxes with whimsical designs and colors that can match or add to your bedroom décor," she says.
The Kitchen: Get Rid of What Doesn't Belong
If the living room is the heart of the home, then the kitchen is the brains, says Cohen. "We spend a lot of time in kitchens, not just eating, but passing through, congregating, and for many, working," she says. "The kitchen also has the most counter space and often becomes a landing strip for random items." She recommends grabbing a bag or laundry basket and looking around for anything that doesn't belong in the kitchen—from soccer cleats or a stack of towels to homework—and distributing them to the right room.
The Kitchen: Designate a Spot for Mail
This is also the space where letters, and especially bills, pile up. "While most of the mail can be tossed (and should be immediately), there are often important papers you don't want to misplace," notes Cohen. Instead of leaving it on the counter, she recommends designating a drawer or basket for any important notes: "This way, you'll know where to find it when you have the time to go through it—and won't chance misplacing a bill and paying a late fee or forgetting about a juror summons."
The Kitchen: Double Your Storage Space
One of the easiest ways to double the storage capacity of your kitchen? Invest in helper shelves, which are also known as shelf risers. "Helper shelves are used for doubling the horizontal space on a shelf in a cabinet or pantry, offering more space above it and below it for the storage of canned goods, boxes, and bottles," says Murray. "They come in a variety of widths and heights as well as different finishes (plastic, metal, etc.) and are not just for food—they can also be used for doubling the storage space of dinnerware, mugs, and other glassware."
The Kitchen: Remove Mismatched Food Canisters
Chances are, you have a ton of plastic food storage pieces, but not all have matching lids, which means they won't do you any good. Cohen recommends taking them all out and pairing them up. Set anything with a missing partner aside and store the remainder by stacking them one inside the other. "Once you remove the excess, it's easier to keep your space organized," she adds.
The Bathroom: Give Each Family Member Their Own Space
If your bathroom is large enough, Cohen recommends giving each person in the household their own drawer and shelf in the medicine cabinet. "Store in those spaces only the items you use daily, such as a toothbrush, face wash, hair gel, and deodorant," she says. Now, grab those extra food storage canisters with missing lids; Cohen recommends using them inside any drawers to help corral smaller items, such as dental floss, aspirin bottles, lipsticks, and more.
The Bathroom: Keep Linens in a Separate Storage Area
Cohen suggests putting all linens—as well as back-up toiletries and medical items—in a separate area, like a linen closet. "These items are best grouped by category (oral, hair, first aid, etc.) and it's great to store them in plastic totes with covers that are all the same size—you can stack them and save space," she says. "Just make sure to label them, as this keeps everything organized and allows you to find items easily when you need them in a hurry, whether it's a bandage or aspirin."
The Bathroom: Purge Personal Items Frequently
"A bathroom is a small space and bottles and jars multiplied by the number of people using the bathroom adds up quickly," notes Murray. She recommends purging personal items a minimum of once a month to check for expiration dates that have come and gone; also, consider donating anything you haven't used in a while. "The perfect times to purge products are the day before your garbage is collected, the day before heading to the store, or anytime!" she adds.