Their advice will help give your space a much-needed makeover.

By Elyse Moody
March 13, 2020

Those of us whose hearts thrill to see a pantry filled with clear bins of decanted pastas and grains, labeled baskets of pretzel and fruit snacks, and bright rows of seltzer feel a certain kinship with Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, cofounders of The Home Edit, a Nashville-based organizing company that launched in 2015. Their meeting was somewhat serendipitous: A mutual friend introduced them, as both were recent transplants to Music City, and they discovered their shared love for home organization over coffee—in fact, their bond was so strong that they opened a bank account for their new business on the very same day. In short order, thanks in part to projects they executed for celebrities like Mandy Moore, they amassed quite an Instagram following. Now, the duo has 1.5 million followers and counting. They've since written a best-selling book and developed a line of organizing products at The Container Store, and are set to star in an upcoming home-makeover series on Netflix.

While their bathroom closets, wardrobes, and laundry rooms are nothing short of eye candy, it's their pantry, refrigerator, and under-sink organizers that regularly nab the most likes. "The reason we love kitchens—and why I think other people do, too—is because everyone has one," says Shearer. "Whether it's huge or a tiny nook, you have to figure out a way to store essentials that we as human beings like we all eat." Luckily, the kitchen also happens to be the simplest space in your home to establish and keep order. "When people say that they can't maintain something, we always point to the silverware drawer," says Shearer. "Every single person ever agrees where a fork goes. They're not like, Whoa! Where? What drawer? The silverware drawer should be the model for the entire home."

To go beyond your silverware drawer, follow these tips to getting your kitchen as organized as one of theirs.

Related: Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets in Nine Easy Steps

Enforce Zoning

Make a blueprint for your kitchen that maps out what really needs to live there and what requires its own space. Cleaning products are the perfect example. "Those would be hopefully relegated to underneath the kitchen sink," says Shearer. Then, forbid cross-contamination. "Peanut butter next to plates? No, thank you."

Use All Your Negative Space

Picture the 18 inches of air below your sink, or the slivers at either side of a long cabinet. "We preach about under the sink all day long because people don't even think about it," says Shearer. "You want to take advantage of every square inch." Hardware helps you do that. "You have to contain stuff," adds Teplin. "Otherwise you never know what you have. Nothing should be free floating." For instance, they recommend sticking adhesive hooks—they like Command Hooks ($2.38, walmart.com)—to the sides of cabinets to hang spray bottles or brooms. "It frees up the entire cabinet," Shearer says. Their other favorite tool is a turntable. Stick a divided one in the shorter space beneath the sink pipes to assign a parking spot to rags, sponges, dishwasher pods, trash bag rolls (take them out of the box), and other small items.

Apply the 80/20 Rule

This duo puts it into practice in in every kitchen (and closet) they organize. "It's kind of like how when you eat, you never want to be over 80 percent full," explains Shearer. "It just doesn't feel comfortable. I think that the same goes for any space in your home. If you're maxed out at 100 percent, you don't feel good." Adds Teplin: "At 100 percent, you're jamming your fingers into drawers, trying to open up. No one wants to put anything away. And now you have like a huge path of resistance. We always say, do you want the item or do you want the space? Because you can't have both." If you bring a mug home from every city you travel to, fine—call it a collection and make space for it. But if that theme park souvenir cup doesn't actually mean anything to you, donate it.

Clear Your Countertops

Just the essentials, please. Shearer leaves out only her knife block and kitchen utensils—the nicest looking ones. "I put the ones I actually use in the drawer," she admits. "We have to look at these things, and they're taking up valuable real estate. Make sure you actually like to look at it or need it there. Otherwise, please let it go."

Recycle Excess Food Storage Containers

Set a hard limit for how many pieces you accumulate. "Again, think about the square footage," says Teplin. "Those are about $3 apiece. Think about how much space you really want to dedicate to them." Then ask yourself a very important question, she says: "Do I even have the lids?" If not, let them go.

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