As you’re spending more time at home, you might develop a need to organize more than ever before (*raises hand*). Whether you’re living in a studio alone, sharing an apartment with three roomies, or staying at home with the entire fam, more time indoors means more use of the indoors and, therefore, a want to shift your space to meet new and recently discovered needs. With all that be said, the timing of Netflix’s new show “Get Organized with The Home Edit” couldn’t have come at a better time (or year).
As of today, the new home organizing series is available for bingeing, which follows the journey of expert organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of The Home Edit as they tackle home projects for their clientele, including celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Khloe Kardashian, and Neil Patrick Harris, among others. There’s no doubt that maximizing, decluttering, and making rooms as multi-functional as possible are home needs taking precedence in today’s world—and Shearer and Teplin have plenty of advice to share with us to achieve organizing success.
We got to (virtually) sit down with The Home Edit team and pick their brains for organizing tips that prevent and solve challenges faced at home. The best part? They’re easy and come at little to no additional cost (the “little” is containers, if you choose to invest). See below for their doable suggestions that’ll make a big difference in how you assemble and create function in your spaces.
Create an “away” system to separate work from personal life.
Even if you have a dedicated work zone carved out at home, it can be hard to shut off when there isn’t an away system that puts your work materials out of sight at the end of the day. “It’s visual clutter but also mental clutter, and more than ever, we need to make sure that our home can also function as our home life and not [just] our work life,” Shearer told Apartment Therapy. “We need that separation and distinction. It’s not just about designating an area, but also making sure that you can physically put it away.”
By leaving items out, work might never leave your mind even after you’re off the clock—so it’s important to create an away system to achieve that “out of sight, out of mind” comfort at home. It doesn’t have to be a big away system, either—Shearer suggests using a cart that you can roll up to the table when its in use, then roll away against the wall or in the closet after you’re finished. This is also a great solution for homeschool setups, too.
Contain items mindfully and with purpose.
Confined spaces like the pantry, medicine cabinet/bathroom storage, and utensil drawer are often the ones that get congested and cluttered the quickest. Even when you clean out the old items and store everything away nice and neat, give it a few days—and one or two newly added items—and the whole system comes undone. The solution? Contain, contain, contain.
“If you contain it at the front end, it’s not as hard to maintain as you would think. The containment is really critical, and it’s containing within its own category,” Shearer said. So in the bathroom, for example, one bin should be dedicated only to nail polishes, another where you keep tiny toiletries you’ve accumulated from past trips.
If you live with multiple people, it might be best to use labels to make sure everyone is on the same page when maintaining these small spaces. “It holds everybody accountable—and that’s the item that should live in that bin, nothing else,” Teplin said.
Use walls and doors when you’re short on shelf space.
Many think that storage is all used up when all their shelves are occupied, but The Home Edit team proves that there are plenty of unused storage opportunities left—all you have to do is utilize your walls and doors.
“People assume that they’re out of storage, but you can always add to it,” Shearer mentioned. For example, “Over the door hangers—if you don’t have a great door to put it on, you can put [command hooks] right onto the wall. Cabinet doors, closet doors…”
When it comes to closet space, it can be hard to fit your extra belongings like bags in a nice and organized manner on the shelves—so they suggest just hanging them. “Some people don’t have shelf space to devote to handbags, so then we hang them on hooks on the hanging rod,” Shearer said. “Some people have more hanging space than shelf space; it depends on the space you’re working with.”
Check your sentimental items to see if they’re still sentimental.
A major factor that often leads to unnecessary clutter at home is holding onto items that are sentimental—or at least, ones that you consider as such at the time. While it may have been the case when you initially tucked it away, Teplin says that in order to truly know you want to keep it, you must continuously revisit the items you think you have an emotional attachment to.
“If things are super sentimental, it’s just as important to go through and make sure that each of those items still have the same weight in your mind, because maybe something that was sentimental five years ago doesn’t feel the same way anymore,” Teplin said. “It’s still important to revisit those items and decide, then re-decide what to store and what to get rid of. They might feel differently.”
If you started practicing this rule on an active basis, odds are you’ll discover not all things hold equal sentimental clutter and slowly start to let go of things. Can you imagine the freed-up space possibilities?
Whatever you’re organizing, never (ever) skip the edit part.
The Home Edit team swears by four concrete steps in their organizing process: edit, categorize, contain, and maintain. And there’s a very obvious reason that the “edit” portion is first—it’s what sets the foundation for any space that’s transitioning into a more organized one.
Whether you’re reorganizing an area, single space, or multiple rooms, it’s important to go through each item first to make sure it actually should have a place in your home at all. Otherwise, an item you don’t even care about can take up precious square footage that could otherwise open up a room or be vacant space for more important objects.
Shearer mentioned that she moved this past May, and that editing on the front end made transitioning her belongings from one place to another that much easier. “I physically touched every item and made the judgement call, do I keep or do I donate it/get rid of it if it’s actual trash, which it can be,” Shearer said. It’s so gratifying to know that everything you’re unpacking you want, or use, or love, and it has a purpose in your home.”