Whether you’re remodeling, shifting into a new life stage or working from home more, this pro advice can help
Whether you’re remodeling, building a new house, becoming an empty nester or working from home more these days, you could have good reason to declutter and organize. Read on for my organizing tips for six common life changes you may face.
Remodeling or constructing a new home is a great opportunity to create proper storage as well as efficient flow, so it’s good to take organizing into account as you plan your project.
- Design the flow of your home to work for your lifestyle by considering your daily routines. For instance, consider where you will enter the home, drop off mail and have your children do their homework.
- Plan storage to accommodate everyone in the household. Will your family size grow — perhaps with a new baby or an aging parent — or shrink — perhaps with a child going off to college — in the near future?
- It’s best to declutter before planning your remodel. That way, you can plan to store what you want to keep rather than what you have now.
- Measure your possessions before finalizing storage solutions. For example, if you don’t want your toiletry items on the counter, be sure to select drawers or cabinets with sufficient depth and height to house them. Similarly, if you don’t want all your pots and pans on the stovetop when not in use, be sure your new kitchen cabinets can store them all.
- If your remodel or building project requires you to move out temporarily, take the items you need for everyday living and pack away those you won’t need for a while.
Home organization is fluid. Changes such as marriage, growing children, retirement, divorce, downsizing, work demands and health requirements may alter how you can use your spaces.
- Be open-minded. Ignore room labels such as “family room” or “second bedroom” and think about what your ideal use would be for that space. Perhaps a dining area would now work better where the family room has been. Maybe your second bedroom would actually serve as the perfect walk-in closet.
- Embrace your new life stage by reviewing whether your current belongings are still relevant. If you’ve retired and your downsized home can no longer entertain a large number of guests, you may want to pare down some of your serving pieces and dinnerware. If you’ve been injured and can no longer ski, passing along your skiing equipment may be the emotional release you need to allow a new activity into your life.
My ultimate goal is for my clients to love spending time in their spaces, surrounded by items they enjoy, with systems in place for efficiency. Home organization should allow them to manage their daily routines with ease and should support their activities (such as entertaining, crafting or baking).
In addition to making sure each room is used for the most pragmatic purpose, I recommend that clients incorporate ergonomics principles into their rooms. Your most used items should be within easy reach to maximize safety and efficiency.
It’s not uncommon for jobs to require some kind of working at home. I’ve found that people often use existing furniture to create a home office, and there’s nothing wrong with this as long as it supports a safe and productive work environment — especially if you work from home for more than a few hours per week. However, I have seen too many dining room setups with files and supplies located inconveniently throughout the home, not to mention inadequate seating.
- Set up your physical workspace with ergonomics in mind, being mindful of table, seating and keyboard heights and the reach distance for frequently used supplies like your mouse or a reference binder.
- Set up a mail-sorting system that works for you to keep papers from piling up.
- Free up space by switching from paper bills and statements to online ones.
Packing a home for a move can be overwhelming, especially if the move includes selling your home.
- Invest time upfront to declutter and pare down unused and unwanted items before packing. You’ll save time on the unpacking end and save money on having the remaining items packed and moved. Plus, you’ll face less unwanted clutter in your new home.
- If you’ll be staging your home yourself, keep the style neutral and remove as many personal touches as possible so potential buyers can visualize themselves in your home.
- If you can’t yet move into your new home when you sell your current one, you may need to pack for a temporary stay. Packing minimally is generally a good idea, but if your temporary stay will be significant, you may want to include some items to maintain a sense of normalcy — for example, a few holiday decorations if you’ll be in temporary quarters over the holidays. This is especially true if you have kids.
- Labeling your moving boxes by the room they should be placed in can help reduce chaos and confusion. I recommend also numbering your boxes and creating a spreadsheet outlining which categories of items are in them, which can be useful when you can’t remember what you packed where.