Declutter First, Organize Second

2016 is right around the corner, and like many of you I’m thinking about what changes I’d like to make in my life and home in the coming year.

Organization always pops up on that list! Living in a small 3-bedroom bungalow with five people means that organization is imperative in our house. Piles and messes can quickly take over if we’re not diligent about putting things away.

But even more important than organization is simply managing the amount of stuff we own. The less stuff we have, the smaller the clutter!

Before I organize a closet, a drawer, or a room, my first step is always to get rid of all the items we no longer like or use. Or put another way, we only keep the things that truly “spark joy.” This phrase comes from the international bestselling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kando.  By only keeping items that spark joy we’ve been able to drastically reduce piles, stuffed drawers, overflowing closets, packed cabinets, and crowded storage areas.

And of course, most of our items get donated to Goodwill where they’ll hopefully bring joy to someone else who needs or wants them.

Once an area has been cleared of all the things that don’t spark joy (which is usually A LOT of stuff), I then get to organizing!

As Kando mentions in her book, you don’t need to go out and buy fancy storage equipment, in fact you likely already have the storage items you need within your home like shoe boxes, baskets, etc.  If however you are in need of storage containers, go no further than your local Goodwill.  Here are six of my favorite thrifted storage containers:


1. Bread loaf pans tucked inside my drawer for jewelry storage

After getting rid of a ton of pieces (like an entire gallon sized Ziploc bag), I then organized the remaining pieces into these bread loaf pans inside my drawers. Now I have just the pieces I love and wear often, they’re nicely organized by category, and they’re hidden inside my dresser. Win/Win/Win!





2. A dresser that doubles as a TV stand and toy storage

I love that this dresser serves two purposes for us; TV stand and toy storage. It allows us to maximize our living space, while also keeping visual clutter to a minimum by completely hiding all the brightly colored toys.






3. Boxes for storing receipts and other misc. paperwork

Our house does not have an office so our kitchen table can be easily taken over by mail, receipts, and school paperwork. These little white boxes were a great find because they blend nicely with our décor and fit perfectly in our kitchen hutch. Plus. Like the jewelry storage and dresser, the contents are completely out of sight!






4. A crate that doubles as a bench and book storage

I use the term “bench” very loosely. More accurately it’s a platform on which the boys climb to get to the top bunk…  But, it fits great at the end of the bed and holds a nice amount of books – not too many, not too few. It’s also tall enough to hold large books and binders.







5. Mini jars for small office and craft supplies

Super inexpensive and great for corralling all the little stuff that can easily end up scattered in drawers throughout the house.






6. Various containers for holding markers and pencils

We used to keep coloring supplies in Ziploc bags but the shelf looked a mess. These containers feel more organized and it’s easier for the kids to grab just the supplies they need without having to rifle through a bag.







Kando highly recommends decluttering and organizing your entire house in one fell swoop over a few days, but with three small kids at home we’ve had to different sections at a time. Next up on my list is:

  • The bathroom cabinets
  • The “junk” shelf (tape, batteries, cards, post it notes, keys, rulers, etc.)
  • The boys’ clothes
  • The pantry


Cheers to starting 2016 clutter-free!


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