Some of your New Year’s resolutions (“Get in shape,” “get healthy,” “give up emotionally unavailable romantic partners”) are so enormous that they end up toppling over from their own weight. Who knows where to start? Similarly, the vow to “finally get organized” at home is a biggie, too. But, if you break that task down into little nibbles, the project no longer seems like it’ll choke you. Here are a few organizing tweaks that help sort out your life (and make your home look great):
Contain yourself. “If things are just sprawling around, it feels cluttered,” says professional organizer Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers. Putting things in containers makes them feel defined and organized. Example: the daily mail. “Thrown on the kitchen counter, it’s chaotic. Put in a shallow, open basket or a pretty tray, and then it’s all there for when you’re ready to deal with it. It matches your decor and has a proper home,” she says. You still need to deal with it, though. To that end, she suggests putting it in a prominent place (“I believe in ‘out of sight, out of mind’”) and setting a calendar reminder on your phone.
Think inside the box. “Most everyone has bookshelves in their home,” says Zaslow. Use them to stash random collections of things. Not out in the open, though. Put them in a (cute) box. “Match your decor. That’s where the fun part comes in,” she says. Her mantra: “Group like with like.” Put chargers, cords, remotes in one. Have another for kids’ toys, art supplies, office stuff. “This is a super easy organizing solution,” she says. “Just be sure to measure your shelf before you buy boxes. All of a sudden it looks neat, organized—it’s an instant decor lift.”
Get labeling. “In general, labeling things can bring a sense of organization,” says Zaslow. If you want to get ‘all Martha,’ she says, you can label the boxes you’ve put on your bookshelves, above. She uses hang-tags. These days, she says, even office supply stores have really pretty labels—not just white stickers. Use them on spice jars, boxes, binders. Write neatly or do it on the computer. Or opt for a labelmaker. Add color for organization (and looks): Color-coding systems can be helpful. Zaslow uses green for financial records, her favorite color for a favorite activity, etc.
Looks matter. When organizing, “if it’s a container you like, it encourages you to interact with it more,” Zaslow says. “It encourages you to put things back!” She had a client put her kitchen sink scrub brush and sponge in a pretty votive holder that she had but wasn’t using. She also repurposed a little ceramic dish to hold soap in the shower.
Put junk in trunks. “Chests and trunks are great for corralling extra comforters and pillows at the end of the bed,” she says. They also great for kids’s stuff—just make sure they’re childproof—like toys and big stuffed animals. Zaslow also uses them in living rooms/dens to hide magazines, photo albums, and “a throw that’s not the most attractive but really warm and cozy.”
Hang out. “This is really easy to do—and it’s all about visual impact: Switch to all matching hangers, particularly in the hall closet,” she says. It’s not expensive and it’s often the first and last thing you see in a house, so it’s a nice impression to make.
Attack that rogue drawer. Don’t let it get the best of you. Put little shallow boxes in the drawer and group similar things together—batteries, keys, office supplies. It’ll save you time and money (you won’t buy yet more AAA batteries you don’t need).
Pick up stylish organization essentials at Gilt Home’s “Design Resolutions: Get Organized” sale, starting Sunday, Jan. 26, at 9 p.m.
— Maria Ricapito