By Ashley Roe, Contributing Writer
I’m not the queen of cleaning, and organizing has never been a natural habit of mine. However, I appreciate a clean and organized space so I have had to become more disciplined in this area. I have needed to develop these habits even more now that my husband and I have our home up for sale.
I’m amazed at how clean my home can be when it’s ready to show for an open house or private tour. It’s through this process that I realized how possible it really is for me to have a clean and organized home.
About a year ago my husband and I began the adventure of getting our home ready to sell. It has honestly been the most exhausting and stressful year of our lives but I have learned a few lessons along the way. It is my hope that I can pass along a some of those lessons to you, whether you are going through a similar process of preparing to sell and move to a new home or you just want some inspiration to do some spring cleaning.
Lesson One: Declutter and Purge
We live in a small space which quickly becomes very cramped with stuff. Overflowing closets, bookshelves packed to the brim, cabinets stuffed so much that things randomly fall out and stacks of papers long overdue for sorting can make our small space feel even smaller. I know I need a plan for controlling the chaos before it takes over anymore of my space and life.
Get Rid of Anything You Can
So one of the first things we did was to go through anything we could pare down or get rid of. I went through every closet, drawer, bookshelf and all the random stacks of papers I could find. We also had to re-arrange the layout a bit which resulted in the removal of a desk and large cabinet that took up way too much space on one end of the main room, which unfortunately also eliminated my office space. The process also included compiling whatever we could for donation to Goodwill.
So start by picking one area and sorting through as much as you can. Throw away anything that you don’t need like old papers, notes and that sort of thing. Then designate a box or area of the room for anything you no longer want but could be useful for someone else.
One important note to remember here is to keep only what you love, at least as much as possible. If you’ve been hanging on to a shirt for years but not worn it, it may be time for it to go. Maybe you have a bunch of books or papers from college that you’ll never look at again, those can probably go too.
Pack Up Anything You Don’t Need to Leave Out
We then packed up anything we did not need immediate access to such as books, seasonal clothes and some dishes. This step would be more for those preparing to move as it is important for staging purposes to have a space that does not look overcrowded. However, it can still be useful to pack up some things you may not need to have out all the time so that you have a more clean and organized space.
If you’re preparing to sell you will need to be even more picky with what you leave out. It’s okay to pack up some things for safe keeping until you move. With staging, the less you leave out the better. This was most evident for me when cleaning and packing up things from my bookshelves.
I packed up all our personal photos and most of my books. I kept out a few nicer looking books for staging the bookshelves as well as my cookbooks since I need to be able to use those. I also have a few decorative pieces on the shelves but for the most part I kept it minimal. I like how it looks much more put together now that there aren’t tons of books and other random things packed on the shelves. I am hoping to keep the look similar when we move and find a new home for the majority of my books.
In your case, maybe you will decide to put up a new shelf in your basement storage area for things like board games or extra totes of seasonal clothes. However you go about it, try to only leave out things you know you will use often.
Lesson Two: Give Everything a Place
After you’ve gone through what you can get rid of and packed up anything you won’t need right away, it’s time to figure out what to do with the rest.
One of the most important things for me when trying to stay organized is knowing where everything is supposed to go so that if it gets used or misplaced, I know exactly what to do with it. Since I live in a small space, I have to get a little bit creative here, but giving everything a place has been one of the most helpful things I have done in keeping a clean home.
Get Creative With Storage Ideas
One of my favorite things to do in order to help me stay organized is to use totes, bins and baskets to store similar items. For example, I have small crates or totes in my bathroom hall closet to store bottles of things like extra shampoo and hair products. I like how it makes things look much more organized rather than just having everything thrown in the closet. Plus I can pull out a bin and find things much easier.
I also have a few baskets around my kitchen and dining area. One holds bags of coffee, one holds some tea and since my current work space is the kitchen counter, I also have another to hold my power cords for things like my computer and phone as well as other related items.
I use crates in my front closet to keep all my extra boxes of tea and another for any extra items from the cupboard and spice cabinet that I don’t need to get to very often.
I also have a few boxes in my closet and under my bed for various craft items, gift wrap supplies and extra sweaters that don’t fit in my dresser. I also keep my bags and purses together by putting smaller bags into a larger bag.
Another helpful way I have been able to organize is to utilize the space I have under the sinks. We have an extra sink outside of the bathroom which has been so helpful for having a place to store all my hair and makeup products. My favorite part about it is that there are pull out drawers that I am able to put some small baskets to keep things organized and separated.
One of my favorite tricks for cleaning (and especially for staging) is to use storage ottomans, baskets or storage crates to hide things that you need but don’t necessarily want seen. I have two ottomans that I put anything that needs to be put away when I am getting ready to clean for a showing. This usually means any mail that needs to be sorted and books or materials I keep out such as my planner, devotional and notebooks. I also have two matching storage crates and a large basket on the lower level of the bookshelves where I keep extra cords, other technology related items, some cd’s, library books and a few small games. Since these are all open on the top, I simply hide them by covering each with a blanket.
My advice to you would be to think about how you can group similar items and find storage pieces you may already own to put them in. Look around and see if there’s any extra space in a closet, cabinet or under a bed where you could use the space more efficiently.
Since placing our home up for sale, I have noticed that I am often reminded of these lessons. I long for the day when we are finally able to move and I will need to learn all over again how to keep a new space clean and organized. For now I am trying to make the best of what I have while I wait for what’s next.
I know cleaning and organizing can be a huge chore but think of how much better you will feel living in a fresh less crowded space. I hope you now have some ideas that inspire you to do some spring cleaning whether you are preparing your home to sell or just finding some ways to love your own space again.