As the weather warms, it’s time to clean up the mess winter left behind. With the spring sun giving us renewed energy, we’re motivated to purge, says home organization expert Monica Friel, whose Chicago-based company, Chaos to Order (847-825-8400; Chaostoorder.com), has been lauded by Oprah and HGTV.
Every room in the house could use a little reorganization, especially mud rooms and hall or entryway closets. “The first step is going through your stuff,” says Friel. “Think about what you’re still using and what you can eliminate.” When editing your belongings, consider when you last used each item, and whether or not you could live without it. Then, start sorting.
• Try Makespace (Makespace.com), a New York-based company that launched in Chicago last month. The service picks up items you want to put in storage and creates an easy-to-access inventory online. Simply choose which crate you need back and when, and they’ll deliver it right to your door. Starting at $25/month.
• Each spring, turn all the hangers in your closet the opposite direction, so the hook is facing out. After you wear an item and return it to your closet, hang it the normal way. After one full year — all four seasons — donate anything still hanging the wrong way.
• For anything out in the open, use decorative storage boxes — but for storage behind closed doors, opt for clear containers for better visibility.
Donating or giving items away can make the process a little easier. “If you have a friend who could really use something, you’re more likely to part with it,” says Friel. Label durable garbage bags with masking or blue tape to denote what’s going where, or use black bags for trash and white for donations.
Much more time-consuming, however, is your main closet. Friel maintains that the most efficient time to navigate this is at the end of each season — for spring, that means looking through the stacks of sweaters and winter clothes and downsizing. “If there’s a sweater you didn’t wear this winter, the chances of wearing it next winter are even [smaller],” says Friel. “Don’t save anything that doesn’t make you feel good.” (Remember: Taking a seasonal inventory will make spring shopping that much more fun.)
To stay organized day-to-day, find a system that works for you and stick to it. “If you’re one to plop things on the floor, invest in hooks so if you have to re-wear something, it isn’t crumpled in a ball,” says Friel. “Having a place for every little thing to belong will make it easy for you to come and go.” Use containers to house everything from jewelry, belts and purses to car keys and kids’ artwork.
“Go step by step, piece by piece, inch by inch,” says Friel. She recommends setting a timer and designating a certain amount of time for each task, so you won’t look at the whole room and think it’s impossible to tackle.
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