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5 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Home

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Elle is a member of NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers

A Place for Everything...

We all have them -- those hidden corners of the house that are verboten to guests. They're where the kids' toys, bathroom toiletries or pile of clothes get stuffed when Aunt Martha pays a surprise visit. Where is it in your house? Under the bed? In a junk drawer? The back of an already jammed closet? Sometimes those items are never seen again! But you, you know that stuff is smashed in there, and pulling it all out seems overwhelming.

The good news is, when you zero in on your clutter corners with the right products, you can organize your overflow of stuff in an inexpensive and stylish way. You might even have fun doing it. And the feeling when you're done is soooo satisfying!

Let me begin by saying that the five ideas I'm suggesting here I've personally done myself. And I'm not exaggerating when I say they've changed my life! Okay, I know I'm a little nutso about organizing, but I really believe you'll be happier when your dark corners are cleared out and there's finally an answer to "Whatever happened to...?"

I love how this drawer looks now that it's organized!  Isn't it cute??

I love how this drawer looks now that it's organized! Isn't it cute??

Organize a Junk Drawer

Let's start your reorganization journey with a relatively small but important task. Everyone has at least one junk drawer -- some have one in every room! They're catchalls for pens, pencils, spare screws, instruction manuals, receipts and other stuff you just don't know what to do with. It may seem like an impossible task, but it isn't as difficult as it may seem.

When I got sick and tired of looking at the jumble of tape, staples, highlighters and other office supplies in my office desk drawer, I dreamed of a mega drawer organizer that could fulfill all my organizational needs - not one of those 4 or 5-square units that don't really help much, but one that would have so many compartments that I'd be amazed at what it could hold. After a bit of research, my dream came true. I found the Madesmart Original Junk Drawer Organizer with 23 compartments of all different shapes and sizes to hold anything from tiny paper clips to jumbo markers, a stapler and more. It even has a tape dispenser-shaped space! The second tier provides even more space for odd-shaped items, and slides from side to side so you can see and get to the supplies in the lower tier.

Clutter Clarity

Try Stylish Storage

My next suggestion is so simple and stylish -- fabric bins are just the right solution for so many organizational needs. Foldable storage cubes are so roomy and versatile, I've bought them for my office, our bathroom and even the laundry room. These cute containers come in sets of 2, 4, 6 or 8 and are commonly 11"x11" or 13"x13". They usually have fabric or rope handles, and some have little windows on the front with cards for labeling the contents. There are so many colors, fabrics and patterns available online and in stores that it's very easy to choose a set that works with your room's color scheme. And when you line up matched sets of identical containers on a shelf in the office, baby's room or closet, the area immediately looks more neat and tidy. Who doesn't want that?

I purchased a set of 4 fabric storage bins in a gray herringbone pattern for my office, and the color matches the room perfectly. The 11"x11" cubes all fit on the lower shelf of my credenza. I store lots of stuff in them like spare ink cartridges for the printer, paper, envelopes and even that essential oil diffuser that I never figured out how to use. I also got a set of 4 green cubes with silver grommets for our spare bathroom, and another set of 4 white bins with gray polka dots for the laundry room. So cute and useful!

I haven't tried this suggestion yet, but larger 13"x13" size bins would work very well in a linen closet to store sheet sets, towels and wash cloths. I'm going to get a set of larger ones to streamline my sloppy piles of linens and keep my first aid supplies organized and close at hand for minor medical emergencies.

These fabric bins look so much neater than the piles of stuff that used to be on the shelf of my credenza.

These fabric bins look so much neater than the piles of stuff that used to be on the shelf of my credenza.

Use Your Under-Sink Space

Now to the trickier stuff. You know that space under the sink that is nearly impossible to keep neat because the pipes are hanging right down the middle of the space? Whatever you put under there will have to be short, and sit on the floor of the space. If it weren't for that water pipe, you could store all kinds of stuff under there, right? Well, the right under-sink organizer solves that problem.

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My bathroom vanity is old-school -- its just a big space under the sink accessible only by two doors. There are no drawers at all, so as far as I'm concerned, it was just a big, black hole jammed with hair appliances, toiletries and cleaning products. There are lots of products on the market that can help, but the way the pipes are configured under my sink, it was impossible for standard shelves to fit. I finally found a unit that can adapt to all different kinds of spaces and it was a game-changer. It's expandable to fit the width of the space, and has shelf pieces that can be configured around the water pipe so that no space under the sink is unused. After installing this system, I corralled my makeup, hair styling supplies and cleaning products in little plastic bins that fit perfectly on the mesh shelves. No more pulling out the blow dryer and spilling bathroom cleaner all over the floor! And the best thing about this 2-tier unit is that it utilizes the upper space under the sink that would have otherwise been wasted.

A sink organizer can be used in the kitchen too. Because the unit is extendable and the mesh shelves interchangeable, it can not only work around water pipes, but possibly a garbage disposal, water purifier or fire extinguisher as well.

Fill a Bedroom Bench

I always loved the look of a bench at the foot of a bed. Actually, it could be a bench, a trunk or even a loveseat -- to me it's a stylish way to finish off the look of the bedroom. To improve on that idea, choose a storage bench. Not only do they look really rich, but they provide much-needed extra space to stow away unused items and even serve as extra seating.

I live in an old house (about 100 years old!) and most old homes have small rooms and even smaller closets. So I can use all the extra storage I can find. In my case, a large bedroom bench gave me an easy-to-reach place to keep a lot of my extra stuff. Longer benches can easily fit big blankets, quilts and pillows inside. Or, if you need a place to put away seasonal clothing for the summer or winter, there's plenty of space for that. If you have limited space at the foot of a twin-size bed, smaller ottomans can become the perfect place to store accessories, toys or even extra shoes.

The tufted storage bench that I chose really adds a sense of luxury to my bedroom. I found a bench in cream linen-like fabric that matches my cream tufted headboard - it looks like they are part of the same set, but they're not. Inside I can fit extra blankets, throw pillows and even a few pairs of boots during the hot summer months. You could also use the roomy interior to store a book collection, handbags and purses, and even craft items --the possibilities are endless!

This idea costs more, but it gives me much-needed storage space, looks great in my bedroom and provides built-in additional seating! For me it's a win, win, win!

I love how this storage bench looks in my room and right now I have 2 large down blankets in there with room to spare.

I love how this storage bench looks in my room and right now I have 2 large down blankets in there with room to spare.

Cover Up Those Cables!

My pet peeve? I actually have a lot of them, but it really drives me crazy when I see the tangle of cords from all of our tech devices - computers, monitors and chargers -- hanging like squid-ink spaghetti behind the desk or coiled up like a bunch of snakes on the floor.

My husband works from from home and a couple of years ago he built a desk and shelves out of dark-stained wood and black plumbing pipes (He's so cool!). The office looks amazing, but the black wires pooling on the floor were distracting. So I found a black cable management box to hide them. It fits right in with the industrial vibe and makes the area look so clean and streamlined.

All you have to do is place all of the cords - even the the surge protector they're plugged into -- inside the streamlined box and let the cords exit from either end of the container. Then you you place the cover over it for a clean, sleek look. No more messy floors -- why didn't someone think of this before?

These cable management boxes actually come in different colors -- the one I bought comes in black, white and a wood-look finish so you can choose the one that blends in with your floor, walls or baseboards. Genius! My office furniture is white but the computer cords are black and really stand out. I think I'll get myself a white one to tidy them up!

This kind of device can also enhance your big screen TV experience too. After spending so much time and money to make your family room feel like a personal home theater, no one wants to see all the cords pooled under the TV in a jumbled mess! A neat little box can really finish the look!

Pulling It All Together

Try any one of these ideas and you'll be on your way to organizing your home and cleaning up your clutter. I've done all five and my house looks so much neater!

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