Discover eight easy and effective steps to get your home organized on a budget.
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Many of us want to live in an organized home but not everyone actually does anything about it. There are many reasons why but probably the main one is the fact that it can be a quite costly and intimidating project. Richard Reina says it doesn’t have to be and gives you eight easy steps to get your home organized on a budget.
Richard Reina is Product Training Director at TOOLSiD.com and an expert on home DIY projects. If you’re open to it, Richard can share easy and affordable tips and suggestions for home organization, indoor/outdoor gardening and basic repair/maintenance projects.
We humans tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. It’s in our nature to collect and hold onto things out of necessity, because of their value (real or sentimental), or a mixture of both. It’s been said that the stuff we own expands to fill the space in which we live! A quick look around your own home may bear this out.
Whatever the size of our living space, we reach a point where we discover that our ‘stuff’ isn’t arranged as we would desire. Perhaps we can’t find something we need, or we’ve procrastinated about sorting through a chest of drawers.
Sometimes, adding just one more item becomes the tipping point where everything needs to be reorganized.
If you’re ready to embark on a serious reorganization project, we’re here to help. Follow along with our eight-point game plan – these easy steps to get your home organized on a budget once and for all.
Eight easy steps to get your home organized on a budget
There are eight easy steps to get your home organized on a budget and anybody can do it.
Step 1: Define your goal.
Step 2: Break up the project into smaller tasks
Step 3: Organize by location
Step 4: Organize by item type
Step 5: Assess & sort
Step 6: Create new storage location rules
Step 7: Make use of organizational tools and supplies
Step 8: Protect and showcase your valuables
If you can keep these in mind, you’d get your home organized without getting yourself into debt.
Step One: Define Your Goal
Any task has a better likelihood of reaching a successful conclusion if there is a plan attached to it. That’s why the first step to get your home organized on a budget is to define your goal.
If your goal is to “reorganize”, the first question might be “reorganize what?”
Reorganizing your entire life is beyond the scope of this article. In the spirit of keeping things to a manageable size, start by defining exactly which items you will tackle.
As we proceed, we will get into more specifics about a game plan. Keep a positive frame of mind, and always picture the end result, to motivate you to keep moving forward.
The goal is to keep most of what you have, but to better arrange it for accessibility. While decluttering is important, that’s not our primary purpose. Some items will likely be discarded during reorganization, while the remaining bits will be better sorted.
Step Two: Break Up the Project into Smaller Tasks
Your plan should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to start. By envisioning it as a series of steps, it will feel more manageable.
Since this is going on while you’re occupying your living space, don’t let it take over your life! Let’s say you need to reorganize your bathroom closet, but you need access to towels and toiletries during the workweek. Your plan should take that into consideration so that you tackle the closet on a weekend.
If you decide to reorganize your kitchen cabinets, doing this the night before hosting a family dinner isn’t the best choice.
The individual steps should take into consideration the available space, your available time, the estimated project length, and the temporary disruption to your living quarters.
Think one step ahead, and you’ll stay one step ahead.
Step Three: Organize by Location
The third step to get your home organized on a budget is to choose a location to start with.
Organizing by location is likely the easiest approach because it focuses you on a physical spot. Selecting an attic or spare bedroom may afford you extra time if those spaces are not in daily use. If you select the kitchen or the bath, accept the reality that you’re occupying those spaces every day.
Closets are a proverbial magnet for stuff, and are usually begging for reorganization. If possible, pick one closet at a time, and see it through from beginning to end. Your sense of accomplishment will inspire you to move to the next closet.
A room may have a smaller storage spot that can each be treated as a separate project. When organizing a bathroom, start under the sink. In your kitchen, tackle the cookware cabinets. In the den, dive into the entertainment center that hides movies and video games.
Tackling the biggest headaches first makes the next task seem much easier in comparison!
Step Four: Organize by Item Type
Alternatively or alongside organizing by location is organizing by category.
Maybe your family memorabilia or photographs have been kept in disarray for too long. Maybe you can never find the specific article of clothing you’re looking for. Maybe you’ve lost track of which holiday decorations are in which boxes.
In these instances, rather than starting with a room, start with the items themselves. Sort, discard, and reorder to clear clutter and to remind yourself of what you own.
Organizing by item type is a challenge if the items are scattered in different locations. You may need to embrace a “search and gather” approach.
Your game plan here includes allotting time for the hunt, creating a staging area, and planning for a new or enlarged storage location.
Step Five: Assess & Sort
Now we’re into the nitty-gritty. Take a true account of everything to be organized. Commit to this step by removing items from boxes, drawers, and shelves. Give serious consideration to each. Pick up each item once, decide its fate, and move to the next item.
Some items will go back into the same general area (shelf or drawer) from which it came; some will be moved to a different (better) locale, and for others you may decide that long-term storage would be more appropriate.
Your plan allows for the decision among these choices.
While reorganization is the primary goal, you’ll likely find some items that you’re willing to part with.
Set those aside for donation or disposal, depending on their condition.
Don’t keep revisiting the same item! If it’s really going away, create a container dedicated to that task, and use it. This initial sort is great preparation for the next step.
Step Six: Create New Storage Location Rules
There’s no point to reorganizing if things go back to the way they were. With everything removed from its original spot, this is your opportunity for new and better organization. Don’t be shy about adjustments to keep the area from getting cluttered again.
Typically, items used more frequently are kept up front, while lesser used items are ‘in the back’.
For clothing, consider seasonal arrangements. For kitchen condiments, everyday foods should be in plain sight, while the ‘once a year’ spices can be on a back shelf. For items flagged to move elsewhere, use other storage spaces around your home (garage shelves, attic space, under beds, etc.).
This frees up space for items you use more often.
Make sure that everyone in the household follows your new rules. If the stock pot belongs on the bottom shelf, then that’s where goes once it’s cleaned.
If you’ve decided that the large serving dishes that only get used once a year can reside in the attic, commit to putting them back there after use!
Step Seven: Make Use of Organizational Tools & Supplies
You can organize your home without spending any money. You can recycle shoe boxes and cardboard containers into storage bins. However, if you’re truly committed to a long-term organized set-up, invest in dedicated storage tools and supplies.
These will vary based on where and what you’re organizing. For closets, consider shoe racks, garment bags and scarf organizers. For desks or office shelves, dividers work wonders. If you like to entertain, a wine rack or bar cart livens up your space while freeing up some kitchen cabinets.
The options for specialty storage and display items are endless. But for many storage needs, simple plastic boxes are an inexpensive investment which can be used in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and closets. Purchase different sized boxes based on the size of the objects you’re storing.
For organizing in more visible spots such as bookcases and entertainment centers, seek out more aesthetically pleasing containers, such as decorative baskets or tins. These brighten up a space and do a great job of hiding remotes, magazines and cables when not in use.
You might find yourself sorting through a trove of family documents, old photos, or paper mementos. If you have a scanner, digitize these items and organize them on your computer or in the cloud. While you’ll want to hold on to some of the more valuable originals, having the digital versions helps preserve them and allows you to share them online with friends and family.
Step Eight: Protect & Showcase Your Valuables
If you have memorabilia of any kind, preserving it is paramount, even if it resides in dark storage. For collectibles of value, investing in products to further organize and protect them is worthwhile.
Let’s come back to photos for a moment. Old snapshots jammed into boxes or envelopes run the risk of deteriorating. Archival albums with photo-safe pages are an essential investment. This keeps them safe and lets you enjoy revisiting the memories.
Make this a family project so you can share stories and stroll down memory lane. While reorganizing photos, you might come across forgotten shots that you can display in your home, to refresh your décor!
Three-dimensional collectibles (statues, trophies, travel souvenirs) deserve display too. Glass cases, stands, even a repurposed bookshelf can all be utilized and give you bragging rights about your treasured finds.
Final thoughts on the steps to get your home organized on a budget
Decide on the scope of the organization, narrow it down by location or item type, perform one step at a time, and see it to its end. A planned approach will inspire you and give you a sense of accomplishment.
Depending on your lifestyle and ability to invest time and money, following these simple steps helps avoid feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand. You’ll get organized, stay organized, and – most importantly – enjoy your newly organized space.