A look at the most practical method to organize and store things within your home. It’s much simpler than you might think!
Maybe you have struggled with having too much stuff and tucking it away in weird places because you wanted everything to look neat and tidy. You’ve bought the matching bins, put on the pretty labels, and yet nothing seems to function that well.
Yes, home organization is a never ending topic and usually involves things like labeled totes, millions of baskets, and contraptions to hold belts. But none of these address the actual problem at hand: where should you store everything in your house? Where will it function best? What make the most sense and will be the easiest to keep up?
Home organization philosophies
The most common organizing philosophies are:
- Store like with like (a pantry is a great example of this: all the food in the house is together)
- Store things where they look the best (for example, putting your best mixing bowls on an open shelf that’s not really in the kitchen)
- Store things at point of use (a canister of wooden spoons by the stove)
The most commonly used is “like with like”
This doesn’t mean it’s the most practical, but it’s the most common.
Pantries and linen closets are the most obvious examples of this. All the sheets and towels are placed in a giant closet, whether or not its where they are used.
Or take cleaning supplies for example.
This is a page from a Martha Stewart organizing magazine, one of the ones that is super overpriced at the grocery store checkout.
Pretty, right? The caption at the bottom says this will keep your cleaning supplies organized. And it looks so nice. So this cleaning closet follows the second and third principles: like with like, and store where it’s pretty.
But this cleaning closet is a terrible idea because it makes your life harder, not easier. It ignores the concept of storing things where they are used, and it just doesn’t function.
Who is going to run downstairs to their basement cleaning station every time something in the house needs to be cleaned? And then back down to put the supplies away? No one. And that means that over time, cleaning products will be all over the house and that distant closet will be a neglected mess.
So what’s the best organizational method for your home
Point of use storage! Store things where they are used.
Instead of a cleaning closet, think of where you need those cleaning products. The bathrooms and the kitchen usually, and of course sometimes they are needed everywhere. The bathroom can be very easily store an all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, rags, and a roll of paper towels. Every bathroom can have this.
And magically, you will find that your bathroom is always clean.
It is no trouble to clean it quickly once every day or so because everything is right there. You have organized that one element of your home is a way that makes sense, and that one aspect of life will be easier.
A good example of point of use storage
A closet at the back door for all the things you might need at that location! With a stepstool, where it is needed. Now within this beautiful closet/ cabinet, things are organized by the secondary principles, store like with like, and make it pretty.
But this back door closet is mostly organized with the principle of point of use storage at home, and it will function forever.
Some simple ways to help your home function better through organization
- Put your bread right by the toaster instead of in the pantry. Use a bread box or a drawer right below.
- If you do board games and puzzles in the dining room or kitchen, store them in your china cabinet or a cabinet or hutch near the kitchen table
- Set up a baking corner in your kitchen so all your most frequently used ingredients are at your fingertips
- Use the top shelf of each bedroom’s closet to store the linens and towels that go in that room.
- Put your laundry hampers where you get undressed, not in the laundry room
- If you like to read in the living room, put bookshelves in there, instead of keeping all your books in a study no one uses (or set up a real reading nook!)
- Give up on having your family use the coat closet if it’s not by the main door you use. Put some hooks up by that entrance and see if they can limit it to one coat at a time so it doesn’t look too bad.
The drawbacks to this method?
First, it is very personal to you and some of the places you store things will not make any sense to anyone else!
For example, I store some things in strange places. But they are where I use those items and they make my life easier. For example:
- Kids hair brush and elastics in the kitchen junk drawer so I can fix it for them without going upstairs or sending them up.
- Wrapping paper slid under my living room couch so I can wrap presents while I watch TV
You will also have a few duplicates of items that are used in multiple spots. Such as:
- Matches by the fireplace, a second set in the kitchen, and a third set in the dining room with the birthday candles
- Salt and pepper by the stove and in the spice cabinet.
- Scissors everywhere.
All this is perfectly fine!
What about storing things purchased in bulk?
The best strategy is to keep a reasonable supply in my point of use areas, and keep the rest in a less accessible location. Think of your bulk storage area as like a store that you are shopping from. You’re just heading there to replenish your stocks.