THE BLOG

Ignore The Big Picture: Expert Home Organization Advice

01/21/2016 04:36 EST | Updated 01/21/2017 05:12 EST
Mint Images/ Helen Norman via Getty Images

Getting organized doesn't need to be about a complete overhaul of your entire house. Sometimes small tweaks can have a significant impact. One of the top complaints I get from my clients, and the reason they turn to me, is that they are overwhelmed with the general lack of organization and they don't know where to start. The thought of reorganizing their home all at once is such a huge undertaking that they get stuck at the first step. The truth is that sometimes looking at the big picture can be overwhelming.

Most of us don't have hours to set aside to reorganize an entire room, so try to zone in on a smaller area of the space that is contributing to the larger problem. Take the kitchen. Whether we like it or not we end up spending a lot of time in there and it is often a space we gather with company. My kitchen isn't very large, yet for some reason when my entire family is over (we are 16 with all the adults and kids) people gravitate towards the kitchen and stay there. The last thing you want to do when you have guests over is to open a drawer or pantry door with everyone watching and have them see the disaster within.

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So let's tackle one of these disasters today; the dark abyss under the sink. Since we generally don't keep food under the sink it tends to be one of the most ignored spots in the kitchen. It is easy to assume that musty smell is normal and that there may be some unknown product (or creature) way at the back that will live out the rest of it's days there. It really doesn't have to be that way, I promise.

Take it all out

Get everything out. You really want to see what has been lurking under there. Cleaning products, wet rags, garbage, and extra sponges, whatever it is get it out.

Wipe it down

Give this space a really thorough cleaning. I don't just mean the bottom, take advantage of the fact that you have completely emptied the space and tackle the side and the inside of the doors as well. There are obviously some stains that aren't going anywhere but I have come to rely on my magic eraser a great deal. When your all-purpose cleaner won't do the trick I always bring in the magic eraser as my pinch hitter. Most of the time it gets the job done.

Make it pretty

I am a huge fan of cheap and easy solutions. Naturally, Contact paper is one of my BFFs. Pick a nice pattern or color and slap it on the bottom. It looks good and makes the surface easier to wipe down. Bonus: if it gets too stained or grody you can just swap it out.

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Sort it

Remember all that stuff you pulled out from under there? Now is the time to deal with it. Put Like with Like.

Declutter

What do you really need under your sink? Only you can answer that question but chances are you can pare down what you have. Try to make the goal to keep only what you are actually using in that space. Find another home in your house for the bathroom cleaners, light bulbs, products that haven't been touched in years and other randoms that have found their way there. Also try to avoid having all your backup products here. Only keep the one you are currently using.

Get some gear

Now that you know what is staying under the sink you need some products to help keep it organized. Plastic is great for this space since it is easy to clean. Find containers that work and try to not make it a tight fit. It's always good to have a little wiggle room. Don't forget about the using the vertical space under there. A sturdy plastic shelf, stackable bins, tension rod to hang spray bottles, hooks on the inside of the door; these are all great ways to increase your storage space.

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Label it

I've said this before but labeling is a great way to keep organized, look nice and ensure that the other people in your home don't mess up the system because "uh, sorry, I didn't know where to put it so I just threw it back there."

Live with it

You may have to make some minor (or major) tweaks to your system. That's okay. Our needs change over time so don't be afraid to adapt to that. A good organizing system should be relatively easy for you to maintain.

Starting with the easy stuff first isn't the lazy way out. Sometimes it is just the motivation we need to move forward. Choose a 10-15 minute project (FYI this means ONE drawer or shelf) and just get 'er done. It may just start the snowball effect you need to deal with the rest of the space!

Happy Organizing!

Email me with your organizing questions or before and after pictures of your under-the-sink space.