5 Designer-Inspired Ways to Get Organized in the New Year

You can be realistic yet still achieve a beautiful, functional space.

Closet Organization
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

If the idea of organizing makes you cringe, you're not alone. Instagram accounts like The Home Edit might make it seem like we should live in a color-sorted wonderland with not one ounce of clutter, but that's unattainable. Stephanie Jacobs, an Atlanta-based interior designer and professional home stager, says, "I would love for my pantry to be Instagrammable or Pinterest-perfect every day of my life, but every time I try somebody goes in and messes it up. So I feel like there's a lot of things that can still look pretty, but be functional and stay organized as well."

As a busy parent often working with other busy parents, she understands that it's important to have realistic expectations when it comes to home organization. Want to get organized? Here are Jacobs' new year reorganization tips to achieve beautiful yet functional spaces.

Organize in Small Doses

Don't try to reorganize your entire home in one day. Jacobs suggests picking one section of the house and focusing on that. Taking a break from decluttering will keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Revisit Spaces

Once an area has been reorganized, give it attention every now and then. "Something that works for me is coming back to it every few months and reorganizing and purging," says Jacobs. For example, she'll go through her kids' crafts area and sift through broken crayons, full coloring books, and dried-out markers and toss them.

Use Labels and Bins

Jacobs loves to use bins in closets and laundry rooms to keep similar items together. "I would love to use a label maker, but I use Post-it label tape or full stick notes. So you just write it on the label tape, tear it off, and stick it on," she says. Put a basket on the shelf above your washing machine and fill it with detergent and other cleaning items. In the bathroom, use a bin to store hair accessories. Several retailers sell affordable bins and baskets, including Dollar Tree and Amazon.

Toss What You Don't Use

When it comes to clothes in your closet, Jacobs abides by the rule, "if you haven't worn it in a year, toss (or donate) it." Similarly, you could apply this rule to other clutter on your counters or in your cabinets. All those nail polish bottles that you haven't opened in a couple of years? Bye.

Make Your Space Useful

Many of us have homes that weren't necessarily built with today's functions in mind. Think about how you can reconfigure a space to make it more useful for you. For example, Jacobs has been turning clients' shallow coat closets into study stations or mudrooms. "People are finding that this version is much more accommodating for hiding and storing things. And this is another place where you can put outlets in for charging stations," she says.

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