As young families grow and evolve, living space can become increasingly cramped and cluttered. Organizing and maintaining small spaces requires an extra level of decisiveness and creativity.
Here are six steps to recognize the potential in the space you have:
Step 1: Look at problem areas.
Which areas of your home regularly frustrate you with clutter? Is it a closet or a main living area? Make a list and prioritize the spaces that make you feel overwhelmed.
Step 2: Declutter routinely.
Before you organize, always edit. Evaluate what you’re really using. Remove what is no longer serving you – especially important in a small space, which can easily become congested. When you have fewer items, you spend less time maintaining them and more time focusing on what’s important in your life.
Decluttering is all about making decisions. Ask yourself these three questions:
▶ Would I buy it again?
▶ Do I use it?
▶ Does it make me happy?
If the answer to any of these is no, it could be time to part with the item.
Decluttering is not a one-time event. In order to keep up with it, declutter each season. As the warmer weather arrives, pack away cool-weather clothing and seasonal items to make way for summer. If you didn’t use an item during the previous season, it’s probably a good candidate for donation.
Step 3: Give it away.
If you’re struggling to let go, do research on nonprofits that could use your items. When you donate to an organization that helps families in need and shares your values, it may be easier to part with your belongings.
Step 4: Zone your keepers.
Once you’ve purged the things that are no longer serving you, think about logical locations to store items you’re keeping so they’re easy to access when it’s time to use them. Create zones by storing like items together. It should always be easy to see what you have and know where things belong.
Steps 5: Find free areas.
Next, look at your small living space. Are there free areas or open spaces that are underused? The key here is to look up, down, and in between. After you look at your existing space, you might envision the supplies that will best assist you to create a more easily maintainable system.
Use vertical space. In a small room, it’s important to use your vertical space. Well-placed shelving, pegboards, or hooks can make a space much more functional. Consider a “ceiling” shelf, placed a foot or so down from the ceiling to hold things that you want to see, but don’t need to use frequently. This is a great candidate for your kid’s LEGO creations or your teen’s trophies.
Maximize doors. Vertical space isn’t just on the walls. Look at the back of each door. Use over-the-door pocket organizers to store your kids’ belongings to help streamline morning routines. Choose one that has larger file folder-type pockets to keep track of important papers in the office. Think about installing a towel rod on the back of the bathroom door to corral wet towels.
Analyze corners. Hang floating shelves in corners to hold everything from décor like framed photos to functional items like remote controls, charging pads, and mobile devices.
Look under the bed. Under-bed space is perfect for storing off-season clothes, memorabilia, or kids’ artwork in flat files.
Increase surface area. Add shelf risers and steps to pantry and closet shelves to create precious additional surface area. Smaller items can be tucked under the risers and larger items fit on top. Turntables can also provide easy grouping and access to things like spices or condiments. Be sure to organize canned goods and other items that expire with the oldest items toward the front, where you’ll grab them first.
Step 6: Become a regular!
On a daily basis, set a timer and tidy up your problem areas (I recommend twenty to thirty minutes). For example, after dinner, enlist the family’s help to put away toys, find all the shoes, match the missing socks, and more. This is also a great opportunity to prepare for the day ahead: pack backpacks, make lunches, and set out outfits.
Be intentional about what you bring into your small home to create a functional and comfortable space that can evolve as your family grows. Harness your decisiveness and creativity now to help you declutter, organize, and maintain your small space to allow its big potential to shine through.