Avoid these 10 things to stop sabotaging your organization efforts.

By Laura Fenton
August 05, 2020
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Your personal style might be your own worst enemy when it comes to organizing your home. There are plenty of books and articles that will tell you how to declutter, sort, and store your belongings, but what is often overlooked in home organizing advice are the big-picture decor decisions. The furniture you buy and how you renovate your home can have a big impact on how easy it will be to keep things tidy. (And what’s on-trend is not always the most practical!) We spoke to three organizing experts to get their advice about design decisions that could be making your home harder to organize. Here are 10 things they say to avoid.

Deep shelves may give you more space for storage, but a deeper shelf becomes cluttered when you place more stuff in the inaccessible back row, cautions Danna Bitton, co-founder of Organized Dwell, who notes that deep shelves also make rooms feel smaller. Alejandra Costello, the founder of Alejandra.tv, a home organizing training company, advises sticking to cabinets less than 20 inches, but more than 10 inches deep, because too narrow ones will make it hard to find things to fit on the shelf.

If you’re redoing a kitchen, invest in pullout drawers instead of basic cabinets, recommends Britton, who says, “the return on this expense is priceless.” This will put an end to crunching and kneeling on the floor to look for a serving dish or pan. You can retrofit your cabinets with pull-out cabinets drawers like Lynk drawers, if a remodel is not in your future.

Costello points out that opting for a pedestal sink means you have no under-the-sink storage in your bathroom. If you really love the look, these are better suited to a guest or half bath that doesn’t need to store many toiletries. Or try balancing a pedestal sink with a recessed medicine cabinet above. 

Credit: Getty Images

Even if you have beautiful dishes and serving pieces to store, it is hard to organize the contents, because these shelves aren't usually adjustable and brackets can get in the way, warns Costello.

Another kitchen organization scourge? Glass-fronted cabinet doors. “Your stuff looks messy unless you find an excellent system and can easily maintain it,” says Costello. If you have these and struggle to keep things looking tidy, consider installing frosted privacy film on the glass to conceal the contents.

If you opt for furniture with shelves that don’t adjust, especially in a kid's room, you may find it no longer works as your child grows and interests change. “For kids' rooms, we recommend using modular systems that are interchangeable and provide needed flexibility,” says Bitton.

Appliances often steal prime kitchen real estate, leaving you less space to organize the things you use daily. “I see so many kitchens with a stand mixer on the counter that only gets used a few times a year,” says Lindsay Downes, of A Considered Home. Put infrequently used appliances in deep storage (like a closet, basement, or pantry) and pull them out when you need them.

Picture frames, vases, and candles can camouflage clutter—but not in a good way, says Downes. Clutter becomes more obvious (and thus more motivating to deal with!) when it’s not hidden amongst decorative accessories. Keep horizontal surfaces, like entry consoles and kitchen counters, clear of decorative objects. This will make any clutter seem out of place and signal your brain to deal with it right away, she says. 

Credit: Getty Images

Furniture pieces with skinny legs and and open backs may have a lighter look, but Costello warns that they make it hard to organize dangling cords, especially if you have a lot of devices.

Pocket or bifold doors may save space since they don't swing open, but consider the back-of-the-door storage space you're giving up. Costello says the door can be a prime storage space with the help of over-the-door organizers—but pocket doors don't allow for this.