Downsizing can be the key to decluttering, according to the pros—especially when it comes to storage spots that hold items in a bunch of different categories, like a junk drawer. The good news is it’s not hard to do—it just takes some strategic shifting. “Clutter expands to fit the space you give it,” says Chip Cordelli, a New York City-based clutter coach. “Move the items from your junk drawer—binder clips, coupons, and other odds and ends—into the smallest drawer in the room, and keep miscellaneous storage bins small to prevent them from overtaking your rooms and closets.”
2 of 7Jim Franco
Get Your Walls to Work Harder
Instead of letting bitsy pieces pile up in a drawer (or, worse: the floor!), turn them into a neat little wall display by mounting them on a magnetic knife holder (magnetic knife rack, $9, Ikea.com). It’s a trick that works in various rooms—kitchen, office, playroom—and for many kinds of objects, from kids’ toys (matchbox cars) to hair accessories (bobby pins, barrettes) to desk and crafts supplies (scissors, binder clips) to home improvement tools (paint brushes, screwdrivers). Just be sure to hang the strip in a spot that keeps the items in easy reach; for example, place the matchbox cars down low so little ones can “park” them easily.
No room? No problem. Sometimes all it takes to tidy up is a sneaky solution, like doubling your drawer space with two-tier organizers (Made Smart Housewares Junk Drawer Organizer Tray, $14, wayfair.com). The small compartments keep desk supplies, small tools, and earbuds from getting jumbled together. Look around your rooms and pinpoint the troublemakers—any items that are piling up or contributing to a mess. Even small, basic objects might be better off stored in a new way: If sandwich bags are jamming your kitchen drawer, for example, pin or hang the box to your pantry wall instead. If you’re storing items under the bed, make sure you’re using the right containers: Clear boxes with pullout drawers eliminate the hassle of wrestling with large lids. (Wide under-bed drawers, $25 each, containerstore.com.)
4 of 7Jonny Valiant
Put It on a Peg
Don’t get hung up on the traditional uses for hooks (coats, backpacks)—these handy holders can do a lot more to get your clutter under control. Set up some hooks for your cleaning tools: Leaning precariously against a wall in a utility room or a closet, mops and brooms are likely to tim-berrr; install a hanging organizer on the wall instead. (7-Tool Hanging Organizer, $10, casabella.com). Hooks can corral camisoles too: Folded, camis get lost in a drawer. Keep them visible on a customized hanger. (Perfect Curve Camisole Rack, $15 for two, bedbathandbeyond.com). They’re an ideal fix for jumbled jewelry too: When you can see your necklaces and bracelets, you’ll wear them. Display them (tangle-free) on a mounted bulletin board using PinHooks. ($8 for 40, pinhooks.com).
5 of 7Johner Images/Getty Images
Put a New Spin on Hanger Storage
They’re not just for clothes in closets—hangers can help you streamline your linens too: Hang tablecloths on flocked pant hangers, and mark each with a hang tag that denotes which table each belongs to (dining room, porch table, etc.) You can also use hangers to set up a system that keeps your closet from bursting at the seams: Turn all hangers on the closet bar with the hooks facing out; then, once you wear an item of clothing, hang it in the opposite direction. At the end of each season, donate the items on hangers that haven’t switched direction (because you never wear them!) and keep the rest.
Beyond organizing all of your periodicals, magazine holders can keep lots of loose stuff from spilling over: In the pantry, use magazine holders to keep seasoning and drink packets neat or to prevent canned food from getting jumbled on shelves. On a shelf in a bedroom closet, they can corral clutch purses. In the kitchen, they can even keep cling wrap and aluminum foil from cluttering up a drawer. Need another clever alternative to corral a collection of items? A lazy Susan can keep nail polish bottles, medicine and first aid supplies, or assorted condiments in easy reach.
You can save space by storing some items without their bulky (or flimsy) packaging. Keep light bulbs in a clear shoe box—you can store more when they’re out of the package. Fill gaps with crumpled tissue paper. (Clear shoe box, $1.50, lowes.com.) The thin box that birthday candles come in never keeps its shape; toss it and stash the candles in an empty plastic cotton-swab container. (Small acrylic hinge-lid box, $4, containerstore.com.) A better bet for packs of batteries: Remove the packaging and put the batteries in a clear box with divided compartments. (Multi-battery storage box, $6, containerstore.com.)
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