Pro Organizers’ Best Decluttering Tips
No matter how often you sort through your bedroom closet or declutter your makeup drawer, there are some spots in the house that no amount of organizing seems to help. These clutter magnets—entryways, craft rooms, and pantries are prime culprits—call for some professional help. So we consulted a couple organizing pros, The Home Edit team and Rachel and Company, to get their secrets for maintaining these tricky areas. As it turns out, sorting and paring down is half the battle, but you don’t need to do all of the work yourself. Investing in a couple pro-approved organizers may make the process easier than you thought possible. The right products—a clear cosmetic organizer that gives a slot to every last lipstick or an under-shelf basket that utilizes closet space you didn’t even know you had, for example—can make all the difference. Armed with expert advice and a few foolproof solutions, the odds of conquering clutter have never been better.
Scrolling through the Instagram account of Nashville-based home organizing company The Home Edit has us dreaming of neatly organized kitchen drawers and color-coded toy bins. So when we wanted expert advice on tackling the messiest areas around the house, we knew The Home Edit founders, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, would have some stylish solutions up their sleeves.
The first clutter zone to conquer: the entryway. As the entrance to your home, it’s a drop zone for mail and shoes, but since this area is also the first spot visitors see, it should make a good impression. To corral the chaos, The Home Edit team reaches for baskets. “If you have the space, give each family member their own basket. Alternatively, a divided basket helps store everyone’s items while separating them at the same time,” Shearer says. Tucked beneath a bench or console, they contain the mess while keeping up appearances.
Pro Supplies: The Best Baskets
Seagrass Extra Large Storage Basket
The Home Edit team loves this large seagrass basket for stashing everything from toys to throw blankets. Buy a few and task each one with storing a different entryway essential.
To buy: $40; target.com.
Savannah Recycling Bin
The divided sections in this rolling seagrass bin were designed to sort glass, paper, and plastic, but they work just as well separating shoes, scarves, and umbrellas in the foyer.
To buy: $99; potterybarn.com.
Aubrey Woven Lidded Basket
If you’d prefer to store your clutter out of sight, these lidded baskets will keep it concealed.
To buy: From $69; potterybarn.com.
The Craft Room
Creative spaces are notoriously messy, so it’s no wonder craft rooms seem impossible to keep tidy. The Home Edit’s trick for organizing this space? Divide and conquer. “Keeping the categories divided and contained is the only way to prevent craft chaos,” Shearer says. “We like to use clear storage such as shoe boxes and turntables so that you can easily spot the items you’re looking to use,” she explains. With everything in view, colorful supplies, like paints and markers, double as decor. Use paint markers to label each bin, and you’ll never waste time searching for a pair of scissors again.
Pro Supplies: See-Through Storage
Our Shoe Box
When looking for transparent bins, nothing beats The Container Store’s stackable clear plastic shoe boxes and accessories boxes. When they’re not busy corralling crayons, these bins can get in on the fun by holding dye baths or the latest slime recipe (here’s our favorite!).
To buy: $2 each; containerstore.com.
Clear Linus Divided Lazy Susan
Don’t let the name fool you—this lazy Susan is incredibly hard-working. An expert multitasker, this revolving catchall is ideal for storing markers, glue sticks, and small paint tubes.
To buy: From $17; containerstore.com.
The Bedroom Closet
When it finally comes time for you to tackle closet clutter and you’re staring down a mountain of clothing, it can be hard to know where to begin. The Home Edit’s approach is to focus on the small details that make a difference. “Good hangers make the closet! They create a streamlined look and allow you to maximize your hanging space,” Shearer says. For many, clothing hangers are an afterthought (those wire ones from the dry cleaner are fine, right?), but an affordable buy that keeps your clothing wrinkle-free and makes every morning go a little more smoothly is worth the small investment.
The thin silhouette of these hangers lets you squeeze even more shirts and dresses into an already-crammed closet. A no-slip surface means you can hang up camisoles without them winding up on the floor.
To buy: $9; target.com.
Short Storage Cube
The Home Edit turns to fabric bins when they have pieces they not only want to organize, but also protect from damage. This short (just 6 inches tall) container is sized for holding handbags or clutches.
To buy: $6; target.com.
Rainbow 4-Drawer Units
This drawer unit has pretty color-coding built right in. The grid at the top of each unit lets you stack several.
To buy: $40; containerstore.com.
The smartest way to maximize space in your office closet: Hook on an under-shelf basket. Let each one catch the overflow of papers and file folders from the bin above. Your closet is hiding more space than you thought.
To buy: From $7; containerstore.com.
Desktop Storage Unit
To collect desk essentials, nothing beats a coordinated set of trays, bins, and cups. The combination of wood and white containers lends your desk a clean, minimalist look that says you’ve got it all together.
To buy: $13; target.com.
Based on the philosophy that “everything needs a place,” the D.C.-based home organizing firm Rachel and Company is well-versed in finding the right clutter busters for the right spot. Its founder, Rachel Rosenthal, says she jumped into organization after having two kids and, 9 years after starting the firm, there’s no space she can’t organize. And as her Instagram account proves, she does it all in style.
The pantry is a trouble spot for many, but Rosenthal breaks down the pantry organizing process into simple steps. “Start by pulling everything out and getting an inventory of what you have. Discard any expired food or items that you or your family no longer eat, and then create categories based on types of food,” she advises. Once you have the goods pared down, you can pull in organizers to separate items by category. Juice boxes in one bin, snack packs in another.
Countertop Copper Lazy Susan
“Use turntables in awkward corners or to store oils and condiments that are otherwise difficult to contain,” Rosenthal recommends. Plus, this stunning copper option has to be one of the prettiest turntables we’ve ever seen. The best part: Measuring just a little over 8 inches, it won’t take up much shelf space in your pantry.
To buy: $24; williams-sonoma.com.
“Makeup is an area where it’s very helpful to be as organized as possible to make getting ready in the morning (or before a night out) easier,” Rosenthal says. Again, she turns to dividers to separate out items. If you have a large makeup stash, categorize by item so that mascaras, eye shadows, and lip glosses all live in their own area. If your collection is smaller, you may prefer to group by type, such as lips, eyes, and nails, so that a variety of products are stored in each section. Either way, you’ll know exactly where each product is—and get out the door faster.
Honey Can Do Makeup Organizer
Rosenthal’s top tip for makeup organization? Keep it visible. “By keeping your options visible and accessible, you will be more inclined to rotate through your options rather than continually grab the first tube of mascara that’s sitting at the top of your makeup bag,” she says. This transparent organizer (complete with a 12-compartment lipstick holder) may just inspire you to try that blue lipstick you’ve never tested out.
To buy: $54; bloomingdales.com.
The Medicine Cabinet
If that bottle of cough medicine you bought last winter is stored in the same bin as the vitamins you pop every morning, Rosenthal has the secret to solving your medicine cabinet clutter. “Keep daily medications and vitamins stored separately from the other medicine cabinet contents. Chances are that your collection of first aid products and cold medicine don’t get accessed nearly as frequently as your vitamin C, so don’t give them priority space in your cabinet or medicine drawer,” she explains. By leaving daily pills front and center, and relegating the rest to the back of the cabinet or hiding them inside storage boxes, you can save yourself a little time every day.
White Nordic Storage Basket with Handles
These stackable containers will hold even the largest medication collection—and look good while doing it. The optional dry-erase labels let you assign each one a category and make it easy to change them over time. The medicine cabinet likely isn’t a spot you show off to guests, but once it’s filled with these Scandinavian-inspired bins, you may just be tempted to brag a bit.
To buy: From $7; containerstore.com.
Kids’ Arts and Crafts Supplies
Three by Three 8-Compartment Supply Caddy
This divided caddy will fit anything from pens to paintbrushes. Plus, your kids can easily carry it around the house when it's time to pick up their project and go.
To buy: $13; containerstore.com.