Getting Organized: When Space is Your Enemy, Not Your Friend

Everyone expects to feel cramped for space when moving from a large home to an apartment or smaller dwelling, but a surprising number of people find themselves living among just as much — or more clutter — when they move to a larger space. Getting organized isn’t a question of how much (or how little) space you have, but how you use it. ”Objects that don’t have a home become clutter,” says Marilyn Bohn, professional organizer and author of “The Easy Organizer:  365 Steps for Conquering Clutter,” available in November by Betterway Home publishing. ”If you don’t know where something belongs, think about where you would look for it, and build it a home,” she said in an interview with Megan Buerger, a writer for the Washington Post.

Bohn’s advice makes perfect sense, and not just for the space-challenged.  One of our clients at Clever Quarters had managed to stay organized in their small downtown Vancouver apartment without difficulty.  But when they moved into a larger house, which they thought would better accommodate their growing family, they found themselves overwhelmed with clutter. Some of the clutter came in the form of toys for the couple’s young daughter.  But the problem wasn’t lack of space — it was lack of organization. We helped by transforming the family garage into a storage area and playroom.

If you’re feeling crowded in a 900-square-foot apartment or a 3,500-square foot house, here are some ways you can help find a home for the clutter in your house:

1. Hang it Up

Dresses draped over exercise equipment, scarves lying on top of lamps and shoes scattered on the floor can make even a Better Homes & Garden-worthy master bedroom look like the junkyard from the set of Sanford and Son. A simple and inexpensive way to organize your bedroom is to make it easy to hang things up.  Install hooks on the back of your closet doors so that it’s just as easy to hang up your work clothes as it is to toss them everywhere.

2.  Light it up

If your closet is dark and dreary — or just plain dark — you may not want to spend enough time in there to organize your belongings. Many closets, particularly the reach-in kind, do not include overhead lights.  And you may be reluctant to hire an electrician just to make your closet brighter. Fortunately, you don’t have to.  For less than $10, you can buy battery-powered lights that easily affix to the wall of your closet. And, maybe if you see the mess in your closet, you’ll be motivated to tidy it up.

3.  Spruce it Up

There are certain spaces, such as filing cabinets, that we tend to keep organized.  We expect filing cabinets to be organized — that’s what they’re made for — and our minds naturally start picturing things in perfect order. Now that most “paperwork” is done online, there are a lot of unused filing cabinets hanging out in alleys or being given away on Craigslist. Bring one home and stick it in the back of your closet or in a corner of your bedroom.  And you don’t have to leave the filing cabinet a dull beige or boring black.  Buy a quart of paint and turn the cabinet into something that matches your decor or makes you smile when you open your closet door.

4.  Give it Up

If you can’t successfully organize the clutter in your closets, garage, media room — or any part of your house — on your own, bring in professional help. If you’re not a plumber, it’s smart (and usually cheaper in the long run) to let a professional fix a clogged drain than to try to find the solution on your own.  So, if you can’t get yourself organized no matter how many blogs you read or books you buy, consult a professional organizer.

Getting rid of clutter is what we do, one closet at a time.

Author Bio

Askari Sabbaghi is the owner of Clever Quarters. From Garage Flooring to Closet Organizers, they have done some of Vancouver’s premier show homes.

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