Three Rooms to Unpack First in Your New Home

Deb Hipp
Find Self-Storage

After the movers drive away from your new home and you’re perched on a pile of moving boxes, you’ll face a tough decision: What should I unpack first?

A recent SpareFoot survey asked people which rooms they’d unpack and set up first when moving  to a new house or apartment to make it feel “like home.”

Their top three answers:

  1. Bedroom – 41%
  2. Kitchen – 32%
  3. Living or great room – 20%

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So, why do people choose to dig into moving boxes for these rooms first?

Sparefoot reached out to professional organizers and people who’ve had to unpack an entire household when they relocated to find out why.

Here’s what they told us:


In the midst of a hectic move, you’ll need stamina and a sharp mind from a good night’s sleep, says Schae Lewis, co-founder of Mission 2 Organize.

“Have your bed set up from the get-go,” says Lewis.

Mark boxes with bed sheets in it as “open first.” At the end of a long day, crawl in and rejuvenate.

Carol Gee of Atlanta always unpacks bedroom stuff first, sets up beds and puts on fresh bedding.

“Being able to go to bed and rest is important when traveling,” says Gee. “Unpacking pajamas, toiletries, and towels also lessens a feeling of being uprooted.”

Unpack your kids’ bedrooms first, says Michelle Ellis of Tullahoma, TN.

“They’re often too young to know what moving entails and want to know if all of their stuff is really coming,” says Ellis. “When kids are happy, parents are happy.”


Unpack kitchen stuff first, says R.J. Winberg, a real estate agent in Orange County, CA. You’ll want access to your dishes, silverware and appliances right away.

“Moving is a lot of work and burns a lot of energy so make sure you have easy access to snacks and beverages,” says Winberg.

Because the kitchen is the “heart of the home, you and your family members will gravitate toward that room frequently on moving day, says Marty Basher, a home organization expert. Hook up appliances, plug in the coffee maker, and pull out out utensils, dishes and cookware for basic eating and drinking.

Be smart about where you place items you’re unpacking. It’s better to take time to consider where things will go rather than just shoving dishes and pans haphazardly into cupboards and drawers and having to rearrange later.

Young happy couple moving in new house and placing table

Living Room

Pictures and wall accents make a new space homey so hang them while placing furniture, says Basher.

“The sofa mirror will look odd if it’s not hung over the sofa, so planning is essential,” Basher says.

Unpacking the bedroom, kitchen and living room first is a matter of needing creature comforts, says Janet Schiesl, a professional organizer. However, if you have children, set the living room up as soon as possible for a “sense of normalcy,” she says.

Internet access and television helped Eva Doyle of Columbia, MD, and her family adjust when they relocated. A set-up living room offers a place to sit, relax and feel “more normal” during a move, especially if your TV is up and running so you’ve got a connection to the outside world in a new place, she says.

Unpacking Tips

  • Declutter as you go. Break down boxes and bag up packing materials as you unpack, says Amy Trager, a professional organizer. Empty boxes clutter and impede your progress.
  • One room at a time. Trager unpacks all boxes for a specific room first. “You can see everything you’re working with and assess how much you have and where it can fit,” says Trager. “That way, you’re not left with a surprise box of dishes that won’t fit in the kitchen at the end of the day.”
  • Furniture first. Before unpacking boxes, arrange furniture and organize closets or cupboards so they’ll be functional, says Basher: “You’re not likely to take everything out at a later date to get it done, so take advantage of the blank slate.”
  • Have a trash can handy. You’ll be generating “huge piles of trash” as you unpack, so have a trash can out before you begin, says Winberg.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 21, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a freelance writer who lives in Kansas City, MO. She writes about organizing, moving, personal finance and legal issues. When Deb isn鈥檛 writing, she鈥檚 traveling or cheering on the Kansas City Royals.
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