When Caralyn Kempner was 12 years old, she and her mother helped an elderly relative facing eviction due to the hoarding mess in her apartment. As Kempner navigated a narrow path winding through mounds of the woman’s belongings towering high above her head, she was unintimidated by the enormity of the task at hand.
As an adult, Kempner channeled her passion for decluttering into starting her own business, Organizing Interiors, a home organizing company in Chicago.
“I am truly just one of those oddballs obsessed with order and born to organize,” Kempner told SpareFoot in an interview about her book, Top-To-Bottom Home Organizing: A Complete Guide to Organizing Every Room in the Home. In fact, Kempner even organized her book much like a home where anything you need is always in its proper place or within easy reach.
Unlike some organizing books, Kemper doesn’t spend much time on anecdotes and analogies. Instead, she wrote Top-To-Bottom Organizing as a reference book, divided into sections: Bedrooms and closets; kitchen; bathroom and laundry room; home office and armoires; mudrooms and garages. That way, the reader in search of specific decluttering, storage and organizing information can go straight to the desired section and get immediately to work on a more organized home.
To help you get (and stay) organized, here are six tips from the “Storage Essentials” chapter of Top-To-Bottom Organizing.
1. Increase Available Storage with Multipurpose Organizers
Kempner recommends using furniture and accessories that also offer storage functions such as end tables with built-in racks for magazines, and message boards that also store mail and keys.
2. Don’t Limit an Organizing Item to its Marketed Purpose
Manufacturers market tiered storage racks for spices as a kitchen organizer, but you can use this storage option in other rooms, too.
“I also use these organizers in the bathroom to hold bathroom toiletries like body washes and shampoo,” says Kempner.
3. Expand Storage Options with Commercial Organizers
Commercial organizers such as recycling bins, baskets, crates, wall racks, shelving and wall organization systems are generally more durable and can often hold more than retail products.
“Many hardware stores and home improvement centers have commercial grade plastic bins in the tool centers of the store,” says Kempner. “And they’re stackable, so you can capitalize on vertical storage.”
4. Pick Easy-to-Clean Storage
No matter how organized you are, dust will still settle on your tidily arranged possessions.
“Select storage necessities that are easy to clean and require little maintenance,” writes Kempner. “Plastic, nylon, metal and rubber are good picks. In contrast, fabric storage essentials can rip and stain easily.”
5. Repurpose Household Items as Organizers
Don’t throw out or donate that old kitchen canister set once used to store flour, coffee and sugar. Instead, move the containers to the bathroom closet to hold tubes, cotton balls, dental floss and other small items. Or keep the outdated canisters in the kitchen but move them inside a cabinet to store crackers, popcorn, raisins, nuts and other snacks.
6. Resist the Lure of the Junk Drawer
It’s tempting to toss batteries, screwdrivers, scissors, tape, markers, pens and anything else you want to get out of sight fast into the household junk drawer, which can turn into a cluttered nightmare in no time at all. However, you can avoid feeding the junk drawer monster by using clever countertop organizers such as cookie jars and bowls as temporary catch-alls.
“When these organizers fill, it’s time to return the items to their original destinations,” writes Kempner. “Divide the items at the countertop and use baskets to distribute to where they belong.”