Buying a new home is daunting enough as it is, what with securing a mortgage, vacating your old place and moving your belongings. So it’s understandable if organizing your new home isn’t on the top of your mind. Yet experts say it’s the perfect time to organize—when you’ve got a clean slate.

Professional organizers Jane Carroo, owner of the Clutter Coach Co.; Vanessa Hayes, “chief simplicity officer” at Get Simplifized!; and Carrie Powell, founder of In Focus Organization, offer these 12 tips for setting up a new—and well-organized—household.

  1. Before stepping foot into your new place, get rid of the clutter at your old place.No sense in spending, time, money and effort to move things you no longer need, love or use,” Hayes said.
  2. Get carpets cleaned, floors waxed, walls painted and shelves installed before you unpack. “It’ll make life so much easier than moving items around after you’ve already unpacked them,” Hayes said.
  3. Room by room, visualize the function of each space.If you imagine that extra bedroom as a productive home office, then you know not to allow toys and other potential distractions into that space,” Hayes said.
  4. Move boxes into the appropriate rooms so you can see everything that needs to fit into each room before unpacking.
  5. In each room, unpack everything and sort it by category—such as winter clothes—before putting it away. “Sell or donate any duplicates or no-longer-used items,” Powell said.
  6. Use containers—preferably clear ones—to keep loose things in place, such as kids’ toys.
  7. Label shelves and containers—again, clear ones so that you can see what’s inside—to make it easier to maintain order.
  8. If storage is limited, think vertically. Consider products like cupboard shelves, hanging closet shelves, and mounted shelves and drawers.
  9. Look at categorizing and color-coding your clothes. “Professional organizers use color to help their clients live more productive and pleasing lifestyles,” Carroo wrote on her blog. “Color saves time and energy. Color easily categorizes and causes instant recognition.”
  10. Separate kitchen storage into “zones” such as baking, food preparation, dishes, appliances, snacks and canned goods. “In each zone, put like items close together so that you are not zigzagging back and forth during meal prep and cleanup,” Hayes said.
  11. Resist the urge to immediately buy things for your new home.Unless you’re totally out of toilet paper, then hold off on running to the store to buy products until you know for sure what you need and can run out to get a bunch of items all at once,” Hayes said.
  12. Establish a combination “landing zone” and “launching pad.” This area should be designated for everyday items like keys, purses, wallets, sunglasses and backpacks. It’s a “place for all the things you need as you step out the door and come back home,” Hayes said.

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