In your quest to become super-organized, do you ever wonder how professional organizers get their own homes in shape?
Wonder no longer: we have asked them for their list of must-have storage ideas.
First, they tell us, we must declutter. That done, it's time to invest in storage, and, they say, certain products make the home organizing habit much easier to maintain. So what's worth spending money on and, on the flipside, what are the things professional organizers never buy?
1. Lazy Susan
Though it's not loved by every professional organizer, others we spoke to swear by it. The Lazy Susan is a classic for a reason, and as long as you've checked your measurements, this simple revolving storage solution can maximize everything from kitchen and bathroom cabinets to your dressing table.
'Something I love in a larger space is the Lazy Susan turntable with removable sections, at Amazon,' says interiors therapist and author of Welcome Home, Suzanne Roynon. 'Whether they are used for oils and vinegar, makeup, or even toothbrushes is irrelevant provided they have room to move and nothing gets in their way.'
The Lazy Susan above from Amazon (above) is our favorite; the three-tiered design makes it incredibly versatile.
2. The three-tiered rolling cart
'It may not be the most chic option out there, but a three-tier rolling cart is incredibly useful for those moments when you just want to quickly clear clutter away,' says Jo Bailey, Homes & Gardens' Deputy Editor and interior stylist. 'They're a tidier alternative to the doom pile, easy to move around, and can be neatly stowed away in a closet when guests come over.'
You could use it as a general 'sort out later' living room storage idea, or a way to stop your kids' playroom from looking like a mini Legoland. You could also dedicate it to art supplies, bathroom storage, use it as a plant stand, or as extra pantry organization ideas. The RASKOG utility cart is just $39.99 at IKEA or there's a similar one for the same price at Wayfair available in soft green and pink shades.
Jo Bailey is Deputy Editor of Homes & Gardens, overseeing all features for the print edition. Before joining us, she worked as an interior stylist for over 10 years, specializing in commercial photo shoots for luxury clients. She has worked with Homes & Gardens for over a decade, having styled and produced editorial shoots and events over the years.
3. Clear acrylic bins measured to fit your space
Clear plastic containers are another classic, and they're not just for the refrigerator. As Juliana Meidl of Serenity At Home Detroit explains, they make deep shelves much more practical. 'We love using clear acrylic bins for many spaces, including kitchens, bathrooms, and closets,' she says. 'They come in many sizes allowing for maximum storage, for example, long clear bins are great for those pantries and closets with deep shelves.
'Organizing deep pantry shelves is difficult as items tend to get pushed back and lost over time. Keeping like items together in bins not only keeps them from getting lost but allows for easy access.'
4. Expansion rod to create hanging space
Expansion rods are a useful addition to homes, allowing you to invent hanging space where there isn't any (they're also a great way to hang curtains without drilling).
They are ideal for boosting storage, such as in a coat closet (we also love the door storage unit here – Amazon has similar systems to the one above), but are versatile enough to be useful all over the house.
Brenda Scott from Tidy my Space recommends DIYing your own hanging solution with an expansion rod, at Amazon, and hanging baskets in a bathroom. This stops shampoo bottles, soap, and bath time toys form taking up too much space, she says.
'This system only works in showers with three solid walls, not glass enclosures,' she explains. 'The rod extends in a similar way to a shower curtain rail, and you can hang plastics mesh baskets on it. It can be put at a height that allows all family members to reach the products or toys that they need.'
5. Repurposed shoe boxes
Sorting your life out doesn't need to be a burden on your wallet.
'Lots of sorting and organizing in drawers and closets can be accomplished with old shoe boxes, ice cream tubs, and takeout containers,' says Suzanne Roynon.
'The client I worked with this weekend created a complete spice drawer solution using the lids of a particular product. The drawer looks great and will work just as well as a molded drawer insert. Best of all, it cost her nothing.'
Shoe boxes can be incredibly versatile – use them for everything from photos (as above) to receipts to dry foods.
6. Expandable drawer dividers
'Dividers keep items corralled, like with like, and in place, making meal prep quick and more efficient. Many different styles are available, I like the bamboo expandable versions,' says Brenda Scott. 'They're easy to clean and easy to fit into different depth drawers.'
An adjustable drawer divider, at Amazon (above), is a quick and easy solution for that junk drawer that rattles every time you open it. By separating everything out, this kitchen cupboard storage idea means you can give all items a home. It would work equally well in your home office or underwear drawer.
7. Stackable storage totes
Organizing a garage or attic? Or putting away out of season clothes? Plastic, lidded, stackable crates are a must.
'Plastic crates which don’t click shut tightly are a waste of money,' says Suzanne Roynon. 'For me, it’s important that a utilitarian storage option that might be used in a garage, attic or child-accessible cupboard will stack securely without wobbling. Choosing identical plastic crates does make storage easier and more visually rewarding.'
8. Modular drawer dividers
'These bamboo drawer dividers, at Amazon are magic!' enthuses professional organizer and designer Melissa Gugni. 'They can turn a silverware, utensil, or even junk drawer into a beautiful and orderly little oasis.
'Because they are modular, they can be used in any size drawer. I have heard many clients squeal with glee when opening one that I have organized!'
9. Wooden peg boards
Pegboards are perfect, whether you are organizing a laundry room or organizing a craft room. We like metal ones, like the Skadis range from Ikea, but wooden pegboards look very attractive in more public areas of your home.
'This modular wooden pegboard is where form and function come together,' says Melissa Gugni. 'So many folks are overwhelmed by their entryways/landing areas, and hanging one of these by the door for hanging bags, keys and other essentials can be a life changer. They come in two different colors, and I find that one works seamlessly with most home decor styles.'
Wooden Pegboard Modular Display Organization Storage Wall Hooks | $36.99 at Amazon
Keep entryways orderly with a wall-mounted pegboard and spend less time looking for your keys.
10. Label makers
'Regardless of what products you use, labeling is the key finishing touch,' says Juliana Meidl.
As well as being soothing for type A personalities, labeled containers mean you can quickly identify their contents. Whether you choose a handheld label printer or a more modern option that links to your smartphone, like this one at Walmart, labels are the final flourish.
The Dymo Label Maker is Amazon's best seller, with over 28,000 positive reviews.
What does a professional home organizer do?
A professional home organizer will help you put any aspect of your home into shape. This can range from a whole house organization, to the organization of a single space, right down to the organization of your digital spaces, such as digital photos.
What do professional organizers charge per hour?
Professional organizers' fees vary from location to location and from job to job, but the average hourly rate is reckoned to be around $55. However, you will find organizers who charge much less, and much more.
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Millie Hurst is the Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. She has six years of experience in digital journalism, having previously worked as Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York. She then gained experience writing for women's magazines before joining Future PLC in January 2021. Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home before taking on the position of Section Editor with Homes & Gardens. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.
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