Smart and Simple Home Organization

Home Organization Weekly Project Smart and Simple with Go GinghamSince the 1970’s one business that has soared in the United States is the “self-storage” or “mini-storage” industry. It seems that in this country, we need to store our stuff – and plenty of it – and there’s no room left inside of our homes. Home organization experts can be hired to help with the task and books abound on how to organize a home. There are even TV shows about about all the stuff we’ve all accumulated and the storage units that are forgotten.

Drive around suburbia and look at the double, triple car garages that are filled from floor to ceiling with boxes and piles of things. In older homes like mine, head to the basement to see the same piles and stacks. With basements, we can hide our stacks more easily. Or, look up. Those attic steps lead to another secret hiding spot. Boxes filled with our belongings.

Garages, basements, attics, closets, and self-storage units – everything packed with stuff. Stuff we might need. Stuff we once used but don’t want to part with. Items we’re saving – but for what? The Smithsonian? The kids? The grandkids?

Where did all that stuff come from? How do we deal with it?

When I walk into a room in our home, my eyes are drawn to whatever stack, pile or over-crowded shelf is visible. It wears on me. It makes me tired. It makes me unhappy. Clutter, piles, and boxes to be sorted. Drawers that won’t open because they’re too full.

Can’t I just take a nap and ignore it all?

Nope. So, this is what I’m doing for 2014 and I hope you’ll join me.

Smart and Simple Home Organization

I’m cleaning out a different drawer, cupboard, shelf, closet, garage – even the dreaded “tool room” that’s in our basement. (The “tool room” is more of an entire weekend project but it needs doing. Honestly, the garage needs an entire weekend, too.) Here’s my plan for smart and simple home organization for the coming year.

  1. Weekly. Every Friday, we’re cleaning out one area of the house.
  2. Small. Let’s feel good about cleaning out one area and stop. By keeping the jobs small, we’ll do it and be consistent.
  3. Clear and clean. After living in our home for 18+ years, everything needs clearing out and cleaning off. After taking everything out, I’m going to wipe it down, clean it,  and then put back what we’re keeping. That’s the plan.
  4. Get set. Get a bag ready to be filled with donations for this project. Plus, keep it accessible so that every time someone says, “I don’t want this,” they know where it goes.
  5. Pack it out. My donation bag is going into the car as soon as it’s done. No second thoughts.
  6. Donate. Once the area is finished, I’m donating the items to Goodwill. Goodwill works with 50-60 different salvage companies so nothing goes to landfills. Don’t forget to get a tax deduction receipt, too.
  7. Trade out. Once something new comes in, something must go out. When I received wine glasses, kitchen towels, and socks from my husband and kids for Christmas, I put our old wine glasses, kitchen towels, and socks into the donation bag.
  8. Stop buying. Do we really need more things in life? When do we have enough? Really, when do we stop? Honestly, do I really need another cashmere sweater? (Yes is the correct answer but even second-hand cashmere sweater shopping must be curtailed!) We have to keep track of these things, clean them, buy more things to store our things in, and then pay for “self-storage” units.
  9. Less is more. What do we really “need” in life? Before I buy something or someone wants to give me something, I’m really trying to say no. Even free chairs on the side of the road – and you know I love chairs – I’m passing on those, too.

When I walk into my home, I want to feel relaxed and see empty spaces. I want the kitchen drawers to open and close easily and for our closets not to burst with clothes we haven’t worn in years – literally, years – as in decades. All of the clutter, the piles, and storage boxes need to be sorted but if we do it in small, weekly steps, we can do it. If we donate rather than toss things in the garbage and don’t buy new items, our smart and simple home organization will leave us feeling really good – and happy in our homes.

Will you join me in this smart and simple home organization project?

Please leave a comment below and let me know if you’re on board. If you have a blog, please leave your link and tell us about your weekly efforts. If you’re shy, please send me an email and let me know your progress. I love getting those emails!   sara at gogingham.com  is how to reach me.

Go Gingham related links:

Ottoman slipcover hides shoes, socks and whatever else my kids stuff under there!
A little home office in our dining room
A free chair – that was rejected!
Green and frugal living – the sweet spot where green and frugal meet
The “weekly home organization projects” – if you’ve missed a week

Sara

Sara, creator of Go Gingham, is passionate about cooking and feeding her family healthy, real food. She's a green enthusiast, too, who loves to grow food organically. Sara loves to travel - especially by trading houses. An avid runner, she can also be found chasing after her chickens in the backyard.

27 Comments


  1. I’m in Sara! It’s a perfect time to clean up the house and get rid of the clutter. Look forward to your updates.


    1. Yay, Tina! I’m looking forward to them, too! 😉
      My house needs it – so does my closet.
      I think that’s one of the reasons moving might be a good idea – it would really force me to clean things out.
      Thanks, Tina!!


    1. Way to go, Ruthie! Can’t wait to hear your progress.
      Happy New Year to you and your family!!
      Thanks, Ruthie 🙂


  2. I am on board and tackling my closet first.


    1. Yesssss….!! That is a good one.
      Good luck, Margaret! Can’t wait to hear your weekly progress.
      Thanks for joining in, Margaret.


  3. Well it looks like 2014 is the year that I finally tackle our basement! It is our only storage area in the house but I am quite certain that there are things we are “storing” that we no longer need or use. Thanks for the challenge!


    1. Darcy, same with our basement – and especially the tool room. There are so many things in there we “might” need.
      Baby steps and sticking with it are going to be my method for getting it all done. 🙂
      I just sorted through all of last year’s Christmas cards – LOL – and I’m not kidding!!


  4. We are on the same wavelength – after 15 years in our house, my husband and I are doing one room a month with clearing out clutter, cleaning and doing any repairs that need doing. We will probably take a break in the summer to work on the outside areas but am hoping that by December we have cleared quite a bit of clutter. Fingers crossed that we stick with it!


    1. Jill, way to go! I like the clearing out and doing repairs – that is the thing that can get ignored and houses need attention, don’t they?
      I also really like that you’re taking a break in the summer. That’s good planning…. 🙂
      I’m sure you’ll stick with it!
      Thanks, Jill.


  5. I am SO on board for this. We moved to a different state last month and I thought I’d done a good job cleaning out and getting rid of stuff we don’t need or use. Ha. Now I’m trying to find a place for all this stuff and I am fed up. Out it goes. I will no longer keep 49,000 cleaning rags, 20,000 beer steins, etc. I’m looking forward to reading your ideas and I’m ready to simplify! (Thanks, Sara!)


    1. Vanessa,
      I’m so glad! And, I know what you mean about ALL of the same items. Why keep them all?
      I found 2 of several items in our kitchen drawer. No idea HOW that happened but simplifying and being honest about what we really need is key to the process.
      You’re welcome, Vanessa. So glad you’re joining in. 🙂


  6. I am totally on board, Sara! Like you, I live in a 1920s bungalow, complete with tiny closets and not much storage space (and a husband and two kids), so I really need to keep the clutter at bay and keep the rest of our stuff well-organized. I know you understand!


    1. Amy, I completely understand! I laugh when I read articles about families or couples “downsizing” to 1,700 square foot homes – that’s what we live in already. And, you are right about the storage space. Our house didn’t even have a linen closet when we moved in…
      I’ll need to share how/what we do to keep our treasures, too. It’s not easy finding space for it all but it does have to flow – something in means something out.
      Thanks, Amy! Glad you’re up for the challenge. First spot will post this Friday. 🙂


  7. I am totally with you! Last year we downsized majorly when we moved downtown. Being closer to the culture of our area, came with a cost of square footage. We were more than happy to simplify and in the process went from 3600 square feet to 1900! I am constantly cleaning things out. Looking forward to your tips:)


    1. Aimee, that is a big change! Good for you!
      Often times, I feel like I’m doing such a good job keeping things flowing – new in, old out – but maybe because my kids are older and done with toys, games, etc. and growing up – it seems like we have more stuff than we need.
      Books are another area we have to tackle. My husband has a thing for books and the shelves are bursting! I even suggested getting another book shelf for the basement but then quickly stopped myself!
      Are you enjoying the change in location and your new city life?
      Thanks, Aimee!! 🙂


  8. I am so very onboard! My problem is a packrat husband!!


    1. Mary Ellen – I hear ya!!
      Seriously, I will definitely share how we handle that…everyone needs a place to keep their treasured items – husbands included.
      My husband has a collection of “Billy Beer” cans – as in Billy Carter. It’s one of his special items that he’ll never part with and that’s okay.
      First spot to tackle is Friday….
      Thanks for joining in!!


  9. I have been following you for some time now and love all of your fantastic ideas and inspiration. I have a question, though….I am the only daughter, granddaughter, niece….my dad was an only child and my mother’s only sibling (my uncle)never had children. Well, almost 60 years later, I have inherited all of the china, crystal, silver, linen, books, doilies, recipes, furniture, etc. etc. etc. I FINALLY have a 2 year old granddaughter….first girl in the family since I was born!!! Should I continue to keep all of these family heirlooms packed up in wait for my grandchildren to have someday??? As of now, and hopefully for a long time, we have a large enough house to store all these things…but, I just don’t know what I should do with it all??? (I keep everything in totes in the basement…which is just a storage area). I even have my mother’s funeral book…she died when I was 5…I have my grandparents as well, also sympathy cards, etc. I just am so afraid to throw any of this stuff away…it seems sacrilegious or something. Do you have any ideas for me. thanks!


    1. Deb,
      You have to keep it. Have to!!
      While normally I’m one for donating and recycling, these are important to your family history.
      I do have some ideas….
      Is there anyone else in your family who might enjoy these before your granddaughter is of age? If so, consider sharing them with the interested family member.
      Also, consider a museum or historical society as an option to sharing. Many times, these are places that are looking for items that can be shared and they treasure items that tell a story.
      This past summer we saw a wonderful exhibit of nautical knots from our friend’s grandfather. Her mother had donated the knots to a museum and both our friend and her mother were thrilled to see them displayed.
      You’re a good grandmother!! 🙂
      PS great job already having those items in containers.


  10. I’m in, we have a tiny 2 bedroom apartment and haven’t been able to move everything from my grandma’s so. I’ve been trying to downsize but need to do more.


    1. Lorraine,
      You’re in luck! I’m doing a different drawer, cupboard, etc. every week. We’ll do it together….
      I’ve got the first area done and am happy to report – ready to donate 2 large bags. Duplicates and sippy cups are going! (My kids are teenagers and I still have sippy cups – LOL!!) 🙂


  11. My focus the next few months, when it is cooler, is to focus on the visible areas. Right now that is the flat surfaces in the kitchen. I am off right now to declutter and clean part of that.


    1. Karen,
      Good for you! I’m waiting for the garage and the basement “tool room” until it’s warmer. Right now, I freeze!
      My dining room cabinet is now cleaned off – from Christmas decorations, too – and it feels sooooo good!
      Visible areas are such a good place to start, Karen. That’s where we look first, isn’t it?
      So glad you’re on it!! 🙂


  12. I am SO craving order and space. I started checking out as many “Organize” books & magazines from our local library as I could! I also found a few blogs/websites that, while they aren’t my particular style/taste, have some great ideas for cleaning out clutter. I just cleaned out the junk drawer in my kitchen and it feels good! Thanks Sara!


    1. Heather,
      Sorry – I hadn’t seen this until now ~
      So glad it’s working for you and I, too, am feeling much better about there being less “stuff” around.
      What’s funny is that the more I clean areas out, the more I want to keep going!! 🙂
      My library check-out list has been focusing on clothing – I need to inspiration to tackle my closet!
      Thanks, Heather.

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