I got asked the question from our last organizing challenge, “How many of this do you have?” From cups to clothes. It really is a very interesting topic to discuss. Don’t you think? I thought this entire question could be our Organizing Challenge. Because really it comes down to the big secret to organizing…OWN LESS! If you own less it is easier to organize your items. I read a quote somewhere that said the best way to organize your stuff is to get rid of most of it. Seems extreme but really the less we own the less we have to do! Anyone else notice that?
My mother-in-law lives in a 8,000 square foot home, well 10,000 if you include some completely unfinished space. It is big. They realize that. But they like where they live and do not want to move. And they like a lot of the space for entertaining. Her closet is basically the size of our master bedroom! Think of that. So really she has space. And she rarely ever de-clutters. She said she has clothes she hasn’t worn in her closet for at least three years. But she has the room so it is a non-issue. But.
Her closet might not be a big issue but I know other areas in her home are. Take for instance her kitchen.
She is very open to a conversation about this, so I she took no offense to this. I brought up the fact that when we have Sunday dinner at her house she is often opening many of her cupboards searching for a bowl. Because she doesn’t like half or most of the bowls she has. Same with cups, she has a million cups but they aren’t the best cups. Some leak and aren’t great. And yet, they stay in her cupboards because she has the space!
What if instead she had two or three really nice bowls or however many she typically used for serving a big dinner (which she does often). Rather than a bunch of bowls she doesn’t care for.
What if that huge island that has so much storage- storage for the items she doesn’t even like. Was empty! Then she knew that she didn’t even need to hunt thru that island looking for things.
What if she had a a “magic number” of plates, bowls, serving where that she kept on-hand. All the things she loved and then donated the rest.
If she found something new she liked, then she would take one item out and donate it to make a spot for this new better piece.
One in. One out.
I do believe that small space dwellers could be living in a more organized home than large home dwellers. Of course this is not true for everyone. I have just noticed moving from a 3,000 square foot home to a 1,100 square foot home I am way more intentional about what comes in. And only have room for a certain amount of items, so it is quality over quantity.
I watched an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. They were talking about the home they were making over and the home owner said that they need “more storage”. I had to laugh because they had SO much clutter. I bet they could have gotten rid of half of it and then their problem would have been solved.
The Secret to Organizing: Own Less! One in. One out.
The concept of this printable is you can fill in your “magic number” or use it as a check list or even mark the date you went thru it last! Under kitchen it could say the number of mugs you really should have because maybe that is something you like to buy over and over. Also kitchen you could even write the total number of serving wear that you would like to have for parties and a number for everyday use! Seasonal Decor could be the number of storage bins that you got down to after decluttering it.
You can print out your own Organizing Printable HERE that the talented @apletters created for us! (PS- now is the time to request or order anything custom for the holidays- think of having her create a recipe printable for your family or friends! Use code NESTING10 for for 10% off! Check out her shop HERE)
I have my printable hanging in our kitchen, where my supply cabinet is. I also re-printed out THIS organizing printable by room. I am going to tackle that list and set goals and track my magic numbers and dates with the free Organizing Printable today!
Consider when you hosted last and when you would ever need that many mugs, cups, plates, serving bowls, serving platters, spatulas and small appliances. Typically we do a load of dishes once a day and use the same cups and plates over and over. But don’t get too carried away donating things that you have to go buy the items again when you host.
Here is an example of the numbers I have with 5 family members-
- Mugs- 6
- Dinner Plates- 12
- Salad Plates- 12
- Outdoor Plates- 12
- Bowls- 12
- Serving and Mixing Bowls (in a variety of sizes)- 6
- Bread Pans- 3 (we bake bread often)
- Cookie Sheet- 2
- Water Bottles- 2 per person (we drink a lot of water) THESE cups (use code NESTINGWITHGRACE for 10% off)
- Spatulas- 2 (basically I have two sets of most kitchen utensils and measuring cups etc.)
(I will be featuring photos taken from my Small Space Living Series in this blog post)
Coats, jackets, hats, mittens, scarves, bags etc. Evaluate what you hav duplicates of. How many bags do we need? Will you ever use all of your bags or do you just go to your favorite? I keep one bag for different occasions- backpack, handbag for night out, purse for day without kids etc. Try to add hooks to the back of doors to maximize your space! But don’t just hang onto it because you have the space.
Papers, documents, kids momentos, office supplies etc. Do you really need to file away the fridge user manual when in actuality you will just google it if something comes up. Or do we need to hang onto the invite to a birthday party after we put the info in our phone or calendar? No. Are you hanging onto broken crayons and almost used coloring books? Chances are yes. Recycle the paper and throw away dried up markers.
I have found and the people I interview too, that less is more with kids. If you just pay close attention to what your kids play with in a week I bet you could get rid of half of them. We sorted thru Finn’s toys the other day and found a basket full of odd toys he never plays with and never would because they don’t belong to a “group”. I like to be able to put down a basket of legos or animals or building blocks or babies at one time. Not all at the same time. In my personal experience if there is a small group of toys they play with them! Too much is overwhelming and it just becomes a mess.
Finn has five baskets in his room for toys and each basket is sorted by- puzzles, cars, magnetic tiles, animals and play food. In his closet we have one larger basket for a a couple larger toys. Then he has a basket in his room for stuffed animals. That might seem like a lot or not enough to some. Before we purchase anything new we have to know where it will fit into the toy plan we have set. And if a new toy comes home- one goes out.
For toys set a goal on how many baskets or bins to have per child or per room.
We designated a spot for Ella’s Legos. She keeps them all in bins and the creations on the shelf. She is good about going thru them regularly to organize.
Lola loves American Girls Dolls. She has their accessories in that pink basket on the dresser and some of their clothes in the drawers. The entire dresser is dedicated to their play items. Ella has a draw for her drawing’s etc and their are some stuffed animals. But everything is separated and not all mixed together.
The question of linens came up often during our last organizing challenge. I did include bathroom on the list. But extra linens for beds was in question. I personally don’t have extra linens for beds. I invest in quality bedding so I don’t really want any other bedding on our beds. In the case of an accident I just throw the sheets in the wash and they get clean quickly. It has never been an issue in the past. If you do like to keep extra linens, keep just one extra set per each bed size. You could also put in a garment bag under your bed! That way you avoid trying to find the space for extra linens. Also towels we have about 6 towels per bathroom. I do about a load of laundry a day so the towels get washed often. No need for so many towels. We also have a beach town for each person and two extra for guests. We keep those beach towels in our basement with our beach stuff.
Set a goal for a nice quality towel for every person in your home and for guests then add on a couple extra. We have 12 nice quality white towels per bathroom and a few extra hand or Turkish towels.
This is a big one. How much to have? I really think this this is very individual and can depends on how much space you have. But it can also depend on how many decisions you want to make on a daily basis and not to mention how much laundry you want to do. Just think of it. If you have a lot of clothes you don’t need to do laundry as often but then when you do do laundry it is an overwhelming amount to manage.
There are some items we limit to a number, such as pajamas. Our kids have about 4 sets of pajamas. And I personally have about 3 pajamas. You can wear pajamas more than one night without washing. Especially if you bath before bed. After my research most suggest about 5-7 different outfits plus active wear, dress-up etc.
It is so much easier to keep your drawers and closet organized if you have LESS! Don’t keep trying to find more storage for clothes. Just eliminate it! The best thing for me to help me donate clothes is to not put a price value on my clothes. Makes it easier to let it go.
While we don’t have a garage now, we did in our previous house. We tried to keep it really simple- one rack for storage. A garage can be a dumping zone. The best solution is smart storage, especially in a garage. Below are two great blog posts on Garage Storage!
Storage and Seasonal Decor
I shared a video tour of our basement HERE. It is not really anything great to photograph and it is a dark basements- hard to photograph! The biggest lesson I have learned in having a large unfinished storage basement is to not just take items down there to die. It honestly stresses me out knowing items are down there that I am not going to use again. The best way to know if you can let the “extra” items go is to ask yourself if you would need to re-buy it if your basement flooded or would you really miss it. If the answer is yes, make sure it is in a good storage bin and protected. And if the answer is no, then get rid of it!
Set a goal for how many totes of seasonal decor you want. I have four Christmas bins, that includes Christmas books. Then one bin for the other holidays, I really don’t do a lot of seasonal type decor. But my friend hosts a huge Halloween party every year so she allows space for those seasonal decor totes. Be practical about what you really need and use.
The goal is not to have nothing. The goal is to have what you actually need and use!!
I hired my friend to come over and help me go thru my basement. She is coming on Wednesday to help me decide what to sell and what to donate. Then she is going to post it for me on tag sale sites. You could trade with a friend to do this with you. You go to her home and she come to yours. Trust me, it is so much easier to have someone help you tackle any organization tasks you have ahead!
Follow along in Instagram where I will be sharing ideas on Instagram stories.
More Organizing Helpful Blog Posts-
You can see every cupboard in our home and how I organize it HERE
LOVE the idea of swapping services with a friend to help you get rid of things. If I have to justify having it in my house to someone else I’m more likely to get rid of it.
Cheryl Buhler says
Brooke, Thanks for this. Organizing is always on my to-do list. A couple of comments. Lola’s lego shelf reminded me of a shelf I had in my closet as a 9 or 10 year old – it was for Monopoly. My best friend and I left it set up so we could continue our game the next time we were together. Sweet memory. The other things is regarding dishes. My mom kept a beautiful home and was a lovely entertainer. She had her china, silverware, crystal. However, her every day dishes were a few sets of 3, 4 or 5 place settings. She would get them from the grocery store during promotions (free after so many purchases). Glasses were mostly free ones from gas stations. This dates me, I realize. My sister and I both have sets of every day dishes in one pattern and sets of glasses that all match. But we do entertain like our Mom did. Homemaking is a valuable skills and something to be modeled to our children.
[email protected] says
Love that! Yes- keep what you use to entertain! That is a big thing to consider. I love your comments xxxxx
Gretta Buchanan says
Hey Brooke! Love your blog! What tag sale site do you use or would you recommend?
[email protected] says
Thank you! I like my local Fairfield tag sale site on FB. I also use Poshmark for name brand clothes, but mainly donate clothes.
I came across a quote several years ago from William Morris that initially inspired me to start decluttering my house. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Thank you for all of your tips & suggestions to help me step it up a notch! 😉 Love your blog & insta page!
[email protected] says
I have heard that and love it! Thank you for sharing!
I am a master at decluttering and cleaning house –
Another motivational phrase I often have to say to myself when donating things I don’t wear or use is : “Someone really needs this item way more than I do …..and it just might be a huge blessing to them.” 😍👍😍
[email protected] says
oh I LOVE this!!!! Thanks for sharing!
Whoops! Sorry about that! I am a master at decluttering and cleaning house with one exception – my linen closet! I worked at Scandia Down for years and I can’t whittle down my linen collection. It’s kind of crazy!