If you're thinking about selling your home, or you just need to tidy up around the house, there are many projects both large and small that can help you get organized. Before you knock down that wall or build a new closet, though, you'll first want to make sure you conduct a home inspection to identify any important issues you need to address. Once you're in the clear and are ready to make your living space more presentable, consider these organization and decluttering projects.
Get into good cleaning habits
If you're simply looking to get your house sparkling clean before showing it to potential buyers, there are many tricks of the trade that even the most seasoned cleaners may be unaware of. Good Housekeeping spoke to professional cleaner Anda Tanaka to learn her secrets, some of which may surprise you. Among the items she relies on the most: diapers for shining windows and countertops and a pan scraper for sticky floor messes. It's not weird if it works. Some other tips from the pros on tidying up: start from the top and work your way down, since the simple act of walking around can continue to track dirt and dust everywhere.
Downsize your life
It's funny how attached we get to the most random items. It can be hard to get rid of little trinkets and miscellany that may come with sentimental memories. We also tend to hang onto documents or clothing that we tell ourselves will come in handy later; But in the end, these items get no use and end up taking needless space. If you're planning on selling your house, downsizing your junk pile is essential and will prevent huge headaches later on. What makes this task easier said than done is the psychology behind it.
One method for decluttering a cramping closet was first popularized by Oprah. Make a habit of hanging a piece of clothing on a hanger facing the other direction as the rest of the clothes in the closet. After six months (or less), see which clothes are still hanging the original direction, and decide if those are worth keeping. Once you've found the culprits of your clutter crisis, consider donating them to a charity instead of tossing in the garbage. Recycling doesn't just apply to paper and plastic.
Some junk reduction strategies work based on a quota. Colleen Madsen created 365LessThings.com to document her journey in giving away an unneeded item every day for a year. She discovered many positive outcomes from this simple rule. Other common suggestions include the 12-12-12 challenge, which aims to throw away 12 things, donate 12 things and reorganize 12 things. This may be useful to rely on once per week, or over a few days when you begin cleaning and packing your home. Even if you aren't planning a sale or a move, getting in the habit of reducing the pileup of stuff can be very beneficial to your home's cleanliness and general happiness.
Create new space
If you're looking to go the extra mile toward a clean and organized home, there are a number of unique and eye-catching ways to accomplish your goal. This Old House readers had a number of suggestions for "Feats of Creative Storage" that seek to utilize every square inch of extra space in the kitchen, bathroom, living room or anywhere else. One homeowner took a 6-inch-wide gap in a bathroom vanity cabinet and made a pull-out spice rack-style drawer for small bottles of lotion and soap. Another built cubbies in their mudroom for coat and boot storage, creating organization in place of messy clutter. The general idea: Wherever you see a blank wall, think of how to better utilize its space instead of letting things pile up.
Speaking of walls, why let them get in your way of a sleek, stylish home? DIYNetwork found several examples of recessed walls creating handy storage areas, with the right remodeling skills. If your kitchen lacks ample pantry space, just make some space in the wall for a couple shelves and drawers. Same goes for a cabinet that wouldn't otherwise fit into a floor plan. A bit of wall underneath a staircase is an excellent candidate for a small closet or nook for a computer as well. Some may even find use from a hidden storage space cut into the floor itself. Of course, you'll want to make sure any wall or floor that might fit extra storage is free of pipes and electrical equipment before ripping it up. A home inspection might be able to verify this for you. This destructive method for freeing up space in your home may not work for everyone, especially if you don't have much remodeling experience and are on a budget. But if done well, these renovations can add significant resale value to your home.