A well-organized closet with blazers, dresses, and coats hanging. Knitted wear and linens are folded nicely in cubbies, and storage baskets hold smaller pieces.

7 Home Organization Ideas from a “Hoarders” Consultant for 2024

Home Organization Tips

by LB Gabriel Posted on January 25, 2024

Browse social media, turn on the TV, do a quick YouTube search — home organization ideas are everywhere. And for good reason. For a lot of us, all it takes is a quick glance at some before and after photos to suddenly feel motivated to take on those overflowing junk drawers and stuffed closets once and for all. The reality, however, is that tackling a home organization project can easily become overwhelming. That’s why a lot of people turn to the experts for assistance. 

Home organization consultant styles vary, of course. Some focus on the whole home. Some prefer to take things one room at a time. Others are devoted to specific areas, like garage or closet organization. The main objective, though? They are all devoted to helping you effectively and efficiently regain control of your life through decluttering and organization.

Naturally, we wanted to gain some of this expert insight into effective home organization (and snag a few handy organization hacks). So we talked to Katherine Lawrence, a Certified Professional Organizer, KonMari Consultant, and owner of Space Matters, an organizational consulting service.

Certified professional organizer Katherine Lawrence with Matt Paxton from A&E's "Hoarders"
Katherine with Matt Paxton from A&E’s “Hoarders”
(Source: Space Matters Organizing via Facebook

Katherine knows it all because she’s seen it all. She’s been in the organization industry for 20 years and is a consultant and professional organizer for Hoarders, a show on A&E. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, the main goal is to organize the homes of people who have hoarding disorder, which, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is a mental health issue characterized by an extreme aversion to getting rid of personal belongings due to a perceived need to save the items. Attempts to part with possessions create considerable distress and lead to decisions to save them. 

Katherine talked to us recently and shared some tried-and-true room organization ideas that she uses with her clients. Here are seven steps she suggests taking to achieve organizational success.

 A woman opens brown curtains, letting the sun into her room.

Step 1: Get the Right Mindset

You can’t make progress if you don’t want to make progress. Sounds simple, right? In actuality, it can be tough to have the right attitude for home organization.

Maybe you’re moving to a smaller home and need organizing hacks. Maybe you’re moving a family member from a home to an assisted-living facility. Or maybe you just want to have more order in your home. Katherine calls these “breaking points,” and they’re what inspire you to change your behavior.

Take a look at Katherine’s social media page and you’ll see that she prioritizes not just home organization ideas but the necessity of having a positive mindset when going through the process. On top of the “breaking point” inspiration, she says you need to be emotionally prepared to let go. To organize properly, you’ll need to get rid of some things. It’s an essential part of the process. If you’re unprepared to do that and don’t start the process with a positive mindset, you will waste time spinning your wheels.

Step 2: Make a Plan

Some people think organizing is as clear cut as selecting a room or space needing reorganizing and jumping right into the project. Katherine argues that organization should be viewed as a whole-home experience. You don’t have to face a major overhaul — like going from hoarder to organized — to benefit from this holistic approach.

For example, say you want to clean out your kitchen. You clean out the pantry, go through the fridge, and start rifling through drawers. What if you find paperwork? Where is it going to go? Perhaps you relocate it to the office. Do you have a paper-filing organization system once you move those papers from the kitchen to the office? Or are those papers going to fill another drawer? You can see where we’re going with this.

“Your home is an ecosystem,” says Katherine. Rooms are meant to flow together and work harmoniously to create a cohesive environment.

It may be time-consuming on the front end, but going through your house room by room and 
putting a plan in place is the best way to prep for what’s ahead.

Step 3: Cut the Clutter

The time has come. Your plan is ready, and you want to start organizing. The first thing you need to do, though, is declutter.

People often rush out and purchase organizing products and materials before decluttering, only to find that the problem isn’t what to do with their stuff but that they have too much stuff. In fact, did you know the average American household has more than 300,000 items? That statistic alone will make you want to start a donation pile.

Some people love getting rid of things and others have trouble with goodbyes, but most of us fall somewhere in the middle. You may not realize how much extra stuff you have hanging around, but once you start the cleaning-out process and see progress, it will inspire you to keep going.

Here's Katherine’s decluttering advice: 

To Get Started, Look for Big Wins

What is the best order to organize your house? Katherine recommends starting the process by getting rid of large items that you no longer use or need. This may be broken furniture, appliances, lawn equipment, stacks of books and newspapers, and more. When you see big pieces go, you’ll see big progress in a short amount of time.

Focus on What You Love

As you work your way down from bigger items, start looking for things you no longer find enjoyable or useful. If you’ve stopped golfing and don’t intend on picking it back up, ditch the heavy bag of clubs. If you don’t sew anymore, find someone else who would love the machine as much as you used to. On the other hand, if you’re a tennis player, don’t stress about the racquets and cans of balls — just find a place where they can be stored out of the way. When you prioritize what’s most important, it makes the unnecessary more evident.

Old postcards and photos in a cardboard box
(Source: Pixabay)

Focus on What You Love

It can be tough getting rid of mementos. We’re not suggesting you throw away your marriage album or anything. But ask yourself what has emotional significance and what’s cluttering your home. That old macaroni necklace your kid made 20 years ago may be cute, but could you keep a photo of it instead? It’s time to make some tough choices. But we know you can do it. Still, this step is easier to tackle at the end, once you’ve already gotten into the swing of decluttering.

Q: How can I declutter my house in 30 days?
To declutter quickly, make a list of the rooms and areas in your home in order from most challenging to declutter to least. List the rooms/areas that have the least sentimental items and start there, working your way up to spaces that you consider the toughest to declutter. Map out your schedule according to your timeline — in this case, 30 days.

Step 4: Don’t Default to Garbage

Too often, Katherine sees clients toss unwanted things in the garbage can post-declutter. She always urges people to think of other ways to eliminate those items, like donating or recycling them. “Try to keep things out of a landfill,” she says.

She notes that you’d be surprised at how much and what you can donate. You just have to know the right places to look. From scrap metal to tires to electronics, there are myriad ways that your trash can become someone else’s treasure.

You know what? This is a great opportunity to tout some benefits of using a home organization consultant. Not only can they help you develop your decluttering plan, but they can also project manage the endeavor and find creative ways to discard your things. If you’re like some of us, you may have created different stashes of stuff with grand ideas of eventually selling them in a garage sale (which has, thus far, never happened). Bring an organizer around, and those stashes? Outta here. Talk about a weight lifted!

And don’t think professional organizers are only for the uber-wealthy. Many are actually quite affordable. Some charge by the hour, others by the project, and some work on retainers. According to HomeAdvisor, you can expect to pay between $80 and $140 an hour for a professional home organization consultant.

A woman loads boxes into a PODS container

Step 5: Think of Short-Term Storage Solutions

No, Katherine’s not suggesting moving some of your stuff from one location to another, pretending like you’ve decluttered and simultaneously paying a monthly storage fee for an indefinite amount of time. Instead, she points out that a temporary portable storage unit comes in handy for large-scale home organizational projects. She says they’re used often on the Hoarders sets, and they have many other practical uses for homeowners, as well:

  • You can move your lawn mower and other large lawn equipment out of the way if you’re cleaning out your garage.
  • If you’re having trouble deciding what things should stay and what needs to go, you can put items that fall in the “maybe” column in the unit until you reach a final decision.
  • If you want to get rid of large items but they haven’t been picked up for donation yet, you can get them out of your house quickly and easily.

Step 6: Maximize Your Space

You’ve followed these home organization ideas and decluttered like a pro. It’s finally time to purchase some organizational products (the fun part!). According to Katherine, this should be your last step.

However, she suggests that you don’t go crazy. There are plenty of cheap storage solutions you can use to keep your home organized.

“The best organizational products are the simple ones,” she says, “Photo boxes, art boxes, file drawers, shelf stackers. Think of ways to make the most of your drawers, closets, shelves, and other household storage spaces. Unless you have an intricate hobby, like scrapbooking or quilting, you don’t need elaborate organizing equipment.”

For important documents, Katherine recommends digitizing as much as possible. Everything else can likely fit into a file cabinet.

For outdoor equipment, like camping gear, or other things that aren’t used often but need to be protected from the elements, she suggests using large, clear storage bins with weatherproof locks or seals.

Q: How do I organize my small house?
Keep your small house organized by cutting out the clutter. Once that’s done, look for space-saving storage solutions, like under-the-bed flat storage boxes, over-the-door shoe hangers, and pieces of furniture that also have storage capabilities, like a hollow ottoman or bookshelf.

Step 7: Focus on Maintenance

Organization is a mindset, not a one-time thing. Funny how it comes full circle, huh? If you go through your whole home, donate or recycle unwanted items, and organize your space, the positive results won’t last if you keep bringing more things into your home.

To make lasting change, you need to modify your behavior. Sometimes people buy more than they need. And they don't move something out when they bring something new into their homes. This is how the clutter builds and eventually becomes a problem.

Katherine sums it up best when she says, "Be conscious of your consumer mindset.” 

“One in, one out.” Organizational words to live by.

Now stop watching those Hoarders organizers on TV and start using these home organization ideas in your own space. Katherine’s cheering you on!

LB Gabriel is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, daughter and Golden Retriever in Memphis, TN. A frequent PODS blog contributor, she's a sucker for any tip she can find on downsizing, cutting clutter, or minimalist living. When she's not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.

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