At the beginning of April 2020, the KlopasStratton Team
hosted a virtual happy hour, featuring special guest speaker and de-cluttering extraordinaire Sanem D’Angelo, President and Founder of The Organized Stylist
. Sanem has been professionally organizing everything from closets to kitchens to basement storage for 10 years and frequently graces the WGN morning news with her insightful tips and tricks.
The two major areas Sanem finds that consistently need work are a home’s kitchen and its closets (front hall, master, linen - all of them). In this post, we’ll review:
When to keep and when to toss
How to determine what’s essential vs. extra
Best practices for organizing to maximize space
Time to get organized! If you’re looking for more organization and home improvement tips, check out our spring cleaning guide
We all have our own random collection of gadgets and machines, either gifted to us or purchased on an impulsive whim. Get rid of or move into storage any tools and appliances you don’t use like the ice cream maker or industrial juicer. If you’re not using it everyday, it’s taking up precious real estate in your kitchen. If you do plan to use an appliance again but not immediately, box it up and store it until that time comes.
Clear counter space is not only removing kitchen clutter but also mental clutter. Next time you go to prepare a meal, you’ll notice the difference in working space available and hopefully feel less overwhelmed.
The Fridge + Pantry
Know what’s in your fridge and pantry! One of the most overlooked areas is your spice rack. If the dried spices have clumped together that means they’re stale and should be tossed. Check expiration dates on canned items and also toss accordingly. This will prevent you from buying any duplicates when you go grocery shopping and ultimately help with meal prepping.
When it comes to your fridge, Sanem has an “eat me first” practice - foods such as leftovers should always be kept front and center. This is great for preventing food waste. Foods that have the most time sensitive expiration date such as milk, eggs, yogurt, etc., should be stored at the front, as well. Anything that has a longer shelf life such as condiments or sauces can be stored in the back of the fridge. Pro tip: keep these long-lasting items in a small basket so it’s easy to access all of them at once when needed!
While Sanem does encourage eliminating the unnecessary, bulky items from your kitchen, there are a few staple tools everyone needs to make cooking easier. It also means you can, again, remove any extra items that these kitchen essentials will replace:
Stainless steel mixing bowls of varying sizes
Cast iron pan - perfect for stovetop and oven use
A few pairs of tongs - great for cooking or serving a meal
If you have duplicates of a tool, now is a good time to sort through those, donating any extras you don’t need. Some tools are useful to have multiples of, such as knives, spatulas, cutting boards, and other essentials that get used in meal prep daily. However, do you really need 4 sets of measuring spoons? How about that kettle that’s collecting decorative dust on your shelf?
An easy way to make your kitchen feel more spacious is by creating designated “zones” for specific purposes and tasks. For example, keeping the coffee maker in an area separate from the toaster means no bumping into your family members during the morning breakfast routines. Same goes for prep areas and cooking areas - assigning individual spaces for both will easily prevent kitchen traffic jams.
1. Take Inventory
First things first, take everything in the closet out and organize into piles by type of garment or household item (pants, skirts, sheets, blankets, towels, etc.). Assess how much of each item you have, then select the items you truly want to keep and discard any extras that are simply taking up space.
2. Sentimental vs. Daydreaming
Of course there are certain items we keep for their sentimental value, whether it be a child’s favorite blanket or a piece of clothing from a memorable event. In these cases, Sanem agrees those are worth keeping. However, don’t confuse sentimental with daydreaming. For example, keeping old jeans that no longer fit for a “one day when I fit into them again” scenario means it’s time to let go - even when the jeans fit again, will they still be in style? No? To the “donate” pile, they go!
3. Eliminate Duplicates And Extras
How many white t-shirts do you really need? Or dark wash jeans? If you have to wear a uniform for work, that’s one thing, but hoarding multiples of a similar cut or color isn’t just excessive, it’s taking up precious closet space!
Additionally, Sanem recommends donating any formal wear that doesn’t get enough use. We all have that one over the top dress or flashy suit that only sees the light of day once a year, if that. If you still want to keep them for special occasions, protect them in a garment bag, and move to a guest closet, freeing up space in your everyday wardrobe.
4. Organize by Category
For some, this may seem commonplace, but organizing your closet by garment type plus color coding is a great way to stay organized, eliminate the possibility of duplicates and never lose that favorite t-shirt again!
Sometimes even after all the de-cluttering and organizing you’ll realize you simply need more space. On the other hand, you may have donated enough to see that instead you need less space. Whichever the case, are your Chicago real estate experts, ready to assist in all buying and selling of homes and condos. Contact us today to discuss your real estate needs.