Spring cleaning: Tips for tackling all of that clutter

Home Improvement
Create zones for organizing your stored food. It's more likely to be consumed if it's labeled. Melissa Michaels

The weather may indicate otherwise, but spring is here. To get you into that mind-set, we’ve compiled some of the best organizational tips from blogger and author Melissa Michaels of “The Inspired Room’’ to help you shake off those winter doldrums and start fresh. The following excerpts are from her latest book, “Simple Organizing: 50 Ways to Clear the Clutter,’’ which will be available in paperback on April 3:

Tame your everyday clutter with a DIY cabinet, a stylish alternative to your typical catchall like your kitchen counter. —Melissa Michaels

Create a command central cabinet

Repurpose a small cabinet or dresser (or even the inside of a kitchen cabinet or linen closet) to create a stylish landing spot for important entryway necessities.

Here’s a handy list of tips and ideas to make your own DIY Command Central cabinet:

■ Adhesive or other shallow hooks can be installed inside a cabinet door to organize extra keys and even a flashlight for power outages.

■ Clip up an easy-to-grab list of emergency phone numbers (or use a magnetic board).

■ Put peel-and-stick cork squares on the inside of a cabinet door for keeping important household notes organized. (Add a note with your Wi-Fi password.)

■ Labeled trays on shelves corral family paperwork or incoming or outgoing mail.

■ Bins can hold gadgets or personal belongings.

■ Add a baby sitter or dog sitter notebook with important instructions to leave with anyone caring for your kids or pets.

■ Design an electronic charging station in a drawer or cubby (drill a hole through the back of a cabinet for the cords) to house all those gadgets and battery chargers.

■ Set up a hospitality notebook filled with favorite restaurants and shopping destinations for guests.

Store bulk items, such as grains, beans, and oatmeal, in large glass jars. —Melissa Michaels

In the kitchen

■ Create zones for organizing your stored food: snacks, breakfast items, pastas, sauces, bulk foods, canned goods, soups, etc.

■ Collect baskets, wire or metal bins, and colorful crates or metal buckets over time for cupboard and pantry storage. Cute and functional, these keep you organized while adding a bit of decorative pop.

■ It’s impossible to organize clutter. Bite the bullet and toss any food that is expired or that you know your family won’t eat.

■ Store bulk items, such as grains, beans, and oatmeal, in large glass mason jars. Buy in bulk to save money and store what’s not in the jars in bags hidden inside decorative crates, buckets, or baskets. Simply refill your mason jars as needed.

■ Use chalkboard labels to identify anything that’s not easily visible. These look adorable affixed to baskets, crates, or other containers. If it’s labeled, it’s likely to be used.

■ Store paper plates, utensils, and other seldom-used items in baskets up and away from the things you grab on a more frequent basis.

■ Make sure snacks are easily visible in a wire crate or basket. This ensures they’ll be eaten before they become stale. Keep things tidy and save money at the same time.

■ Put small, preprepared containers in the fridge to organize cold lunch items, snacks, drinks, veggies, and fruit to take to school or work.

■ Your goal should be the least complicated system that works for you. Everyone organizes on different levels. Go with what works for your household and stick to your system!

Put makeup brushes in a decorative jar for easier access. —Melissa Michaels

In the bathroom

While it might be tempting to go with a specific decorating theme for your bathroom and shop for various items, the reality is that bathrooms easily become cluttered with extra stuff. Attractive containers for items you actually use can serve as decor without the added clutter.

■ Hang a small tray, basket, or shelf near the toilet to hold extra toilet paper, a candle, or a natural air freshener spray.

■ Store such necessities as cotton swabs and cotton balls in a fancy jar. That will add a luxurious touch to simple everyday items. Bonus: Search for free printable container labels if your jars aren’t clear.

■ Paint small wooden crates and use screws to mount them on the walls.

■ Fill a Lazy Susan with unique containers that hold items from toothbrushes to sunscreen to hair ties.

■ Use uniform plastic bottles for shower essentials such as shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. In addition to looking classy, matching containers also fit better on shower shelves or in a wire shower caddy.

■ Mount hooks on out-of-the-way wall space for hair tools, such as curling irons and straighteners. You can also store these in a metal bin or filing box, which makes it safe to put them away while they’re still hot.

■ Set perfume or pretty lotion bottles on a mirrored tray. They will decorate your bathroom and be easily accessible.

■ Stand makeup brushes in a jar for easy access.

■ If you have double sinks with space in between on the counter and need more storage space, add a cute basket to stash your hairbrushes or cosmetics, jars for makeup brushes, attractive bottles for bubble baths, or a tiered shelving unit to hold towels or extra supplies. Group similar items into cute containers, baskets, or jars.

■ Use attractive organizers and dividers to keep makeup, accessories, and toiletries orderly in your drawers. Keep counters clear. Your daily items can be just as accessible out of sight in drawers.

Where to start? Choose three things to donate or toss. —Melissa Michaels

The bedroom

Overwhelmed by choices? Offer yourself fewer options in what you wear or keep in your closet, and it will be easier to decide what to put on and quickly get ready for your day. You’ll also do less laundry. And you’ll have less to buy to coordinate with all the random items you never wear because you no longer keep those random things you don’t wear. Less clothing results in a more orderly closet, so tidying up will be a breeze.

Avoid temptation. Limit window-shopping (in stores or online), as it will cause you to buy more clothes, shoes, or accessories to deal with or tempt you with more decisions that will need to be made. It’s amazing how much less you buy and how much easier your subsequent decisions are when you spend less time shopping.

When in doubt, throw it out. When you’re paring down your wardrobe, you don’t have time to analyze every possible item. If you haven’t worn something in the past year, you probably won’t wear it again. Don’t think about how much money you spent on it. Donate the item to a worthy cause or a good friend and move on.

Do you already have the item in the same or a different color? Is life better with two nearly identical clothing items, or can you make do with just one?

Choose three items you could easily remove from your closet. These may be items that don’t fit well or aren’t really your style or color. Put them in a giveaway bag for someone who will feel beautiful in them. If you’re feeling inspired, choose three more items . . . and three more . . . and three more.

Still feeling indecisive about an item? Choose to let that thing go. If you ever find a new one that you really love and know you’ll use, you can replace it. But chances are, you probably won’t miss it.

Excerpted from “Simple Organizing: 50 Ways to Clear the Clutter” (Copyright 2018, Melissa Michaels/Harvest House Publishers). Send comments to Subscribe to our free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at