Saturday, 18 February 2012

Organising - Some Organising "Rules"

I've realised as I've been on a mission to organise at home that I have some "rules" when it comes to storage products and storage organisation. Sorry I know rules sounds a bit strict and teachery (word?!) but its the best I could come up with at the time!!

1. Multiples - by using multiples of the same type of storage container, this creates a sense of cohesion rather than it looking like you've just thrown together what you have to hand (I know this is hard especially when organising on a budget, but I think its worth the effort).

2. Odd or Even Numbers - given the choice I would always choose storage containers in even numbers. I don't really know the reason for this, I just like it this way. The only exception to this rule would be where I was following Rule 6 and an odd number of containers fitted a space better than an even one.

Here's an example of 1 and 2 in action:

3. Symmetry - when I'm organising a space I like to see a sense of symmetry so I often split how things are stored if I think that visually it looks better, provided it doesn't compromise the practicality of the solution -  in my bedroom drawer I have multiples of containers but when they were stored together in the drawer they just didn't look right, so I moved things around so that the storage in the drawer mirrored on both sides and that appealed to me much more!

4. Colours - either decide to go all-out for colour co-ordination or, as I prefer, stick with white and transparent products to cut down on the visual clutter.

5. Pairs - I often find that I'll buy pairs of items (I have 2 sieves and  2 measuring jugs. Not for any other reason that I think it looks nicer!).

Here's an example of 4 and 5 in action:

6. Fit to the Space - where possible find containers that fit and fill the space you are organising to its maximum advantage. This has two benefits, firstly you're not wasting any valuable storage space, but secondly, if the containers fit the space there less likelihood for movement over time eventually making the space look a mess.

7. Square/Rectangular - I've found that when fitting storage containers into a space such as a drawer, that square or rectangular containers work better than round ones, which I feel lose you too much usable storage space.

Here's an example of 6 and 7 in action:

8. Behind Closed Doors - I don't like to have practical things out on view, I prefer them to be in a cupboard or drawer where possible. I don't mind having pretty storage solutions (maybe a jewellery box?) on display but even those I keep to a minimum.

9. Think Laterally - use things that aren't necessarily intended for the purpose you choose, e.g. cutlery dividers could be used in a bedroom for jewellery storage - the containers I use in the bedroom for jewellery storage are intended as kitchen storage and for eggs (thanks to IHeartOrganizing for that great idea!).

10. Reuse & Repurpose - lots of items that we buy come with packaging and often this packaging could be reused as a storage container - I've reused takeaway containers, boxes that chocolates have come in and little pots for desserts that we get from an upmarket supermarket. You don't always have to spend lots of money to get the perfect storage item!

Chinese takeaway containers - for storing stationery items (origami paper, sellotape, small notebooks, blue-tac etc.) Ferroro Rocher Plastic Container - for storing small stationery (small - staples, pins, paper clips etc; large - stapler, notebooks, mobile/camera/ipod cables)

11. Location, Location, Location - store items where you are most likely to use them. That counts down the amount of time you spend going to find items you've stored in locations other than where you need to use them - I keep oils, herbs and spices in a drawer near the hob as you're most likely to use them there. 

12. At the Right Level -  try to store most often used items at a level that minimises bending and stretching - our everyday dishes are stored beside the work area I used for serving and are in a drawer that I don't need to to bend or stretch at all to reach.

13. Like with Like - categorise all the items you want to store and then store like items in the same place - so all cleaning products together, all crockery together etc.

14. Tidy and Organised Are Not The Same Things - just because you've put something away tidily does not mean that its organised! For example, this little case in my bedroom looks neat and tidy sitting on one of the shelves... but open it up and its carnage!

15. Empty Space - don't try and cram everything you own into small spaces. Give your things breathing space and always allow for empty space when you're storing so that spaces don't look cluttered. Also just because a shelf/drawer is empty, doesn't mean you have to fill it!!

16. Containers Within Containers - my thinking behind this one is that I find it easier to keep things tidy and organised if they are corralled within containers in drawers or on shelves rather than being left loose. If left loose there is the tendency for them to move or not be put back in the same place each time so will end up looking messy. For example in the drawer below, I could have simply placed all the cleaning products directly into the drawer, but having them contained in two open containers, with smaller items at the back also contained (like with like), it is much easier for it to stay tidy with virtually no effort.

17. Don't Over Label - when I first organised my kitchen I went a bit label mad - anything that wasn't moving pretty much got a label! I realised pretty quickly though that this was overkill and now my rule is if you can see into the container you don't need to label it (unless you have a couple of containers with similar-looking items or its not that obvious when you look into the container what something it - then a label will be useful rather than OCD gone mad!). I am aware that this rule may not necessarily apply in larger households - we're a 2 person family so it works OK for us.

Here's an example of 16 and 17 in action:

18. Don't Always Follow the Rules! - when the location of something makes more sense than storing like for like items together that's the option I go for - I have a drawer in my kitchen where all the tea and coffee making supplies are kept, including cups, teaspoons and the tea/coffee itself, as having the different elements for making a cup of tea or coffee stored in different places to me isn't as practical a solution.

18. Future Proof - when you're buying or sourcing containers to fill a space try to think long-term and about filling the whole space. That way you don't buy just the containers you need then go back to a store when you need more only to find the product discontinued or the design changed! I do this even if it means that containers lie empty. I only really mean this for small spaces such as drawers. I would also advise when you're thinking long-term whether the use for a space might change - then the containers you get to fit the space might not work if you change the purpose of that space, so caution.

I'd only really advise this for small spaces (drawers) - I wouldn't recommend going out and buying loads of boxes/shelving to fit a wardrobe space for example and then leave them lying empty while you figure out what you might put in them!!

Wow, when I started this post I actually thought I only had a couple of rules - oops!!

Do you have any storage organisation golden rules that you follow?


  1. WOW girl -- you are ORGANIZED!! Seriously! I love the rules about rectangular shapes and making sure the entire space is fit exactly...both great rules and CLEARLY working for you! Kudos!

    1. Thanks I appreciate the feedback! I cringed when I saw your title with the scarey word photography in the title - my photos are shockingly bad!! I am trying to get better - I blame the light here, its rubbish lol.