A Happy Apartment is an Organized Apartment

Perhaps you just moved into your new apartment home and you’re wondering where to put everything or you’ve been staring at the same clutter (and it keeps growing!) for months and thinking it’s high time to do something about it. At one point, we all have those moments of clarity when we realize: I’ve got to be more organized and get serious about decluttering.

Not only is keeping your apartment organized great to impress those unexpected visitors, but did you know there are health benefits to staying organized? When your home is more organized, you feel better, make healthier choices and your relationships improve (so that’s what the secret is!).

Organizing can reduce stress and depression, according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative” had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who said their homes were “cluttered” or had “unfinished projects.”

Though you might not immediately draw a link from being organized to eating habits, a study in Psychological Science reported that those who worked in a neat space for a 10-minute span were twice as likely to choose an apple for a snack over a chocolate bar, which was the choice of those who worked in a messy space for 10 minutes. Organizational skills that track short-term goals and a record of progress mean someone is more likely to stick to an exercise regimen, according to a study in the Journal of Obesity.

Believe it or not, being more organized can help your relationship with a special someone and friends. Couples often fight about where things are, so if they’re always in the right place, that takes conflict out of a relationship. Likewise, you might not want to invite friends over if your place is a mess. Experts suggest planning to have people over, for motivation to stay uncluttered.

So, we know that being organized is important. But how to organize an apartment? We’ve got a few organizing ideas for you.

Maybe you laughed at the over-the-door organizer in your grandma’s house, but they really are space savers and can hold everything from shoes to cleaning supplies. Likewise, get some shower caddies, which you can hang with removable adhesive hooks, to organize your bathroom and kitchen.

Speaking of the kitchen, if you’ve got space between your fridge and a wall, get a rolling storage pantry organizer or magnetic racks to hang from the top of the fridge to maximize space. Free up counter space by getting a drying rack that sits over the second sink.

In the bedroom, save drawer space by folding shirts and storing them vertically. Then get rolling bins that slide under your bed to store seasonal clothes and linens.

Here are some quick, room-by-room tips:

  • Bathroom: Go through the drawers and medicine cabinet and be ruthless in tossing out toiletries and things that you rarely use or outdated.
  • Bedroom: If you find your closet seems to keep getting smaller and smaller, figure out which clothes you no longer wear. A simple closet organizer trick is to turn all of the hanging clothes with the hanger facing backward, all one way. When you wear something, return it to the closet and hang it the other way. In six months, see which hangers haven’t budged and donate your unworn clothes.
  • Kitchen: See how the table and counters seem to attract clutter? Junk mail, car keys, pocket change, etc. Get used to clearing the kitchen of those things by dinnertime, throwing out the junk mail, hanging the car keys up, collecting the change, etc., and you’ll feel better.
  • Living room: It should really be called our electronics room, right? Because that’s where they all are, with their cords and cables conspiring to tangle when we’re not looking. Get a cable organizer or use a cable zipper to tame them and make everything look neat.
  • Home office: Well, we’re going to use the f-word here: Filing. Do you find that your papers accumulate in piles? Maybe you do know what’s in every pile, but a good filing system is key for office organization. Get a 12-month expanding file and sort bills and receipts by month. After the year is up, if you haven’t needed them (especially after tax time), shred them. Get another expanding file and organize important documents by categories such as vehicles, education, medical, taxes, bank, etc.

You might have heard about Marie Kondo, an organization consultant whose “Does it spark joy?” method of determining what goes and what stays is often repeated. Here is a quick look at some organizing tips she included in her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”:

  • Start organizing now, getting everything done that you want. Going bits at a time turns into a perpetual task.
  • Sort by category, not by room, such as sorting all the clothes, books, papers, sentimental things such as photos and letters, and miscellaneous.
  • Whenever possible, recycle paper and packaging. Old bills can be shredded and recycled. If you need to keep something, store them in stylish boxes.
  • Instead of having books you’ve already read collecting dust, donate them so others may enjoy them.
  • If you’ve gotten gifts you don’t like or can’t use, after you’ve thanked the people who gave them to you, donate or re-gift them (as long as you don’t return it to the person who gave you the gift. Awkward!).
  • Assign places to everything you keep, so when it’s not being used, it’s stored.

OK, so you can go online to search for organizing hacks and come up with a thousand websites full of ideas, some of which we’ve featured here. Here are a few outside-the-box ideas that we couldn’t resist sharing:

  • Keep calm and choose your color: Small rooms can look busy with too many clashing colors. If you choose a cohesive color scheme in a complementary palette, you’ll calm the color clutter. Don’t despair if you can’t paint over the white walls of your apartment. Neutral whites actually open up spaces and can make small homes feel bigger.
  • Go vintage: One of the hallmarks of mid-century furniture is thin legs, which is great for small apartments because they don’t create large breaks in the visual plane. And mid-century stuff looks cool, right?
  • Double your space: Tuck stools or extra storage baskets (stylish, of course) underneath your console table to get double usage.

We have to admit, this is our favorite organizing hack. Consider getting a large-scale piece of art to hang in your room. It might seem incongruous, but it’s a trick that designers use to make a room seem more spacious. Besides, when everyone is oohing and ahhing over your artful masterpiece, they might not notice those old magazines you never threw away, the shelves you have yet to organize or the recyclables you haven’t taken to the bin yet.

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