In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo writes that “storage experts are hoarders.” Sure, you can buy a new dresser to house the clothes you don’t wear, and cleverly stow away miscellaneous items you haven’t touched in three years in decorative bins. But these systems only create the illusion that the clutter issue has been solved.
“You should only buy organizational tools after you declutter,” says Effy Nicopoulos, the founder of Organize That and one of 20 certified KonMari consultants in Canada. “Don’t even attempt to figure out how to store your stuff until you declutter and know what you’ll be left with. You might find you don’t want half of your clothes anymore and so you don’t need a new box full of hangers.”
Effy Nicopoulos from Organize That. Photo: James Bombales
Organizational tools can easily add to the clutter in your home. That’s why Nicopoulos is incredibly selective about the products she uses to organize her clothes, pantry goods, kitchen utensils and more. Here, the professional organizer shares the eight organization tools that spark joy in her home.
1. Painters tape
Nicopoulos has conducted over 300 tidying sessions and always brings green painters tape and Sharpie markers for quick and easy labelling. As you start decluttering, you might find batteries in the garage, the upstairs closet and the junk drawer. Instead of putting them back where you found them, you should store them with other like items in a box labelled “home maintenance,” until you can find a designated home for everything.
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2. Sterilite storage bins
Sterilite storage bins are stackable and come in various sizes from shoe boxes to 30 liter bins and larger. “I like these a lot because they’re see-through, so you know what you’ve put away,” says Nicopoulos. “One of my clients was a mom with a lot of baby clothes and she was planning to have another child,” she says, “We stored the clothes in Sterilite bins and then labelled them 3-6 months, 6-12 months, and more.”
You should avoid using baskets to organize your items. “Basket are lovely as a decorative item, with a blanket in them,” she says. “To use a basket as a catchall for paper and other bits and bobs is a disaster. It looks messy.”
3. Good quality clothing hangers
Nicopoulos has an extremely curated wardrobe and she likes to keep her clothes on wood hangers to make her closet feel like a beautiful, merchandised store. “Some people prefer velvet hangers, especially if you have a lot of clothes — for some, clothing sparks joy,” she says. Velvet hangers have a slim profile so they won’t take up a lot of space in your wardrobe and the clothes won’t slip around.
4. OXO Good Grips food storage containers
After coming home from the grocery store, Nicopoulos takes dry goods out of their boxes (she calls this ‘decanting’) and puts them in OXO Good Grips food storage containers before stowing them away in the kitchen pantry. “I try to decant everything in these containers — oatmeal, pasta, even my tea,” she says. Since they’re see-through, you’ll always know how much you have left. Plus, they’re stackable, which keeps your cupboards uncluttered.
5. Lipper Bamboo Dresser Drawer Dividers
Photo: Lipper International Inc.
Instead of keeping her cooking utensils in a jar on the counter (which adds to the visual clutter in your kitchen), Nicopoulos lays cooking utensils flat in her kitchen drawers. She keeps everything separate and organized with customizable drawer dividers from Lipper. You can also use them in your drawers to separate clothing, undergarments and office supplies.
6. Bins and shallow boxes to compartmentalize items within drawers
What’s Nicopoulos’ secret to a tidy home? In every drawer, you’ll find bins keeping like items with like. The pro loves black fabric boxes for her shirts, shallow, transparent drawer organizers to cube off spices, stationary, medication or any other small item, and old shoe boxes to corral things like craft supplies, makeup and electrical cords. Nicopoulos also keeps the boxes that all of her eyewear glasses come in since they’re the perfect size for her kitchen drawers.
7. Nest items within your bags
Store your purses within other purses, and corral luggage bags within larger luggage bags. Nicopoulos also keeps one luggage bag in her house filled with birth certificates, wills, passports, a first-aid kit, and other in-case-of-emergency items. If her family ever has to leave the house in a hurry, this bag is the only thing she’ll need to grab on her way out.
8. Look for items you already have in your house
You’d be amazed at the organizational tools that are already in your house. Before running out to The Container Store, keep your eyes peeled for shoe boxes, large jars and bins you already own.