Easy Tips to Declutter & Organize Your Apartment: A Step by Step Guide
Keeping a small apartment from being overrun by clutter can be difficult. Get a step-by-step guide to decluttering and organizing your apartment once and for all.
Do you ever feel like your apartment looks messy even when everything is put away?
Apartment living can be challenging when it comes to staying organized. Storage space is limited, so if you’re not careful, your “things” can take over.
A messy, cluttered home causes anxiety and reduces your productivity. All the extra stimuli distract you and draw your attention away from what you are trying to focus on.
That extra clutter makes you feel like there is always work to be done. It keeps you from being able to relax and unwind when you’re at home.
Getting your home organized and tidy once and for all can help you achieve that zen your looking for. It’s going to take work, and some difficult conversations with yourself, but it’s worth it!
The hardest part is knowing where to start, so let’s walk through the process step-by-step.
It all starts with decluttering.
How Do I Declutter?
Have you ever watched that TV show on A&E called “Hoarders”? Oh my gosh, that show made me rethink my pack-rat ways for sure!
Watching that show was an eye-opener for me. I knew I didn’t want clutter taking over my life so I started learning more about minimalism.
True minimalism could be a pipe dream for some of us, but there is some amazing wisdom to be gained from Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Like many, I used to think of organizing as just putting everything I owned into pretty little baskets with labels.
Then Marie Kondo came along and showed me that I didn’t really need all that stuff. And that paring down my belongings could actually make me happier.
I also love following “Becoming Minimalist” on social media to get little reminders about focusing more on people and relationships, and less on accumulating stuff.
As we begin the process of decluttering, Becoming Minimalist recommends using four boxes.
- Give away
On “Hoarders” they always ended the show with a yard sale. Maybe you do that, but you might want to reconsider. For one thing, yard sales aren’t exactly realistic for apartment dwellers.
Even if you decide to sell some items online or put your things in with someone else’s sales, you’re going to have to store all of that stuff until it is sold.
Unless it is a really big-ticket item, consider donating it instead. That way once you decide it needs to go, you can get it out quickly (before you change your mind!) And being able to bless someone else with things you no longer need is a pretty cool thing.
Deciding What Stays and What Goes
As you start going through your things, be critical—really think about each item. Marie Kondo says that you should hold each item in your hand and consider if it “sparks joy”. If not, it’s a goner!
Only hold on to the things that make you happy. Let go of anything that makes you unhappy or is just taking up space.
While deciding if something “sparks joy” is a great idea, there are times where that method doesn’t really work. I mean, if your toilet brush “sparks joy” then I’m just going to say it—that's weird. But PLEASE don’t get rid of it!
Where Do I Start With Decluttering?
Definitely, one of the hardest things about decluttering your home is getting started.
The task can seem overwhelming when everywhere you look there are piles of “stuff” staring back at you.
There are a few different ways to tackle this challenge, but they all boil down to one thing—start small.
- One room at a time
- Fill one bag at a time
- Set a timer and work on it five minutes at a time
- One category at a time (all the clothes, all the books, etc.)
As you begin the decluttering process, you might want to refer to this list from Becoming Minimalist. It will get you thinking about all the places where clutter can get out of hand.
Now For the Fun Part: Organizing!
Finally! The hard part is done. You had some tough conversations with yourself, and have decided to part ways with all of the unnecessary things in your apartment. Now it’s time to put the “keepers” away.
Okay, I get it. When you live in an apartment, putting things away isn’t always easy.
Apartment developers are starting to provide more storage space in each home, but it can still be an issue. And if you’re living in an older apartment, you’re probably working with little to no storage space.
When organizing your apartment, you’re going to have to be resourceful. Use the backs of doors or cabinets when you can, and look up! Always think “vertical” to save precious square footage.
- Use tall, skinny shelving
- Install shelving over doorways
- Use the tops of cabinets
- Take advantage of the space over the toilet.
Open shelving is a great way to add storage in a small space because it keeps the room feeling visually open. Just add a few pretty baskets to put away the things you want to keep handy, but don’t want on display, like papers or toys.
Tools You Can Use to Organize Your Small Space
Now that you’re thinking in terms of where to store your things, let’s talk about the tools that will make it easier.
For back-of-the-door storage, consider using a shoe organizer to store accessories. In the utility closet, you can use that same organizer to hold cleaning supplies. It’s also useful for keeping make-up from taking over your bathroom.
Apartment Kitchens and Bathrooms
Okay, let’s get real about apartment kitchens and bathrooms. You might have like, six cabinets in the kitchen and that’s if you’re lucky! In the bathroom, you will probably only have a couple of small drawers and a little bit of space under the sink.
In the kitchen, you can use the back of your cabinet doors to organize spices. Or keep all of those plastic lids from taking over a cabinet by storing them in a hanging basket.
Cabinet door organizers are also useful in the bathroom. If you’re anything like me, you have a hairdryer, curling iron, flat iron, curling/straightening brush thingy, deep wave iron, wait… did that just get away from me? That’s exactly what can happen all over your bathroom vanity!
Keep those items tucked away in an over-the-door caddy.
On your cabinet shelves, you can maximize the space with organizer systems like a small wire shelf to stack dishes. That way you can use the vertical space and still easily get to the pieces you want.
You can also keep cookie sheets from taking over an entire cabinet by using a vertical organizer.
Lazy Susan’s will keep food items like cooking spray or vinegar from getting lost in no man’s land at the back of a cabinet. And small baskets that you can get at the dollar store can help organize small things inside your drawers in the kitchen, bathroom, or even the office.
Bedroom Organizing Tools
That tiny closet is going to fill up fast too, so being economical with your space is important.
Baskets are your friends when space is limited. You can use a large shallow basket under the bed to store out-of-season clothing. Or use them on the closet shelf to hold sweaters.
Multi-layer hangers can take advantage of that all-important vertical space in your closet.
Remember all those ways we used the over-the-door shoe organizers? Well, they’re not only a great way to organize cleaning supplies or make-up. They also keep your shoes organized and out of the way.
Keeping Things Simple
Once you’ve gone through the process of decluttering and organizing your apartment, the last thing you want is for it to fill up again.
Remember to create a home for everything you own. And before you make a new purchase, stop to think about where it will go.
To keep clothing from taking over your bedroom, many like to follow the one in/one out rule. For every new item of clothing you buy, you must find one item to get rid of.
You’ll also want to think about keeping your home as visually open as possible when you are selecting furnishings. As we discussed, open shelving will allow for more visual space.
Also, keep in mind that large or heavy-looking furniture will weigh down the look of your room. Smaller pieces will work better.
A simple coffee table or a sofa with visual space underneath will keep your living room feeling light and airy.
If you need help deciding what furniture will work best in your apartment, you need to talk to the experts at Furniture Options. They have been supplying furniture for apartments for over 35+ years now, so they’ve seen it all! They can help you select stylish pieces that will make you feel energized and inspired, but not weighed down.
Best of all, you renting rather than buying it. Owning fewer things will make life easier as you move from this apartment to the next. Because what you love in this home, may no longer spark joy in your next home.
Kondō, M., & Zeller, E. W. (2015). The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Unabridged. [United States]: Tantor Audio.