Tips from a Pro Organizer to Maximize Storage & Organization When Planning Your Renovation

Guest blog post by Carly Adams of Tidy Revival.

Every homeowner’s dream is to be able to customize their living space and maximize its potential. If you’re planning a renovation, here are some things to think about as you’re designing the spaces in your home. The goal here is to add features that will make your everyday life much easier.

Let’s Start in the Heart of the Home - Kitchen & Pantry

The kitchen is often is where family memories are created and where guests gather during parties. Let’s aim to make this room as stress-free as possible.

The first step in creating efficiency in the kitchen design is to locate where your pantry will be, and to remind yourself throughout the process that the key will be all about creating easy access for yourself in this room. My clients often complain about their pantries if they have really deep shelves. Clients feel as though their food gets lost in there, and they’re not able to keep track of what they have on-hand. Designing a pantry with a shelf depth of 16”-20” is optimal, but if the space you’re working with requires extra-deep shelves, I highly suggest getting roll-out shelves for all cabinets that are at chest-height or lower. For the higher cabinets, if you do have deep shelves, put items that you need to access rarely in the back as you’re unpacking (think: entertaining items for holidays / your vase collection / canning supplies) and lighter food items (bin of sweets / cereals / bin of smoothie items) in the front.

Another consideration to make with custom kitchens is to think about having access points for hard-to-reach places. A great example of this would be to add built-in Lazy Susan shelves in corner cabinets. Although you lose a bit of storage space when you add a circular shelf to a boxed space, I’d argue the benefit far outweighs the loss of space because everything in that corner becomes highly accessible.

In many homes, the kitchen’s corner shelves are extremely deep. I’ve seen it happen many times - clients keep heavy appliances they rarely use in these spaces, but because they are difficult to reach- the client avoids using the appliance altogether (or forget they’re there). This issue can be avoided with pull-out shelves made specifically for deep, oddly-shaped corner cabinets. You’ll find that once you’ve made every corner accessible, you’ll feel like you’ve gained extra space because things don’t get lost.

I also love deep drawers in kitchens for a variety of reasons. For trash and recycling, having that built-in means you’re not walking around your trash cans daily. Things look cleaner when you add hidden storage. I also love deep drawers for pots, pans  and lids. In my house, we’ve reduced our collection so the pots and pans we have are ones that we use regularly. As a result we’re not having to find storage for items that are never used. Ergonomically, reaching for a pot in a drawer is so much easier than having to bend down and search for it.

Quiet-close cabinet doors are another must-have feature for a kitchen renovation - especially for parents. By installing quiet-close cabinets you’ve just eliminated the need to say “don’t slam that door!”

Give Each Day a Fresh Start

We’re moving on to the bathroom. In this room the focus should be on ergonomics and ease of access. There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you have to dig around for everything. As you’re unpacking. be very selective about what you have in your bathroom, keeping items that you’re using on a frequent basis (daily / weekly / monthly). Incorporating pull-out drawers in this room will help eliminate constant digging, and help you see things at a glance.

Make sure that you’re only keeping the necessities in here: medicine / first aid, toilet paper, makeup, hair care, and everyday toiletries. Keep these items tidy by storing each category in its own bin.

Make Laundry Day a Breeze

If you have an indoor laundry room, be sure to add cabinets to empty wall space all the way up to the ceiling, even if it’s just on the wall above the washer & dryer. You can use this extra storage to store things that you don’t need often but want to keep inside. Items like off-season throw pillows, candle backstock, medicine cabinet supplies, sun care, and household item backstock are great to keep in the laundry room.

When you move in, keep your laundry supplies simple. Be sure to evaluate the items you own on a regular basis. Are you buying products you think you might use but never do? Or do you have your tried-and-true products that you use again and again? Keep those favorites products close at hand, and be sure to keep your collection tidy.

My two other must-haves for a laundry room: adding a retractable clothes line into your storage design so you can hang delicates easily, and have a small trash can close by so you can easily clean your lint trap with each load.

A Place for Everything...

A well-designed closet ensures everything you need is at hand, lets you know at a glance when supplies are low, and keeps your life running smoothly. As you’re designing your space, the first thing to do is visualize what you’re going to be storing there. For example - in a coat closet, you’ll want to make sure you have space for coats, bins or racks for shoes, somewhere to store umbrellas, and hat storage. If you have little kids, you might want space to store your diaper bag and stroller. In a master closet, I recommend having a hanging area for the items in your current seasonal wardrobe, and another (less-accessible) spot for the items you use less often, so you’re not sorting through those items daily.

As you’re planning your closet, you may find it helpful to ask yourself: “how many ____ do I need?”. For example, if you love sundresses in the summer, think about the number of them that is right for you. Is it fifteen? If so, make sure you’re planning enough room for those fifteen hangers plus the other staples that require hangers. Then as you’re filling your closet, if you realize you have more like forty-five sundresses, you’ve given yourself permission to sort through your collection and pick your favorite fifteen.

Because I change out my wardrobe seasonally I like having drawers in my closet - to store my off-season items. I find that having less choices in front of me on a daily basis really helps streamline my morning. That said, even if you’re not into seasonal rotations, having drawers in your closet can help you store items that don’t need to be hung.

When planning your closet, be sure the design fits your lifestyle. There are an endless amount of amazing features you can add to a custom closet, but it needs to suit your needs. For example, if you live in maxi dresses half the year, you’ll want to make sure that your closet design has plenty of room for long hung items! Be sure to prioritize what is important to you.

Let’s Get the Kids in on the Organizing Fun

Every parent knows that kiddos come with their own arsenal of ‘stuff’. Getting organized is necessary so you’re not overwhelmed. Whether you’re storing baby items or toys, the first step in getting organized is to not let their ‘stuff’ get out of control. A few ways you can help with this - asking family and friends for experiences or books instead of toys for birthdays / holidays, making sure to keep up with the clothing rotation as kids age out of sizes, or keeping collections to a manageable amount - the sanity you’ll gain for your efforts will be well worth it.  

The next step to organizational bliss: use your walls! I love using cubby systems and bookshelves at kiddo height so they can put toys away. I am also a fan of having low racks for clothing so they can start to dress themselves early. Touches like adding a toy hammock for stuffed friends in the corner, or higher wall shelves to show off the beautiful treasures gifted to your little ones help make sure you’re maximizing your wall space.

Be sure that the organizational system matches your kiddo’s age. If kids are two or three years old, I wouldn’t worry about creating systems for them so every type of toy has a place. If they just put toys in the toy bin, that’s perfect.

After the Renovation - Now What?

Clients frequently ask me what they can do to keep up with a space once it’s organized. The trick isn’t usually what they’re hoping for; it’s taking a few minutes every day to keep things in place. The most painful part of getting organized is figuring out the homes for each item. From there, upkeep becomes less and less of a chore, and more of a relief. My hope is that by implementing some of these strategies in your home as you’re renovating, you’ll ultimately have more time to relax in your new haven.