Reading time: 5 minutes
We like our stuff, don’t we? Like Gollum in Lord of the Rings, we sometimes grip our personal belongings and hiss, “My precious.” While vipHomeLink is always a no judgement zone, home safety and home organization go hand in hand. If your home is well organized, you may be able to catch problems before they become costly repairs.
That’s why we reached out to Stacy Bankier of H.O.M.E., Home Organization Made Easy. Stacy and her partner Abby Provus started H.O.M.E. three years ago to help homeowners simplify spaces, improve efficiency in the home, and create practical solutions for homeowners in the Chicago area.
Read on for the best home organizing and cleaning tips and why being neat and tidy can improve your home’s value and safety. (Really.)
The benefits of having everything in its place
While home organization may not seem like it’s a big deal, it can actually increase the value of your home and help you avoid dangerous maintenance situations.
“We work with a lot of people who are getting ready to sell their houses,” says Stacy. “Sometimes you can’t see the intrinsic beauty of a space when it’s filled with stuff.”
A homeowner’s belongings can also hide damage, leading to expensive repairs or even loss of personal property.
“We have helped some homeowners uncover structural problems in their home that were being covered by boxes,” says Stacy.
Basements are one of the most problematic spaces for water damage, including leaks and mold.
“Several times, we’ve found water damage in basements or storage areas that had just been covered up,” says Stacy. “People don’t even see it because the water is leaking into boxes and collecting there, unfortunately.”
That’s why Stacy recommends waterproof, watertight storage opinions.
“You never know when something’s going to leak or when you’re going to have water,” says Stacy, “so just in case you have an unexpected leak, your belongings aren’t ruined.”
Learn ways to waterproof your basement in Why is Your Basement Leaking and How to Save It.
Decluttering your home saves you time and money
While home organization can help in your daily life, it can also save you time and money.
“We have found so many times, clients have things that they don’t even know or remember they have,” says Stacy.
An unorganized pantry can cost homeowners more money than they know.
“Some food items expire or don’t get used, or you have more than you can possibly eat,” says Stacy. “You end up re-buying items you already have, but we find that all over the house.”
Rolls of tape, scissors, even seasonal clothing – people forget what they have when their home has no organization system.
Notes Stacy, “There is so much time and money savings because you can see what you have, you know what’s working, and you know what you really need to buy. We found that to be universal with all of our clients.”
Simple decluttering tips to prevent hazardous situations
“We think about people’s day-to-day lives, the way they live in their house,” says Stacy. “We try to always make sure people can live their best life at home.”
Here are some of Stacy and Abby’s tips for decluttering around the home.
Decide what you use in your daily life
Keep those items close to you, and place items you use once or twice a year out of reach or high on a shelf. This way, you don’t need to use a stepladder every day, which lowers the risk of injury.
“We’ve had homeowners who have hurt themselves trying to reach things, whether it’s toys or luggage or even appliances in the kitchen that are in inconvenient places,” says Stacy.
“We’re big labelers,” says Stacy, who uses labels to create a system to declutter the home and return misplaced items.
“Life happens and things get busy, so we always want our clients to be able to know how to put things back in a way that is simple.”
Pull everything out of a space
While you might panic once you pull everything out of a closet or room, Stacy and Abby always tell their clients, “It’s going to look worse before it looks better.”
With items from your closet, living room, laundry room, or even a pantry spread out before you, you can know what you have in a space and start decluttering in a meaningful and helpful way.
Group “like” things together
“Putting items with their counterparts in the same spot is part of the process,” says Stacy. “It just makes your life so much easier.”
Stacy used the kitchen as a perfect example. If you group together items for baking, for grilling, etc., then you’re going to be able to find items you need when you need them.
“People use their kitchens in all different ways,” explains Stacy. “Some people don’t cook at all, and some people cook a ton, and then there’s everything in between. We find out how our clients like to live and then go from there.”
When grouping like items, it’s also a great opportunity to get rid of items that are broken, make a pile for donation, and create room in your home.
Bin it up!
Once you group items, it’s easier to reload your spaces in a new, more organized way. Stacy and Abby have a simple storage solution – bins!
“We’re big believers in inexpensive containers. There’s a lot of things you can use in a really inexpensive way to help you organize.”
Stacy and Abby use bins from the dollar section of Target or from a dollar store, though their first choice is to use what a homeowner already has.
“Baskets, boxes, bins – you can use things you already own to help you organize!”
Never block exits from rooms
“We leave doors, windows, that kind of stuff really open,” says Stacy. “We never stack stuff around.”
This is incredibly important in case of a home fire. Blocked doors and windows can prevent you or someone you love from escaping, which is why it’s imperative for these areas to always be clear.
Get additional fire safety tips in 11 Home Fire Facts That Will Alarm You.
Avoid using utility closets as storage rooms
Utility closets house heating and air conditioners, hot water heaters, and other appliances. That makes them a dangerous place to store items such as boxes, papers, cleaning supplies, and paint.
“It’s tempting to store away things in those little spaces,” says Stacy. “Items like a stepladder may be able to go in there, but you don’t want to overload those spaces because there needs to be adequate air flow.”
How to know to throw away when decluttering your house
The first rule of the decluttering club: There are no concrete rules.
“There’s a big emotional piece as to why we keep what we keep,” says Stacy. “People should have the things they love and the things that make them happy around them.”
Stacy gives an example of 36 black sweaters. A homeowner should have all those sweaters if that’s what they like and how they want to live.
“We just want to make sure that when they want a specific one, they can find it and that it’s easy,” adds Stacy.
The whole purpose of home organization, in Abby and Stacy’s opinion, is to love your home.
“Our tagline is, ‘Let us help you love your space,’ because no matter where you live, no matter the size of your home, whether you rent or buy – your space should be a place that lifts you up and makes you feel good at the end of the day.”
When is it time to call in the professionals?
If you’re having trouble finding time on your calendar to organize, then it’s time to call in a professional organizer.
Explains Stacy, “We find that if it’s been something on your mind for six months, nine months, and you haven’t done it, calling a professional is a great idea. Then you’ve made the appointment, you’ve made the commitment, and you’re more likely to follow through.”
Don’t fall the Instagram picture-perfect home
Stacy warns homeowners against getting unmotivated by the clutter-free homes on Instagram.
“We all see these images on Instagram of those perfect houses, perfect closet, then pantries and spaces, and a lot of times it feels so unattainable,” says Stacy.
While social media may make you feel intimidated, it’s not real life. Many of those pictures are staged, but getting a space that you enjoy – that cannot be understated.
“People never regret cleaning things out and getting organized,” says Stacy. “The payout is so big, and it’s always worth doing.”
Organize your home
vipHomeLink gives your house a home. Upload insurance policies, receipts, manuals, warranties, inspections, and other important documents into our home management app, so anything related to your home will now be in one secure place. We’ll also help you complete routine maintenance with personalized reminders and recommendations, so you can prevent damage to your home and enjoy your living space.
Save time and money, and gain peace of mind with vipHomeLink! Subscribe today with a monthly or annual membership.