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The obsession with Marie Kondo, which was ignited when the English translation of her book hit shelves in 2014 and spread like wildfire with the launch of her new Netflix series, has many of us pulling open our closets and drawers and accepting the simple, yet overwhelming, truth: we have way too much stuff.
And when it comes to maintaining an organized home, Gilat Tunit, founder of Project Neat, a professional home organization company, says that is exactly the problem. “Most of the time people just have way too much stuff. They overbuy very often and keep piling it all on top of the thing they already don’t use. It becomes an endless cycle that is really tough to get out of once it’s gotten away from you,” she says. “It’s impossible to stay organized if you’re always buying and never purging.”
And it’s not just our sanity, but our health that is at risk: Research has shown that clutter in the home raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A study conducted on 32 families by UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families mirrored these findings: They concluded that managing the volume of possessions was such a crushing problem in many homes that it actually elevated levels of stress hormones for mothers.
While no area of the house is safe from the massive accumulation of stuff, closets are notorious spaces for attracting clutter; after all when you have to do a clean sweep of the house, shoving items into a closet is the quickest option. And they are a smart place to start the organization process since it’s a space that we interact with on a daily basis (and one that can waste us time during the already hurried morning hours).
The notion that you don’t have enough space is a myth ... It’s all about creating systems, regardless of how much room you have.
Many of us lean on the default excuse: “I just don’t have enough space for all my stuff.” But Tunit says the space you’re working with is irrelevant: “It’s not about space, as most people would say it is. The bigger the space, the bigger the mess! The notion that you don’t have enough space is a myth. If you had more space, you would simply fill it with more stuff. It’s all about creating systems, regardless of how much room you have. It’s about being thoughtful about what you purchase, purging what you don’t need and creating an organized system that is easy to sustain.”
Leave the purging to Kondo (are those ratty T-shirts from high school really sparking joy?), but once you’ve done the purge, Tunit has the tips you need for creating an organized system in your space.
“People are always shocked when things fit! They don’t get how we manage to make all of their items so accessible," she says. "Most of the time they are spending hours trying to find what they need, and once they have a system, it’s all at arm’s length."
Ready for a closet overhaul? Here are the products she relies on most often when creating organizational systems in her client’s closets.
C&A HOME Stackable Shoe Box, Amazon, $14.99 (set of 4)
"Shoe boxes are wonderful organizing tools," says Tunit. "They allow you to stack the shoes and save space. They are clear which makes the shoes easy to spot; They also keep the dust away. They're great for smaller closets that don’t have specifically designed shoe storage systems."
StorageWorks Storage Decorative Storage Bin, Amazon, $25.99 (set of 3)
"I love using bins to organize bulky items that take up a lot of space and are tough to contain," says Tunit. "Sweaters, hats, scarves, etc. are an example of items that baskets and bins are great for."
Acrylic Shelf Dividers, Amazon, $29.99 (set of 4)
“Shelf dividers are a big eye opener. The amount of efficiency they add to your shelving is always shocking to my clients,” say Gilat. "One of my favorite products for sure. They take an otherwise blank and open space of a shelf and divide them into sections. Which allows us to sort and categorize items perfectly."
Velvet Suit Hangers, Amazon, $15.99 (30 pack)
"A wonderful edition to any closet are slim lined hangers," says Tunit. "They allow for more hanging space, keep the clothing secure on the hanger itself, and are aesthetically pleasing."
Stainless Steel S-Shaped Hanging Hooks, Amazon, $9.29 (set of 20)
"S-shaped hooks are great for items such as bags, belts, etc." says Tunit. "They are great for hanging random items that would otherwise have to be stored on a shelf and take up space."
Shoe Slots Organizer, Amazon, $29.99 (set of 10)
"These shoe organizers are great for saving space. They allow you to store the shoes one on top of the other. This adds a ton of shoe storage space," says Tunit.
Detachable 6 Compartment Hanging Handbag Organizer, Amazon, $19.99
"These are great for closets that lack shelving systems," says Tunit. "They hang from the bar and allow us to fold bulky items that would take up too much space on a hanger. The sections give the ability to categorize which also provides another level of efficiency."
MORE TRICKS AND TIPS FOR A BETTER HOME
- 7 products under $20 that will organize your fridge
- The kitchen is the germiest room. Here's how to deep clean everything.
- How often to clean (almost) every appliance in your home
- Small home updates you can make right now that will boost your health and happiness
- How to spruce up your home on a budget