Designers say you can declutter so much crap with these clever things

Let the professionals help.

ByChristina X. Wood
Originally Published: 
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If fighting the clutter in your house feels like a battle you can’t win, it might be time to call in some professionals — which I’ve done right here. To get the best strategies for paring down an accumulation of stuff, storing things in small spaces, and preventing your belongings from littering every surface in the house, I tapped design and organization professionals who make a business out of helping people create spaces that are beautiful, accessible, and clutter-free. They say you can declutter so much crap with these clever things — and strategies.


A box that quickly hides a mess of tangled cables

“Well-designed homes make technology appear seamless,” says Coffin. “With the increasing number of digital devices we all have now, having a good cable management system is an absolute must.”

This cable management box is an easy solution, and its low-key appearance disappears into your space. Just drop the power strip into it, run all the cords through the slots in the back, then snap on the lid. It keeps cords safe from pets and children, too.


A set of floating shelves that creates decorative storage

Sarah Bowen, UK-based interior designer and co-founder of home improvement site Spruce Up, suggests you deal with clutter creep by “[kitting] your home out with smart storage.” You can find space to stash things all over the house if you know where to look. “Make the most of all those small spaces, like an unused fireplace, by building floating shelves.”

These floating shelves turn unused wall space on the stairway, in the bathroom, or in a hall into places to stash small decorative items, toiletries, or anything you want to keep handy but also off the floors and tables.


A beautiful storage ottoman that keeps things available but out of sight

“I absolutely love finding beautiful pieces that have hidden storage,” says J.R. Coffin, interior designer at Brooklyn-based Studio Den Den. “It's a great way to not only remove visual clutter but also makes cleaning much easier because items can be hidden away immediately.”

This hinged-top, velvet storage ottoman bench will do all of that while looking beautiful in your entry or in front of the couch. It comes in beige or gray, and is large enough to hold blankets and pillows at the end of the bed, too.


The expandable drawer organizer that’s superb for utensils or craft supplies

Set this expandable drawer organizer in the junk drawer, the drawer that holds your sewing or craft supplies, or a utensil drawer to keep small items in order inside the shallow drawers in the kitchen. It expands and contracts to accommodate most drawer sizes and has, depending on the size of the drawer, six to eight compartments. The bamboo is durable, attractive, and easy to clean.


An easy-to-assemble cube storage system to create custom shelving

Bowen also suggests making the most of the area under the stairs by “adding sloped under-stairs cube storage racks, and hooks.” This configurable storage rack is ideal for tucking under the stairs, under your hanging clothes in the closet, or in a sloped corner of the attic. Use it to store overflow closet items, shoes, bags, or sundries where you can access them easily. It snaps together in the shape you need and each cube holds 11 pounds.


A big shelving unit to stack storage bins & make use of vertical space

Another way to maximize the potential of your storage area? “Go vertical!” says Cantu. “Getting a metal shelving unit to hold bins helps free up some floor space,” she says. “Or stack [bins to] create space on the garage floor.”

This heavy-duty shelving unit is ideal for getting your gear into safe, easy-to-access, vertical stacks. The four shelves each hold 80 pounds and can be adjusted to whatever spacing you need. The rust-resistant finish will look great for years. It snaps together easily. And the feet can be leveled so it’s sturdy.


These vacuum storage bags that turn piles into tiny stacks

“I also love using vacuum bags,” shares Shaffer. “When done right they can make under-bed storage double as a whole new wardrobe closet.” Slip your off-season clothes, blankets, rarely used coats, and other garments into these five bags and shrink them down using the included pump or your own vacuum. They become small, stackable packets. Then stash them under the bed or on closet shelves — you can see what’s in them but they take up so much less space. And you can open and reuse the bags as often as you like.


This storage basket made for stairs that is an MVP for toting items up & down

Is going up a flight of stairs the thing that stops you from putting items in their proper place? This staircase basket can prevent them from taking up a new home as clutter. Just set it on the stairs, where it fits tidily, and drop items that need to go up into it. Then carry them all up the next time you are climbing the stairs. It keeps those items stored while they are in transition.


These shelves that tap underutilized corner space

Even small spaces — like the corner at the top of the stairs or that unused corner in the closet — can be put to good use with the right piece of shelving. This two-tier, floating corner shelf is perfect for transforming a blank and seemingly unusable corner into storage for miniatures, ceramics, or your decorative bottle collection. They fit neatly into that corner and, since they aren’t connected to each other, you can customize the height to fit your needs.

“I used this black corner shelf in the tiniest of guest bathrooms to create a rustic industrial look and it worked perfectly,” said one reviewer.


Pro tip: “divide & conquer”

Bowen says, “When you're in the organizational mindset it's easy to find yourself walking between rooms organizing little spots in each.” A better strategy is to exercise a bit of hyperfocus. “To effectively declutter, you must divide and conquer,” she advises. “Choose one spot and stick to it, then move on to the next only once the first is complete.”


A set of clear storage containers that levels up the pantry

According to Bowen, “Clear plastic bins are a declutterer's best friend...” And this set of food storage containers is an ideal option for the kitchen because they are not only clear, but are airtight and shaped to snug together in cupboards like a puzzle. They even stack so they create order while maximizing the space you have.

“Get all your pasta, grains, and [more] into those little transparent beauties and stack, stack, stack,” she says.


A budget-friendly storage ottoman that works in any room

You don’t have to commit to a large furniture purchase to store your clutter in a storage ottoman, though. This cube-shaped option with a tufted faux leather top that lifts off is versatile enough to sit in front of an armchair, in the entryway, or at the foot of the bed. You could use it in all of those places to keep shoes, books, or toys stashed out of sight while using it as extra seating or a place to put your feet up. It is so affordable and easy to use — and folds up for storage.


The soft & squishy storage solution for all those stuffed animals

If you have a child with a penchant for stuffed animals, the proliferation of those cuddly friends can quickly spin out of control and create an impossible-to-clean bedroom or storage area. This jumbo storage bean bag is another great piece of kit that hides all of that clutter — or, rather, gives all those much-loved friends a cozy home.

It’s an ideal place to store off-season clothes, blankets, and pillows, too. Just zip it open, toss everything in, zip it closed, and use it to lounge on. It's so easy that a child can do it and it comes in six snazzy patterns that look great in a child’s room.


Pro tip: decorate with objects canteloupe-sized or larger

If you struggle with the difference between decor and clutter, Coffin offers, “A great rule ... is to only decorate with objects larger than a cantaloupe. Everything else should be hidden away, but leave out a few large coffee table books and a modern vase to make your space feel serene.” This minimalist ceramic vase is a favorite of hers.


Pro tip: the “four pile method” is a hack that makes decluttering super easy

According to Cristina Chirila, interior designer at UK-based FCI Interiors, there is a hack that simplifies every decluttering effort. She calls it the Four Pile Method.

“Divide your belongings into four heaps,” she says. “Things to keep, things to donate, things to throw away, and things to sell.” It’s important, though, to be ruthless when sorting if you want to make progress. As Cristina says: “Ask yourself if you would buy the item if you saw it in a store.”


A set of entryway hooks to stop clutter from creeping further inside

Create a system at your entryway, says Chirila, to stop clutter from migrating inside the house. “Allocate a hook to each household member,” she says. “Each person will be responsible for emptying their hook when it’s full.” It keeps your bag, jacket, keys, and other daily necessities from cluttering surfaces and makes it easy to leave the house because you won’t have to search for them.

These heavy-duty wall hooks in a simple, minimalist design are perfect for this. The five sturdy hooks give everyone plenty of space.


This key rack that provides a dedicated place to hang keys, leashes, & sunglasses

Extend this entryway strategy to your everyday pocket contents, like keys and sunglasses, too, says Chirila. “Invest in organization aids such as a sunglass tray, key hook, change jar, and umbrella holder to keep the area tidy,” she says. That way you have a place to empty your pockets as you walk in the door without creating clutter. You will do less cleaning and always know where to find your keys.

This simple, small key rack is easy to tuck into any entryway and offers three roomy places for keys, glasses, and dog leashes.


An umbrella stand that keeps the entry tidier

Instead of letting umbrellas disappear into your closets or storage areas where you will never find them when you need one, set this simple umbrella stand down inside the entry door. The mesh metal lets your umbrellas dry. The shape lets you store them open when you come home dripping. And you will always know where to find an umbrella.


A set of clear bins to organize the inside of the fridge

When you are ready to take on the kitchen, don’t forget about the interior of the fridge. Being able to find the ingredient you need when you need it — and preventing perishables from getting lost till they go bad — is worth the time and effort.

“Organise the refrigerator using clear bins where you can store various packets,” says Chirila. This set of six refrigerator organizer bins lets you categorize everything and stack them on shelves so you can keep track of all your ingredients and produce and find it all easily.


This multitiered drawer organizer to sort the junk in the junk drawer

“Even the junk drawer can have a semblance of order,” says Chirila. “Use multi-[tiered] inserts to compartmentalize it.” This stackable kitchen storage organizer is a good solution, letting you create order in that junk drawer so you can find the batteries, cables, utensils, and other sundries easily. It’s clear so you can see everything in it and the upper tray holds smaller things so they don’t get lost among the large items.


A set of storage bins for the kids' room that makes cleanup easier

The kids' room is always a challenge to keep clear of clutter. Full of an ever-changing cast of toys, occupied by an agent of chaos, a versatile storage system is essential here. “Use clear bins with labels so it is easy to find toys,” suggests Chirila. “[But] keep the bins small as the big ones encourage clutter.”

These storage bins with windows are a terrific option. You can see inside them so that when Duplo are out and Legos are in, you’ll know what’s what. And they fit easily on shelves yet pull out to make tossing toys into them quick. There are six color choices.


A hamper for the kids' room so clothes have a fun place to go

“Add a hamper to the room where your kids can add clothes they have outgrown,” suggests Chirila. That way they can constantly get rid of items that would otherwise create clutter and crowd the closet and drawers. This has the additional benefit of teaching kids how to declutter their own space, a valuable life skill.

This big, shark-shaped hamper is a neat option. It looks playful in the room and it’s fun to feed things into its gaping maw. It comes in three colors.


This dedicated organizer for bags & accessories so they don’t crowd the closet

Keeping a bedroom clear of clutter requires that you create dedicated places to store an assortment of oddly shaped objects. “For easy organizing, have compartments fitted into your wardrobes for bags, accessories, shoes, etc,” says Chirila. That way you can put items away easily and prevent clutter from creeping out of the closet and into the room.

This over-the-door bag organizer is an ideal option if you don’t want to do construction. Just hang it over the back of a door and you have six easy-to-access compartments to hold all those large and difficult-to-store items. It also keeps them dust free.


A hanging shoe organizer to store items like shoes, wallets, & gloves

For smaller items like shoes, gloves, and wallets, use this 10-shelf hanging shoe organizer that puts small, shoe-sized cubbies within easy reach — hanging from the closet rod. Use them to store everything from small bags and large wallets to shoes, scarves, and your collection of bulky socks that won’t fit in your sock drawer. There are also 10 mesh pockets on the sides for smaller items like belts and accessories.


A nightstand with drawers to help keep your glasses, medicines, & other items out of sight

Keeping clutter off the nightstand is another organizational challenge. For this, Chirila suggests that you “invest in bedside tables with pull-out drawers and neatly store personal items including reading glasses, charging cables, and medicines.” That way all your necessaries will be right at hand but your nightstand will be clear of detritus.

This nightstand is an affordable option that offers two generously-sized drawers with a solid top that’s a nice spot for a vase and alarm clock. There are nine color options.


Pro tip: being thorough reaps rewards

“Think of this process as a marathon, not a sprint,” counsels Chirila. “When your home is clutter-free, you will have:

  • Less to clean
  • Less to organize
  • Less stress

It’s not worth clogging up your closet with things that you ‘might need someday.’ What you need is space to enjoy the home and life you are living today.”


These stacking bins that create storage zones in your garage or storage space

Lisa Cantu, Orange County-based professional organizer and the owner of An Organized Home, says, “Sort by zone!” For this trick, she suggests you use “clear bins and label [them] holiday, sports, tools, etc... [Then] stack bins in zones created in the garage like sports equipment zone, swimming toys/beach zone, etc.”

These clear storage latch boxes are an ideal tool for executing this strategy. The lids latch closed. They have built-in handles. And you can easily see what’s in them.


A pegboard system that turns the walls into organized storage

“Utilize the wall space with hooks or peg boards for backpacks dog leashes, rakes, brooms, etc,” says Cantu. This pegboard wall organizer is an excellent place to store tools, garden equipment, craft supplies, small sports equipment, pet leashes and collars, and so much more. You can see everything when it’s stored. It’s easy to access. And you can also see when an item is not stored so you know if you need to track down a missing hand rake or hammer. There are six pieces of pegboard so you can create a large wall of it or use it to create smaller zones.


These pegboard utility hooks that hold all shapes & sizes of gear

These 10 peg board utility hooks are essential to your wall-storage system. The shapes are designed to hold everything from rakes and tennis rackets to coiled hoses and tape, to power tools or sporting equipment. They are steel with a vinyl coating and can be arranged however you need to best suit your stuff.


These bed risers that transform the under-bed area into useful storage

“There is a substantial volume of empty space to utilize under [your bed],” says Devin Shaffer, Lead Interior Designer at Decorilla Online Interior Design. “Even a bed platform can make a fantastic solution for storing seasonal clothes.” If the bed is too low to fit anything under, you can fix that with these 3-inch bed risers. Just set the feet in them to gain more space and get some bins that fit underneath (there may be some on this very list...).


A wall-mounted knife strip that frees up drawer & counter space

In the kitchen, you can clear drawer space and keep your most-used tools handy (and tidy) with one simple tool, says Shaffer. “Backsplash-mounted magnetic holders are attractive and open up more space in drawers that would otherwise be used for knives, ladles, and other large pieces of kitchen utensils,” he says.

This 14-inch, stainless steel knife strip is a nice option, holding everything from scissors to your entire knife collection out of harm's way but also within reach. It also showcases your knives instead of hiding them.


These under-bed storage bags that hold so much stuff

Janette Mallory, L.A.-based interior designer at Janette Mallory Interiors, is also a fan of tapping “hidden spaces (like under the bed)” for storage. A solid set of underbed storage bags is likely all you’ll need to find enough room for your spare blankets or store a winter wardrobe there. This two-pack is everything you need: large with a clear top that zippers all the way open, with an easy-grab handle on the front.


A hanging rod for the closet that doubles your hanging space

“Hanging bars in closets ... can also make items easy to access if they are often in use,” says Mallory. This adjustable closet hanging rod, for example, doubles the carrying capacity of your closet rod, putting more garments on display and within easy reach. You can adjust the height of the hanging bar, and the steel construction and chrome finish feel solid and look sharp in the closet.


This over-the-door organizer to tap space that’s going to waste

To further deploy Mallory’s strategy of finding more space for storage, look for doors with dead space behind them that can accommodate an over-the-door organizer. This one, available in black or white, can store everything from office files to personal care products in the roomy mesh baskets while hanging jackets, hats, or towels on the nine hooks. Reviewers call it “sturdy and stylish” and agree that it delivers on “more storage ... without taking up any space at all.”


Pro tip: take photos to encourage decluttering

Paola Zamudio, head designer and founder of npz studio suggests that you “[Take] before and after photos with the items you want to get rid of and see how the space looks with and without the item. Do you really need that 90's Lava Lamp? I didn't think so.”


These colorful storage bins to help sort by color palette

When you are purging, it can be hard to let go of things that you think you might need or like later. To help you work through this, Zamudio says that “[classifying] the items you like and don't like by color can help a lot.” Especially with clothing, your love of some colors might change over time. And holding onto a color you no longer wear clutters up your space. “Try to keep only colors in a palette that you absolutely adore,” she says. “If the color is crashing it's time to say goodbye!”

These foldable cube storage bins in six pastel colors can help you on this journey. Use them to classify items by color so that when you are ready to let go of a palette, it will be easy.


A set of big storage bags for your donation clothes

When you are decluttering, it can be helpful to imagine that your cast-off clothes and household items will go on to serve someone else. “As they say, someone's garbage is someone else's treasure,” says Zamudo. And to make that trip to the donation box easier, load your items into these massive, and pretty iconic, Ikea storage bags. They hold a lot, the four-pack is just $20, and even when fully loaded they are easy to toss into the car — the big handles make them easy to move.


A bedside caddy that keeps items close by without creating clutter

“If you want to avoid clutter on your nightstand or don't own one,” says Kate Wight, Design expert and co-founder of Design Ideas Guide, “a bedside caddy can offer the perfect organizational solution.” This felt solution comes in four colors.

“With a hanging mount, it attaches to the side of your bed and has compartments for your phone, tablet, water bottle, lotion, and any other bedroom essentials,” she says. “This product design can also be great for a crib or kid's bedroom.”


This set of coordinated spice jars with a funnel for easy filling

“I'm a big fan of matching containers that can be placed in cupboards and pantries to keep your ingredients fresh while maintaining uniformity and consistency,” says Wight. “[Like] with a pull-out cabinet organizer for spices, allowing quick and easy access when you're cooking in a hurry.”

This set of 16 glass spice jars will have that pantry looking ship-shape. It comes with sift and pour shaker caps, a cleaning brush, a foldable wide-mouth funnel, and 40 chalkboard labels with a pen. And this handy pull-out spice rack is the perfect place to put your newly coordinated spice collection.


A shoe and boot organizer that slides under the bed

“If you have many items that don’t have a designated home,” suggests Kate Diaz, interior design and decor expert and co-founder of Swanky Den, “consider investing in some storage containers or baskets that can be tucked away under the bed or in a closet.”

Boots, for example, have a tendency to kick around in a closet but are better off stored under the bed in these two under-bed shoe and boot organizers. Your boots and shoes will stay dust-free and out of the way, but are also easy to find and access since the top is clear and the two big handles are easy to grab.


These LED lights that make it easy to see in your storage space & closets

“Install overhead lighting to make it easier to see what’s stored in the garage and avoid using harsh fluorescent light bulbs, which can cause eye strain over time,” says Diaz. These wireless LED under cabinet lights are easy to install, using screws or adhesive, and throw warm white light on your stored items. A remote lets you set the brightness and how long they stay on before turning off automatically. You can tap the lens to turn them on or use the remote.


These drawer organizers that sort out the mess in your underwear drawer

Drawer organizers are a lifesaver if your drawers are a mess [or] if you just want to make things easier to grab,” says Tara Spaulding, interior design coordinator and consultant at Patio Productions. This set of six of them provides the structure you need to create order in your drawers. The three shapes offer space for small items like socks and belts and large ones like T-shirts and bras. They come in eight colors.


A combination shoe rack & bench for a more streamlined entryway

To keep shoe, bag, and hat clutter from spreading all over the house, Spaulding suggests you use organizer benches in your entryway. “Not only does it give you a place to put your shoes, it'll give you a spot to sit while putting on and taking off your shoes,” she says.

This three-tier shoe rack bench has two shelves to keep shoes organized and off the floor as well as a surface you can set a bag on or sit on to put on your shoes. It comes in six colors and has over 14,000 five-star reviews.