clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How to start organizing your home, according to a Cambridge expert

The Little Details’ Stasia Steele on the power of labels, that last 10 percent of effort, and the hardest habit to break

A very messy bedroom with clothes strewn about the furniture. Shutterstock

Stuck at home a ton more? You are not alone in the Boston area by any means. The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to harvest anxiety and disruption as it forces people to alter routines for the longterm.

So we’ve been asking local organizing experts how people might clear, repurpose, and otherwise adjust their existing domestic spaces to better cope. Every expert is getting the same set of questions—and coming back with tips galore.

Next up is Stasia Steele, founder of Cambridge-based organizing outfit The Little Details, on the power of labels and that last 10 percent of effort.


Top two or three tips for getting organized quickly?

Steele over email: Whenever we organize a space, we always follow Julie Morgenstern’s S.P.A.C.E. acronym. It stands for Sort, Purge, Assign, Contain, and Equalize.

Sort your items into categories; purge your unwanted items; assign a home indicating where you want to store those items; contain them with product or drawer space; and, lastly, maintain, maintain, maintain! The best part about the acronym is that it applies to any organizing project whether it’s physical or digital.

Another tip when organizing is to focus on one room at a time until completion. It’s so easy to get distracted when you find items that don’t belong in the room you’re working in. To avoid the distraction of bouncing from room to room like a ping-pong ball, have bins or bags lined up and labeled with the room that the items belong in.

Once you finish organizing the space you’re in, you can take each bag/bin to it’s corresponding room to put items away in their proper homes.

The last tip that’s incredibly useful is to label! Whether you live solo or with multiple people, having labels helps create structure and keep systems from falling apart. This is one of the simplest things that is overlooked and makes all the difference.

What’s the hardest habit for clients to break?

The hardest habit for clients to break is stopping the influx of stuff that enters their homes. In addition to that, it’s physically getting rid of the unwanted items.

Once your home is organized, take the last 10 percent of effort to get rid of what you’ve decided needs to leave. Take the trash bags and recycling out of the house and get those donations in your car to shuttle them to wherever they need to go.

A couple of organizational essentials for any home office right now?

Avoid letting your desk drawer turn into a junk drawer. Implement InterDesign drawer organizers that we sell in our online store here. Having a label maker (like this one) is another essential item to help label your files or wherever your desk supplies live.

One trade secret (or a hint) for decluttering fast?

Get rid of items that are broken, stained, torn, need to be repaired (but still haven’t years later), no longer fit, are no longer your style, or are expired. It’s incredible to see how much space can be created when you get rid of these unwanted items. We call this the low-hanging fruit. Start with this step first in any space that you’re trying to organize.