Moving to a new house means a fresh start at being organized.
Professional organizer Denise Mazzanti, owner of It’s Your Move in Honolulu, recommends starting by being organized about the move itself. The biggest mistake people make, she says, is not labeling their moving boxes correctly and ending up with everything in the wrong place.
“I tell my clients to use a color code. Use markers to make a big ‘X,’ or use those little dot stickers. Blue for kitchen, yellow for bathroom, green for bedroom,” Mazzanti said.
That way you, and the movers, know which boxes belong in which room.
Another tip for moving day: “Open me first” where you pack the essentials – your toiletries, medicines and the coffee maker, coffee and mugs.
Deborah Pendell, a professional organizer who owns the Greenville, South Carolina company Down Pineapple Lane, looks at a new home as a place for a new life instead of just the “same old one.”
“Be an adventurer and open yourself and your home up to trying different ways of doing things,” she recommends. Her overall strategy is to concentrate on organizing living spaces first.
“You need a place of peace for the family to eat and be together,” says Pendell. Having boxes in the living room when you are trying to relax at the end of the day, she says, only reminds you how much more work there still is to do.
Mazzanti recommends planning where you’ll place your furniture before you move in.
“Try to get a floor plan, the square footage of the actual house. You can move things around on paper before you have to move things around physically.” Once you do move in, arrange your living room furniture first and then concentrate on smaller objects.
Mazzanti suggests standing in the kitchen before you unpack anything and deciding on “zones” – for instance, a coffee area and a baking one.
“I’ve gone into kitchens where the coffee maker is on one end of the counter, but the cups are way on the other side.”
Adjust kitchen shelves if you can, Mazzanti says.
“So many times, even though there are adjustable shelves, people don’t move them,” she says. “They say, ‘I don’t have room for this.’ Well, if you move the shelf down a little you will.”
Store your pots and pans in the drawer under the oven, she says, to save more space.
Stacey Murray of Organized Artistry in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, says to prioritize what you unpack first.
“Kitchen items with every day or weekly use should be unpacked and placed in their new homes,” she says. “The box with the Thanksgiving turkey platter can stay sealed until the holiday is approaching.”
Before you move, go through all your bathroom cabinets and toiletries and get rid of anything expired or that you don’t use. Mazzanti donates what she can to a homeless shelter. In a new house, she puts like items together in baskets or bins, so they’re easy to find and retrieve.
Go vertical here, too.
“Target has that shelving unit that goes above the toilet,” she says. “It’s so handy for towels or tissues, and baskets filled with your lotions and potions and brushes. You’re using vertical space instead of cluttering your counter.”
“A lot of people don’t think about floor space in their bedroom,” Mazzanti says. “I’ve used low bookshelves for shoes or stacking sweaters. You can get those vertical dividers that slip onto the shelf and stack a bunch of t-shirts or jeans, so they don’t fall over.”
Consider hanging your jewelry up where you’ll see it.
“There are all kinds of fun things for the wall where you can hang your necklaces and earrings and things,” she says. “I’ve even seen people take molding strips, like crown molding, and hang them on the wall.”
Consider using decorative hooks for hats, scarves and bags.
Create zones in storage areas, like the garage, basement and attic, where you keep like items together. Put stored items in labeled, air-tight plastic bins. Mazzanti recommends using rafter space for storage in the garage, hanging bicycles and shovels, and installing pegboards with small clips.
An essential part of the moving process is getting life back to normal, so don’t overlook disposing of moving boxes as soon as possible. Kim Oser, a certified professional organizer and productivity consultant with Need Another You, suggests offering your boxes and packing materials on sites like Freecycle, Craigslist, Nextdoor or neighborhood Facebook groups. Just leave them outside, she says, and let people know where to find them.
“You can leave them on the driveway, the front yard, the side yard,” she says, “whatever is easiest in the unpacking process. You’d be amazed at how quickly folks gobble up the materials. Just remember to update or remove the post when the items are gone.”
Mostly, says Deborah Pendell, be patient with yourself and the moving-in process.
“Know that you probably won’t get everything in its final place the first time,” she says. “After unpacking your possessions, live with them in the place you’ve chosen for a week. If you don’t like the placement, move it. It’s okay if it takes some time to settle in.”