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Organizing MY Home: Where Do I Put it NOW?

Friday, September 9th, 2016

As you may have read in my past three blog posts, last year I was a little busy with a home addition/renovation project. I knew it would be a challenging and rewarding process–and it was! But, there was one thing I didn’t realize would need to happen after we had moved back in…

I was going to have to find new ‘homes’ for almost everything we owned.

Although I don’t formally ‘move’ clients as part of Organized Artistry’s list of services, on occasion, I have helped a client  unpack their belongings into a new home. Within that process, I have assisted clients in finding new ‘homes’ for their kitchenware, linens and anything else that needed a home. With all the work that went into making our new house safe and beautiful, it never dawned upon me that I was going to have to figure out new ‘homes’ for everything we owned. Our house barely looked the same after the renovation/addition. Much of our old furniture was gone. We had a brand new kitchen with ample cabinets and pull-out drawers (squee!)–new closets, vanities, and storage options, too.

A Professional Organizer re-creates homes for everything she owns I

One of the storage pieces we created–four drawers to hold BBQ and entertaining pieces.

Yup. I’m a Professional Organizer and ‘finding new homes for everything we owned’ had not made it to my To-Do list.

We had lived in our pre-renovation house with mostly the same furniture and storage systems for fourteen years. For fourteen years the tape measure, the check book, and most of what we owned had ‘lived’ in the same place. I always knew where to find things when I needed them. Now, after almost six months in our house, it’s more like…

“Honey, where’s the (fill-in-the-blank)?


“Honey, do you remember where we decided to put the (fill-in-the-blank)?

or, once in a while it’s more like…

“WHERE IS THAT (fill-in-the-blank)? I COULD SWEAR I PUT IT IN (that drawer, that closet, that room)!

I’ll be honest–this has been pretty frustrating for me as a person and for someone who finds ‘good homes’ for people’s belongings for a living! It has left me discombobulated and a little freaked-out when I can’t find something.

Like I tell my clients, nothing happens overnight and I have to remind myself of that, too. A task this large needed to be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. The joke is, “How do you eat an elephant?” and the answer is, “one bite at a time…” It’s an ongoing process. I broke it down into three parts: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary (like on the color wheel). Here’s how I’ve been breaking down the task to meet this challenge head on…

Primary: What Did I Do First? 

• On move-in day, I set up a bin in my new kitchen–large enough to accommodate papers. Any important papers that I needed to not misplace and have in front of my eyeballs went in there (ex. forms from school, our packing list, a wedding invitation, etc.)

• I thought of what rooms/hotspots HAD to be organized for us to function as a family in the days and weeks post move-in. Those turned out to be the kitchen/panrty, the kid’s homework/supply station, basic bedroom, bathroom, and home office set ups, current season clothing and sporting equipment (for my two boys).

• The tape measure and checkbook found semi-permanent homes!

Secondary: Three Months later–a few examples… 

• I have been slowly determining where items should now ‘live’ based on our new habits and the flow of the house.

• Important papers used to hang on my fridge and I kept some in a magazine holder on my kitchen counter. Now I keep them in plastic sleeves in a binder that lives in one of my kitchen cabinets. It’s now a ‘home’ for papers I need to look at regularly (schedules for recycling, school, sports, phone lists, etc.)

 pre-renovation magnet-covered refrigerator

This is what our old fridge used to look like! We had a ton of fridge magnets–my kids loved them!

• My kids needed a place to put their most popular games/puzzles/books on the first floor of our home. Certain kid games/puzzles/books now live in a dresser that is being used as an entrainment console until we get a new one. Other games/puzzles/books live in the basement and kid bedrooms.

Tertiary: Tasks left on the to-do list… 

• Holiday, BBQ/Entertaining items, Art Supplies are still in boxes. If I need them, I know where the boxes are and what’s inside of each since my packing list perpetually lives in the bin described above. Still haven’t figured out where everything will live–especially since we’re still in need of some furniture that will serve as storage pieces for the items in these boxes. Find the turkey platter, fondue pot, and glitter glue? No problem. Where to store it for the next few years? I’ll have to get back to you on that one…

• When the movers brought some of our boxes up to the attic, they were put up there in random spots. Once the weather gets cooler, hubby and I can organize them better–especially the bins of seasonal kid clothes. Those can be a beast!

• I am still slowly determining where items should now ‘live’ based on our new habits and the flow of the house. I think we’re going to have to live in the space for a year–four seasons–to know where everything should live.

I’m taking it slow and if you’re in a similar situation–you should, too. Find a fork and eat that elephant–one bite at a time!

What have you had to recently find a new home for in YOUR house?


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About Stacey Agin Murray

Stacey is a professional organizer & speaker in New Jersey specializing in residential organizing, time, and paper management challenges. She also authored The Organized Bride’s Thank You Note Handbook: Let Systems and 101 Modern Sample Thank You Notes Take You From Overwhelmed to Organized.

Categories: Basic Organizing Principles, Organizing MY Home


9 responses to “Organizing MY Home: Where Do I Put it NOW?”

  1. This is such an honest and helpful story about the moving-in process. I love how you’ve prioritized and are giving yourself the time and space to figure things out. You’re letting yourself have time to “live” in the newly renovated spaces before deciding exactly how you want each space to be set up. By the way, I love the cushions on the new storage bench unit. So fun!

  2. Thanks for your oh, so kind words, Linda! It hasn’t been easy for the organizer in me to feel out-of-whack and not know where my belongings are sometimes but as we all know–it’s a process. A friend who is an interior designer helped me with the bench cushions. She encouraged me to ‘push my design envelope’ and go with a band of color around the sides. I’m so glad I listened to her!

  3. Kim says:

    Love your renovations. Looks like a big project. I recently (well two years ago) got a couple of walls knocked down and while the space is now nice and open, it did mean there were less walls to hang things on as well as no corners for tables, lamps. Anyway, it is an huge improvement but definitely can be a challenge to set up so that it is efficient.

    • Stacey Agin Murray says:

      Less wall space = less places to put storage pieces = less furniture. A definite challenge! And yes–it was a really big project. ‘Open concept’ is really hot in home remodeling lately. I’m sure in a few decades, people will be putting walls back where we’ve knocked them down!

  4. I love the steps you outline in your post. So helpful! The point you make about waiting 3mos to formalize your systems to get a feel for the house and your daily flow is so important. You really do have to live in a space before doing things like choosing paint colors, making major reno decisions or organizing your stuff!

    • Stacey Agin Murray says:

      Thanks–I’m glad you found my post helpful! I have a box of helper shelves and drawer dividers in my garage waiting for the moment I decide how to organize my linen closets and desk. I used to use them in spots that I just don’t need to anymore. I not only have to find a good home for my ‘stuff,’ I have to find a good home for my organizing tools, too!

  5. Crystal says:

    Such a great idea to give yourself time instead of just throwing things in cabinets and drawers. Love your honesty.

    • Stacey Agin Murray says:

      It’s not easy to give this project time, especially as a Professional Organizer but I’m seeing that it’s the right thing to do. The initial set up of most important items and areas was Phase 1 and now I’m moving into Phase 2–emptying more boxes and setting up areas less important and urgent to our daily living. I’ll have to write an updated post in six months…Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by!

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