For many renters, getting organized is a fantasy on Pinterest, not a reality at home. It’s easier to live out of a suitcase than face organization headaches head-on. But according to Dorothy “The Organizer” Breininger, expert organizer on A&E’s “Hoarders,” there are many ways to maximize your living space, even if it’s not big or permanent.
The process starts with debunking the myth that being organized means being neat.
“Your stuff can be a jumble,” Breininger says. “Being organized is about finding what you need when you need it.”
The key, she says, is to think about how you use a room. Breininger believes that home organization is highly personal and should cater to your lifestyle. For example, if you don’t use cotton balls, why do you need them in a jar next to the sink? If you don’t use washcloths every day, why keep a huge stack on a shelf?
It’s also important to think outside the storage solution. Just because a product is designed for holding clothes or books doesn’t mean that’s the only way you can use it.
Check out Breininger’s five organization tricks below:
1. Hang out
“When it’s a small apartment, I love using over-the-door hanging storage with clear pockets,” Breininger says. “Traditionally, they’re used for jewelry or shoes, but you can use them for all your little bathroom stuff like hairbrushes and toothpaste.”
Not only do door organizers save coveted wall space; they also don’t eat up precious square footage. Just be sure to get one with clear pockets so you can easily find what you need.
2. Get hooked
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“I really like hooks for blow dryers and curling irons,” Breininger says. “Even if you just put a nail in the wall, it’s an inexpensive space saver.”
Get creative about where you put your hooks or nails, too. They can be inside drawers or cabinet doors to keep tangled cords out of sight.
3. Throw it in
“If you’re lucky enough to have under-the-sink or counter space, I like plastic drawers,” she says. “Figure out the different categories of products you use and then have a drawer for each of them.”
For example, if you have items related to your nails like polish and files, throw them in a drawer labeled “nails.” For your toothpaste, floss and mouthwash, label it “teeth.”
Breininger recommends not worrying about how stuff looks in the drawers, however.
“You just need to get it into the right drawer,” she explains. “Being neat with everything is something different.”
4. Be lazy
You may have heard of Lazy Susans for organizing your spices, but Breininger doesn’t stop there.
“Put your Lazy Susan under the bathroom sink,” she suggests. “Put everything from toilet bowl cleaner to hairspray on it. You can access everything easily because it spins.”
5. Look up
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A bathroom wall — especially the space above the toilet — is prime real estate.
“Over-the-toilet shelves are a good idea,” Breininger says. “Just ask yourself what you are using them for: to store beauty supplies you never use or to access stuff you use a lot?”
She recommends using over-the-toilet space to store items you use frequently.
“Some people put 20 face clothes on one shelf because they really do use them that way,” she notes.
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