It seems like organizing your home has never been more popular. Spend a few minutes scrolling through TikTok and you’ll surely come across at least one video of someone decanting everything they own into pristine containers with custom labels. Open up Netflix and you’ll be greeted with the latest season of The Home Edit’s organization-based reality show.
But is every viral method worth bringing into your own home? We spoke with three organizers from across the country to find out.
Meet the Expert
- Lucy Milligan Wahl is the founder of LMW Edits, which is based in San Francisco.
- Jessica Litman is the founder of The Organized Mama.
- Holly Ritter is the founder of Well Sorted by Holly, which is based in the Chicago area.
Not Everything Needs to Be Decanted
"The highly granular level of categorization and containerization is very difficult for regular people with busy lives to keep up with," professional organizer Lucy Milligan Wahl reflects. "When I'm working on a kitchen or pantry, my client and I have a serious conversation about their aesthetic desire for the project balanced with their bandwidth for dealing with this level of detail," she explains. "I encourage them to be honest about what they're really willing to do on a daily basis so that I can create a system that truly works for them and will last over time."
Labels Should Be Kept Simple
On a similar note, Wahl believes that if products are removed from their original jars, they should be labeled in a simple, easy-to-read format. She notes: "The cursive font used on The Home Edit labels can be hard to read, which matters if you're sharing your home with other people who may not be as enthusiastic about staying organized as you are!"
In Wahl's mind, simple—as opposed to overly stylized—is the way to go. "Again, the use of this cursive is prioritizing the aesthetic over practical considerations, and also tends to assume that someone in the household is very detail oriented and has the time and energy to pick up after everyone," she explains. "In a busy household with two working partners with no full time staff, labels need to be easy to read quickly in order to encourage everyone in the home to keep up with organizing systems."
Color Coding isn't Always the Answer
Additionally, professional organizer Jessica Litman states there are ways to organize items that don't involve sorting by color. "One major comment regarding the color-coding method is that it doesn't work for all people," she says. "So if you notice yourself getting overwhelmed with color-coding, don't feel overwhelmed!" (Especially if you or someone in your household is colorblind!)
Litman is a proponent of sorting by type instead. "Let's say you have all your canned goods lined up in the pantry—don't try to color-code them or group them together based on color," she advises. "Instead, stack the cans like you would find at a grocery store to keep things contained and tidy. It will help with the visual."
Containers Don't Need to Be Purchased Right Away
All of the organizers we spoke with agree that some organizing influencers place too heavy an emphasis on purchasing organizational products to get the job done. Wahl is of the philosophy that organizing tools like bins and containers can be purchased later on, not ASAP. "[For example,] The Home Edit takes a container first approach," she comments. "You can see this in their DIY [service] offering, which uses the professional organizer's time to select and lay out containers, rather than talking to the client about the stuff that will be contained."
According to Wahl, this approach has its own set of pros and cons. "A container first approach does mean that the finished product will look amazing—but it's also going to be a lot more expensive," she shares. "This is because most people need to declutter before they organize. I always wait until we are finished with the decluttering phase of my organizing projects before working on containers. With less stuff to contain, we buy fewer containers, saving the client money!"
Litman agrees. "You have to start removing unwanted things first. Then you can see if you need the bins."
Professional organizer Holly Ritter shares yet another supporting comment. "Purchasing massive amounts of product before decluttering and purging results in overbuying. Always declutter first. You don’t know what products you need until you know exactly what you’re organizing."