You're ready to get your home organized once and for all but are wondering which spaces to tackle first. We advise paying the most attention to the following eight areas, which professional organizers notice immediately upon stepping foot into a client's space. Below, the pros share the spaces that stick out to them right away—and why!
1. The Pantry, Laundry Room, and Coat Closet
Organizer Kelly Meakins of The Modern Edit notices just how frequently locations in the home such as a pantry, laundry room, and coat closet can become a dumping ground for junk. "Most people have items in these spaces that don’t belong," Meakins says, noting that in reality, it's so easy to quickly tidy up these areas. "Sometimes in a matter of a few minutes, these spaces can be made so much more functional for the entire family to use, by simply eliminating the not-needed items and implementing a simple system," she adds.
2. How Old a Home Appears to Be
"One of the first things I notice is how old your house is and whether it’s been remodeled or updated recently," MaryJo Monroe of reSPACEd comments. How can she tell? "Old homes that haven’t been remodeled almost always have inadequate storage space and not enough closets for the way we live today," Monroe explains. And this can be quite challenging on her end. "It means I might be in for a challenging organizing project trying to find homes for things," Monroe adds. "New or newly remodeled homes are always easier to organize."
3. What's In the Entryway
For Monroe, shoes and bags by the front door is an immediate giveaway that storage space is quite scarce. "This usually means the home has no front hall closet, which will create a challenge for storing all the coats, shoes and purses in a tidy manner," she says. "When I see a bunch of shoes by the front door, I better start thinking about wall hook options and shoe benches!"
Melissa Rogers of Modified by Melissa also takes note of the state of an entryway. "If it has a lot of stuff and is cluttered, I think it says a lot about the energy in the home," she says. "No one wants to be bogged down with clutter and obstacles to overcome as soon as they walk in the door."
4. What's Hanging on the Fridge Door
A fridge full of papers, receipts, and postcards may be the sign of a cluttered home all around, Monroe says. "It never fails to indicate to me how cluttered the rest of the house is—the more stuff on the front of the fridge, the more stuff in all of the rooms," she explains. "You might say the front of our fridges are a microcosm of our house!"
5. Whether the Curtains Are Opened or Closed
This doesn't have so much to do with the weather outside as one's perception of their living space, Monroe comments. "Closed window curtains can often mean the client is feeling shame about the state of their home, which tells me I want to be extra careful to not add to their feelings of shame."
6. An Eagerness to Prioritize Storage Solutions ASAP
Nicole Sachiko of Tidy Lifestyle Professional Organizing notices that clients get ultra excited about organization methods but says that this isn't completely necessary from the get go. "Before we begin thinking of storage we must first go through the contents of what is being stored," she says. "What is the purpose of this item? When was the last time you used it? When did you purchase it? Does this spark joy? When we ask ourselves these questions about the items we own, we acknowledge and learn what objects matter to us and why."
7. What's on the Countertops
Appliances, chip bags, and fruit bowls, oh my—organizers will take note of it all when they step into your kitchen. "I notice how cluttered and crowded the countertops are," Monroe notes. "Crowded counters almost always mean the cabinets and drawers are full, so there’s no more room to store kitchen items. It also means that when we go to organize the kitchen, we need to start with what’s inside the cabinets and drawers first, not with what’s on the counters."
8. A Home's Smell
Last but certainly not least, Monroe is widely aware of scent when she first steps foot inside a client's home. "Smells like dirty laundry tell me the client is struggling with her laundry process," she says. "Rotten fruits and vegetables tell me there are problems in the kitchen, perhaps overbuying of produce. A wet or moldy smell tells me they may have a leak in the house somewhere, so be careful about storing things in cardboard boxes."