Clutter to Calm in 5 Easy Steps

Have you been trying to get your house in order during quarantine? You’re not alone! We’re all spending more time at home and we’re finding that some things work- and lots of things don’t!

My goal as a home organizer is to help bring peace to your space(s). This includes creating systems that make life easier and more functional on a daily basis.

One of my favorite things to organize is the family pantry. It’s the space used by all, multiple times a day. A beautiful and truly functional pantry can honestly improve your family life. So, chug a cup of coffee, get some trash bags ready, and get motivated! Here’s how in 5 easy steps.

1. First, REMOVE EVERYTHING. Now you can clearly see the space. Clean the shelves (you won’t believe what’s hiding there) and plan your attack. Step back and evaluate how you want the space to function for your family. Do you like the kid snacks within their easy reach? What items do you use most? Think about putting those nearest the door at eye level. Store heavy often-used appliances down low, and items used less often up top. Rehome items that don’t belong in the pantry. And try to get as much off the floor as possible!

2. Now, EDIT. Group items in families (pastas, crackers, kids snacks, etc.,) Check expiration dates and toss out the old (including that paper/plastic bag collection that you honestly don’t need). Take it slow at first and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. You may need a second cup of coffee at this point!

3. Next, DECANT AND CONTAIN. This is fun! Put your dry goods into airtight containers. There are all kinds of great affordable plastic and glass options on the market. OXO brand is great, and some of my affordable favorites are found at Walmart (Better Homes and Gardens plastics) and Ikea (glass with bamboo lids). You may choose to decant only the basic staples like flours, sugars and cereals. Or you can take it a step further and decant all your baking items, nuts, chips, snacks, etc. Buy a roll of dry erase tape and a dry erase marker and make expiration labels for the back of your containers. And don’t forget to include a scoop (inexpensive on Amazon) in each to keep foods sanitary (Hi Covid)!

Use bins to contain other food groups. I like acrylic or wire bins so I can easily see what I have on hand. Check out MDesign and Amazon for great affordable options. Divided turntables and lazy susan’s are perfect for smaller snacks, vitamins and supplements, and oils and sauces. Can risers allow you to see all of your canned goods in one glance. And lastly, use large baskets on the floor to contain backstock food, paper towels, etc.

4. LABEL. My husband makes fun of my love for labels, but they really are key to the system. You don’t need to go buy a fancy label maker. Just order a pre-printed set from Amazon or Etsy. Check out the Talented Kitchen brand on Amazon! Don’t forget to buy “bin clips” to secure labels on your wire containers and baskets. I get mine at Target and the Container Store.

5. Finally, MAINTAIN. Take just a few extra minutes when unloading your groceries and refill your containers/bins. Get rid of all that excess packaging! Show the kids where to grab their snacks and items to pack their own lunches! And when they go to bed, sit in your pantry with your wine or chocolate and admire your hard work!

I hope these tips help you create a more functional beautiful space in your kitchen. Check out @soshomeorg on Instagram for more tips and motivation. I’m here to help you keep your home a calm clutter-free space for your family!

The author, Annie Schmidt, is a home organization specialist located in Dallas, TX. If you’re in the Dallas area and you need a little extra help with home organization, refer to this article for 10% off your first home organization service!

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