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“The Home Edit” rules & basic guide to decluttering and organizing your life

I am a fan of The Home Edit (I am definitely a Clea by the way, she and I are so eerily similar), and I managed to get my hands on their first book – The Home Edit– which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Out of the book and the episodes, I have to say that what they implement as a ‘system’ is pretty straightforward and simple.

In brief

  1. Always edit before trying to organize everything – DECLUTTERING IS KEY (Keep, Sell, Donate, Toss)
  2. Set up zones for areas (e.g. drop zone for keys, top shelf for X, second shelf for Y)
  3. Put labels on boxes or things so they’re easily found
  4. Organize like with like (all the shoes in one area, all the coats in another)
  5. Compartmentalize within drawers, shelves, and areas with sub-groups of boxes
  6. Use all the vertical space you have (all the way to the ceiling!) and add shelves galore
  7. Make use of tiny tight spaces with things like turntables for spices, so it’s easily seen
  8. Store things vertically, instead of cutting boards on top of each other, store them on their sides, in little side plate slot holders to keep them separated
  9. Don’t exceed your zone – stay within the confines of the space, or it will start to clutter up again
  10. Think about outside storage / archiving – in a shed, maybe the basement for seasonal clothes
  11. Keep it simple

That’s about it. I actually very much enjoy and like setting up organized spaces and so on, the principles of doing so aren’t that difficult, and it looks and feels so good after you’ve done it. It is also helpful to look on Pinterest at other people’s homes.

In detail


You can’t organize clutter. If you aren’t editing before you’re organizing (as in, getting rid of the excess), you aren’t going to make it look neat and organized because you… simply cannot.┬áThe only way to organize what you have, is to get rid of the excess first. Period.

This is particularly hard for Hoarders, like my parents, who saw me declutter my old childhood bedroom and started trying to recuperate things like old picture frames, and an old desk chair that no longer worked because it worked at certain angles, and therefore was not 100% unusable.

I have picked up their hoarding sensibilities, and tend to think: BUT WHAT IF…? … and this is why I like to keep things. I also have picked up their hoarding in the sense that I look at the sunk cost of their items and feel terrible I am “losing” that money. Well guess what? That money is long gone and if it no longer fits me (nor do I desire to ever go back to a size 0), I should let it go, as it is worth $0, and causing me mental angst sitting in my closet.


I used this a lot even before I watched the show. I always had a drop zone by the door where I would have my keys, my things to put in my purse, my wallet, and so on. All my purses would also be there, and I would clean out my purse each time to put things back into their places so I could re-fill a new purse if needed.

Other zones, include knowing what you do in a space. For instance, at a desk, if you work, but you also have a side business, set up little clearly zoned areas (by colour, or different box colours), to show what materials are for work, and which ones are for your business. Knowing what you do in a room – homeschool, work, run a business, gift wrap items, read – are all zones that you need to set up so that the room functions for all of these different things.


This one, is from my partner. He. Labels. Every. Thing. In our laundry room, we have these small and large big boxes that have neat little labels he printed and pasted on there with tape to tell us what is in there – Kitchen Gloves, Bubble Wrap, Paper, etc. He knows where everything is because it is all labeled, and as the boxes all look the same, SO DO I.

Also keep in mind that open faced boxes, unless used often, will collect dust. So cute baskets like hyacinth, are best used in closets with the door closed, rather than to organize Kitchen Gloves in a laundry room, where it might sit open, and unused for awhile, collecting dust in the meantime.


In a closet, I group all the dresses in one spot, and re-organize from no-sleeves, to short-sleeves to long-sleeved, and then in a rainbow order within those subcategories because that is how I think. Some people organize it by length – short, medium then long, and then by rainbow order. Others do it by weight – cold weather and hot weather. Whatever it is you decide, you have to group them all together so you aren’t hunting for one dress in one spot, and a dress in another random place.

In other areas, this means keeping all the pencils and pens in one box, in your drawer. Or keeping all of your pots WITH THEIR LIDS in one area so you aren’t hunting for the lid to go with the pot in another area. Tupperware is another culprit to keep together – their lids always get lost.


Within a drawer or a shelf, put boxes to split out the space there. For instance, I have a big tray that goes underneath my computer desk riser. I used some old eyeglass boxes that looked pretty lying around, and I set them up inside the tray, and place cords in each of them, or things that I need, so that everything stays organized.

This is a much better idea to stay organized, when you do so, even if you lose those centimeters of space, because now you know where the cords go, and they aren’t tangling up with your headphones, and your hard drive, or tape.


Unless you want to keep that blank space free, for mental relief (like we do), and to have something open and blank to look at rather than cluttered; you should use all the vertical space you have. Shelves up to the ceiling, tall, built-in cupboards that go to the top (don’t leave a space, dust will collect there, close it off with some boards).

Maximize all of that vertical space by putting double hanging rods in one section, or shelves up the wazoo all the way down to the floor. Even some shelving units I see, have wasted space IN BETWEEN the shelves. You don’t want things to be so tight that you’re struggling to pull a box out in between two shelves as it’s stuffed full, but sometimes I see that there’s a good 10″ of dead space there, that if you reconfigured the shelves, you could add another smaller shelf in there for smaller items that don’t need much space, or lie flat.


In the kitchen, we put all the spices together on a turntable in a tight space, up by that hood vent section that has ‘storage’ but really awkward, unusable storage. You know what I am talking about, where the kitchen vent hood above the stove is hidden for aesthetical reasons and it has a door that opens, with tiny awkward spaces on either side of it? We store our spices there. On turntables, in little jars (no labels, shockingly, but we can see / smell what they are as we don’t keep spices we don’t use.)

All of these awkward, small spaces are useful because you CAN store things there. It’s just a question of WHAT. We maximize the space in our apartment because we actually don’t have a lot of it, due to the awkward layout of the rather large hallway taking up space, and an odd half-sized dining room that only fits a small table at best, so we leave it open.


My best example of this is cutting boards, stacked on their side, not on top of each other. It takes up way less space, it is much easier to find and grab the items, and to pull them out without having to move everything else on top of it.

Jeans are another one. Folded jeans, stored on their sides, vertically, means you don’t have to struggle with ruining your perfectly folded pile, if you want the bottom one. It looks less cute than if you stack them retail style on top of each other, but it’s way more practical.

I am someone who enjoys hanging.. EVERYTHING. If I do not see it, and it is not hanging, I am not likely to wear it. This is why sweater storage is so tricky for me, and I need to see it front and center (you can totally hang sweaters too, by the way – this is how).


This one I have trouble with. Basically, if you have designated a ‘zone’ like a shelf or a drawer for some specific item, if you start to see it is getting cluttered, you need to declutter. Go through everything, remove what no longer works or can be sold, and then reset the space again.

My trouble zone is cashmere sweaters. I am willing 100% to admit that I love buying cashmere sweaters secondhand, and have a hard time saying no to a white/ivory 100% cashmere sweater for $30. It’s a bad habit I am working on breaking as I have 18 white/ivory sweaters as of my last count (BUT THEY ARE ALL DIFFERENT, I SWEAR).


A shed in the backyard, a rack in the basement. Anything can work for archiving or ‘out of your mind’ storage. If you don’t need to see it in your face everyday (like jeans, jeans are versatile for year-round), then you can store your opera gowns in the basement, in dust bags for that day, once a year, when you have a big event.

As for other seasonal items, Christmas decorations, or decorations of any kind really, can be stored in boxes, labeled, in the garage, or a makeshift shed in the backyard.


My problem at the start was trying to be TOO organized. I wanted everything with sub-sub-sub-sub-categories and it got to the point where I got confused with something that mixed in between two sub-categories.

Sometimes, just a basket on the floor with clothes, or toys, is all you need. Get your kids to toss all the blocks into one box, or all their clothes into one basket with a small basket inside to separate socks and underwear, and be done with it.

As they say on the show, if your categories are too complicated, you need to move UP a level, and instead of separating it into “Blocks, Figurines, Stuffies”, just make it “Toys”, if they don’t have that many.

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