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Ask UfYH: Where Does This Stuff Go?

Q: I realize my home’s chaos is a result of unmade decisions and/or lack of organization, and I have no idea where a lot of my possessions belong in a home. And I rent, so periodically it all changes. I’m almost done decluttering but unsure how to organize the remaining objects. Basically, I was never taught how to manage a household. When friends say, “Well, just put it where you want it,” I have no idea where a lot of things belong.

A: The easiest answer? Store stuff where you use it.

One of the main reasons things don’t get put away is because it’s inconvenient to do so. If you finish vacuuming (and hey, good job for vacuuming!) and where you keep your vacuum is clear on the other side of the house, that one extra, super inconvenient step is probably going to mean the vacuum stays out. Likewise, if you kept your silverware in the living room, it might never get put away, because you’re using it in one place, but storing it in another.

So take a look around and see where things tend to settle. If you notice patterns in where things end up, that’s where you need to store them. If piles of mail end up directly inside the front door, you need a shredder or a recycling bin there. If coats get shed in the bedroom, hang them up there. It makes sense to store your mugs and coffee stuff in a cabinet very near your coffee maker. If your shoes get kicked off in the front hall, it’s easier to create a system for them there since they aren’t making it back to the bedroom anyway.

Look at where stuff accumulates. Figure out how to make putting things away fast and easy for you. Some things will, by necessity, have to be stored elsewhere, but try to make those the exception rather than the rule. The less something is used, the more inconveniently it can be stored. But if you’re using something frequently, try to keep it close by. And keep in mind that the more you have out on display (or the more “open” storage that you use), the messier everything is going to look. So try to only keep things out that you love and use and want to see all the time. Otherwise, find it a logical home near where it’s used. And if it’s not used? Consider whether or not you need to keep it.

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