How to Stay Organized When Unpacking in a New Home

Keeping a home organized isn’t easy, but moving to a new dwelling will give you a chance to start fresh, creating a well-ordered and clutter-free environment.

You’ll need to make a firm commitment to the project before you move, said Alison Kero, a professional organizer in New York City.

“When you go to a new home you make a commitment that this will be a happy healthy productive home,” she said. “You are in a new space so make the most out of it.”

Here are six tips for organizing your new home:

1. Bring Only What You Need

Even people who are accustomed to living amid clutter can learn to organize their homes, if they are determined to do so. The key is to make sure that everything you own is something you truly want, said Kero. Ask yourself: “Do I need it, do I use it, and can I properly care for it?”

“If you get into your new home and there are things you can’t find a function for, get rid of them,” Kero said.

Woman unpacking lamp from moving box at new house

2. Pay Attention When You Unpack

Cathy Goodwin, author of “Making the Big Move: How to Transform Relocation Into a Creative Life Transition,” said the process of creating an organized home starts the day you move into your new residence. No matter how carefully you pack, you likely will bring unnecessary things with you. When you see something you no longer want or need, set it aside to be thrown away, sold, or donated to a thrift store.

If your new home is smaller than the old one, the challenge will be greater, since you may need to get rid of some furniture.

3. Designate a Place for Everything

It’s easier to stay organized if you establish a specific place to store every item you own, so don’t unpack haphazardly, Kero said.

“Everything has to have a place where it always is kept,” she said. “When you know where something belongs, you are more likely to keep it there. It makes it easier to conquer the clutter.”

4. Make Regular Sweeps

To make sure your new home remains organized and clutter-free, periodically take a look at each room, drawer, bin, container and closet and remove the items that you no longer need. How often you do this will depend on how fast you accumulate new clutter.

Jill Annis, a professional organizer in Madison, WI, calls the process “editing.” She recommends making this part of your regular routine. Whenever you notice clutter, start clearing out the things you no longer use.

Amy Trager, a professional organizer in Chicago, suggests that with each change of season you do a sweep of your home to remove things you no longer need.

Couple planning furniture relocation

5. Be Disciplined When You Shop

Once your home is clutter free, your ongoing task will be to keep it that way. When you shop, avoid buying things you don’t need that will just take up space, said Trager.

Think about where in your home you will put each new item you purchase. Whenever you buy something, get rid of an item you no longer use.

“Be aware of the things you are bringing into that house, whether it’s mail and paperwork or clothing and dishes from the store,” Trager said.

6. Don’t Get Discouraged

Staying organized is an ongoing process. If you have trouble sustaining your motivation to stay organized after you move into your new home, try periodically going through things one box, one drawer, or one shelf at a time, said Annis. If you stagger the task of decluttering, it won’t seem tedious.

“It doesn’t have to be an enormous task,” she said.

Emmet Pierce

Emmet is an award-winning journalist based in the San Diego area.