Organizing My Cluttered Spaces Before the School Year

August 17, 2022

Tips for decluttering and organizing to get ready for a new school year and the holidays.

The start of the school year is always bittersweet for us. We love the slower summer days and sleeping in, but it's always nice getting into a schedule again too!

I also love the anticipation and prep for the second half of the year. Fall and the holidays are definitely my favorite, and my energy ramps up as the temps cool down. 

Because of that, I find that I tend to get the urge to declutter and organize now more than earlier in the year. I love a calmer, organized house -- I find it helps when the busyness of school and extracurricular activities schedule start up.

I've been tackling a few spots in particular, and I thought they may inspire you to work on some of your problem areas too!

The last month of the summer is always busiest for us, so I tend to let things pile up. I'll see the mountains of stuff growing and just say to myself "I'll tackle it when 'X' is done." Whatever 'X' is at the time. 😁 

I give myself that grace when our lives are busy, and I think it's important we all do that!

Years ago I shared these awesome metal pull out shelves for our bathroom vanities
metal drawers in vanity cabinet

They have been SO helpful because we have dumb vanities that have doors instead of drawers (and it was totally my fault for not catching this). 

This side had become cluttered and full over the past few months, so I finally sat down to go through all of my makeup and toiletries. 

I took everything out, sorted through old stuff and things I don't use, and then cleaned all of the items and washed the metal drawers. 
Now everything has room to breathe and I have plenty of space!

I also pulled out the two small drawers on my vanity and did the same for those. Since these are the only built in drawers in the cabinet, I have to use the space well. 

I used a few of my favorite drawer bins for the smaller stuff and made sure to only include things I use every day: 
organized vanity drawers

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That feeling after you declutter and open the drawer for the first time is the BEST! I can feel the stress leaving my body. ;) 

My closet was another spot I worked on recently. By the way, none of these spaces were crazy messy, but over time they started to bug me. 

The clutter always starts with that one thing...and for me it's always a laundry basket. 😂 

I usually don't let myself walk out of the closet without emptying one because I KNOW myself. This is what happens if I say in my head, "Oh, you'll definitely put this away later.":
long closet with mirror

Again, nothing horrible. But if I don't nip that pile in the bud it will continue to grow. 

I set my timer for ten minutes and went after it. I like timing myself so I don't get distracted by another project, as I tend to do. #squirrel

After about 12 minutes, my closet was a peaceful space yet again!: 
ikea closet with drawers

After I got everything put away, I did a quick look through to see if there was anything I wanted to get rid of. 
I only allow myself a certain amount of hangers, so when they get low I know it's time to declutter. 

I used the Konmari method to decrapify our house top to bottom years ago and loved it! The basics of that method make it easy to do a quick declutter. 

Do I love it and use it? If not, it goes!

Our sweet new kitten found a cozy spot as I added to the donation pile: 
cute tortie kitten

We are absolutely in LOVE with our baby tortie...she's already brought so much joy to our home! 💕

Over the past few weeks I've been working on small DIY projects and other items that have been sitting in our now empty "to do" drawer in the mud room: 
"to do" drawer in mud room

This drawer is my favorite! It's my my spot for all those things that I don't want to deal with just yet, or don't know what I want to do with. Sometimes you just want to put it away for a bit and deal later!

Returns to the store, little DIY projects, things I need to return to friends or family, items we need to package and mail out...all of these sit in this drawer until I address it once a week month or so. 

I had a few things in there I've been putting off, like installing this angled bracket on our Ring camera:
angle bracket for ring camera

I also installed the dimmer switch on the light we had installed over the stair landing earlier this year: 
open stairs with landing

And I had forgotten that I picked up a few more of these easy outlet nightlights
outlet nightlight in bathroom

We had a couple already and love them. No electrical knowledge needed -- you just turn off the breaker and then replace the outlet cover with this one. 

These are especially helpful for late night bathroom trips!

My biggest organizing project recently has been our linen closet. I call it that but we've never used it for linens really. We have a cabinet in our bathroom for towels and another good-sized closet upstairs for blankets and bedding. 

So this one is really just storage, and we've always used it for random stuff like toilet paper, extra kitchen items and trash bags. The location is perfect for things that are needed all over the house. 

I had it looking good years ago, but over time some things went to different spots and some were added in:
linen closet wire shelves

Earlier this year I found great plastic baskets for $6 each at Big Lots and grabbed up a bunch for this closet. 

I sorted out the things I kept in here and now it is SO very functional and organized!: 
organized bins in linen closet

Ahhhh I love it! We keep our vitamins, basic meds and first aid supplies in there now. Also extras for we entertain -- cups and napkins, etc. 

It's a great location for our kitchen towels and washcloths as well. I used these clip on bin labels for the front of each basket. (These also work great on canvas bins like the ones in my closet!)

They slide right on and are easy to take on and off. Now that I have things the way I want them, I may add a dab of hot glue to the back because they do tend to come loose when we grab a bin. 

Now I feel ready to take on the school year and the upcoming holidays! (Can you even believe how fast time goes?) This part of the year is always crazy busy for our family, so these organized spaces will definitely help. :) 

Are you working on decluttering any areas right now? This is the perfect time to do it!

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  1. My baby starts kindergarten this year so I’m trying to enjoy our last couple of weeks of summer and am putting aside most home and organizing projects, but I do plan to tackle the kids closets and dressers before they go back to school so that I have a better idea of what they might still need for clothes and shoes.

    Super random but would LOVE to see a follow up on your debt free journey and how you now manage saving up for big projects and vacations. We’re working through the steps now!

  2. Your blog is still the best! Thank you for always such useful information!

  3. I have a basket in my kitchen cabinets for kitchen linens. I stack them as a group, i.e. each group has 1 dish cloth, 1 dish towel, and 1 hand towel. I grab a stack and change them daily. This has been so helpful. I also have a basket of older kitchen linens just-in-case the item does not make it through the day.

  4. I love your blog! I’ve been following you since 2006- you’re my absolute favorite!


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