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Why you should think about decluttering before you move into your first home

The first time many people think about decluttering is when they look around their already cluttered home and realise they need to do something about it.  If you are about to move into a first home you have a unique opportunity to start as you mean to go on with a tidy and uncluttered home. This post gives some tips on how to organise your home in the most effective way right from the start. If you are already living in a cluttered home you may still find some of the ideas below helpful as you start to declutter and/or reorganise.

Before moving day

Think about what you are going to take with you. If this is your first home then you may be moving out of your parents house.  I’m talking about when you move out permanently, not when you go to university and are still returning for holidays.  Now is a good time to declutter your bedroom so that you are not taking unwanted items with you or leaving them for your parents to deal with.  I can say from experience that children rarely want any items that they leave behind when they move out.

Identify your preferred organisation style:

  • Do you prefer a minimalist look with clear surfaces and everything put away or do you prefer to have your things tidy but more visible, e.g on open shelves, baskets or hooks so that they are easier to access? 

  • Would you prefer broad storage categories that are easy to tidy into, for example, one basket for all makeup or do you prefer more detailed categories, e.g. a storage solution divided into different drawers for foundations, lipsticks, pencils etc.  Be realistic about what would work for you and others in your household.  Broad storage categories are easier to maintain.

If you are moving in with someone else it would be helpful to understand what their preferred style is too. You may need to find some compromises if your preferred styles are very different!

Think about how you are going to use the spaces in your new home.  Very often people decide where things are going to be stored in a rush on moving in day and that becomes the permanent place for these items even if it isn’t necessarily the best place.

Have a look at what storage is already available, e.g. built in wardrobes, kitchen cupboards etc. It’s really helpful to do this before you start moving things in so that you can see storage spaces properly.  Consider what additional storage you might need but don’t purchase this immediately as you may change your mind once you start organising things in your new home. 

When moving into your first home you are likely to need spaces for:

  • Clothes

  • Shoes

  • Coats

  • Personal care products (hairdryer, shavers, makeup, shampoos etc.)

  • Bedding

  • Towels

  • Entertainment/technology products

  • Paperwork/Office Supplies (particularly if working from home)

  • Books

  • Kitchenware and food

  • House cleaning, clothes cleaning and dish cleaning products

  • Miscellaneous items such as scissors, sellotape

  • Tools

Depending on your interests/type of home you may also need spaces for:

  • Sports equipment

  • Hobby materials

  • Gardening equipment and supplies

Moving in

As you unpack, put items into the rooms where you intend them to be stored even if there isn’t a suitable storage solution yet in place.  This will help you to identify what additional storage you may need.

Some general principles that are helpful to follow as you organise are:

  • Follow the principle of “a place for everything”.  Items that don’t have a designated storage space will end up cluttering your surfaces or floors.

  • Keep items closest to where you need them, for example, keep clothes cleaning products close to the washing machine

  • Put items that are accessed frequently in the easiest places to access, e.g. eye level cupboards.  Don’t clutter your most accessible spaces with items that you don’t often access, for example, don’t put spare light bulbs in a kitchen drawer, put them on a higher, less accessible shelf.

  • Think about what you are putting on open storage areas, for example, a set of your favourite mugs will look better than plastic food containers.

  • Make items easy to access - don’t create barriers to putting things away, for example by stacking boxes so that you have to keep moving them when you are tidying things away.

  • Group items by function, for example, cake making supplies, office supplies, medicines/first aid.

  • Consider using labels on your storage boxes/shelves etc. to remind people in the household where things belong.

  • Create a storage space for things in transit, for example, parcels that need posting, library books to be returned, bags etc.  Often these get dumped on a kitchen surface but you could have a basket by the front door instead.

  • Store heavier items low down

Maintaining your home

Establish some routines right from the start so that you keep your home tidy and organised. The 3 things that cause most mess in many homes are laundry, paperwork and dirty dishes. Think about how you are going to manage these and ensure you have systems set up to manage.  Some ideas are:

  • Laundry - do one wash each morning or as many as it takes to keep up with the amount of washing each week. Fold dry washing each evening as soon as you take out of the dryer or off the washing line and put away - it will feel less daunting if you are doing little and often rather than letting it pile up.

  • Paperwork - reduce what is coming into your home, go electronic for bills and bank statements, see Citizens Advice page for how to stop getting so much junk mail, set up an easy to use filing system for what you need to keep including a file for the most important documents - birth certificates, insurance documents etc.

  • Unwashed dishes - get in the habit of washing all dishes at the end of the day (or run the dishwasher) - you'll thank yourself in the morning when you wake up to a clean kitchen!

Have a weekly tidy up which is much easier to do if you have “a place for everything” or even better, get in the habit of putting things away as soon as you have finished with them.

Your home will never have less stuff than it does the few weeks after you move in. Think about what you are bringing into your home before you buy it.  Do you really need it? where will you store it?


It’s a good idea to review your home organisation at regular intervals to see what is and isn’t working.  Things to think about:

  • Are any storage solutions overflowing?  If so, can you declutter to reduce the amount or do you need a larger storage space? Think really hard before creating a larger space. Your home has a finite amount of space so using more space for particular items means less for other things.

  • Are there items that are left out regularly?  If so, this suggests that they don’t have a proper place or the allocated storage space isn’t working – perhaps it is too difficult to get to.

  • Have there been any life changes (children getting older, retirement etc) or changes to hobbies/interests that mean you are holding on to things that you no longer need. 

Follow A Tidier Life on Facebook or Instagram for more hints and tips on decluttering and organising your home.


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