Top view of empty closet organization boxes and steel wire baskets in different shape placed on white marble table with copy space. Marie Kondo hikidashi boxes for tidying clothes and drawer storage

Improving Your Home: Getting Organized

It’s springtime and you may be getting ready to tackle spring-cleaning.

Here are some tips to help you get your home in order.

Need more space? You’re not alone. One of the most common requests that Realtors and homebuilders get when buyers are looking for a home is the desire for additional storage space. Though the ideas of built-ins, walk-in closets in every bedroom, and oversized garages seem enticing, it’s not always practical. With websites such as Pinterest and shows like The Home Edit on Netflix, it’s hard not to get the itch to want to reorganize and declutter every area of your home.

Although organizing your home sounds like a great idea, it can be more challenging than it seems and can be pretty overwhelming. Professional organizer Barbara Root Proia, owner of You Organized by Barb, said first and foremost to be realistic about your expectations rather than expecting your home to look exactly like the pictures from which you pulled your inspiration. Doing what works for your family’s lifestyle and habits instead of copying exactly what others have done is key. Further, what is important is to create something that is effortless and easy for you to use. “One size does not fit all,” she said, “Find out exactly what your needs are and figure out a solution that works for you.”

Starting small, rather than tackling larger projects first, can make the process flow much more smoothly and less stressfully. Having a project plan and a vision as well as taking on a little bit at a time will be much less overwhelming than trying to organize several spaces at once.

Declutter First, Organize Second

One of the biggest factors that can lead to disorganization is clutter. “Clutter can be debilitating,” Proia said, “Holding on to things doesn’t help us. It actually works against us.”

Although getting rid of items that you’ve been hanging on to can be a daunting and challenging task, Proia said there is no value in keeping something just for the sake of keeping it. Evaluating what you have and getting rid of items before you organize can make a huge difference right off the bat since there will be less stuff to put away in the end.

Starting with items that have no sentimental value to you is the best way to begin since the less emotionally connected you are to something, the easier it will be to get rid of. Sorting items into three bins—toss, keep, and donate—can help the process move along smoothly. A great motivator to help get rid of stuff is to identify who you would want to pass those items on to. “People tend to get satisfaction knowing that someone else will be able to use it,” Proia said.

Many charities will gladly schedule a pickup of donated items, and posting on online yard sale sites can be perfect ways to get the items out of the way quickly.

The Container is Not the Organization System

Aside from the ease of having your items organized, another big factor that motivates people to organize is for aesthetic purposes. Uniform bins and decorative baskets can look clean and appealing, though that doesn’t always mean that they’ll be practical in your space. Although it may be tempting and exciting to go straight to HomeGoods or The Container Store before getting started, it could actually do more harm than good. Since you won’t know exactly what your storage system will need to look like or how many bins or baskets you’ll actually need, buying storage containers first could force you to end up keeping things you need for the sake of keeping the containers filled. Evaluate what you have first and then shop for storage.

Put Your Toys Away

If you have kids, you know that keeping their items organized can sometimes seem impossible. The best way to help keep their things in order? “Get kids involved!” Proia said, “If they have ownership, they’re going to be much more compliant.”

Including your kids in the process instead of just creating an organization system for them could help motivate them to keep things in order if you find a way that specifically works for them. Kids are more stimulated when less stuff is available, so having too many items to put away can easily cause them to lose focus and get off track. If there are too many toys but your child my not be quite ready to part with them yet, Proia suggested rotating toys. Keeping half in a closet and the other half out in view will keep their interests piqued, but also keep clutter out of the way. Keeping like items together can also help make it easier to put them away at the end of the day.

Allowing kids to have a hand in choosing their own storage system can make a huge impact on how they will want to organize what is theirs. “The goal is to get them to own something and follow through. It may not look beautiful, but it works!” she said.

Labeling items and bins themselves can be a fun and great motivator for kids. Reusable labels and chalk labels can come in very handy since toys and items will change as kids grow. For younger kids who can’t read yet, using pictures in place of the labels can be a fun way to help them associate with what gets put into each space. Color-coding can also be a very helpful way for kids to stay organized, especially for those who have ADHD. Color-coding has shown to have a positive effect on remembering where items go.

When A Small Space Is A Big Challenge

Organizing a small space can be intimidating. If you lack closet space, utilizing vertical storage is a great way to keep items stored without taking up unnecessary space. Using decorative yet functional baskets set on book hangers, wall systems, and floating shelves can help keep items out of sight but still within reach. Storing items under the bed that you don’t need access to on a daily basis is a great use of space. If you’re worried about how it will look, opt for woven and wicker baskets to make it aesthetically pleasing or choose a bedframe with built-in storage. Installing storage directly on doors—particularly in kitchens, laundry rooms, and garages—is a good place for stuff such as cleaning supplies and pantry items instead of having them take up additional counter or pantry space.

Think Outside The Box

Baskets and plastic bins are most commonly used for storage, but there are lots of other creative and inexpensive ways to store items. “You can make anything work – use what you have,” Proia said. Repurposing items such as jars and glass candleholders is a fun (and free!) way to store and display smaller countertop items, especially in bathrooms. Using vintage or decorative boxes that you don’t want to throw out is also a perfect way to stash items that you want out of sight, yet still have accessible.

Although places like The Container Store are excellent go-to sources to find organization systems of all sizes, Proia also said she doesn’t steer her clients away from using more budget-friendly items. She said that even places like The Dollar Tree can have a great selection of colorful storage bins, which can be perfect for organizing kids’ toys and craft supplies. She loves the IKEA systems as well since they’re easy on the wallet, but still good quality and very interchangeable.

Once you’ve figured out what you need and you have your system in place, though, Proia said that labeling is essential to make things attainable and effortless.

Turn Your Garage Into A Happy Place

The garage is another very common part of the house that tends to get cluttered quite easily. Whether you have a one car or a three-car garage, it can be easy to quickly run out of space. The easiest way to make your garage appear clutter-free is to free up the floor space. Wall organizers and hooks can hang large tools, sporting equipment and even bikes. Cabinets can house smaller tools and cleaning supplies and shelves stacked with clear or labeled plastic bins are perfect to hold seasonal items. Installing overhead storage has become very popular since it allows you to store items that aren’t frequently used without taking up floor, cabinet, or shelving space. If your garage is large enough, installing a car lift can turn one parking space into two. Although that can be on the pricier side, it can be a worthy investment for homes with three or more cars (and can also help avoid that unwanted violation for street parking).

Don’t Get Discouraged

Re-organizing may seem like a lot of work, but it will be very worth it in the end. It can be more useful than just keeping things put away. Organizing and decluttering can make your day-to-day life easier. It can help with mental health and can be a game changer for your family. You may need to edit your organization system several times and that’s OK. Taking small steps will help lead to overall improvement.

What’s most important is that what you create works for you. Happy home improvement and happy spring cleaning!

By Brie Gorecki

2021 Home Improvement Guide Summaries

WOW thanks the following home improvement specialists for helping to bring you the Home Improvement Special. The listings on these pages represent paid advertisements in conjunction with the Home Improvement Special. Paid advertising is not an endorsement by WOW, Inc. Interested residents should contact the businesses and ask all relevant questions prior to engaging their services.

3 J’s Plumbing Service
Let 3 J’s Plumbing handle all your plumbing needs. Whether it’s a simple faucet installation or sewer line replacement, let 3 J’s do it for you.

A Superior Plumbing
(813) 852-1118
A Superior Plumbing Solution provides quality, on-time, residential and commercial plumbing services, specializing in water heater and water softener systems. Proudly serving Westchase since 2004. Your satisfaction is guaranteed! Westchase resident.

Adelphi Plumbing
(813) 969-2026
Tired of that faucet or slow toilet? Purchase them at your favorite home improvement store and I will install it professionally. What could be easier?

AIR-O FORCE 1 Heating & Cooling Systems, Inc.
(813) 972-9449
Providing the Tampa Bay Area with timely and professional service for your cooling, heating and air quality needs for over 30 years. “Licensed to Cool.”

Anderson Aluminum
(813) 961-1764
Make your dreams a reality with Anderson Aluminum. Specialists in shingled insulated roof systems. We offer screen rooms and pool enclosures.

Anytime Plumbing
(813) 792-2264
Anytime Plumbing of Central Florida, Inc. provides service 24/7/365 for all your plumbing needs. Day or night, we do it right! Call anytime! Lic #CFC 1425923.

Authentic Concepts Kitchen & Bath Design
(727) 785-3097
Let us design your dream kitchen or bathroom then bring it to reality with our full kitchen and bathroom remodeling team.

Bob’s Carpet and Flooring
Locally owned by Westchase resident. Nobody offers more than Bob’s. More selection, more savings, more locations, and the best warranty in town.

Brand Kitchen & Bath
(813) 489-0111
Brand Your Kitchen! Cabinet refacing, custom cabinets, flooring and custom ceilings.

C&C Painting
(813) 886-7100
The trusted interior and exterior painting professionals for over 20 years in Westchase. Call us for a prompt and professional quote.

Carlson Construction
(727) 744-8397
We are a painting and pressure washing contractor with over 2,000 projects completed in Westchase. Interior and exterior. Sherwin Williams approved.

CertaPro Painters
(813) 936-9242
Interior and exterior residential and commercial painting. Call for free onsite or remote estimate (813) 936-9242 or online: $200 discount.

Construction Synergy Associates, LLC
(813) 535-6750
Since 1997, CSA provides the highest quality in residential and commercial construction. Our clients’ vision for the project drives our passion in our builds.

Cornerstone Pros
(813) 596-6052
Cornerstone Pros offers AC, plumbing, and electrical emergency services, installations, and maintenance. Free estimates for new AC, water heater, water treatment and panel upgrades. Family owned 15 years.

DesignCraft Kitchen & Bath
(813) 820-6001
Whether you are seeking a completely custom solution or merely updating a tired and run-down space, we are true professionals that care.

Dolphin Air & Heat
(813) 605-3401
Your Tampa Bay A/C company. Our no high-pressure sales, high quality and friendly service are why customers have chosen us. Call us today! #beattheheat

Done Rite Roofing
(813) 530-8458
Serving the entire Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater-Pasco areas for over 18 years. Done Rite Roofing is an approved applicator of Lifetime roofing products and workmanship warranties.

Green Thumb Nursery
(813) 884-3797
Family owned and operated for over 69 years! When you need to know, call on the nursery and landscape design professionals.

Lynch Plumbing
(813) 855-2565
Lynch Plumbing is family-owned and operated, proudly providing residential plumbing services to the Tampa Bay area for the past 30 years.

MY Shower Door, Tampa/St. Pete
(813) 962-6008
An award-winning, nationally acclaimed company, serving the whole Tampa Bay area with the highest quality, frameless shower enclosures. State licensed and fully insured. Lic#=SCC131151356/SCC131151357/SCC131151357.

Oldsmar Air Conditioning
(727) 755-4250
Your neighborhood comfort specialist! Not even Superman can keep you cool like we can! Service, sales, maintenance, installation. Online scheduling now available at

SCM Roofing
(813) 293-0732
SCM Roofing is here to help with all your roof replacement needs this summer! Mention this ad for your free roof inspection!

Screens ‘R’ Us
(813) 295-1217
Energize and enjoy your outdoor space. From single panels to full rescreens, we will help you rejuvenate your outdoor space to take full advantage of your screened patio.

Stay Dry Roofing
(813) 232-9430
Family owned and operated. Since 1987 our roofs have been constructed with honest, integrity, and quality to ensure your roof is built to last.

(813) 885-6900
Direct importer and distributor of premium quality flooring and hardscape products. Our extensive product lines consist of travertine, marble and porcelain. With an on-hand inventory of over 5 million square feet.

Suncoast Roofing
(813) 283-2544
With more than 40 years of experience in the roofing industry, our team is ready to help you find the roofing solution that fits your needs.

Tampa Bay Air Conditioning
(813) 949-2114
Let us help keep you warm all winter and cool all summer. Specializing in service, repair and installation for all makes.

The Painted Caterpillar
(813) 580-9229
The Painted Caterpillar has been beautifying Westchase homes for five years. Our attention to detail and strong emphasis on client satisfaction is what sets us apart.

The Screen Guy
(813) 240-2109
One call for all your screen repair needs! From a single screen panel to an entire three-story re-screening. There is no job too big or small!

The Rhino
(813) 592-8438
Unprotected gutters are just as bad as no gutters! With The Rhino gutter protection system, there’s no debris build-up, clogged downspouts, or invasive critters. Ever!

Westfall Roofing
(813) 328-7416
Westfall Roofing is an award-winning, full-service roofing contractor. We have replaced and repaired hundreds of Westchase homes since 1991. Let us quote you a beautiful new roof.

Window Cleaning Experts
(727) 393-7108
We specialize in residential window cleaning! Check us out at Providing clean, shiny, and streak-free windows for over 30 years! Licensed and insured!

Window Genie of North Tampa Bay
(727) 222-5858
Locally owned and operated, professional, affordable, insured. Free estimates: window cleaning, window tinting, house washes, pressure washing, sealing, concrete/pavers/wood, gutter cleaning, and holiday lighting!

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