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Angie’s List: Organizing Your Home

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Are you constantly losing things around your house, and then promising yourself you’ll be more organized? Well, maybe you need a little help from some pros.

In this week’s Angie’s List report, Jim Donovan shows you some things you should know if you’re thinking of hiring a professional organizer.

Is your garage a mess? Closets need help? Or maybe you can never find what you’re looking for in your kitchen.

“I think all of us can admit to having some area of their house that is a little more cluttered then it should be, but the key here is finding out whether you can fix it yourself or whether you need to hire someone, and what are the steps to get it resolved,” says Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

Many professional organizers promise to restore order, but you need to know what you’re getting into. Before you call on a pro, do your homework and ask for references.

“Then you need to know exactly what you are going to be getting and how much you are going to be paying. Are they just giving advice? Are they actually going to be doing the organizing? Do they bring the supplies? Do you have to take away the stuff that is getting thrown out or do they take care of it?” Hicks says.

A good organizer will sit down and consult with you first to understand your objective.

“The goal is not to just have someone come in and throughout your stuff without you even having any input. This is really them helping you get your life more organized — not just them cleaning out your house,” says Hicks.

And getting organized doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be spending on new storage equipment.

“I want to see exactly what is working for them and not working for them. I try to re-utilize the things that are already in the space before we go out and start making purchases,” explains professional organizer Carrie Bell.

Organize your bedroom:

Clear it off: Clear off and dresser tops and make a designated, exclusive spot for things like cell phone, change and keys. And then store those items there and only there.

Extra space: Under the bed storage is great for off-season clothing or shoes. Use specially designed containers or boxes, and don’t forget they’re there!

Create extra space: Shoes can quickly take over your bedroom. Expand storage space in your closet with shelves on the floor or over-the-door, or store shoes in their original boxes on the shelves above your hanging area.

Organize your closet:

Start fresh: Empty everything out of the closet to get a good look at what you have and what belongs in the space.

New shelving: Consider new shelf configurations or even additional shelves if you have the space.

Purge: Donate or dispose of things you know you don’t use anymore.

Color code: Keep your clothes together by color so you can find things easier. You can also do this with your accessories, such as scarves, jewelry and belts.

Can’t decide what to purge and what to keep? At the beginning of the year face all your hangers in the same direction. Once you wear an item and return it to your closet, turn the hanger in the opposite direction. At the end of the season or year, get rid of any clothing where the hanger is still facing the original way.

Organize your papers:

Junk Mail: Get rid of the junk mail right away. Don’t let it pile up.

Bills, Bills, Bills: Sort your bills by order they are due and keep them all in the same spot.

Store the important: Establish one place for important papers like tax returns, receipts or insurance documents. Organize them by type and date so you can find them right away.

Organize your kitchen/pantry:

Is it expired? Throw away expired foods, including herbs and seasonings.

Sort: Store like items together — soups, vegetables, pasta, cereal, etc — so you can quickly see what you have available and what you may need more of.

Condiments: Ketchup and mustard go together, right? Store them – and other like items – together, too.

Organize your Garage:

Start simple: If you haven’t used it in two years, consider disposal or donation.

Group Items: Create zones by putting all garden tools together and all auto products in their own zones.

Go vertical: If you can hang it up, do it – tools, toys and bikes are great candidates for vertical storage.

However you decide to organize, make sure you first determine how you want the space to be used and how you can maintain it once it’s organized.

No task is too small or large for a professional organizer, so ask for help if you’re uncertain about how to begin or what to do to best use your space within your budget and capabilities. An organizer can do as little as pointing you in the right direction to helping you sort and re-store your belongings.

Angie’s List tips to find the right professional organizer for you:

Do your research: Typically a license is not required for a professional organizer, so essentially anyone can say they can organize your home. Do your research to be sure you’re hiring someone with experience and a good local reputation. Angie’s List and professional organizations like the National Association of Professional Organizers can help guide you to the right local person.

Meet up: Many professional organizers offer a no-charge, no-obligations consultation, which allows you to meet the person who will be in your home going through your space. Ask questions about their experience and their ideas for how best to organize your home. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, hire someone else.

Payment: Find out how they charge — if it’s by the hour or by the project — and if there are additional charges for things like storage products or disposal/donation fees. Is there anything you should buy before the job begins?

What happens to your stuff? If your organizer will dispose of your unwanted items and it’s important to you that they’re donated or recycled rather than trashed, make sure your organizer knows that and will do what you want. Also ask about any hazardous waste, which much be disposed of properly

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