Organizing BEFORE You Move: Save Time and Your Sanity

So, you’re moving! How exciting and yet, utterly terrifying.

Moving doesn’t have to be your worst nightmare, though. It CAN have the potential to be only a mildly scary mini-dream. Below are a few tips to help you tame that moving beast while staying organized and at least partly sane.

Visualizing the New Place

Firstly, let’s start by visualizing your new place. Moving into a new home can also be the start of a new chapter in your life. Homes are often a marker in time when you think back and say, “it was when we were in the yellow house on Drury Street, or was it still when we lived at the condo?” Each home has a different feel and elicits different emotions. Looking forward, what kind of vibe are you wanting from this new place?

A few major factors that determine this are:

  • Location
  • Decor
  • Size

Each of those factors play into and off of each other. It’s not likely to feel like a quiet, relaxing oasis if you’re on the corner of two busy streets and you probably won’t get that authentic southwestern feel if all of your furniture and decor is mid-century modern. If you’re decreasing or increasing the square-footage, think about your current furniture and how that will physically fit in the new place.

Drive around and map out the new neighborhood. Think of some specific decor pieces that you can visualize beautifully placed in your new space. Taking measurements of the new rooms, your current furniture, and planning the furniture layouts beforehand can save you time and frustration when you realize mid-move that the new sectional doesn’t fit down the basement stairs.

Create Moving Notebook/Folder

Use whatever you have to keep all this moving-related info together. You don’t have to get super fancy with a hyper-organized, tabbed and color-coded binder, but having one place as your go-to can save you a lot of time when searching for your moving info.

Some good things to keep in here are:

  • Research (moving companies, storage units, internet/cable providers, new utilities and trash companies, etc)
  • To-do list:
    • Utilities to Turn on/off
    • School Paperwork to Transfer
    • Change of Address, Notifying Relevant Parties of Address Change (banks/credit cards, magazines/subscriptions, HR at work, etc.)
  • Moving Schedule, Appliance Drop-Offs, Carpet Cleaners, Etc.
  • Donation Center for donate items
  • Recycling Center for post-move boxes/packing paper

I also suggest creating individual folders for the following paperwork. Though most of these are moving-related, you will need to hang on to this info for much longer.

  • Loan/Closing Documents/Lease
  • Appliance Instruction Manuals
  • Warranties

Lighten the Load

Now, onto the most important part of this whole shebang. Do not bring anything to the new house that you didn’t use or love in the old house. If it’s broken and you don’t have solid plans to fix in with-in a few weeks, it’s time to go.

Before you move is the perfect time to “trim the fat”. A couple great areas to focus on de-cluttering and pairing down are:

  • Kitchen appliances and utensils
  • Bathroom and bedroom linens
  • Each family member’s wardrobe
  • Books and Media
  • Children’s toys

Now is also the time to go through those old boxes in storage that you’re not quite sure of the contents, yet have drug around to the last two or three houses with you. Odds are that they are full of items that don’t serve you anymore.

If you’re thinking that they are mostly keepsakes and memorabilia, it’s still a good idea to go through them and purge what you don’t absolutely love and want to still be holding onto 10 years from now. Chances are that the the last time you went through those old boxes, it was probably a lot more important to you to hold on to that high school graduation tassel than it would be to you now.


Now that you’ve gotten rid of things you don’t love or use anymore, it’s time to start packing up what’s left. It’s a good idea to start packing the items that are the least accessed/used and finishing by packing the every-day items. Starting this processes early will save you the most time and eliminates a lot of that last-minute scrambling and stress.

A couple tried-and-true packing tips:

  • Mostly use small and medium boxes
  • Put EVERYTHING in boxes
  • Put related and like-items in the same box
  • Label each box with:
    • What room the box should be taken to
    • What is mostly in the box

Selling Your Home

If you are listing your current home to sell, pack up as many of the household items as you can. While your home will be shown, it’s vital that there is no clutter anywhere.

  • Remove any non-neutral decor, especially personal photos and knick-nacks
  • Remove kitchen counter top appliances, store food out-of-sight
  • Keep bathroom and laundry counter tops clear
  • Give storage rooms a purpose, i.e. stage as a craft/sewing space etc.
  • Create illusion of space by moving some furniture to storage
  • Pack and store off-season clothing and shoes
  • Pack and store majority of children’s toys – especially large bulky toys like play kitchens, riding toys, etc.

Compile a Moving Essentials Kit

Alright, now you’re ready to move! It’s also a good idea to create an essentials kit with some of the items you will need to access right away that will save you from having to rip open and dig through boxes just to find one or two items. Here are just a few things that are great to include in your moving day essentials kit:

  • Toilet Paper
  • Towels/Paper Towels
  • Trash Bags
  • Soap: hand, dish, multi-purpose spray
  • 1 Dish Set/Disposables, Silverware, Cups
  • Box Cutter
  • Light Bulbs
  • Shower Curtain
  • Set of Bed Sheets for each bed
  • Teapot/Coffeemaker
  • Baby/Kid Items


Now it’s time to unpack and settle in! This part can be especially overwhelming. Below are some tips to help it stay a little less chaotic and a little more manageable.

  • Start unpacking right away
  • Only unpack one room (fully) at a time
  • Put things where they should permanently live as you unpack
  • Tear down boxes and move to recycling as you go

Additional Resources

Check out this thorough Organized Moving Checklist from the Container Store to make sure you’re staying on point.

Also, if you’d like some help getting your move organized, de-cluttering, or sorting through storage items, please contact me, I’d love to help!


Before and After Pics


Busy Professional Man's Closet - Before and After

  Organizing and Containing Bathroom Items - Organized and Contained Bathroom Items Before and After  organized closet before and after From Closet Chaos to Closet Tidy - Organized Closet and Room Before and After


Photographers Home Office - Before and After 1 Photographers Home Office - Before and After 2 Photographers Home Office - Before and After 3 Photographers Home Office - Before and After 4 Catch All Home Office - Before and After 1 Catch All Home Office - Before and After Dumping Ground Home Office - Before and After


Un-Packing a Catch-All Garage - organized garage before and after left side Dads Tool Bench Organized - Before and After Cluttered Garage - Before and After

craft rooms

 A Sewing Room - Before and After A Craft Room Rediscovered - De-Cluttered Craft Room Before and After A Craft Room Rediscovered - before and after of an organized sewing counter

Basements and Storage

Organized Basement Storage - Before and AfterOrganizing a Storage Closet - Before and After Organized Storage Closet

play rooms

Organizing a Toy Room - Before and After Organized Toy Room Organized Play Room - Before and After

laundry and linen

 Creating Laundry Room Storage - Before and After Stuffed Linen Closet - Organized Linen Closet Before and After

unpacking into organization

Unpacking a Kitchen 1 Unpacking a Kitchen

A Closet For Three

Closets spaces for kids can get out of control in a hurry. Keeping up with the changes of season, growing children, and an influx of new clothes can keep any mama busy!

What if you take that times three, add in no other closet option due to the nooks and crannies of an old house, throw in some toys and bedding storage, aaaaand just for fun take into consideration we are talking three kiddos six years old and under!

Well on a normal day this is what you are looking at!

A Closet For Three - messy straight on view

No judging! If you are a mom in any capacity, you know how it can be!

Laundry is a monster, multiplying by the day!

Lets not forget the blessed laundry room where our clothes not only need washed and dried but folded as well! We are not even going to discuss ironing.  Let’s not.

A Closet For Three - messy basement clothes

This is real life.  Life that happens when you are taking care of little people.  Life that is relentless when you are a mom with a career and a household to take care of!

After the consultation we were able to determine where she needed the most help, so two mamas got to work!

I emptied the closet while the mama who knew the clothes started her sorting!  All the toys went to the playroom.  This closet would be for clothes only EXCEPT for some bedding that needed to be stored for when company came.  It’s location was currently to the left of the closet’s opening.

A Closet For Three - messy view to the left

This was way too easy for curious little ones looking for a hiding spot to crawl around in and turn into wreckage  so the shelves with bins were moved to the side for easier access to hanging clothes and to serve as a bit of a blockade.

The result:

A Closet For Three - organized view to the left

All of the piles and storage boxes of clothes from the basement came upstairs and were added into the equation!  FIVE  bags full of clothes were donated!!!

And THAT was the key to getting the closet looking like this!!!

A Closet For Three - organized straight on view

Lovely; a closet with clothes for three kiddos! All of this is with no other dressers, no other place for their clothes but here! Their mama had it in her mind to downsize and she DID!!

The support for the clothes rod was the divider for each  child and to the far right there were hooks for jackets, just a couple for each!

A Closet For Three - organized view to the right

Another happy closet and another happy mama!


Project by Nicole in Kansas City

A-Closet-For-Three - before and after

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner

Are you a gift giver?  Do you spend extra money on wrapping paper or gift bags not because you don’t have it but because the thought of finding it is too exhausting to even think about?  I’ve been there, I know.   And I hope I’m not speaking out of turn to say that it’s possible my client may have had some of the same feelings.  She had a closet, a closet that was a tad congested, too congested to allow her to be the gift giver I could tell she was!   She didn’t want it to be that way, but she was a busy mama that worked a lot of hours and for real, she almost jumped in front of my camera when I said I was going to take some before pictures!  It was a thorn in her side…. she didn’t love it…. at all.  I don’t think she wanted proof that this eyesore existed in her home.  But all of that was about to change.   Here is what we were looking at.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner- messy closet

And a peek a little further in…..

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - just inside the door

So the first thing that we did was remove all the hanging clothing so it could be reunited with clothing in other closets in the home.  We also found some clothing items hiding in this basket so those were eradicated as well.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy shelf

Then it was on to the paper sorting extravaganza.  Rolls of wrapping paper were grouped together as were ribbon, tissue paper, gift bags and cardboard/mailing items.    I also went through all of her gift boxes and made sure that there were a matching top and bottom, if not it went to the recycle bin!  Ain’t nobody got time to play a matching game when they need to wrap something!  The name of the game was function and since she had plenty of tubs I just used what she already had to come up with a workable scenario.   If she was going to wrap a gift she needed to to be able to find tissue paper by the color, gift bags by the occasion and have one location for the ribbons and bows.  In no time at all we had a corner where she could find what she needed in 5 seconds flat and let her creative juices flow instead of walking away in frustration!! Check it out!

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized shelf plus covered bucket

And below that shelf  there was floor space that easily housed the rest of her things.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized floor space

Off in the corner we had the gift boxes stored upright so she could just file through to find what she wanted.  She was even able to have a box containing her mailing supplies and she said she did quite a bit of mailing.  She was afraid I was going to make her get rid of the cardboard but with everything else in order there was plenty of room.  I don’t have a problem with it if you really do use it!  I also put some of the smaller rolls of wrapping paper where they would be visible instead of falling to the bottom of the other taller container that held the longer rolls upright.

Congetsted Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized inside the door

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized overall closet space

We knocked out that closet and still had time on her session so I happened to look in this little storage bench just outside the closet.    It had a few too many things in there so we did a quick purge…

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy storage bench

Whala, a grand reduction!

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized storage bench

We still had a smidge of time so we headed to another headache closet for a brief spruce-up! She was being tricky and trying to clean some things up before I got my before picture!!!  Cracking me up!

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy craft closet

The drawers she had for crafts had gotten a bit crazy….

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy top craft drawer

So we did a little turn around….Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized top craft drawer

And the bottom drawer.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - messy bottom craft drawer

Only cross-stich items were allowed back in….

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized bottom craft drawer And the middle drawer already had ribbon in it so more was added and straightened just a bit.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized middle craft drawerOverall a feel good session and another great client!!! Happy Day.

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - organized craft closet


Project by Nicole in Kansas City

Congested Closet Turned Creative Corner - Before and After Storage Closet

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet

These clients are a sweet tech-loving couple. Shawna and I helped to organize their home office once before, but this time the home owners wanted to focus on the spacious home office closet . Closets can become a catch-all for all sorts of items, but with a little time and some help, it can be a breeze to fix.

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet - Cluttered Home Office Corner

The closet was full of outdated computer wires, cds, hard disks, and computer parts. Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Messy Home Office Closet

There were a lot of great bins and study boxes already in place, so one we removed the clutter, the storage containers were put to better use. Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Cluttered Top View of Home Office Closet Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Cluttered Middle View of Home Office Closet

In order to make the space as functional as possible, we moved anything that did not need to be accessed regularly and put it at the very top and we put very heavy items on the floor of the closet.

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Organized Home Office Closet

Mailing supplies, electronic cleaner, useful wires and extension cords were placed at eye level and in plain sight.

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Organized Top View of Home Office Closet

We replaced the cardboard boxes and plastic bags that were being used for storage with plastic containers and bins, so the space looked neat and inviting. There was even an empty drawer and some empty bins that fit nicely into the closet. Success!

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet  - Organized Home Office Closet

The end result was very exciting for all of us! We were able to get everything back into the closet and had room for the 8 boxes that were cluttering up the room. Now the whole room looks light and airy!

Purging Outdated Technology in a Home Office Closet - Decluttered Home Office Corner

Parting with your things can be difficult, but when we focus on removing things from the home and not just rearranging what we have, we have much more opportunity to create the spaces and functionality that we desire. Check out this article for some ideas on how to remove clutter, just like these clients!

Project by Beth in Austin, TX

A Music Room To Make Your Heart Sing

Do you have a place in your home where you refresh?  That makes you feel alive when you spend time there?  A  space that you spend your time doing what you love?   Well what if that room was overwhelming?  What if it was doing the exact opposite of what you intended because it was over-run with clutter and you didn’t even want to go into it anymore?   My client found himself in that predicament.   He had a beautiful room that he didn’t use and didn’t even want to be in because it looked like this….A Music Room To Make Your Heart Sing - messy couch


A Music Room To Make Your Heart Sing - messy room
What we needed was a music room to make your heart sing, because this wasn’t it!  We actually started in the closet to make room for most of the items from the room to go in there.  It was a splendid thing to have a nice sized closet off of this room and he had already begun to clear things out before I got there.   So this is what it looked like….

A Music Room To Make Your Heart Sing - messy closet 2


A Music Room To Make Your Heart Sing - messy closet


Because this room was so special there were a lot of items that held quite a bit of sentimental value.  I was so proud that he was able to acknowledge that he needed to let go of some of them.  The trash pile grew and grew…. and the donate pile did too!  There was contemplating and decision making that took quite a bit of work and he did it!   And the end result was soooooo worth it!   First the closet…


A Music Room To Make Your Heart Sing - organized closet


And then the clutter free music room!  This sight would make anyone’s heart sing but especially my client.  He is now ready to relax and rejuvenate in this great space!!


A Music Room To Make Your Heart Sing - organized room


A Music Room To Make Your Heart Sing - clutter free couch


A Music Room To Make Your Heart Sing - music corner


Project by Nicole in Kansas City