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

Stuffed Linen Closets

We’ve all been there in terms of linen closets:
Quick… open the door just enough to shove the sheet set in there.
Quick… close the door just in time to prevent a massive linen avalanche!
Stuffed Linen Closet - Overflowing Linen Closet

Step One: Pull EVERYTHING out of the closet. Yes, everything. And then give those shelves a good wipe down with your favorite smelly good cleaner (check out our surface sprays made with aromatic essentials oils!).

Step Two: Sort the linens by size and type. Piles on the floor work great, no need to get fancy with it.

Step Three: Donate, throw away, or re-purpose whatever linens you don’t use. If you are holding onto them because it’s your great grandmothers quilt that you don’t use, but keep for the memories, store it away in a keepsake bin in the garage or storage to free up some of that workable space.

Step Four: Put the linens back in the closet. Put what’s used the most right in front of you at arms reach.
The stuff you rarely ever use, like those big bulky mattress covers, way up at the top.
Stuffed Linen Closet - Organized Top of Linen Closet

A great way to store sheets is sideways like files, taking up less space and causing less of a mess when you pull them out. Another great way to keep sets contained is to store the entire set inside one of the set’s pillowcases.
Stuffed Linen Closet - Organized Shelves in Linen Closet

Keep in mind, if you want your kids to come grab their own linens when it’s time to change the beds, make their linens accessible for their height!
Stuffed Linen Closet - Organized Floor of Linen Closet

Labeling the shelves is another great way to KEEP the linens in better order.
Stuffed Linen Closet - Labels for Each Shelf

If it doesn’t belong in the linen closet, get it out of there!
If you don’t use it anymore, get it out of there!

Most of getting the linen closet organized is just taking an inventory of what you have, and then only keeping what you will realistically need and use.
Happy linen closet organizing!
Stuffed Linen Closet - Organized Linen Closet Before and After

Spring Cleaning! Donate, donate, donate!

Mmmmm….. spring! It’s allllllmost here! I can smell that fresh air and almost taste the fresh, green grass!

It’s that time again to open up those closets, pull out all of that crap you’ve been collecting over the winter, give those shelves a good wipe down and put back all those “I’ll actually use” items!

We keep so much stuff that we don’t ever use. We think, “oh, maybe I’ll hang on to these old ratty sheets in case by some freak chance the other 5 sets of perfectly good sheets are all jacked up in some cluster of simultaneous dirty sheet incidents”… but, let’s get real. How often has that actually happened? I mean, ever?

Ok, ok… so kid sheets… a different story. Keep a good set or two as backups for those middle of the night accident sessions that you really wish were just bad dreams, but other than that… how many sheet sets do we really need?

Linen closets are a great place to start spring cleaning. I bet some of the stuff you pull out of there you forgot you had!


This linen closet organize was no different. She had a couple sets of torn sheets that she admittedly would realistically never use. Those  were sent off to the garage to be re-purposed as winter plant covers and painting drop cloths. Several sets of sheets that didn’t even fit any of the beds anymore, so those were sent to Goodwill. Some of her childhood sheets were placed into her memory bins, and some of the linens were just fabric scraps that were moved  into sewing storage.

This client had kept a bunch of the plastic sheet packaging that the sheet sets came in and those were a GREAT way to store them by set so that the closet didn’t eventually end up a wrangled sheet mess with mismatching pillowcases etc. Those plastic zip up bags were also used to store her nicer, special occasion linens and silk.

This linen closet re-organize took us about two hours to clear out, clean out, replace and re-home discarded items.

By: Shawna