DIY: Home organizing 101

By Julia Dilworth, 24 hours Vancouver


Organizing isn’t currently part of the K-12 curriculum, but perhaps it should be.

“We haven’t been taught how to organize, so not everybody has the skill set to be great spatial planners, to have a sense of how a room could be laid out to be more comfortable,” said professional organizer Clare Kumar.

Enter space restrictions, time restrictions, an unending assault of clutter and you’ve got yourself a situation (or an episode of Hoarders).

Thankfully, the secret to organizing is simply to PLAN, an acronym and system the Toronto-based organizer created to help people put their homes in order.

P is for prioritize. “Prioritization is all about figuring out what your purpose for a particular space is, whether that’s a drawer in a kitchen, or an entire room,” Kumar said. Your purpose drives all furniture storage and accessory decisions, and if you have too many competing things, that’s when it can get quickly out of hand.

L is for liberate. “Liberating is often tough for people.” Struggling to let go of things combined with over-acquiring is a big challenge, said Kumar. It’s important to let go of things that don’t support your vision and priorities for a space.

A is for arrange. Kumar calls this the fun part, but it’s important not to get to this stage without doing the early steps first. “You can’t just go and throw extra bins and boxes at your problem and hope that things are going to get organized.” When arranging, you’ve also got to understand your space and what your preferences are for interacting with possessions.

“Organizing is really about trying to place things so that they’re comfortable to access,” Kumar said.

“If you’ve got Christmas holiday decorations, for example, it’s fine to have those a little farther away because you’re going once a year. Your daily use stuff? That better be at your fingertips, otherwise you’re causing yourself daily grief.”

N is for nurture. “That’s the habits that people need to maintain order.” Cleaning up the kitchen as you go, coaching your kids to not leave backpacks by the front door, and putting your clothes away.

“If somebody’s stuck, I say where in the PLAN is the problem coming from?” Kumar said. “You have to go back to that part and then go forward.”

Find more from Clare Kumar at her blog where she writes about home and office organizing. She also has downloadable tip sheets (no charge!) here.

Julia Dilworth is a national DIY columnist and travel, beauty and home decor journalist. You can find her on Twitter @JuliaDilworth, email her at julia.dilworth[at] or visit her website

Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions