8 Rules to Break for an Organized Home

When it comes to organization, there are some rules that are meant to be broken. While certain tips and tricks may sound promising at first, they aren't necessarily practical given your everyday routines and lifestyle. To get your home truly organized and decluttered, skip these 8 frequently touted tips that may do more harm than good.

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Open Storage Clears Up Cabinets

Flickr via emilysnuffer

Many decluttering articles will advise you to remove the doors from some of your kitchen cupboards, promoting simple, open storage that will put your most-used items at your fingertips. But in reality, the busyness of everyday cooking and eating can leave these spaces just as disorganized as they were before—without the discreet covering of the door. If you’re truly prepared to keep these shelves in order, then this trick might be for you. Otherwise, save yourself some trouble and stick with a closed-cabinet solution.

Related: 10 Total Kitchen Makeovers—and What They Cost

Pretty Closets Make Perfect

Flickr via emilysnuffer

We’re all enthralled by the beautiful images of über-orderly, color-coded closets in magazines. But while these setups look impeccably organized, it’s important that your closet help you lay out your wardrobe in a way that works for you. If you focus more on beauty than function, items you regularly use could end up out of reach or hard to find, which will make it much more challenging to stick to a streamlined routine.

Related: Organize Closets with 11 Things You Already Own

Stackable Bins Are Best


Some organizing gurus will tell you to buy storage boxes and stack them up on shelves. But each time you need something in the bottom box, you have to rearrange everything above to access it. Odds are, you’ll just put the item on top of the pile—and set off the clutter cycle once again. Instead, invest in boxes with sliding drawers so you can retrieve things quickly and painlessly.

Related: 9 Home Organization Secret Weapons

One In, One Out


The “one in, one out” rule states that for every item you buy, you must get rid of something else. The problem with this all-too-common commandment is that it’s too constricting for some, and possibly not strict enough for others. Depending on your clutter situation, you might need to adopt a “one in, three out” mantra or just cut out buying new items altogether. Alternatively, you might wind up throwing away too much, resulting in having to continually purchase replacements. Instead, get in the habit of going through a room or drawer before you head to the store; you might end up finding what you need, eliminating the expense altogether.    

Related: 10 “Zero Dollar” Storage Hacks

Family Command Centers Are Functional


In theory, a multifunctional command center is a good idea. But in actuality, you end up collecting the same amount of clutter (or more), because now you’ve created a spot specifically for disposable items, such as unread mail and event invitations. To avoid unwanted pileups, deal with incoming paper promptly. For example, add event times and locations to your calendar right away, and then toss the invite. Read mail directly over the trash can or recycling bin so you can immediately dispose of it when finished, or save it if absolutely necessary. If you can’t resist having a bulletin board, consider mounting it to the inside of a pantry or closet door so it’s not visible when guests visit.

Related: 9 “Zero Dollar” DIY Organizing Solutions

If You Haven't Worn It, Toss It


While this rule can be helpful for items that no longer fit or are so outdated you know you’ll never wear them again, you shouldn’t always toss something just because it hasn’t been used in a set amount of time. Some clothing, for example, is purchased for specific situations that may not arise that often. A better method is to review the item and see if you can picture a very specific (and realistic) moment in which you would put it to good use. If you can’t do that, then it might be time to cast it aside. 

Related: 11 Design Inspirations for (Much) Better Closet Storage

Odds and Ends Should Remain Hidden


Some are of the school that holds that everything must have a home out of plain sight, but it’s not always practical to expect you or your family to stash keys, bags, or other little extras in the proper drawer or cubby. Instead, take note of how each person naturally unloads, and strategize solutions based on these routines. Perhaps countertop trays or mounted key racks are better for catching clutter. Whatever method you choose, it’s important to remember that organizing tips will work only if they’re synced up to your habits. 

Related: 8 Organizers for the Little Stuff You Always Lose

Sell What You Can't Use


A common motivator for decluttering is the prospect of making a little cash back by trying to resell discarded items or clothing. While it never hurts to try, it’s more likely that you either won’t get the asking price, or you won’t drum up any interest at all. If you’ve attempted to sell something and no one bites after a few weeks, it’s time to either donate it or just kick it to the curb. Otherwise, you’ll never get rid of your unwanted extras, and all your organizing efforts will have been for nothing. 

Related: The 10 Best Things to Buy Secondhand