Posts Tagged Organization

Make Your Pantry Feel Twice As Big: How To Decant Pantry Items

Make Your Pantry Feel Twice As Big: How To Decant Pantry Items

How To Decant Your Pantry

NAVIGATION

There’s something so satisfying about a perfectly organized pantry. Neat rows of shelves with ingredients stored in matching containers makes cooking a fun task instead of a boring chore. Decanting your pantry not only makes it look great, but also maximizes storage in a compact space.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Not having a lot of space in my tiny home means that if I don’t have everything looking ridiculously neat, it can come off as cluttered. Decanting helped bring a lot of order and uniformity to all the different food packaging in my pantry.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Does Decanting Your Pantry Mean?What Does Decanting Your Pantry Mean

The word “decanting” may sound fancy or intimidating, but decanting your pantry is simply the process of removing items from their original packaging and storing them in jars or containers — usually clear glass or plastic ones for easy visibility.

Having a cohesive, organized look to your pantry can make food storage a source of satisfaction and be more pleasing to look at.

how to decant your pantry

Benefits To Decanting Your Pantry

Benefits To Decanting Your Pantry

As someone who lives in a tiny house, I am always looking for efficient ways to manage my storage. I found decanting to be a great way to organize my kitchen and maximize space in a small area.

Pantry Helps You:

Save  Money

Clear storage containers allow you to see exactly how much of one item you have left before you head to the store.

Stay Healthy

By having a visual of the items in your cupboard, you can make more conscious and healthy choices.

Save Time

Decanting saves you time in the long run by making it quick and easy to assess and access the items in your pantry.

Keep Food Fresh

Airtight seals on containers extend the shelf life of your foods you don’t have to worry about replacing stale snacks.

tiny house kitchens

What To Decant and What To Leave Alone

What To Decant and What To Leave Alone
When you’re getting started with the decanting process, it can be difficult to decide what needs to go where. I sat down with my friend Marie, a blogger and organizing expert, to discuss what items to decant and what to leave in its original packaging.

Organizing Baking Items

Organizing Baking Items

Since the packaging for many baking ingredients tends to be flimsy, these are the first things you should decant. This way, you won’t risk a bag of flour ripping and spilling all over the floor, and you know exactly how much of everything you have before you start a baking project.

Baking items to consider decanting

  • Flours
  • Sugars
  • Cake and batter mixes
  • Baking soda and baking powder
decanting flour and sugar

Dried herbs and spices are another good item to decant. Putting your spices in uniform containers can help you store them more efficiently.

Separating Snacks

Separating Snacks

If you have children, it is especially helpful to know how much of their favorite snacks you have left and what needs to be replaced. This way, there’s no fighting when you go to pack lunches and there isn’t enough to go around.

Common snacks for decanting

  • Goldfish
  • Gummy snacks
  • Breakfast bars
  • Nuts and trail mix
  • Popcorn
  • Chips
decanting trail mix and nuts
decanting a pantry pro tip
“Decanting chips can be up to your personal preference. Some people prefer to keep chips in their original bags and store the bags in a bigger basket or bin. If you do decant chips, consider using a strainer to sift out all the crumbs before you transfer them to a separate container.”–Marie Jackson, Organized Marie

Other Dry Goods To Decant

Other Dry Goods To Decant

There are a number of other dry goods that decant well and look nice when they’re displayed in your pantry.

Try decanting things like

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Coffee
  • Quinoa
storing pasta and rice in containers

Decanting Liquids

Decanting Liquids

Decanting liquid pantry items is helpful for saving space. A lot of liquid items come in different shape and size containers, so decanting them makes the space more cohesive and harmonious.

Some liquids you can decant

  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Salad dressing
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Cooking wine
  • Soy sauce
decanting cooking oils

Non-Food Items

Non-Food Items

Decanting is a tool that can work for organizing all parts of your home, not just in the kitchen. Separating things into their own containers can maximize space and restore the aesthetic of your cupboards.

Non-food Items To Decant

decanting craft supplies

What Not To Decant

What Not To Decant

There are a few things that sound like they might decant well, but should probably just be left in their original containers to save your sanity. If you find yourself decanting the following, stop and leave well enough alone.

No Need To Decant These

  • Raisins
  • Syrup
  • Crackers
  • Mac and cheese
  • Cookies
store cookies in original packaging
decanting your pantry pro tip
“Avoid decanting cookies. As someone who has tried it numerous times, the chances of cookies breaking in half are very high and you end up with a canister full of crumbs.”–Marie Jackson, Organized Marie

Decanting sticky things like raisins and syrup can make your containers difficult to clean, and cookies and crackers break too easily. Mac and cheese boxes are typically portioned out perfectly for the ratio of noodles to cheese, so it’s easier to leave that as it is.

Getting Started Decanting Your Pantry

Getting Started Decanting Your Pantry
The end result may look amazing, but getting started on your decanting journey can be daunting. Taking things one step at a time and being patient with the process will help you get your pantry organized and efficiently working in no time.

Step-By-Step Pantry Organization

  • Step 1: Take everything out of the pantry and lay it out on the table. This way, you can take inventory of what you have and what needs to be decanted.
  • Step 2: Decide what you want to decant. Keep in mind what your needs are and what you use every day. Prioritize decanting things with flimsy packaging like flour and sugar.
  • Step 3: Wash out your containers. Making sure your containers are clean will ensure your food stays safe to eat, plus make them look nicer and help you see what’s inside them.
  • Step 4: Make a plan for the leftovers. Ideally there won’t be any, but set aside a “back-stock” bin so you are ready, just in case.
  • Step 5: Label each bin and container with a sticky note so you know what goes where. It’s good to do this before you make your permanent labels so you can rearrange things as you go.
  • Step 6: Lay out the labeled containers in your pantry so you know where everything will go and how it fits together. Take a picture so you don’t forget!
  • Step 7: Decant each item one at a time. Once you’ve poured the item into its new container, tape any instructions, expiration date, and nutritional info to the back if desired.
  • Step 8: Add any overflow items to your back-stock bin. Make sure if they are in their original packaging that it is sealed with a chip clip, rubber band, or lid.
  • Step 9: Make and add permanent labels to each container. Keep the look you want for your pantry in mind and choose labels that are appealing and fun.
  • Step 10: Put everything back onto the shelves the way it is in your photo. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy your newly organized pantry!

Types Of Containers Needed For Decanting

Types Of Containers Needed For Decanting
When choosing container varieties, it’s good to start with a set. This way you have multiple size options and they are cohesive. Keep in mind the look that you are going for, and pick a set that inspires you.

It is also good to keep your shopping habits in mind. If you routinely shop at wholesale stores like Sam’s Club or Costco, buy containers accordingly. You will likely need larger size containers to store bulk foods.

how to decant a pantry pro tip
“I like to buy containers that are from a brand that’s been around for a while. That way, I know I can build my set and it will all look uniform and stack together properly.”–Marie Jackson, Organized Marie

Buying The Right Quantity Of Containers

Buying The Right Quantity Of Containers

Planning out the number of containers you need all depends on the size of your pantry and the number of items in it.

how many decanting containers is enoughCount out the number of items you want to decant and remember that each item gets its own container. Are you decanting all of your dry goods? Only baking items? Maybe you just want a set of jars for your spices. Having a cohesive group of decanted items will make planning a lot easier.

Measure out the size of your pantry or cupboard so you know how much room you have to work with. The size, shape, and number of containers you buy will depend on how much space you have.

Decanting Container Suggestions

Decanting Container Suggestions

When you’re searching for the perfect set, it’s good to have a rough idea in mind of what types of containers you might need. Below, I’ve provided a breakdown of some suggested containers to get you started, but you’ll want to adjust for your specific needs.

Baking Set

  • Flour container
  • Sugar container
  • Brown sugar container
  • Powdered sugar container
  • Additional small container

Pantry Set

  • Tall pasta container
  • Short pasta container
  • Spice jars
  • Large rice container
  • Additional small container

Snack Set

  • Chip basket
  • Large snack jar
  • Medium candy jar
  • Popcorn jar
  • Additional small container

simple diet

Shopping List Guide

Shopping List Guide

So, you’re ready to head to the store, but you’re still a little shaky on what size containers you’re looking for. The chart below demonstrates a few commonly decanted items and the corresponding quart size container for each.

General Conversion Chart

General Conversion Chart

It would be great if everything was measured the same way, but depending on the item and where you buy it, you may find everything marked differently. Here’s a chart with some common conversions to help you avoid confusion.

Pantry Decanting Container Options

Pantry Decanting Container Options
There are a ton of good container options out there for your pantry. You’re probably trying to decide between several options, so here’s a quick summary of some the most popular brands.

OXO POP Containers

OXO POP Containers

Plastic, $$$, Stackable, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight

OXO POP Containers tend to be one of the most pop-ular options out there (pun intended). The button on top pushes down to engage an airtight seal and also doubles as a handle for the lid.

This is one of the larger sets available, and containers are modular and stackable for maximum storage in a minimum space.

The 10-piece starter set includes the following:

  • 2.8 qt. container
  • 2.7 qt. container
  • 2.2 qt. container
  • 4.4 qt. container
  • 1.1 qt. containers (2)
  • 0.6 qt. containers (2)
  • 0.4 qt. containers (2)

One complaint I found was that while the pop lid is airtight in theory, water is sometimes able to seep through the seal. This is also one of the most expensive options, so it is not easy to build up your collection without dropping quite a bit of money.

I did, however, find a lot of praise for these containers. The brand has a lot of variety when it comes to different sets and accessories. There are a lot of different size options so you never have to worry about finding a container that fits whatever it is you are trying to decant.

Many people swear by the OXO Pop set because it offers a lot of size and set variety. They are also stackable to help you maximize storage space in your pantry.

Progressive International Prepworks

Progressive International Prepworks

Silicone/Plastic, $$$, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight

Progressive International Prepworks comes as a six-container set with each piece made to store a specific item. This is nice because it provides you with some guidance on what to decant and how to store it.

There are also accessories for each item that comes with its respective container. For example, the flour container has a leveler, the brown sugar container has a terracotta disc to keep your sugar from drying out, and the powdered sugar container has a sifting spoon.

The entire set includes:

  • A flour keeper
  • A sugar keeper
  • A brown sugar keeper
  • A powdered sugar keeper
  • Mini-keepers (2)

Containers for pasta, coffee, cereal, and grains are sold separately. Each lid latches shut with a silicone gasket that keeps the container airtight but can be removed for easy cleaning.

One flaw reviewers found was that the sugar container, due to its pour spout, doesn’t seal perfectly airtight. This set is one of the more expensive options on the market, but many found it worth it due to the added accessories and item-specific designs. This is ideal for people who like the guidance of an item specific set and want to invest in building beyond the six-container starter kit.

Rubbermaid Brilliance

Rubbermaid Brilliance

Plastic, $$, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight

Rubbermaid Brilliance pantry set includes four containers (eight-pieces total with lids). As far as I can tell from reviewers, each container is perfectly airtight with no sealing issues.

The set includes:

  • 16 cup (4 qt.) flour holder
  • 12 cup (3 qt.) sugar holder
  • 6.6 cup (1.7 qt.) pasta holder
  • 3.2 cup (0.8 qt.) all-purpose container

The main complaint I found with this pantry set is that the pasta container is too short to hold uncooked spaghetti at only 9.25 inches tall. However, you can purchase additional sizes that are taller.

This set is modestly priced, and while it doesn’t have item-specific design, this actually allows more flexibility for people who are looking to decant things at their own pace. The airtight seal guarantees that decanted items will be kept fresh and pest-free.

Overall this is a good choice for a starter set because it doesn’t limit your item choices and it is not too expensive to build from. The versatility is good for people who are looking for variety in their decanting.

Weck jars

Weck Jars

Glass, $$, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight, Environmentally Friendly

Since they are traditionally used for canning, Weck jars are about as airtight as you can get. Lids are leak-proof so you can feel comfortable decanting liquids as well as pantry items. The Weck 760 Jar set linked here comes as a pack of six 5.4oz (0.17 qt.) jars. Lids, gasket rings and clamps are included.

While there are several different varieties of Weck jars, they typically come in sets of the same size, so there is not a lot of room for variety. Glass jars are not necessarily kid-friendly, so decanting items that children will need to access frequently could lead to broken glass.

Because Weck jars are primarily made of glass (although some sets have wooden lids), they are environmentally friendly as well as very aesthetically pleasing. Many people choose to decant with glass jars because they give your pantry that Pinterest-worthy look.

Ikea 365+ Food Jars

Ikea 365+ Food Jars

Glass, $, Environmentally Friendly, Dishwasher Safe

These jars are some of the least expensive on our list, although they don’t come in sets. There is a ton of variety as far as shapes, sizes, and types of containers, so you have a lot of options. The containers are made of glass, making them more environmentally friendly than some of the fully plastic options. However, the lids are made of plastic.

The downside here is that since these don’t come in pre-determined sets, you have to put in the work to build your own. There are also mixed reviews about how tightly the lids seal and the ability to stack.

Ikea 365+ Food Jars are nice to look at and inexpensive to buy. If you are looking to customize your own kit, then these are a good product to try.

ProKeeper+ Canisters

ProKeeper+ Canisters

Stainless Steel/Silicone/Plastic, $$$, Dishwasher Safe, Airtight

ProKeeper+ canisters are another product of Progressive International. The nine-piece set comes with five containers and four accessories.

These include:

  • 4 qt. flour container
  • 2.5 qt. sugar container
  • 1.5 qt. brown sugar container
  • 2 qt. powdered sugar container
  • 1.5 cup (0.4 qt.) mini container

The accessories are:

  • A flour leveler
  • Terracotta disc
  • Dusting spoon
  • Mini dusting screen

Like the Prepworks set, the downside here is price. Progressive products are some of the more expensive ones out there, but they are also some of the highest quality.

The seal on the ProKeeper+ containers is as airtight as advertised, and buying sets from an established brand means you are able to continue building as your pantry needs change.

Decanting Container Labels

Decanting Container Labels

Labeling your containers is a fun way to build the aesthetic of your pantry. It is important to include the name of the item so you know what is in the jar, but beyond that you can be creative.

labeled decantersA lot of packaging has expiration dates, instructions, and nutritional info that you might want to keep. You can include this on the label if you like, or cut it off the box and tape it to the back of your containers or store it inside with the contents.

Label makers are a no-brainer solution for creating your decanting labels. Marie’s go-to tool is Brother’s P-Touch Label Maker. This is a cool option because it is easy to use, inexpensive, and has multiple different font options. This way, you can really customize your pantry.

I’d recommend avoiding chalk labels. While it may seem convenient to erase and rewrite labels as the items in the container change, chalk will leave a ghost of itself behind and, over time, the label will look messy. A better alternative if you need labels that are easy to switch up might be washable glass pens or dry erase markers.

At the end of the day, you want labels that will make you excited to open your pantry. The whole point of decanting is to have a well-organized, aesthetically appealing approach to food storage. Keeping up with any new organizational tactic is all about staying inspired, and your labels are a great way to make you happy to continue your decanting journey.

organized marie

“Labeling is your road map. When you take a trip, you have directions to get you back to your destination — labels make sure everything goes back where it belongs.”

– Marie Jackson, Organized Marie

Pantry Decanting Ideas

Pantry Decanting Ideas
Sure, decanting your pantry can save space and help you shop more efficiently, but at the end of the day you want your project to look nice too. There are a lot of different ways to personalize your pantry, and your technique when it comes to organization should be all about the look that you like best.

Decanting can be a tedious task, so you want an end product that makes you glad you put in the work and willing to keep up the effort going forward.

Decant Into Jars

Decant Into Jars

Separating your pantry items into jars is a unique and artistic way to organize. You can use jars for colorful items like candy or sprinkles, or you can go with a more neutral pallet by decanting almonds, pasta and sugar. Either way, decanting with glass jars is a great way to create a charming pantry.

Play Around With Stacking

Play Around With Stacking

If your end goal is to save space, try stacking different sized containers until you’ve found the balance you need. Using a stackable container set opens up room in your pantry or cupboard and helps things stay organized. There’s also something satisfying about seeing a perfectly stacked row of containers.

tall and short stacks of pantry items

Vary Your Container Sizes

Vary Your Container Sizes

Not only do different pantry items need different sized containers, but varying the height and width of your containers adds interest to the look of your pantry. Try tall, thin containers for pasta, and shorter, wider containers for flour or oats.

Organize With Bins

Organize With Bins

Some pantry items need organizing, but you want to leave them in their original packaging. Bins or baskets are a great way to make your pantry neat and appealing without losing the added convenience of the original packaging. This method works great for things like chips, fruit snacks, mac and cheese or breakfast bars.

Tips To Keep In Mind When Decanting Your Pantry

Tips To Keep In Mind When Decanting Your Pantry
Decanting your pantry should be a fun and satisfying process that ends with a good looking and more organized kitchen space. Because there are so many different types of things you’re going to be organizing, there are a lot of details to consider.

Here are some tips and trick I’ve learned over the years.

Ensure Canisters Have An Airtight Seal

Airtight containers ensure your food doesn’t go bad. This may seem like a no brainer, but making sure your containers are as airtight as advertised will save you from throwing out stale or spoiled food, plus keep unwanted pests out.

Buy Easy-to-Use Containers

Choose containers with an ergonomic shape that are easy to pick up. Remember that you will still be using these items every day. You want containers that don’t just look nice, but function the way you need.

Stick To A Brand You Like

Containers from different brands may not fit together well, so find a company that has a lot of quality items you want to build your collection from in the future.

Create A Back-Stock Bin

In a perfect world, all of your items would fit neatly into the jars or containers you bought. However, overflow is an inevitability, so create a back-stock bin or basket to house the overflow containers out of sight until they can fit into their respective jars.

Avoid Decanting Sticky Things

Raisins, syrup, chocolate chips — all these things seem like they’d look great decanted, but when items are sticky, containers can get murky and difficult to see through, and cleaning them is a pain.

Your Turn!

  • What types of containers work best for your household?
  • What got you started on your decanting journey?

Turn Your Cluttered Craft Room Into A Creative Haven

Turn Your Cluttered Craft Room Into A Creative Haven

decluttering a craft room

NAVIGATION

Some people work well in an artistic tornado. For others, decluttering their craft room or studio helps clear their mind and get in the right headspace to do their best creative work.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

While I’m instantly suspicious of those who’d willingly invite glitter into their home, crafters are one group of people I see struggle to keep their craft room tidy. Here are some tips that may help the artsy types out there.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Easy Tips For Decluttering Craft Room Supplies

Easy Tips For Decluttering Craft Room Supplies
As a fellow creative, I know that a clear head is critical to getting out of my own way when it comes time to make something. If I’ve learned anything about the value of minimalism over the years, I’ve learned it provides exactly that.

I think there’s a misconception out there with creative types that organization stunts the creative process. However, experts say the opposite is true: organization actually fosters creativity. Having a decluttered, organized craft room gives you the blank slate to be able to go anywhere your creativity drives you.

Crafting will always be a messy endeavor, though. Let’s talk about some pro tips for decluttering a craft room and getting the excess mess out of your workspace.

30 day declutter challenge

Sort Your Craft Supplies Before You Eliminate

Sort Your Craft Supplies Before You Eliminate
If you’re standing in your completely cluttered craft room unsure of where to begin the decluttering process, start small. Keep your focus on a single area, then group things together by individual category.

organizing craft suppliesSimply keep the likes with the likes — paints with paints, paper with paper, pens with pens, and so on. There’s no need to think about what you’re throwing out yet. When you start to categorize, you’ll begin to take mental inventory, making it easier to know what to get rid of and what to keep when decluttering.

I use this tip any time I’m decluttering a room in my own house: sort, then eliminate. It’s especially helpful with craft rooms, offices, and studio spaces where art and craft supplies can build up quickly.

Create A “Just In Case” Crafting Scrap Box

Create A Just In Case Crafting Scrap Box
For some, an important aspect of crafting is keeping odds and ends around for potential inspiration or the possibility of using them for an upcoming craft. But this can spiral quickly, and the last thing you want is tons of scraps littered around your work space.

Try designating a “just in case” box for scraps, trinkets, or miscellaneous extras that don’t have a purpose for yet, but might in the future. That way, you don’t have them all sprawled out in your craft room. Use whatever size box or container seems fitting, but try to contain your scraps to it.

This works so long as you go through it every once in a while, to make room for new scraps. Declutter the odds and ends that don’t fit in the box and just keep what you’re drawn to most. This forces you to naturally filter and keep yourself honest — anything that doesn’t fit has got to go.

declutter like a minimalist

Do A Deep Declutter Once A Year Of Your Craft Room

Do A Deep Declutter Once A Year Of Your Craft Room
Setting aside a distinct time to declutter your craft room is a pro tip that can help keep your scraps and supplies from piling up. Choose one specific calendar day each year where you go through your whole craft room, section by section.

decluttering calendarMake an agreement with yourself to get rid of what you haven’t touched or used in that calendar year. If the type of crafting you do takes a long time, or you like to space projects out over multiple years, create an annual or bi-annual date that fits your creative flow.

I have a friend who likes to keep a notebook inventory of her supplies, and she writes down the date she uses materials. At the end of the year, she gets rid of everything without a date next to it and buys a new notebook. This is a pretty stringent method, but it’s extremely efficient for keeping your craft room clean.

Nifty Tips For Craft Room Organization

Nifty Tips For Craft Room Organization
Once you get your excess arts and crafts supplies cleaned out, you’ll need some systems to organize the supplies that remain. I had a great time talking to my friend Norrine last week about all the ways you can do this.

Norrine, the face behind The Crafty Organizer, spends her days helping folks declutter their craft rooms and workspaces. We had a chat about all the ways you can efficiently and effectively organize a creative space.

Keep The Craft Supplies You Use Often Close By

Keep The Craft Supplies You Use Often Close By
It’s smart to organize supplies by how frequently you use them. Like I said before, I’m not much of a crafter, but I’ve done a lot of building and construction ever since I built my own tiny house a decade ago. I organize a lot of the tools I use by how frequently I use them for the most efficient workday.

Keep the things you use all the time close to your work area, thinks you rarely use farther away, and things you use sometimes in the middle of these other two categories for an efficient workflow.

Norrine the crafty organizer

“By establishing a set home for all of my supplies, it’s quick and easy to clean up after my creative flow. It’s no longer a question of, ‘where do I put this?’ — all my things have a home.”

– Norrine, The Crafty Organizer

Group Similar Crafting Supplies Together

Group Similar Crafting Supplies Together
Just like with decluttering, the key to organizing your craft room is to keep like supplies together and just start sorting through it. Begin by grouping all like items together, then let that inform the size of box you need to contain each category.

You can also group your supplies by type of project they pertain to. Maybe you want to keep all your papers with papers and paints with paints, or maybe you want your scrapbook paper in the bin with the paint pens you use for scrapbooking. Either method works, it just depends on what goes best with your flow.

craft room organization pro tip

“Organize your craft room like a grocery store. When you first walk in, you’d have the frozen foods aisle, but then it’s broken down by vegetables and fruits. Our craft rooms are the same way. Have an area that’s just paint, then have subcategories like acrylic or watercolor.”

– Norrine, The Crafty Organizer

I know a lot of crafters who get inspired to begin the organization process and will go out to the store and buy a ton of fancy bins or other organization products, then come back to their studio and try to figure out what to put in those organizers.

This is a backwards mindset. Let the amount of stuff you decide to keep be your guide for what bins and boxes you’ll need, not the other way around.

Follow A “One In One Out” Craft Room Rule

Follow A One In One Out Craft Room Rule
A standout tip for a craft room is to let yourself stick to a “one in, one out rule.” When you feel that urge all creative types get to buy new supplies, start a new project, or take up a new hobby, hold yourself accountable to decluttering an old one.

This could look like not buying a new book of scrapbook paper until you’ve used all the sheets in your current book, letting go of the calligraphy set you haven’t opened for six years before buying a basket weaving kit, or giving a finished oil canvas to a beloved friend before painting a new one.

Maintaining this mindset will keep your craft room from getting cluttered and overcrowded and allow you to do your best creative work.

Norrine the crafty organizer

“I liken my craft room to a five-gallon bucket. No matter how creatively you try to pour water into a five-gallon bucket, it can only hold five gallons.”

– Norrine, The Crafty Organizer

Inspiring Photos Of Craft Room Organization Hacks

Inspiring Photos Of Craft Room Organization Hacks
No matter how clutter free you keep your craft room, it won’t matter if you don’t have helpful tricks to store your art supplies and keep your craft room organized. There are a million ideas out there regarding how to best ways to store your art supplies and have the room you need to bring your dream projects to life. Scroll through these ideas for storing your art supplies and keeping your craft room organized.

Use Old Furniture To Store Craft Supplies

Use Old Furniture To Store Craft Supplies
When people think about craft room storage, their mind often immediately goes to bins and boxes. However, starting with the structures that hold those bins is the best way to get the layout of your studio to look most pleasing to you. Upcycling old furniture is an awesome way to keep smaller storage bins organized.

Furniture to use for storage

  • Bookcase
  • Rolling cart
  • Dresser
  • Desk
  • Locker
  • Chest or trunk
  • Armoire
  • TV stand
  • Hoosier cabinet
  • China hutch
  • Changing table
  • Clothing rack

The structures you start with will set the tone for the look and layout of your entire craft room. Consider whether or not you want open storage, like a bookcase, or something closed, like a dresser, where items are tucked away in drawers.

Store craft suppplies in old furniture

Ideas To Display Craft Room Supplies

Ideas To Display Craft Room Supplies
I love displaying the tools and supplies I use every day in a visually pleasing way. It creates easy access to the items I need most often.

Norrine the crafty organizer

“Getting organized is so beneficial, but I also respect that sometimes seeing our projects and supplies out is what inspires us. Having things visually available, yet out of the way of our immediate workspace, is key.”

– Norrine, The Crafty Organizer

A classic peg board is a popular method for displaying tools and supplies. You can grab some fish hooks, straight hooks, multi-prong holders, and miniature baskets at any local hardware store. Use them to display your craft scissors, yarn, or paints on your pegboard. Craft aficionados also love to use spinning organizers, buckets hung on the wall, or other upcycled items.

I have a good friend who loves scrapbooking. She used an upcycled baby crib spring to keep her scrapbooking supplies super accessible for the times she was feeling extra creative and needed quick access to scraps.

Sorting Craft Supplies With Boxes And Bins

Sorting Craft Supplies With Boxes And Bins
Your storage bins are vital to the look and organization or your craft room, but you don’t have to go out and spend a ton of money on new bins. Start by taking inventory of the supplies you need to store, then take a walk around the house to see if you have any bins or boxes that will suffice.

craft room organization pro tip

“I recommend going somewhere like The Container Store, T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods, or Target purely for inspiration. Look at their organization products and compare them to what you already have in your own home, but don’t buy anything new.”

– Norrine, The Crafty Organizer

You can even upcycle old boxes and bins — even something as simple as shoeboxes. Try covering the bins with wrapping paper or contact paper. That way you aren’t spending a lot of money on fancy bins with lids.

Keep in mind the overall look you’re after. If you want to see your craft supplies to stay inspired, consider clear bins. If you’ll be bothered by the visual clutter, go with bins and boxes that are fully concealed.

Labels And Stickers On Craft Room Drawers

Labels And Stickers On Craft Room Drawers
Visual labels and stickers are super helpful for keeping your craft room as organized as possible. Everyone has a different system for labeling, so you have to know what works for you. Color coding is a pretty popular method, but I’m a simple guy, so I tend to stick to white labels, if I use them at all.

If you’re going for a minimal look, try placing labels on the upper lip of your drawers of bins. That way, when you slide them out to use you can see the category label, but you can’t see the label from the front face of the drawer or bin.

Organization Ideas For Yarn

Organization Ideas For Yarn
For yarn, I’ve seen most people use large furniture to stack their spools — something like a large bookcase, a cube storage shelf, or hanging shelves on the wall that you can easily pull spools off of.

However, not everyone takes this approach. If you don’t want your spools on display, I’ve also seen people use wicker baskets to keep their spools in. Both methods work well to give you easy access to your yarn and keep it sorted by color.

Categorizing Ribbon And Thread In Your Art Studio

Categorizing Ribbon And Thread In Your Art Studio
One helpful idea for organizing ribbon and thread in a craft room is to use drawers that have poles on the top, so you can keep supplies in the drawers below as well as display the ribbon colors you use most often.

They can also work with a small roller cart and a storage bin with holes. This hack is genius because you can slide the rolls of ribbon onto wooden sticks and slide them through the storage bin holes.

You can even display your ribbon or thread on the wall with hooks or nails, or buy an organization wall hanging that already has hooks on it. This way, you can simply slide your spools of thread or ribbon onto the wall when you’re done.

make colored ribbons easy to access
thread spool organization rack

How To Organize Tape In A Craft Room

How To Organize Tape In A Craft Room
Colored washi tape, duct tape, and other types of tape with vibrant patterns have become more popular in the crafting world in the last few years. To keep your tape sorted and separate, try using a wooden box with a beam in the middle to separate types and colors.

Another hack I absolutely love is to hang embroidery hoops along the wall and slide your tape onto the hoop. This hack is aesthetically pleasing, simple, and gives you quick access.

Use Bottles To Sort Glitters And Beads In Your Craft Room

Use Bottles To Sort Glitters And Beads In Your Craft Room
Craft supplies that are super tiny like glitter, beads, buttons, or other small items can be harder to manage. One tip for keeping track of glitter or beads is to organize them with plastic water bottles, old shampoo or soap bottles, spice containers, or other kinds of bottles you could repurpose. You can sort them by color, category, or purpose.

Organization Tips For Paper Crafting Supplies

Organization Tips For Paper Crafting Supplies
Whether you want to sort your paper by project, color, thickness, or another deciphering factor, you’ll need a system to keep it sorted. Lots of crafters invest in paper storage towers with slots for each kind of paper. I’ve also seen people use colored file folders to divide up their different options.

Tricks For Sorting Fabric To Stay Organized

Tricks For Sorting Fabric To Stay Organized
Fabrics tend to take up a lot of space in a craft room. If you’re looking for inspiration for sorting your fabrics, try a large furniture item like a dresser or cabinet with drawers, and measure out the depth and desired width needed for your fabric inventory.

Ideas For Organizing Your Paints In A Crafting Room

Ideas For Organizing Your Paints In A Crafting Room
There are tons of types of paints that crafters love to use. Acrylic, oil paints, watercolors, paint pens, chalk paint, and more — how do you keep it all sorted? I’ve had friends who use office clamps to hang their paints on the wall. That way, they can see all of the different types of paints they own and have easy access to what they need for each project.

artist paint organized on wall hangers
watercolor paint organized in pans

Keeping Your Markers, Pencils, And Pens Clutter Free

Keeping Your Markers Pencils And Pens Clutter Free
If you’re an avid crafter, you probably have more markers, pens, pencils, and crayons than you know what to do with! Try using glass jars to separate your supplies. It looks clean and gives you quick access to your supplies. You can also try having a pail or bucket for each category, then use dividers to separate your supplies by color or style.

Inspiration For Keeping Glue, Scissors, And More Tidy

Inspiration For Keeping Glue Scissors And More Tidy
For the extra supplies that may not fit into another category like glue, scissors, erasers, staples, glue guns, or other crafting tools, there are many different ways you can go about keeping them sorted.

If you want them out of the way, try sorting in drawers with an organizer or dividers. To keep items on display, use fishhooks or another kind of hook so you can grab them quickly and start your work day. You could also try a wooden or metal stand to sit supplies on that you use every single day.

hot glue gun and glue sticks storage

declutter challenge

How To Stay Organized With Many Art Projects At Once

How To Stay Organized With Many Art Projects At Once
One thing about creatives is that we often have lots of ideas moving around in our minds at one time. I spend most days juggling hundreds of different visions for new projects and going down creative rabbit holes while only having the time to actually start one or two of them.

The Tiny Life, most of the work I do is tracked digitally. If you’re a visual artist, this gets extremely messy, fast. How do you stay organized when that’s your reality?

Create Work-In-Progress Boxes

Create Work-In-Progress Boxes

Creating work-in-progress boxes is a wise way to store stuff for the projects you haven’t quite wrapped up. It keeps your craft room clean because you aren’t leaving those projects sprawled out all over the table.

You might consider having a work-in-progress shelf separate from your other supply shelves. You can even have an individual box or bin for each craft that isn’t complete. When you’re done with a project for the day, neatly put the supplies in your box and store it away. Then, pull it off the shelf the next time you’re ready to work.

Use A Display Rack For Large Projects

Use A Display Rack For Large Projects

A display rack is a smart edition to any craft room to store unfinished projects that don’t quite fit in a bin or a box — like huge posters and large canvases.

Display racks are helpful for rotating crafts that you want to come back to later and need off of your work table. They’re also great for finished pieces and seasonal décor that you want to rotate through your home.

display rack or easel for large art projects

Create One Work-In-Progress Table

Create One Work-In-Progress Table

This tip is helpful for organization in the office, tool shed, and especially craft rooms. When my friend brought the idea of a work-in-progress table to my attention, I knew it was going to help me out with my construction projects.

Creating a working table that’s entirely separate from my work-in-progress table is extremely helpful for me. I can move what I’m currently working on out of the way from other projects I haven’t finished and leave a fresh, clean space for whatever I choose to work on that day.

craft work in progress table

Top-Notch Items To Outfit Your Dream Craft Room

Top-Notch Items To Outfit Your Dream Craft Room
With something like crafting, even if you put in the effort to upcycle and repurpose what you already own, sometimes it’s just worth investing in high-quality products. Here’s a list of items my crafting aficionado pals have told me are actually worth spending money on at the end of the day.

cricut maker

Cricut Maker

There’s a reason so many creative people are obsessed with the Cricut. It truly can meet any die cutting needs you may possibly have. The smart machine can cut paper, vinyl, and even wood, fabrics, leather, or cork with the correct blades. Its intricate capabilities allow you to create and print infinite designs.

Silhouette Cameo

Silhouette Cameo

Similar to the Cricut, the Silhouette can uses a blade and Bluetooth technology to cut over 100 different materials including paper, cardstock, vinyl, and fabric to help you create your dream crafts.

Cricut Vinyl Heat Press

Cricut Vinyl Heat Press

With the Cricut Vinyl Heat Press, you can easily press heat-transfer vinyl onto t-shirts, tote bags, leather notebooks, shoes, towels, or even wood. Additionally, the product is small and compact, which makes it simple to transport.

Wireless Hot Glue Gun

Wireless Hot Glue Gun

This wireless hot glue gun by Ryobi is awesome for all your hot gluing needs. Owning a wireless glue gun is a crafting essential. No one likes to mess with cords that get in your way. This glue gun also comes with its own charger.

Singer M1000 Sewing Machine

Singer M1000.662 Sewing Machine

As far as sewing machines go, the Singer M1000 is a fan favorite. It’s simple, portable and easy for a beginner to use. It’s also pretty lightweight and useful for seam repairing.

Craft Room Organization Cart

Craft Room Organization Cart

This rolling kitchen cart is great for organizing your basic craft supplies. It’s super durable, easily transportable, and lightweight yet sturdy. I like that it’s metal, so it’s not flimsy like some plastic organizers tend to be.

High-Quality Pair of Scissors

High-Quality Pair of Scissors

An extra durable, good pair of scissors is a necessity for crafting. These Fiskars scissors are ideal for cutting a wide variety of materials including paper, cardboard, tape and many more types of material.

Decorative Edge Scissor Set

Decorative Edge Scissor Set

Many crafters also need a decorative scissor set. This is, in my opinion, the best set of basic crafting scissors where you get the most bang for your buck. You get six pairs of scissors, each with a different decorative edge. The designs cover all your basic cutting needs without getting too pricy like some of the fancier sets.

Westcott Paper Cutter

Westcott Paper Cutter

This paper cutter by Westcott is a classic. It uses titanium bonded cutting technology and three steel blades to get the job done. A paper cutter is a pretty basic necessity in the crafting world, so you want to make sure you buy one that isn’t too expensive but is high quality and can last several years.

Dremel 4000 Tool Kit

Dremel 4000 Tool Kit

A tool kit is also an essential for any avid crafter, as you never know when you’ll need which tools. You want to stay prepared and have all the tools you might need on hand! This tool kit by Dremel includes a 4000 corded rotary tool, four attachments, 34 accessories, a plastic storage case, and an accessory case to meet your needs.

Self-Healing Cutting Mat

Self-Healing Cutting Mat

Investing in a good cutting mat is a must for the crafting and building world. You don’t want to wear out a cheap cutting mat quickly and have to buy a new one super quickly! This self-healing cutting mat by Fiskars is extra durable and lasts a long time. It’s good to have around for sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, stationary and more.

Rotary Cutter

Rotary Cutter

This titanium rotary cutter is ideal because it works for both right and left handers, so there’s no need to buy two cutters. It has a roller cutter with an adjustable blade for cutting multiple layers, sewing, patchwork, and other types of papercraft projects.

At the end of the day, there are hundreds of systems and hacks for organizing and decluttering your craft room. The way you choose to categorize and sort your arts and craft supplies should match with your personality and habits as a creative. I hope some of these decluttering ideas help you curate a craft room that inspires you.

Your Turn!

  • How will you declutter your craft room this week?
  • What supplies will you keep? What will you get rid of?

How To Begin The Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning

How To Begin The Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning

the art of swedish death cleaning

NAVIGATION

The term “Swedish death cleaning” may raise some eyebrows considering these three words aren’t commonly used in the same sentence.

However, if you’re in search of a way to declutter the stuff your loved ones have left behind or looking to make the decluttering process easier on your loved ones when you pass, Swedish death cleaning may be just the thing to help.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Minimizing and decluttering became a pretty huge part of my life when I moved into my tiny house 10 years ago. I started to think more consciously about what items were essential and what I could live without.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Swedish death cleaning seems a bit grim at first, but after helping so many people declutter throughout the years, I’ve seen this practice change lives for the better.

What Is Swedish Death Cleaning?

What Is Swedish Death Cleaning

Swedish death cleaning is a decluttering process that is geared toward the legacy you’ll leave after you die. Put simply, its about cleaning for death, except it isn’t meant to be morbid!

The practice is intended as a way to leave our belongings in the best order we can for those who will deal with our things after we pass. On the flip side, it’s also a helpful method to use as a guide for cleaning and decluttering the belongings of loved ones who have passed on.

However, the method is not just about our lives after death. A huge aspect of Swedish death cleaning is also about creating a more peaceful, minimal existence while we’re alive.

Death cleaning has been around for a while in Sweden, but has only recently found its way to the U.S. as The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, a self-help book by Margareta Magnusson, gained popularity. Margareta has moved 17 times throughout her adult life. Throughout that process, she has learned to analyze the purpose that her stuff actually serves.

the gentle art of swedish death cleaning

Is Swedish Death Cleaning For Everyone?

Is Swedish Death Cleaning For Everyone

In short, yes. One huge lesson I learned from Swedish death cleaning is that decluttering is not about depletion. Oftentimes, when you think about decluttering, you think about what to get rid of.

But Swedish death cleaning is less about what you will lose from the decluttering process and more about what you gain from having conversations with loved ones, looking through sentimental memorabilia, and creating a stress-free life.

This is what makes Swedish death cleaning approachable for anyone. Sure, you might think the demographic is typically someone preparing for their own death or that of a loved one, but those aren’t the only people the practice can help.

Starting the practice of Swedish death cleaning while you’re young is a wise way to think about death early on and normalize interacting with the idea, especially in a society that fosters a lot of anxiety around the topic. It also can help you create a peaceful, decluttered, calm space in your daily experience that will improve your mental health and quality of life.

Five Tips For Getting Started With Swedish Death Cleaning

Tips For Getting Started With Swedish Death Cleaning

Getting started with the process of Swedish death cleaning does not have to be a giant undertaking, and there are many different ways you can approach the practice in your own life. It’s also a slow process that won’t all happen in one day.

Margareta’s book moves through eight basic steps that each touch on a different element of life. Those values include community, peace, collaboration, asking for help, being wise with time, self-care, and endless others that can be gleaned from Swedish death cleaning.

I was able to sit down with Kristen Meinzer from By The Book podcast to talk about her and her best friend Jolenta’s experience trying out Swedish death cleaning for the first time.

Kristen Meinzer

“The hope with Swedish death cleaning is that what’s in our homes isn’t just taking up space. It makes our lives better, speaks to our values, and speaks to our legacy.”

– Kristen Meinzer, By The Book

What I love about Kristen’s perspective is the way she views Swedish death cleaning as much more than a decluttering process. For her, it was really about the way it affected her personhood.

I think that’s what’s so cool about the practice. It isn’t just about the things you’re actually doing, it’s about the way those physical actions can help you and your loved ones on a deeper, psychological level.

While we’re not going to cover everything from the book in this post, I did want to highlight some major takeaways that can help you kickstart your Swedish death cleaning journey.

Tip One: Talk To Your Loved Ones

Talk To Your Loved Ones

One major objective of Swedish death cleaning is to be a positive and peaceful experience. There is value in analyzing the possessions that are important to you and letting that inform conversations you have with your loved ones about what to do with those things after you’re gone.

Kristen Meinzer

“My grandma’s wedding ring, now my wedding ring, has been in the family for close to 100 years. When Swedish death cleaning, I reached out to my sister and asked if I could give the ring to my niece when I passed.”

– Kristen Meinzer, By The Book

The process is not meant to feel morbid, scary, or shameful. You should feel peace while letting go. I’ve talked to a lot of people who try to declutter after their loved ones have passed, and many of them have intense guilt about getting rid of items that belonged to their loved ones.

family discussing optionsWhen people are grief stricken, it’s harder to focus on the details. They might cling to an entire house of the person’s items they can’t get rid of because it feels disrespectful, or because they can’t deal with the trauma of losing that person.

That’s one reason it’s important to have these conversations while we’re still alive. A will often covers large assets, but it won’t necessarily cover sentimental items or valuable memorabilia that you want to ensure falls into the right hands.

By talking to those we love beforehand, we can identify what items are actually important and what aren’t so that we can feel peace about letting those things go after they’re gone.

Another element of this conversation that we often forget to address with our loved ones is their digital footprint. Ask your loved ones important questions like where they keep all of their passwords and login information, and how to access those things if they pass. This simple tip can save a lot of trouble down the line!

Tip Two: Start By Decluttering Storage Spaces

Start By Decluttering Storage Spaces

As you’ve likely realized, decluttering is a huge element of the Swedish death cleaning process. The value of decluttering is honestly much more mental than it is physical.

Yes, going through all of your stuff piece by piece can free up a lot of physical space in your house, but undergoing this purge will also free your brain space far more than you can imagine.

Decluttering Rooms and Storage SpacesThe decluttering process doesn’t have to be treated like a daunting, monotonous task, but it is challenging, so don’t do it all alone. The art of Swedish death cleaning really emphasizes the value of community.

Typically, you want to start the process with big storage spaces, then move into areas of the house that are actually on display. After that, you can tackle more difficult areas like your wardrobe.

This way, you’re beginning with high-traffic areas that are filled with junk and things that are easier to part with. This can make the early stages of the decluttering process feel more successful and motivate you to keep going.

I’ve heard other decluttering experts suggest starting with the areas you can see, because clearing out the spaces that are in the public eye might bring you a greater sense of control.

You can declutter room by room, start with storage spaces, or work from the outermost part of the house inwards. Find what works for you — it might end up going a lot faster than you think!

Kristen Meinzer

“Declutter with someone you love — have somebody join you. If you’re alone, put on a podcast or call someone while you sort so you don’t have to be by yourself.”

– Kristen Meinzer, By The Book

Tip Three: Save The Personal Items For Last

Save The Personal Items For Last

It’s hard to let go of the things that feel sentimental and remind us of memories and people we love. Try going through your personal items much later in the decluttering process. This way, you already feel accomplished and motivated by the time you have to tackle the most difficult category: memorabilia.

On the one hand, the momentum you’ve built will allow you to more easily sort through these emotionally charged items. But also, because you’ve already tackled other categories and trimmed a lot of the fat, you won’t feel the need to force yourself to part with things you aren’t ready to let go.

keepsake boxOne way to justify holding onto those valuable keepsakes is to give them a new life by putting them to use. Your memories don’t have to sit in a box in the attic and gather dust. If you’re going to keep a sentimental item, honor it by putting it in a place where you’ll look at it each day or interact with it often.

Maybe you take the letters in your grandmother’s handwriting and frame them for your living room walls. Or maybe you get out your mom’s double fudge brownie recipe and bake them with friends for your next birthday party.

Bringing your memories to life in new ways is a valuable practice that plays right in to one of the core themes of the art Swedish death cleaning: celebrating our legacy instead of fearing our death.

It’s also okay to have a special box of stuff that you don’t necessarily use, but also don’t feel comfortable parting with. That box probably shouldn’t be a giant bin the size of your couch, but there is no harm in keeping a small stash of keepsakes that are meaningful to you.

Tip Four: Get Help From Your Community

Get Help From Your Community

The art of Swedish death cleaning teaches us that we aren’t meant to do everything alone. I am a huge proponent of this message and I think, especially as Americans, we underestimate the value of asking for help when we need it.

ask your community for helpThere are many ways you can enlist help. One is to look around your neighborhood or community resource pages for places to donate your stuff after decluttering. Maybe there is a local used bookstore, clothing donation site, or recycling center where you can bring some of your belongings that are in good shape to help those in need.

Another idea is to invite friends and family over while you declutter to take things home with them. You might have a sweater you never wear that is exactly your sister’s style, or a set of dishes that you never use but will go perfectly in your cousin’s new studio apartment.

Getting help from others as you go isn’t just about the efficiency of the task and expediting the process, though. It’s also about using the art of Swedish death cleaning to build connections, establish a deeper sense of community, and create fun memories in the midst of a task that might initially seem morbid or daunting.

Kristen Meinzer

“We live in a culture in the U.S. where we overstate the value of doing it all on your own. No person is an island. Having people help us is an extension of love for our fellow person, so let’s just enjoy that.”

– Kristen Meinzer, By The Book

Tip Five: Take Care Of Yourself

Take Care Of Yourself

Swedish death cleaning can be an intense and overwhelming experience if you don’t take the time throughout the process to check in with yourself and participate in forms of self-care.

Everyone is different — for some people, the idea of cleaning for death feels terrifying, while others may not be as phased. All feelings and reactions are valid.

take care of yourself tooHowever deeply you react to the process of purging your belongings and memories, and consciously analyzing your legacy, it is still important to take the time to care for yourself before, after, and during the process. After all, this is your life.

As you go through what you own, talk to loved ones about where your possessions will go postmortem, find keepsakes from your favorite memories, look through things from your ancestors, and think about the legacy you want to leave. Keep checking in with yourself and your feelings throughout.

Ask yourself how these tasks are making you feel and why? Talk to trusted friends and family members about those feelings. Again, we aren’t meant to be alone. Take breaks while you’re working to do things you love. Go for a walk, go out to dinner, read a book, or watch a movie.

Also keep in mind that Swedish death cleaning is not meant to happen in a week. It’s a long process that can take months, even years to feel close to completion. The process is, in many ways, its own lifestyle.

Swedish Death Cleaning Beginner’s Checklist

Swedish Death Cleaning Beginners Checklist

Overall, I think Swedish death cleaning is a cathartic but also practical process. Going through these motions really helped me to purge my belongings, help others by donating, and do some much-needed self-reflection.

There is a lot that goes into cleaning a house after death, so I’ve put together a basic checklist of ways to get started with the Swedish death cleaning method. Use this list to help you navigate the Swedish death cleaning method for yourself and stay on track:

swedish death cleaning checklist

Reflect

  • Clear your headspace
  • Take inventory
  • Identify your valuables
  • Call your loved ones
  • Tell them about your valuables
  • Ask them to write them down
  • Identify their valuables (with them)
  • Write down what they say

Storage Spaces

  • Take inventory
  • Throw away trash
  • Discard what’s broken
  • Put things in categories
  • Go through smaller boxes
  • Make a donation pile
  • Make a keep pile
  • Organize what’s left

Display Areas

  • Remove what doesn’t belong
  • Organize clutter in to categories
  • Make a donation pile
  • Make a keep pile
  • Sort papers like letters, receipts, and cards
  • Sort books and toys

Closets

  • Take out every item
  • Sort into sell, keep, and maybe piles
  • Put sell items in donation box
  • Hang items to keep back up
  • Sort your maybes in to sell and keep piles
  • Try a minimalist wardrobe

Memorabilia

  • Consider award/trophies
  • Sort greeting cards
  • Go through photographs
  • Sort keepsakes
  • Choose a home for each
  • Repurpose cards and photos
  • Donate or recycle what’s left

Get Help And Give Help

  • Declutter with friends
  • Give things away as gifts
  • Find community donation site
  • Donate or sell clothes
  • Give books to used bookstore
  • Compost what you can
  • Donate to local charities
Your Turn!

  • Does Swedish death cleaning sound attainable to you?
  • What will you declutter as part of Swedish death cleaning?
  • What loved ones will you talk to this week?

Declutter Your Way To Digital Minimalism

Declutter Your Way To Digital Minimalism

digital decluttering

NAVIGATION

If the state of your inbox and the mess on your desktop are overwhelming you — don’t worry, you are not alone. The good news is that I have a few ways for you to reduce your anxiety and feel confident using technology to tackle new projects.

I’ve been working on TheTinyLife.com for over a decade now, so as you can imagine, technology plays a huge role in my life. As someone who practices a minimalist lifestyle, I wanted that philosophy to carry over to my digital life as well.

I’ve always used my computer and phone to help me work, but in examining my digital life, I realized I was uncomfortable with how much leisure time I spent staring at screens. I wanted to use technology to achieve goals, not avoid them.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Minimalism in today’s world means that not only do we need to organize our homes, our desks and closets, but our digital spaces as well. I’ve found it to be important in my own life to foster intention, digitally or in the real world. As a result, I’ve learned quite a bit on my journey as a minimalist living in a digital world.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

By decluttering and organizing my devices, I was able to spend less time being distracted by technology and more time being aided by it. Digital minimalism is a great way to reduce stress about new projects and make sure your tech tools are clutter-free and organized.

I began by setting my intentions for my digital life and reflecting on how I wanted to spend my time both online and off. This can feel like a daunting task, but just like adopting any minimalist practice, the key is to start one step at a time.

Use this article to guide you through your own decluttering journey and start to live a more positive digital life.

Benefits To Digital Decluttering

Benefits To Digital Decluttering

Since so much of our time is spent online, digital decluttering is more important than ever. Digital minimalism has helped me create tools that work for me and help me achieve my goals.

Having a phone, computer, and even online presence that are clutter free can:

1. Improve your focus
2. Reduce stress
3. Save time and energy

According to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, individuals who described their spaces as cluttered or full of unfinished projects reported higher statistics of depression and fatigue than those who found their spaces restful and restorative, and this extends beyond just physical surroundings.

intentional living

Four Steps To Digital Decluttering

Steps To Digital Decluttering

I know it can be overwhelming to start any decluttering project, especially if things have really started to build up over time. First let’s discuss four steps to help you get started, then we’ll dive deeper into decluttering each aspect of your digital life.

1. Set Your Digital Goals

Pay attention to the programs and apps you use on a regular basis. Take a minute for some introspection and make a plan about how you want to interact with the online world.

2. Delete Digital Clutter

Decluttering comes before organizing, so get rid of anything you don’t use or need including apps, programs, outdated or repeated files, duplicate photos, etc.

3. Organize Your Files

Develop an organized naming system for your files and create folders that are easy to search. Personalize the way your phone screen or desktop looks so that it is easy to navigate.

4. Continue Digital Decluttering

Maintaining your new habit is the key to success. Regularly revisit the above steps so that cleaning up is a simple task and not a monumental chore.

30 day declutter challenge

How To Declutter Your Phone

How To Declutter Your Phone

A good place to start is with your phone and finding out what tools can help you. I have an iPhone, but different smart phones have different tools for organizing notes, arranging apps, and customizing notifications.

Learning about my device first helped me accomplish the task of decluttering it. I also found it helpful to remember that technology is meant to support me and my personal goals.

Let’s talk about four areas you’ll want to address on your phone:

Apps

Contacts

Home

Photos

1. Declutter Your Apps

Digital minimalism is about staying mindful of how you spend your time. I started by going through my apps and deciding which ones were useful to me and which ones were outdated or time-wasting.

dopamine detoxGetting rid of game apps is a good way to reduce the amount of time wasted on your phone, but it’s okay to keep one or two if they make you happy. This is your journey, so figure out what you want to keep and what you want to let go of.

It’s also important to understand the feedback loop that our app notifications use to keep us hooked. Consider a dopamine detox or just be mindful of what apps and websites are low-quality stimuli.

At the very least, manage your notifications so that you’re not constantly flooded with unnecessary information. For example, you can set up your news app so that you only see notifications at a certain time of the day that you’ve set aside to read the latest news.

2. Declutter Your Contact List

We all have some contacts we absolutely need (like your mom or your doctor), but many of us are guilty of holding on to numbers that are no longer useful (like your 10th grade lab partner). Hold on to the contacts of people you talk to regularly and let the rest go.

Clearing up your social calendar can help you stay organized and still make time for the people who are important to you.

Remember, stay mindful of how you want to spend your time and who you want to spend it with.

how to declutter your schedule

3. Organize Your Home Screen

One of the first things I do in the morning is check my phone. Since my home screen is the first thing I see, I want it to be simple and inviting. To achieve this, I created a daily use folder for apps I need to access regularly so that I’m not overwhelmed.

Have apps on your home screen that help you create good habits. Staying healthy is one of my priorities, so I keep my fitness tracker app at the top of my screen. This way, I remember to track my calories as part of my fitness goals.

Organizing apps into folders by category is a helpful way to create a digital space that is easy to navigate. If you find yourself with too many folders to efficiently manage, go back to the first step and do another round of decluttering.

organized phone screen

4. Organize Your Photos

One of the largest sources of clutter on my phone is my photo gallery. I started my photo clean up by deleting old screenshots, blurry photos, and duplicates.

I wanted to be able to easily find the photos I felt were worth keeping, so I created a folder system by category. I have albums for family, friends, pets, and recipe screenshots, but you can use whatever categories work best for you.

How To Declutter Your Computer (Laptop or Desktop)

How To Declutter Your Computer

I started by looking up the storage capacity of my computer so I knew how much room I had to work with. If your goal is to only use the hard drive storage available to your device, then you can declutter with this in mind.

Alternately, you can look into cloud storage or purchase an external hard drive if you have a lot of large files to keep.

As you get started, remember that your computer is a tool meant to facilitate your lifestyle, not run it. Minimalist living is about setting intentions for how you want to participate in your life.

Not sure where to start? Try decluttering these four areas first:

Programs

Email

Desktop

Photos

1. Declutter Your Programs

Deleting any pre-installed apps I didn’t use was the first step to cleaning up my programs. This helped free up storage for things I thought were worth keeping. It also helped optimize my computer’s performance since I wasn’t wasting space on unnecessary programs.

2. Declutter Your Email

I used to be guilty of having an overwhelmingly cluttered email inbox. Now, I practice a method called inbox zero that helps me stay on top of my inbox.

Depending on the type of email you have, there are many resources to help you clean and organize. The first thing to do is unsubscribe from any unwanted advertising. You can also create tags or folders for categories of emails like social or business communication.

3. Organize Your Messy Desktop

When it comes to desktop organization, the simpler the better. Create a couple of folders that contain programs or files you want immediate access to and leave the rest free and clear. I use a helpful graphic to organize what files are waiting, in progress, and completed.

kanban desktop background

Move files you don’t need to the trash and empty your trash bin regularly to clear up storage space.

4. Organize Your Photos

Like with my phone, I only keep photos I enjoy and intend to use or share and let go of any that are duplicates or low-quality images to save on storage space. Create folders by category so you can easily access the memories you want to share.

How To Organize Your Computer Files

How To Organize Your Computer Files

The first place where clutter piles up on my computer is in my downloads folder. Delete any duplicate or irrelevant downloads so that the rest can be moved to a relevant folder later on. The deleting process is a key step to decluttering your files before we can get to organizing them.

File Naming Conventions

To sort your files effectively, figure out what naming convention is most relevant to you and create a corresponding hierarchy.

I start with one parent folder, then in it I have Documents, Images, Video, Music, Etc. I usually think about my folders as questions: Is it a document, a video, a song, or what? For example, if it’s a song, I’d select my Music folder. That way I don’t have to remember where the file is, I just have to answer the questions that my folders outline.

File Sorting Best Practices:

  • Use specific and meaningful file names
  • Be consistent with your naming system
  • Always avoid special characters
  • Don’t bury files so deep that you can’t find them
  • Use version numbers for updating documents
  • Use dates to help you format and organize
file sorting best practices

How To Declutter Your Social Media

How To Declutter Your Social Media

Social media can be fun, but I’ve found it can also cause a lot of anxiety. Take a moment to think about how your social media affects you. If it isn’t making you happy, consider taking a break from it all together.

If you do want to keep social media as a part of your life, follow pages and friends that bring positivity to your feed. I prefer to replace my social media interactions with real life ones and just let my page be simple and fun.

social media break

One-Week Digital Declutter Challenge

Digital Declutter Challenge

To help start your journey, I’m challenging you to complete this one-week checklist to declutter your digital life. Complete one task per day and check it off the list. Taking things one day at a time will make the project less daunting!

  • Day 1: Delete unused apps/programs
  • Day 2: Create folders for desktop/home screen
  • Day 3: Rename files and sort by hierarchy
  • Day 4: Delete and purge photos, create albums
  • Day 5: Delete old text threads/empty email inbox
  • Day 6: Manage app/program notifications
  • Day 7: Empty your trash bin/deleted folder
Digital Declutter Challenge

Books About Digital Minimalism

Books About Digital Minimalism

If you’re anything like me, you read quite a bit. For those who are looking to learn about digital minimalism and decluttering, the books below are a great place to start. There are plenty of online resources available as well, but for me, nothing beats the feeling of a good book in my hands!

10-Minute Digital Declutter

10-Min Digital Declutter

by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport

Declutter Your Data

Declutter Your Data

by Angela Crocker

Organize Your Digital Life

Organize Your Digital Life

by Aimee Baldridge


Digital Minimalism

Digital Minimalism

by Cal Newport

Digital Declutter

Digital Declutter

by D.M. Elliot

The LIfe Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Magic of Tidying Up

by Marie Kondo


Your Turn!

  • What aspect of your digital life do you want to change?
  • Is your social media making you happy?
  • How do you want your digital tools to work for you?

Tiny House Office Setup Guide: Work from Home in a Small Space

Tiny House Office Setup Guide: Work from Home in a Small Space

tiny house office

NAVIGATION

With more and more people working from home these days, I’ve been asked about my tiny house office—how do I stay productive? How do I work from home in a small space?

One of the biggest things that attracted me to tiny houses and simple living in the first place was having more control over how I worked and earned a living. I wanted the flexibility with my time that a remote job and financial freedom could bring.

But remote work from a tiny house isn’t without challenges. Planning and organization make all the difference. Here’s how I set up my tiny house office, and a realistic overview of how to create a small workspace that works!

My Tiny House Office: How I Stay Productive

How I Stay Productive in my tiny house office

I’ve been working from home for over a decade now—being self-employed, I don’t have an employer that I visit. That means I don’t have to leave my tiny house (ever) if I don’t want to. While this control over my work location is excellent, I’ve discovered over the years that working from a tiny house office is HARD.

To be totally candid, I don’t always work from my “tiny house office.” I often work from either a coffee shop or a coworking space. I like the shift of being able to go into a designated workspace when I need to be productive. But that said, it’s not always realistic. There are times when I need to work from home, like when the weather’s bad or if I only have a few things to do, so I’m free the rest of the day to spend how I see fit.

Working Remotely In A Tiny House

working remotely in a tiny house

If you live in a tiny house on wheels, you may also be working remotely from the road. The freedom and flexibility of the tiny life allow you to work from anywhere you want in the world. Plus, a tiny house means fewer bills. You can live on less. But of course, you still need to find a way to earn something, which often means working remotely in one form or another.

I know many people who switched to a work-at-home job when they downsized to a tiny house just because they wanted to change their lifestyle. Some people are willing to take significant pay cuts to enjoy that quality of life.

The thing about tiny houses is that the space is very limited, so you will rarely see a dedicated tiny house office. Often it will be a desk or workplace set up on a countertop, in a closet, or on a drop-leaf table on the wall. Because you’re trying to maximize your productivity (and minimize your work time), you must keep your tiny house office organized, no matter the setup.

Elements of a Good Tiny Home Office

elements of a good tiny house office

There are certain elements that every great office has, no matter the size. It’s essential that you incorporate these features in your tiny house office because it will make a practical, functional space. If you want to get the most accomplished and own your schedule, you’ll need to create an office space designed with everything you need.

Here’s what I suggest when you set up your small space office.

Desk or Workspace

Desk or Workspace in a tiny house

If you’re spending 8 hours a day on work, you should have a designated space to work in. Having a desk is crucial. Many people are comfortable working from a laptop on their lap for a few hours per day, but if you’re working full time, this position can begin to take a toll on your back. Generally, you’ll need a desk and perhaps even a standing desk solution so you can enjoy the benefits of healthy ergonomics while working.

You’ll need a desk that’s big enough for your computer and screen, and that is large enough to accommodate the work you do. If you use a lot of paper for your job, you may need a bigger desktop.

CHOOSE A DESK TYPE

  • Wall-mounted
  • Fold-away
  • Seated desk
  • Standing desk
  • Adjustable height desk
  • Lap desk

BUILDING A WALL-MOUNTED DESK

Making your own dropleaf desk is simple

  1. Determine the size desk you want and location.
  2. Purchase the right-size fold-down brackets.
  3. Choose your desktop material.
  4. Cut desktop material to size.
  5. Determine the height and mount brackets.
  6. Attach desktop.

Natural Light

natural light in atiny house office

I really like natural light, so I have a lot of windows in my house. Believe it or not, I have 21 windows in my 150 square foot tiny home! I also love working outside. My outdoor home office often consists of a setup on my picnic table in my patio area. I feel more focused with sunlight, and it definitely helps boost my mood.
natural light in a tiny house office