How to Organize Clutter in a Small House


If you have a lot of items in your home but not a lot of space to put everything, the house can easily become overwhelming without the proper decluttering and organizing system in place.

Clutter happens when there are too many items in the home. This can be exaggerated when the home is smaller because less items will be able to fit into the home. Find items to donate or sell prior to organizing. Then create an organized system that will work well for the layout of the house.

People tend to collect more items than they need, but it’s not worth the stress of having too much and not being able to fully enjoy your home.

Now let’s dig into where to start decluttering, how to maximize the space that you have in your home, and where you can create space when it seems that you don’t have enough.

Where to Start Decluttering in a Small House

Before you can organize anything, you will need to get the clutter under control.

The steps below will help you identify some common issues in the home:

  1. Take a quick scan through your home to find areas where items tend to pile up. These are the areas that you should tackle first.
  2. Grab a garbage bag to put any clothing to donate into, a garbage bin for anything that is clearly garbage, and several boxes for items that you want to donate or sell.
  3. Begin going through the piles to see what type of items you are allowing to pile up. Determine what the biggest pain point is.

    If you are finding that a lot of clothes are piling up, why is that?

    Piles of clothes typically mean that you have too many. So it may be time to go through your clothing (both the piles and in your bedroom) to see what you can donate.

    You may be allowing clean clothes to pile up because you don’t feel like folding them and putting them away. However, this will just cause more stress later.

    Anything that you don’t care enough to put away is likely not something you are going to wear again. So these items should just be donated.

    Don’t use furniture to hold dirty clothes.

    If you are wanting to wear something again, hang it up in a spot designated for clothing that has only been worn once. This should be in your bedroom on hooks or a small area in your closet.
don't let clothing pile up on furniture
  1. If it is documents that are piling up, see what it is. Is it newspapers, flyers, magazines?

    Do you look through the newspapers and flyers? If not, just recycle them right away.

    Otherwise, get a bin or a magazine rack to put things that you still want to look through. This way the clutter is at least contained and not piling up on your kitchen table or counter.

    This bin should only store items for 1 week at the most, or it will get to a point that it is overflowing and not serving its purpose.

    If you haven’t looked at last week’s newspaper yet, you likely won’t. So just recycle it.

    Take time to go through bills immediately and at least write on a calendar when the bill is due. Then put those into a designated area in your home for bills to pay.
  1. Once you can see where the biggest issues are in your home, you can begin working through those areas.

    Get rid of anything that you don’t need or love. If you are finding multiples of items, do you really need multiple? Or did you accidentally buy more because you didn’t realize you already had the item?

    If you don’t really need that many, get rid of the excess.
  1. After getting rid of excess clutter, you can slowly work your way through the rest of the house to see what else you can donate, sell, or throw away.

    If you don’t use it, love it, or need it, get rid of it.

    I have another post that gives a great timeline for how often to declutter. You should be decluttering often to make sure you are only keeping what you love.

How to Maximize Space in a Small House

Now that you only have what you love and use all of the time, you can start creating solutions to organize the remaining areas.

When you don’t have a lot of space to store items in your home, you will need to get creative.

cube shelving to create storage in vertical wall space

Use the Vertical Wall Space Throughout Your Home

One thing that people often forget about is that walls are usually 8 ft tall at a minimum and that vertical space can be used to store plenty of items.

You may need a ladder to reach everything towards the top, but it will at least be contained and organized!

Ikea has a great cube organizer option that looks beautiful and can store plenty of bins, books, decor, etc.

Or a cheaper option would be these cube organizers from Amazon. They are stackable, so you can create a similar look and still have lots of vertical organization.

This unit also comes in different sizes to fit your space.

Shelves can also be attached to the walls at different heights to provide space to put bins or items that can stand on their own.

Before deciding on any organizing products, make sure to measure any available spaces that you have in your home to see what products would fit the best.

You may find that you have more space than you realized and could fit a larger unit to store more items.

Install hooks on the walls for hats, ties, toy storage, coats, etc. There are also clips you can buy that your mops, brooms, and such can snap into so that they are off the floor and more contained.

Bins for Storing Many Different Items

Bins are perfect for storing many items and should be used to contain similar items, which will make it easier to find what you are looking for.

Cube bins come in many different sizes and cube organizers are also not all equal. So make sure when purchasing the bins that you get the correct size.

You may want bins in closets as well. These can go on a shelf above your clothing. Just make sure that the bin will not overhang the shelf.

For this area, long clear bins fit well, allowing you to see what is stored up high, and uses a lot of the shelf while still keeping items contained.

This is a great area for wrapping paper, extra shoes, off-season clothing, or storing printed photos.

Even in a bathroom, bins are great for organizing items in a vanity. For drawer units, you can either buy many small, short bins to organize many different items.

Or you could get a kit that is usually meant to organize pens, markers, erasers, etc. in a desk drawer. These work really well for sorting hair ties, brushes, makeup, toothpaste, floss, and much more.

Creating New Spaces in the Home

In bathrooms make sure to use the area above the toilet. This can be done with either simple shelving or there are units that fit around the toilet that have shelving above the toilet.

This makes much better use of the vertical space in the room and is great if you are lacking vanity storage.

Another option is to get basic shelves and hang 3-4 shelves one on top of the other with approximately 12″ in between.

You can easily fit bins on the shelves to keep items that you don’t want on display hidden but yet still organized.

Or maybe there are some pretty bathroom items that you would like to display. Shelves are simple to install, and they don’t need to be anything fancy. Just paint some wood white and hang them up.

Compress Items That Are Soft

For items that can be compressed, like outwear, clothes, sheets, towels, comforters, pillows, etc., get the Ziploc Space Bags.

To use a Space Bag, you just put the items into the bag and then suck the air out of the bag with a vacuum.

You will be amazed at how much this compresses the items.

Then the bags can be stacked in a closet or pushed under your bed. Then they are out of the way until you need them again.

There are different-sized Space Bags, so make sure you are buying the bags that will fit what you intend to compress.

The bag instructions also provide guidelines on how much you can expect to fit into a bag.

I would recommend getting this kit to start with. It comes with different sizes so that you can test out which size would work best for your needs.

Read here for the benefits of being organized.

How Do You Organize If You Have No Space?

Do you really have no space? Or does it just seem really tight?

We often overlook spaces that are already existing in the home but that isn’t clear because it’s hard to imagine something in a currently blank space or an area that is already being used for something else.

Use Closets to Organize Many Different Items

Are there any closets in your home that aren’t being fully used? Think clothing closets, coat closets, linen closets, utility closets, etc.

Your closets don’t only have to be used for their typical intended purpose.

Maybe you don’t have a lot of clothes, so your clothing closet is half empty and you just have wasted space on the left side.

Closets are a great space to put a shelf above the clothing rods if there isn’t one there already.

This shelf can be used to hold pretty bins to organize off-season clothing, extra toilet paper, shampoo, soap, toys, shoes, Christmas decorations, etc. Really anything that you have lots of that you want out of sight.

If you have space in the bottom of a closet, you could get a cube organizer and slide it into the closet. Or if you have a dresser that isn’t being used, this could go into the closet for extra storage.

You can also build shelving in the closet that fits bins and larger items.

Label the front of the bins so that you can quickly determine what is inside. This will make it easier to put things back where they belong later and avoid future clutter.

store items above clothing in closet

Finding Other Unused Spaces in Your Home

  1. If you live in a small home, you would have an area for your furnace, sump pump, water softener, etc. Often these spaces are larger than they need to be and you could create shelving in there to store sporting equipment, Christmas decor, winter outerwear, etc.
  2. Is there any wasted space in your kitchen? You could put a microwave cart in the kitchen to put your microwave on top of, which will clear some space from your countertop. Then the bottom of the microwave stand could hold pantry items or dishes.

    Now that you have space on your countertop, you could put items such as spices, extra dishes, or mugs on the countertop. There are plenty of organizing solutions that look beautiful while allowing you to store these items directly on the counter.
  1. Another often forgotten area is under your bed. There is a lot of space available under many beds to store toys, shoes, off-season clothing, dishes that don’t get used a lot, and so much more.

    I have another post that provides some great options for underbed storage that will keep your items safe and free of dust. Plus they make it easy to slide everything under the bed and pull it back out when you need it.

    Nobody will even realize the underbed storage bins are there and it will keep similar items organized in one space.
  1. Another space that could be used more effectively is doors. There are many over the door organizers that are typically made to hang up shoes that could be used to store many other items.

    I have used these for storing towels, washclothes, and extra bathroom necessities. They could also store jewelry, clothing, extra cables, small electronics, make-up, toys. Anything small enough to fit into the slots can be stored and it takes very little space out of the room.

If you are struggling with perfectionism when organizing, you may have a hard time seeing how to get your small home organized. Remember though, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just see what space you have to work with, measure, and do your best.

In Summary

Living in a small home doesn’t have to mean that you can’t have everything that you love in the home. Sometimes it just takes a bit of creativity to come up with areas in your home that aren’t being fully used. Then creating a storage solution for the items that you still want and use.

This can be done without spending a lot of money. Just try to get everything off of the floor and contained. Keeping similar items contained in one bin will make it easier to find what you are looking for going forward.

If you are still struggling to stay organized, check out my post that provides reasons that may be holding you back from having an organized home.

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