I don’t know too many people who grew up understanding how to organize your bedroom. As a kid, I figured I’d eventually learn how, just as I’d eventually learn to drive. Then, in my early 20s, my mother came to visit me in my first apartment and just about had a heart attack when she saw my bedroom.
It’s not that I didn’t know how to organize a bedroom, it’s that I didn’t understand why I should bother. I was usually out so late at night that I was only home long enough to switch into my nightgown and turn off the light.
But marriage and motherhood made me realize just how essential it is to have a restful room of my own where I didn’t have to move toys aside before going to sleep. The busier life is, the more necessary it is that you learn how to organize your bedroom and take the time to do it. You deserve a place to relax!
How To Organize Your Bedroom
The trick to organizing is to understand that it’s not the same thing as cleaning, though if your room is a mess you might need to clean it before you can organize it.
Note: The following routine is a simplified, shorter version of the one you’ll find in my book, 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House. If you want a thorough organization that includes your closet and dresser, along all of the other rooms in your home, the book is the place to start.
Get Rid of the Clutter
1. Tidy up. Dirty clothes and shoes usually make up the bulk of bedroom clutter, though they shouldn’t. Dirty clothes should go straight to a laundry hamper as you undress. (I like this one because it lets me sort my clothes as I remove them.) Shoes belong on the floor of the closet or in a shoe organizer. Take care of both things before moving on to the next steps.
2. Grab bags. You need three boxes or bags to dispose of clutter. Label them TRASH, DONATE and RETURN.
3. Pick up trash. Grabbing the TRASH bag, pick up all food wrappers, magazines, wads of tissue, etc. and throw them away. Glance in your nightstand and dresser drawers as you work the room left-to-right, and toss any trash you find there, too. Put this bag outside the bedroom door.
4. Collect. Go through your room again to gather things you no longer find useful or worth keeping. That yard-high Hurricane Glass from Mardi Gras during college, for example, or the pair of jeans you’ve tried on nine times and dropped on the floor — you know, the ones you haven’t been able to zip in the last two years. Go through your drawers and pull out clothing or accessories you no longer wear, too. Put all of these things into the DONATE bag and set it outside the bedroom door.
5. Move it. Do one last pass through the room to gather items that belong elsewhere: your kids’ toys, your empty travel mug, the dog’s leash. Put the into the RETURN bag and set it outside the bedroom door.
6. Wrap it up. Toss the trash, put the donation bag in the trunk of your car, and return items to their proper locations before you move on to the next step!
Organize What’s Left
Now that you’ve cleared away the clutter, it’s time to look at practical ways to organize what remains. This means finding convenient ways to store things you intend to keep in your room. For some, that may be DVDs or books, while others living in smaller places might need to use their bedroom for extra storage.
Whichever situation you’re in, the key to organizing what’s in your bedroom is to create a permanent place for everything.
1. Vertical storage. You can’t have too many shelves, particularly if you’re short on space elsewhere in the house. Even if you don’t have a lot of blank wall space, there are still great places for shelves. Consider placing one over your door or windows, or even a set of narrow shelves above your headboard. Corner shelving works, too!
Need inspiration? Check out these fantastic shelving examples.
2. Use hidden space. While many people opt to store out-of-season clothing beneath the bed, I find this area is more suitable to items you want access to regularly like gift wrap, photography equipment, or even bulk purchases from Costco. To make this space usable, look for clear containers with lids, so the contents stay dust-free. You can also install risers to lift your bed to create more storage space.
3. Use dead space. An over-the-door holder lets you store robes and pajamas in an otherwise empty spot. Lidded storage containers can be tipped on their end and slid between your headboard and wall to hold extra sheets and blankets.
4. Choose wisely. I’m not a big fan of baskets as storage options. They look attractive at first, but over time they collect dust, which is something you want to minimize in your bedroom. Worse yet, I’ve seen too many people buy baskets to help them get organized and a month later they’re using those baskets as catch-alls for clutter. That’s not organizing — it’s dumping. If you love the thought of baskets, consider using attractive labels to indicate their contents (and to keep you from tossing things in there willy-nilly).
Think in Zones
We do a lot of things in our bedrooms: relax, read, sleep. Some of us get dressed and put on our makeup or do our hair in the bedroom rather than tying up the bathroom. To make life easier, and to help your bedroom stay organized, think about creating zones for different purposes.
Reading: If you’re a bed-reader, a bedside organizer caddy can free up space on your nightstand while keeping your glasses and favorite book handy. Prefer reading in a chair? Make sure you’ve got a clutter-free table for your book and a good reading light, then banish other clutter from that spot.
Dressing: If you tend to dress and undress in your bedroom instead of the bathroom or closet, you’ll want a full-length mirror so you can check out your OOTD. A wall hook to hold your purse and a jewelry organizer nearby are nice touches, too. (Check out these great ideas for jewelry organization.)
Sleeping: Obviously, a bedroom is for sleeping, but there are bound to be things you need to help get a good night’s sleep. If you use a CPAP machine, for instance, you’ll want to keep your supplies in your nightstand, so they’re easily accessible. Consider adding a decorative wall hook next to your bed to hold your mask. (I use this fun elephant head hook for mine.) Other items to keep in or on your nightstand might include tissues, hand lotion, spare glasses, and a water carafe.
Keep It Organized
Once you’ve put the time into organizing your bedroom, don’t let it fall to pieces because you’re too busy. Along with a weekly cleaning routine, spend five minutes a day to do the following, and your room will stay organized.
- Make your bed. Doing it daily can change your life. If nothing else, your room will look cleaner.
- Put away clothes and shoes. Dirty clothes go in the hamper and clean clothes (and shoes) in the closet.
- Put other stuff away. Tuck your book in the bedside caddy, the lotion into your nightstand, etc. Leave horizontal surfaces clutter-free.
- Take dishes to the kitchen. Empty water glasses, coffee mugs, and tea cups make a room look messy.
Once you know how to organize your bedroom and keep it clutter-free, you’ll find your room can finally become a peaceful, relaxing sanctuary. For that matter, you might find yourself sleeping better, too!