If you're anything like us, you live in a constant state of wishing that you were more organized, while living in some sort of delicately controlled chaos (think: your apartment looks put-together, but don't open the second cabinet on the right...). You've tried trips to the Container Store, coming up with some Pinterest-fueled system of color-coding your clothes, and you even purchased a label maker (because that seems like something organized people have).
Yet, somehow, you just always end up giving up halfway through, overwhelmed and convinced you don't have enough time to do it right. You know, you'll do that closet purge in the dead of winter when you're not missing out on valuable summer fun, or maybe next spring when "everyone else" is spring cleaning.
Here's the thing: the more you keep putting off that closet purge or bathroom organization, the more it's going to feel insurmountable. Which brings us to: moving in with your significant other. If you thought organizing for yourself was hard, how about trying to suddenly share closets (gasp!), combine cooking tools, linens, books, collections of knick knacks—the list is seemingly endless.
Before you have a total meltdown just thinking about the inevitable combining of living spaces (or even if you're already living with your partner but still haven't quite figured out a system), we have some great news for you! We talked to Jen Robin, the founder of Life in Jeneral (the amazing professional organizing company) about her favorite tips and tricks for streamlining your new home, plus some tips she has about organizing your life during the wedding planning process (because the planning of a wedding can unhinge even the most organized of us).
Robin used to be a celebrity executive assistant before she started Life in Jeneral, and said one of her favorite parts of her job came from moving one of her celebrity clients several times into new homes. "They were shocked that I actually enjoyed the process of packing them up and organizing them in their new home," Robin says. Yeah we get it, no need to brag.
Hers first (and honestly, perhaps most important) piece of advice about combining your spaces? Compromise. "That's a word you may hear a lot during this period in life, but for good reason," she says. We couldn't agree more! So without further ado, here are Robin's 5 expert tips for organizing your home as a couple.
1. Create a wedding binder/area
"There are so many details and moving parts when it comes to planning a wedding, so it's very important to keep everything in one place. Use tabs and sheet protectors to separate all vendor information, payment information, dates, guest list, details, and to-do lists so you know where everything is. Designate one area in your home to keep all wedding details so nothing gets misplaced."
2. Discard duplicate items
"When moving in and/or combining spaces with your significant other, the probability of having duplicate items is pretty high. Go through all your items together, one space at a time and create bins labeled with Donate, Sell, or Toss. Start by pulling everything out of each space and combining like items so you have an idea as to how much you have of each item(s). This is also a great time to make a list as of what you want to replace so it can be added to your registry."
3. Registry purge
"One of the many wonderful things about getting married is the gift registry! This is also a great time for purge #2. Once you receive all the new items, donate/toss the items that were meant to be replaced."
4. Space plan ahead
"We create functional and efficient spaces for everyone in the home. Consider daily routines and efficiency when setting up rooms. For example, if you're setting up a kitchen for a shorter person, keep daily use dishes on lower shelves for accessibility. Glassware and chemicals should be kept higher or in childproof areas. Spices should be in close proximity to the stove or prep area for chefs (even amateur ones). Consider each space and its functionality as the two of you adjust to cohabitation, and create systems and flows that work for everyone.
We also recommend using sticky notes to differentiate where things should go before you actually put them away. Now that you have gone through everything, you should have an idea of the total quantity of items, so you can plan how things will fit and where. This will save time and energy and help you create a good flow within your space."
5. Keep things separate, but cohesive
"We are all for condensing and combining to create efficient systems, but we also believe in having your own space, especially when it comes to closets and dressers. Designate your own closets/sides but throughout the whole closet:
- Use the same slim hangers
- Use the same or matching bins
- Color code clothing from light to dark
- Shirts on top rack, pants/shorts on the bottom
- Fold items the same way if exposed (tuck sleeves in, fold halfway)"