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How to Get Organized Before a Move or Renovation

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As a professional organizer, I’m often asked what season is our busiest. While every season has a reason to be busy (i.e. back to school, holiday prep, spring cleaning, etc.), we always see an influx of questions and requests related to upcoming moving and house renovation projects. Last week we kicked off the official first days of summer with a two-week packing/unpacking/organizing project, and we’re looking forward to helping other busy families with moves, renovations, and overall home organization projects over the next several months.

We have found that the summer months are when the kids are out of school, the weather is nice, schedules are slightly altered, and many people focus on the bigger projects that have been building up, like home moves or renovation projects that have been the to-do lists.

Whether you’re in the process of preparing for a move or renovation or have one coming up in the future, there are some things that you can start thinking about NOW to make the process easier. Check out some of my favorite tips below.



  • Choose how you will move. Your budget will help to make this decision for you, but it’s important to figure out how involved in the process you want to be/need to be. If you are doing it yourself, you’ll need to give yourself extra time to do buy the supplies and carve out time in your schedule to pack and unpack. If you’re hiring movers then we recommend getting a couple of quotes to compare prices and level of involvement that they offer.
  • Know your options. In our experience, moving companies are pretty flexible with their involvement, you just have to know to ask for their options. Most companies offer everything from DIY packing to full service options,which are: (1) they drop off supplies in advance to let you pack on your own, (2) they just pack the big stuff and breakables (like TVs, art, and china), (3) pack the entire house, and (4) pack everything and then unpack everything and remove the boxes from your home.
  • Think about storage. Think about where you will be storing your larger items and boxes during a renovation. Does the moving company have a storage facility you can use? Do you need to look for other storage companies in the area? Will you need access to any of the stuff you put in storage throughout your renovation?
  • Map out your floor plan. Before you pack, think about your future space and what will fit. Will your future living room fit your existing couch? Will your utility shelving unit fit in your new garage? Are you downsizing and no longer need guest bedroom furniture? Make a plan to dispose of or sell these items so you aren't stuck dealing with it on the other end when space is limited.
  • Declutter. Choose one room to focus on at a time and touch every item in that room to determine how it should be categorized. Remember: while the item might not take up much room in a box, you will eventually have to find a place for it in your new home. If it's not something you need, love, or use on a regular basis, let it go. Go through every room in the house and categorize all items: KEEP, DONATE, CONSIGN, and TRASH. Set a "donation date" during the last month leading up to the move out date. Schedule for a donation pick-up or carve time out of your schedule to drop off items at a local donation center. Make appointments to consign your clothing, furniture, or other household goods way before your move out date.
  • Inventory. When you pack a "miscellaneous" box it likely will remain a "miscellaneous box" after your move, tucked away in the corner of a room because its contents are too daunting to put away. Take the time to categorize items and keep like with like when it comes to packing a box, creating a detailed inventory so that you know where to find what you're looking for without having to dig through each box.
  • Create a packing system. Assign each room a color using colored tape (i.e. kitchen=red, bathroom =blue, etc.) to make it super easy for everyone involved to know where the boxes should go as they are being brought back into your home or new house. For categories that can include multiple rooms (bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, etc.), we recommend adding the specific room name next to the tape. So, if you want to label the Master Bathroom box you would use blue tape and the text “Bath-Master” to signify where the box should go in the unloading process. Take it one step further by numbering each box (so blue tape, “Bath-Master” #1). As you prepare for the move and are creating your inventory list make sure to add a “Room” and “Number” column. Add the details (Bath Master-#1) next to the items on your inventory list that are packed inside so that when you are looking for a specific item (like your coffee pot, socks, band-aids) during your unpacking you don’t have to open each and every box to find it.

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