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Tame the chaos: Tips for organizing your pantry & closet

Marquette Reddam

After spending 17 years proudly representing the public school districts of Texas, Marquette retired from the practice of law in 2016 to give her left...

After spending 17 years proudly representing the public school districts of Texas, Marquette retired from the practice of law in 2016 to give her left...

Jan 12 8 minutes read

The holidays are over, the kids are finally back to school, and our house looks like a glitter bomb exploded leaving random sparkles and bits of paper and ribbon everywhere.  Lots of travel and special events have left my closet a mess, and hosting guests meant we accumulated a lot of kitchen pantry items that added to the clutter.  Chaos clearly had its way during the holidays... 

Today I rolled up my sleeves and got to work taming the chaos.   Here are four practical tips for tackling your kitchen pantry and personal closet organization.  If you are thinking of selling your Austin home, these pantry and closet suggestions will be paramount as you prepare your home to go on the market.


We have a small closet-like pantry, and it can easily get over-stuffed as everyone in the family just piles things inside, closes the door, and hopes for the best.  As you can imagine, it makes it hard to find what we need when we need it. 

As a starting point, I like to take everything out of the pantry so that I have a clean space to work with.  Starting with empty shelves also helps me break my habits and figure out a better way to group things.  For example, I drink hot tea every morning, so why is it on the top shelf where I have to get a stool to reach it? 

As you empty the space, sort through each pantry item and get rid of anything you don't need or haven't used in the last year. This could be expired food or spices, half-eaten boxes of snacks, or anything else that's just taking up space.  That special salsa someone gave you as a gift last year, but you never opened?  Time to toss it or donate it to a local food bank.  And remember to recycle containers when you can!

The same idea applies to your closet.  Go through each piece of clothing.  Clothes with stains, items that no longer fit, or outfits that you haven't worn in ages can be recycled or donated.  See how much free rod space you end up with after getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn in a year.  You will revel in being able to easily slide your remaining clothes on the rod, and putting clothes away won’t seem like such a chore.


Once you've purged any unnecessary pantry items, it's time to start organizing the things you're keeping. There are lots of organization approaches, but I like to organize items by category. For example, in the pantry I put all the baking supplies together, all the pastas in one section, all the school snacks in one bin, all the canned goods together, and so on. This makes it easy to find what you need as you’re cooking and also makes it easy to see when you're running low on a particular item.

Once you have an idea of your general organization categories, you can group similar items together in storage bins or containers.  During the pandemic I took the leap and started decanting shelf-stable items into rectangular glass canisters, and I also started using clear acrylic bins to coral things.  This way, you can easily see what's inside and quickly find what you're looking for.  I was dubious at first (why take something out of one container just to put it in another?), but now I love having everything in similarly-sized stackable containers that let me maximize the vertical space on my limited shelves and allow me to see how close I am to running out of something.

You can label each bin or container with a simple label maker or even with a piece of masking tape and a marker.  I take the lazy route and cut off the label from the original food box and slide it into the front of the storage container.  This method allows me to know exactly what brand or type of item to re-order when I’m running low.

For my closet, I organize my clothes by type:  dress shirts, casual shirts, pants, jeans, dresses, and so on.  Within each clothing category I further sort the clothes by color, and then by sleeve length.  It helps me quickly browse through my options based on both the weather and the occasion.  As a bonus, it is easy to tell if my wardrobe lacks clothes of a specific color.


When it comes to organization, vertical space is your best friend. Utilize the height of your pantry and closet by installing temporary shelf extensions or hanging organizers. This will give you more room to store things and make it easier to see everything at a glance. 

Here’s an example.  I used to get so frustrated pulling out my baking pans because the shelf was a random mess of oddly-sized cake pans, muffin tins, cooling racks, and more.  I added a small, hanging shelf extender that’s sized just right for the muffin tins, so now I don’t have to wrestle with so many pieces when it’s time for me to bake a cake.  Yes, it’s a minor thing but now I don’t dread pulling out my baking rack.

The same idea works in your closet.  I’ve added hooks or knobs to almost all available spaces.  It allows me to hang an outfit in view as I consider what to wear for the day, my hats are hung up high above the closet doorway where they won’t get trampled, and I even have hooks for belts and purses.  Decorative cabinet knobs work great and look cute too!  I also tend to stack my folded clothes too high, causing a messy avalanche; acrylic dividers added to the top shelf of my closet keep my stacks tidy and straight.


I hate to admit it, but the laundry often piles up on my closet chair for weeks before I get around to putting it away.  And sometimes when it’s time to put away things in the pantry, I get lazy and just shove items on any open space.  Sigh.

Of course, it would be better to put things back in their designated spots after use. But that’s just not who I am.  So instead I plan on doing a pantry and closet clean out a few times a year.  You know your own strengths (and weaknesses) so plan accordingly!


I tried several organizational tools before finding some I like.  In hopes it’s helpful to you, I’ve linked them all here on our Amazon page.  I've personally tried and tested all of these.  And if you have a favorite organization tool, I want to hear about it!  

Whatever organization route you take, the key is to make it easy and simple to maintain.  And remember, these tips are great for decluttering your home when you're getting ready to sell.  Cheers to having a more organized and functional home in the new year!


Marquette Reddam, Director of Operations

[email protected]


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