When Kendra Huston was pregnant with her fourth child, she looked at her home’s chaotic basement toy room and decided there had to be a better way.
She created a process to keep the toy room and other parts of her home organized and then realized she wanted to share her discoveries with others.
“Just going through that process, I thought, I can’t be the only one who is struggling with this,” the Holdrege, Neb., mom said. “I want to help others through that overwhelming process.”
Kendra channeled her passion for organizing into a business now called Solutions. For the past ten years, she has helped families create order and peace in their homes as a professional organizer and home decorator.
Not all people thrive or feel peaceful in a clutter-free home, Kendra said. She worked with one mom who felt that if all the toys were out at the end of the day, it was the sign of a good day.
She emphasizes that there’s no right or wrong way to organize and that each family needs to discover what works best for them.
But for Kendra, she has discovered that creating a clutter-free and organized home allows her to focus more on people.
“For me, calming the chaos then frees me up to focus on relationships,” she said. “My goal is to create a home that welcomes you, away from the crazy, where the focus can be on nurturing relationships.”
For moms who are tired of losing papers and shoes and also want to create a more organized home, Kendra has solutions. For starters, she recommends tackling cluttered areas of the home with the five P’s process:
1. Pull everything out.
2. Purge anything that you aren’t using and toss, donate or sell. She doesn’t encourage keeping items for a garage sale. “If you are not passionate about garage sales, I say just donate it because then it’s out of your house.”
3. Pile belongings into similar categories (i.e. baking supplies, canned goods, cleaning supplies – for a kitchen.) Then you can see how much space you need for each category, which helps with the next step.
4. Plan out where items will be stored.
5. Protect the plan by putting things away each time you are finished using them.
This system works well for the initial organizing or problem areas, such as toy rooms, closets and storage rooms.
Kendra often refers to advice of 19th century poet and textile designer William Morris when tackling an organization project.
“’Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,’” Morris stated. “And, I always include things that are meaningful, too.” Kendra said. “To see real progress, you need to be willing to get rid of some things. Otherwise, you are just moving around your stuff.”
Kendra said if it’s a struggle to organize a space, enlist the help of a friend or professional organizer.
After creating order and clearing clutter in parts of the home, Kendra recommends creating daily routines and systems to protect those spaces.
“My goal is not for to strive for perfection,” Kendra said, “but for each person to make their home a place they love and that brings them peace and joy.”
Below are 10 tips that have worked for Kendra and her family to create a calm and peaceful home:
Don’t Let Mail Pile Up. Kendra said if mail piles up for a few days, it can become a monumental mental block for her. Each day when she gathers the mail, she stands by the trash can and throws away everything that is not needed. She files bills, recipes and articles she wants to read later into labeled files in a kitchen drawer. She places invitations in her calendar and jots down important dates right away.
Create a Laundry Process. Kendra’s process for laundry includes having her children wash their own laundry. Each of her four children began doing their laundry at around age 10. Another tip for laundry is to take care of it right away. “It’s super important to me that when the clothes are dry, take care of them so it’s not one of those things hanging over your head. Plus, when you leave clothes in the basket, they get wrinkled, and then you’ve created more work.” Clients have hired Kendra to help create efficient laundry systems to simplify their lives.
Place Baskets or Containers In Bedrooms For Dirty Clothes. Kendra encourages making decisions on whether clothes need to be washed right away and either put them in the basket to be laundered or hang them back up.
Clean Up After Meals Right Away. “We take care of everything from the meal before we leave the room,” Kendra said. “If we leave the kitchen after having supper without cleaning up, it’s 10 times harder to walk back into the room and face it. It’s just part of our routine. After each meal, we get the mess cleaned up and ideally, wipe the counters. I guess I’m all about not coming back to an old mess because it’s just harder.”
Allow A Kitchen Junk Drawer But Use Dividers. “Give yourself a junk drawer. Give yourself two junk drawers,” Kendra said, but just make sure to place dividers or trays in the drawers to keep items contained. “Not perfection, just contain it.”
Create A Dedicated Entry Area System. Kendra recommends placing simple baskets or containers near the entry area for kids to toss their shoes, hats and gloves into and some simple hooks for coats and bags. She also recommends placing a chair or bench near the door to make it easier for kids and guests to remove or put on shoes.
Make The Bed Every Day. “The first thing I do every day is make my bed,” Kendra said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s amazing the difference in how it makes your room look.”
Set a Daily Routine for Clean-Up. Whether that time is right after the kids leave for school or having a family clean-up time for 15 minutes before bed, a small amount of effort each day helps keep an organized home. “We take a few minutes every day to keep up,” Kendra said. “So when we wake up tomorrow, we won’t be dealing with yesterday’s mess. Today will create enough messes of its own.”
Use Trays, Containers or Canisters To Create Order. Salt and pepper shakers and napkins look more organized on a kitchen table if they are on a tray than if just scattered about random. The same goes for remote controls (put them in a basket), jewelry on a bedroom dresser (put them on a tray) or bathroom necessities (put them on a decorative mirror). “If I just put things on a tray, it looks purposeful and maybe a little decorative,” Kendra said.
Prepare Kids For Clean-Up: On the way home from school or a road trip, giving younger kids a little reminder before arriving home can help. “OK, kids when you get home, empty your school papers and hang up your book bags and coats,” can save the family from messes later on. Or, “pick up all trash from the car before you leave the vehicle,” makes it more enjoyable to get in the car next time. She recommends placing a small trash can in the vehicle.
For more organization advice, connect with Kendra at: