Ask Deborah: Organizing Small Spaces

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Parent’s organizing questions to help role-model organizing to their kids!


Q: “Help! My house is really tiny! What is your advise on the best way to organize an area without much space?”

Shelia, mom of 2 boys: 4 and  6,  Glendale, CA

A: Organizing a small space requires a lot of hard decision making. It forces you to par down to life’s essentials and be able to look creatively at your space. It’s a process that takes time, but once you do one space, it will get easier with each new space that you tackle!

When you look at a space, especially a small space (like a tiny kitchen) you need to tackle it with the 5 W’s.

WHAT is this space being used for? WHAT is not working here?

WHEN do you use it the most?

WHERE is the best place for everything to go?

WHO is primarily using this space?

WHY does it need to be organized? WHY change it?

Real estateOnce you understand the needs and function of your space then you can start looking at all the “stuff” that you want to go into that space. Start asking the same questions about the stuff: WHAT is it? WHEN do I use this? WHERE should I put it? WHO uses this? WHY keep it? If you don’t use something often, maybe it doesn’t have to “live” in that space, but can be put somewhere else and then taken out when you need it. This works for seasonal things or things you use occasionally.

If you never use it, then it’s time to get rid of it! This is where you have to make the hard decisions and bite the bullet, accept your reality for now. For example, if you never really bake these days, then all the baking supplies can go in a bin and be stored somewhere else. But if you don’t have the space anywhere else, then consider accepting the fact that you don’t ever bake and you just don’t have the room to store it, then give them away! We usually hold onto the “idea” of wishful thinking, “I wish I could bake more!” but then every time you open that cabinet and see your baking supplies it reminds you of the time you don’t have for that! Basic Feng Shui. Get rid of it and feel good about your space!

What you are role-modeling is that there is a reason for everything in your home. If you don’t use it, you lose it! If everything around them has a function and is needed, your kids begin to really see things and appreciate what they do have in their space. You have less mess because things are not overflowing for lack of space, which means less stress, because your small spaces feel good instead of stuffed! A win-win for everyone!

Deborah Kawashima, C.P.O. a certified professional organizer, founded her company, Creative Organizer in 2004 after working in the fashion industry as a children’s wear designer. Growing up her parents owned Montessori schools,  this natural sense of order influences her approach to organizing, Deborah specializes in working with parents and their kids, focusing on helping parents role model organizational and time management skills to their children. In addition to working with her clients, she is currently a life skills instructor at  UCLA extension Pathway, a unique program for college age students who are developmentally challenged (autism, Asperger’s Disorder etc.).

Got questions? Email her:

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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