By Bob Vila

Couple unpackingThe moving trucks have rumbled away, and you’re left to contemplate the sea of boxes on the floor of your new house. The temptation is to dive right in and start putting it all away — anywhere — simply to be done with the ordeal. While it may seem tedious in the short term, taking time to develop a plan for your unpacking can definitely pay off in the long run. If you handle your unpacking correctly, you may find that your home has even more storage space than you anticipated. Given all the stress and expense of relocating, doesn’t that silver lining give you a little comfort?


People say — and I tend to agree — the kitchen is the heart of a home. So much happens here, from cooking to entertaining to the everyday business of running a household. By making intelligent use of the available storage, you can avoid feelings of frustration and ensure that the considerable time you spend in your kitchen is enjoyable and productive. A little common sense and an honest evaluation of your lifestyle can make all the difference. Here are some pointers that other homeowners have found helpful in kitchen planning:

  • To maximize usable counter space, find permanent storage elsewhere in the kitchen for items that you use daily.
  • Place rarely used appliances in the least accessible cabinets (or put these gadgets in the basement).
  • Spice drawer from DigsInstead of stacking spice jars into a cabinet, lay them on their sides in a drawer near the stove, with their labels facing up.
  • Fit food items such as olive oil and vinegar in a deep drawer, where they’re more accessible than in cabinets.
  • Position knives near the countertop closest to the sink, because that’s where food prep most often takes place.
  • Keep cooking utensils (spatulas, whisks and wooden spoons) within an arm’s reach of the stovetop.
  • If you have space above your upper cabinets, stow a row of storage baskets filled with equipment that is used only occasionally.
  • Store long, flat items (for example, cutting boards and baking sheets) upright, as they’re easier to retrieve this way.


Every inch counts in the bathroom, where homeowners are constantly coping with constricting square footage. Before you get too comfortable in your new house, follow these steps to make your bathroom more accommodating:

  • Add a towel rack to your shopping list if there isn’t already a set of hooks on the back of the door.
  • Above the door, mount a shelf for extra toiletries, clean towels and miscellaneous supplies.
  • Group small items in labeled baskets and place them in the drawers or cabinets of your sink vanity.
  • In a shower stall that lacks ledges for shampoo and body wash, invest in a caddy that hangs from the shower head.
  • Add a new cabinet above the toilet if you need more storage and it works with the design of your bathroom.

Linen closet

Linen closet from DigsDid the linen closet become a chaotic catchall in your old house? Now is the time to rescue it from that same fate in your new digs. To keep a linen closet organized and functional, designate it as storage for essential, frequently used items. Some must-haves worth stashing there include:

  • Light bulbs and flashlights
  • Toilet paper and assorted toiletries
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Board games
  • Wrapping paper

Meanwhile, store sheets and blankets in plastic storage containers under the bed they’re used for. You may be surprised at how much space you free up by doing so.

Common areas

The entryway and living room aren’t typically seen as important storage zones, but these are the places where clutter often accumulates. The solution for many homeowners is to invest in multifunctional furniture. Some useful pieces worth considering are:

  • Storage benches: In the foyer, place a bench with a hinged seat that opens to reveal several cubic feet of storage space for shoes, bags, baseball gloves and other items that family members tend to drop at the doorstep.
  • Storage ottomans: These are great for the living room, because they hide unsightly doodads like DVD cases and your growing collection of remote controls.


You can close the garage door and forget, temporarily, the jumble it contains. Or, you can take a breath, assess your needs and outfit your garage with storage solutions that work for you. Think about these useful strategies:

  • Garage storage from DigsFree up floor space by installing racks along the walls for everything you can hang from a hook.
  • Group together items that you use at the same time. For instance, shovels, rakes and garden hoes should be near each other.
  • Install shelving to support bins, and fill them with the little things that are prone to getting lost.
  • Cluster frequently used items near the door and position seasonal items in the least accessible spots.

Take your time; don’t rush to unpack. You have years to enjoy your new home. Remember that by making the effort to put things in the right place the first time around, you are saving yourself the hassle of having to reorganize six months down the road.


Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.


About the Author

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila's Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

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