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Keep vs. throw: Your guide to organising the new place

By George Hadgelias

You’ve sorted and packed up your old home, and now it’s time to get it unpacked in the new one.

With such a mammoth task ahead of you, how do you know where to start? What needs to be tended to first? What do you do if your old stuff doesn’t quite fit in your new home?

We spoke to professional organiser Robyn Amott to gather her tips on unpacking and organising your new home.

Pack to unpack

When packing, think about how you’ll be unpacking those items in your new home. This typically means keeping like items together.

“Pack by category or by location of where you want things to go,” Robyn advises. “If you have a shelf in your cupboard that is all bakeware, pack all that together so it can be unpacked together at the new house.”

Mapping out where your items will go in your new house will be a huge help when it comes to planning your packing and ultimately your unpacking. This brings us to…

Make a plan

Don’t rock up to your new home with all your boxes and no idea of where everything should go. Robyn likes to map a plan to ensure she can accommodate everything, which also makes the unpacking process much easier.

“Definitely do a literal map out of the space and make sure you know where things are going to go. This includes measuring all your furniture and appliances,” she says.

Drawing out your space to scale is perhaps the most reliable way to go about this step, but you could also make lists of items to go in each space, marking them out with post-it notes.

“Each section of a cupboard will say [on post-it notes] where the coffee mugs or glasses are going to live, for example.”

Get your internet set up in advance

You will need your electricity and internet as soon as you arrive. Fortunately, most of this can be organised in advance.

“Make sure you have changed over your internet and utilities. There’s nothing worse than arriving and not having these things set up, or worse, receiving a bill months later for electricity you forgot to cancel at your last premises,” Robyn warns.

With internet provider Belong, you can arrange your internet service online in advance, allowing you to select your move in dates so the connection can be ready when you need it.

What to unpack first

Robyn says unpack the most vital things first, which is probably most of your kitchen as well as your mattresses.

“If you get advance access to your home before moving day, try to get as much set up as you can in the main living areas,” she advises. “This might mean having most of the kitchen set up so that on moving day you can have a cup of tea.”

Consider what you and perhaps your kids have coming up – school, work, sporting events – as this might fall into the vital category.

Laying out the new home

The kitchen is the biggest challenge when it comes to organising and laying out your items. It holds so much stuff, a lot of which is used daily or weekly, so figuring out its best position is a puzzle Robyn loves to solve.

“Think about where an item has a purpose. One example I always give is, ‘just because it’s a food group, doesn’t mean it lives in the pantry’. So, when you think about your space, think ‘what do I need next to the cooktop? Do I want my herbs and spices and oils there? I’m probably going to need my pots and pans close to that area…’” Robyn starts.

“Make sure you’re not running in circles or from one end of the kitchen to the other to perform a simple task. Staying in one spot and being able to reach for an item and put it directly back again will keep things organised for longer too.”

How to declutter

“People don’t always have the time to sort through everything before they pack. Often the decluttering happens on the other side,” Robyn warns.

It is also often the case that people don’t realise how well (or, more vitally, not well!) something fits or feels in their new home until it is unpacked, so decluttering, refining and letting go of items often happens on the unpacking end.

“Be prepared to post [the item] on the local ‘buy, swap and sell’ Facebook page, and then find something you want,” Robyn encourages.

Robyn applies the same rule to your boxes and packaging. She always sources old packing boxes second-hand online, instead of buying new ones.

“Reuse and recycle what’s already out there in the world!”

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