bins can hide a multitude of sins…


Liz Jenkins


I was having a really nice conversation with Chad Hunter today about professional organizing (he’s a graphic designer but wants to know more about my field – which I can totally understand because everyone does). During our chat, I used the phrase “bins can hide a multitude of sins.” I love the way this flows. And it is so true. I use bins when I organize and when I stage.

There are so many different kinds of bins but my 2 favorites are Rubbermaid Totes and Sterilite “holey bins”.

The Rubbermaid bins are terrific because they seal and store just about anything. I recommend these for out of season items, storing things when you have your house on the market and need to declutter, and for garages, basements and attics. They are sturdy and easy to tote and stack. Just don’t forget to label. I highly recommend created an inventory list and placing it inside a large Ziploc bag, or laminating it, then attaching it to the side. At the very least, take a big Sharpie and write on the side. Nothing is more frustrating than digging around in bins looking for what you need.

The Sterilite bins are my favorite for inside pantries, cabinets, on shelves. I use one on the passenger side floorboard of my car to corral miscellaneous items that need to be returned places and to hold my paint swatches and first aid kit. I have one for medicines and one for pet items like Heartguard and flea control in the cupboard over my pantry. Using the basic organizing principle of grouping like with like, one is labeled “medicines” and one is labeled “pets”. One of the best features of these bins which most people don’t know is that the grey handles flip up so the bins can stack. You can label them easily either with a label maker or, using the holes, tie cute labels on.

When staging a home, I always recommend both of these bins. First the Rubbermaid ones to clear out the clutter and store items that won’t be needed while the house is being shown. Once the home sells, they are easily moved to the new home.

The Sterilite bins I use everywhere to conceal clutter in such a way that the home looks neat and organized but the homeowner can still find what they need. One of the biggest problems homeowners face when selling a house is keeping it looking neat. These bins will do the trick. The best deal I’ve found on these is at Big Lots – they always have them in stock unless I am shopping there in which case I have bought all of them. So don’t go there right after me. You won’t find any.

I also recommend having a large bin of some sort hanging around in a central area so if a showing is coming up (and agents are notorious for this: “We’re at the end of the street and wondered if we could come see the house”), the homeowner can throw all the junk (dirty dishes, papers, cat) in the bin and take it with them in the car when they leave.

I had one of my favorite agents, Gennifer Mallard, call me recently to tell me how terrific one of the houses we worked on was looking and she said the homeowner had bins everywhere. There were “too many bins” but she didn’t have the heart to say anything. I said, “how can there ever be too many bins?”