Experts reveal why you should exercise caution when it comes to this popular organising 'hack'

The pros share that this 'trick' might actually be leading to more clutter in your home

Garage storage in white boxes
(Image credit: Future PLC)

We’ve all seen those picture-perfect, immaculately organised homes on Instagram or Pinterest, full of neatly stacked boxes and baskets, which look more like a colourful work of art than they do an organised wardrobe, or kitchen cupboard.

It feels like the stuff of dreams – a home so well organised with various baskets and boxes that you never have to wonder where you left that red lipstick you love, or if you’ve actually got enough pasta for dinner tonight.

However, when it comes to storage and organisation, those images may not actually be as perfect as they seem, according to professional organisers. In fact, experts have shared that sometimes, overusing baskets or containers to organise your home can actually be a clutter problem in itself!

Don't get us wrong – we love DIY storage ideas as much as the next person. But if you're not careful, having too many receptacles for storing your items in could actually be contributing to your clutter, rather than lessening it, the experts warn. It seems there really is such a thing as over-organising!

Professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn of You Need A Vicky, says, 'What people often do is when organising is think, 'I’m going to need some new storage', so they buy baskets and baskets and baskets of storage. 

'And then they go home and are left wondering, where should I put this? Because it won’t fit properly anywhere that's helpful – and then your storage ends up cluttering you,' she says.

'In fact, it’s one of the biggest things that happens in my business; our clients expect us to turn up with a load of white baskets because they’ve seen it on Instagram, and it just doesn’t work like that. It can’t, because we (as organisers) haven’t seen your home, we haven’t measured up, we don’t know what you’re keeping after decluttering, etc.' Vicky says.

'They want it to be ‘Instagramable’ on day 1, and that’s when a home just gets filled up with storage items, instead of being actually organised!'

interior of summerhouse with open shelves and baskets

(Image credit: Future PLC / Katie Jane Watson)

Hayley Forster, a declutter coach, explained that often, overusing these containers means that your stuff may ‘look’ neat and tidy, but that may not be the reality.

'Using storage containers can be a great way to organise and declutter your living space, but using too many of them can present several potential issues,' she said.

'The first is that storage containers can give the illusion of being organised while merely hiding the clutter. It's easy to stuff items into a container and then forget about them. 

'As such, the true underlying problem of having too many unnecessary items is then not addressed,' Hayley explained. 

clear plastic shoe boxes with colourful shoes

(Image credit: The Container Store)

Not only that, but she also explained that buying up lots of storage containers can be expensive, and if you don’t end up using them, there’s the environmental impact to consider. 'Plastic storage containers, for example, contribute to plastic waste if not disposed of responsibly,' Hayley said.

Despite this, the pros stress that there's absolutely nothing wrong with using storage containers to organise – just as long as you use them in the right way.

So how should you utilise yours properly, to avoid more clutter? Heidi Philips, a decluttering and organisation expert at The Organised Home and Mind, said firstly, 'Don't purchase new storage until you have finished decluttering, and know exactly what items you need storage for.' Why not take a look at our decluttering checklist for this task?

Then, she advised properly planning and considering your own storage needs, rather than buying items at random. 'Remember that your storage needs to fit in with the size, shape and decor of your home and each individual room.'

Ikea trolley used in bathroom for toiletry storage next to roll top bath

(Image credit: Future Plc/Carolyn Barber)

Georgina Burdett, a clutter consultant who runs For the Love of Tidying, shared a few suggestions for certain spaces.

'For organising kitchen cupboards, storage could include lazy Susan's to ease the accessibility of items on a shelf, or baskets for packets. Containers are helpful here, as it means you can pull the whole basket out without messing up the whole shelf/cupboard,' she explains.

'However, when organising wardrobes,' Georgina advises, 'don't overfill spaces with boxes and baskets. Make sure you can actually see what is stored.'

'Storage solutions that can be a real asset to a wardrobe include handbag hanging storage, or scarf hangers. Baskets are also great for hiding those messy/hard to fold items like tights, scarves and socks!'


 Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist and editor, now working in a freelance capacity specialising in homes and interiors, wellness, travel and careers. She was previously Lifestyle Editor at woman&home, overseeing the homes, books and features sections of the website. Having worked in the industry for over eight years, she has contributed to a range of publications including Ideal Home, Livingetc, T3,Goodto, Woman, Woman’s Own, and Red magazine