Prevent an Unpacking Nightmare

Plan Before You Move. Unpack Systematically.

Unpacking. The word can signal:

We’re pretty sure you agree that the second choice is the better option, because the right outlook will help you settle into your new space.

Here are 14 steps to help you get off on the right foot and ensure smooth sailing as you settle into your new home.

Before You Move

Make Like a Photographer

Stage a home photo shoot. Snap pictures of your favorite areas in your current home—spaces like bookshelves and your desk area and home workspace, the back of your TV, your kitchen drawers and your toolshed. These photos will be lifesavers that make replicating those areas possible.

Pack With a System

This includes an inventory list and a numbering system for items that are to be placed on shelves to identify where everything should be. Use colored stickers and place them on each box to corresponding color coding for each room. Pack items from no more than two rooms in one box, and make sure these items have related usage and functionality.

Create an Essential Box

Your essentials box will contain all the items you’ll need immediately the day and night you move in. Whatever you name it—your “Moving Day” or “Necessaries” box—make sure the words appear in bold letters on all sides of the box. Keep the box near you at all times so you’re not left asking the movers to dig through their moving truck to find you’re your essentials. A couple of changes of clothes, toiletries, cooking utensils and basic food preparation items, prescriptions, vitamins and other medications, phone charger, books and paperwork important to your work or life, key addresses and telephone numbers are among the contents of your essentials box.

Get Out Your Dust Rag & Broom

If you’re fortunate enough to have possession of your new place before you move in, get over to it before the movers arrive and give the place a good clean. It is so much easier and more efficient to clean the space when it’s empty than when furniture and other items are in place.

Envision Furniture Placement

If you have extra time, tape outlines of your furniture in the areas in which you want to place these items in your new space. This will enable your movers to put various pieces in the correct place when you have all-hands-on-deck to ensure proper placement.

Following the Move

Unpack Your Essentials Box

This will allow you to be up and running and equipped to get the heavy-duty unpacking done.

Start With the Kitchen

Start by unpacking only what you need: pots and pans, some dishes and silverware, your coffee pot and toaster. This will enable you to “survive” while you unpack the rest of the house. Then, you can concentrate on completely organizing the kitchen after the rest of the house is unpacked.

Head to the Bathrooms

Nothing makes a house feel more like home than a fully stocked bathroom. Take the time to put up a shower curtain and unpack soap and shampoo for that well-deserved post-move shower. Things like scented candles or small knick-knacks in the bathroom can really make your new place feel like home with relatively little effort.

Move on to the Bedrooms

Set up your bedframe unless the moving company has already done this for you. Your taped floor plan will make setting up larger bedroom furniture much easier. If you didn’t have the chance to do this, try to envision what the room will look like and break out the tape measure to make sure your things will fit where you want them to go. Hang up any shelving units and closet organization to finish unpacking bedroom boxes but hold off on anything that will be permanently mounted onto the wall in case you’re still planning on experimenting with different layouts.

Hold Off on Electronics & Large Assembly Items

Only put together large items such as entertainment centers and bookcases after you know where all the items will be placed. It is a waste of time to put together large items that will need to be disassembled and moved.

Put Utility Areas Last on the List

Garage basement and other utility rooms are the last on the list. Many of these items are not essential, so try to sketch out the space before you start to fully unpack. Do unpack any tools and materials you’ll need to keep your home functional like shelving units and large containers.

Make the Space Your Own

Hang pictures and family photos around the house early in your unpacking process. It will make your new surroundings feel like home.

Encourage Family Members to Chip In

Allow each family member to unpack their own spaces whether home offices, bedrooms, workout areas, etc. This will make everyone feel at home more quickly.

Get Real

Once you have the main everyday living essentials unpacked, take a breather and make some time for family fun. Unpacking and living life will help you feel at home and give you energy to complete the job. Taking it one day at a time will help you set realistic expectations. With that mindset, your new place will feel like home before you know it!

How to Unpack