Creating Space: it’s all about the margin!

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Creating Space

Guess what? Being organized isn’t about the stuff. It’s about creating space between the stuff which I call margin. Margin allows items to move in and out of a space freely. I strive to create margin in every space I organize.

When I organize a room or cabinet, I spend a lot of time thinking about how the items will live and be stored in the space. Declutter first, organize second. It’s important to reduce the volume and respect the boundaries of the room.  But it’s the margin in these spaces that’s the real game-changer when it comes to staying organized.

Margin not only allows spaces to function better but also makes them more attractive. Did you know that the margin on a piece of written work is 37%? White space makes the paper easy to read and creates a beautiful document. Margin also ensures spaces actually stay organized.

So applying margin when you consider creating space in your organizing projects helps with the overall esthetic. The ability to have ‘white space’ around items let’s you see them better. Remember: clutter creates confusion.

Here’s how you can create margin in three spaces of your own home.

Clothing Closet

Is your clothing stuffed into your closet? Do you push clothes aside to find the shirt you’re looking for? No margin right? Creating space is what you want to do.

What if your closet contained only your favorite clothes? And the shirts and pants hung freely with fewer wrinkles. Space between the clothing in a closet allows you to easily put away laundry and get ready quickly in the morning.

Start by looking at your closet and determine how much you need to remove in order to create space or margin. Set a goal to reduce a certain number of items or percentages. Most closets require a 25-50% reduction in order to achieve this.  And when you downsize your wardrobe, laundry is easier.

Amy Slenker Smith Simply Enough Pinterest

Dishes and Kitchenware

Are you constantly unstacking plates and bowls just to set the table for dinner? Or are you fighting to find a cabinet to store the Instapot

Try this. Open up all the kitchen cabinets and step back to observe. Look for prime real estate for items you use most and store them accordingly. Remove the lesser-used items and rearrange until each cabinet has margin. Creating space between the dishes makes it easier to take things out and put them away in their rightful place.

As you declutter, consider how many dishes you own vs. how many people live in your home. We are a family of three and typically host 2-3 extra people. 6 dinner plates, 4 sandwich plates, and 4 bowls is plenty. Next, stack plates and bowls separately with the heaviest ones on the bottom shelf.

Once you have pared down your items, practice removing and reshelving items to see how easy or difficult it is and make adjustments. Margin helps a kitchen function more efficiently and effectively.


Creating space on a bookshelf means less clutter - Margin means having blank space between items.
Creating space on a bookshelf means less clutter

A bookshelf should be full right? But what if you left some empty space on it instead? Blank spaces allow your eyes to rest. Too many books and decorations make a bookshelf feel heavy no matter how organized it is. 

Start by reducing your book collection. Extra books on a shelf can feel like another unfinished task. When I reduced my book collection, I began reading more. I chose books that are currently interesting to me and borrowed digitally from the library.

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Guest post by Amy Slenker-Smith on

Decorations are lovely but they are dust collectors. Creating space means deciding which decorations to keep and which to let go. Ask yourself, “Do I love it enough to dust it?” Donating more items means less dusting. 

So, which area of your home needs more margin to improve function and create an inviting space?

Notes from DownshiftingPRO

In 2021, I have begun to pivot content features on the blog, I have chosen to highlight organizing content. After taking a poll, many of my readers and followers wanted more content with a focus on downsizing, organizing and conquering the clutter. In doing so, I have turned to professional organizers in Canada and the US to create guest posts for my readers. I admire their work and hope you will stop by their website for a fuller perspective on what they do best – keep people organized. I hope you enjoy the series.

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for and other online media outlets.

6 thoughts on “Creating Space: it’s all about the margin!”

  1. Love this idea of “margin” – white space or blank space creates an opportunity (as opposed to a void) for the things that matter to stand out. I think this idea can work for calendars or task lists too. Cramming something in to every available minute doesn’t give us any space to appreciate or reflect. Great post!

  2. I love this line: Ask yourself, “Do I love it enough to dust it?” Donating more items means less dusting. In speaking engagements, for years, I’ve asked audiences, do you really like this thing enough to dust it, dry-clean it, vacuum around it, or pay to maintain it? Whether you call it margin, buffer, breathing space, you’re right that it’s essential to make room *around* the stuff so you are making room in your life for the stuff you want and need. Great take!

  3. “Do I love it enough to dust it?” – the most important question you can ask about any object! It sure clarifies how much you love something 🙂

  4. This is a wonderful concept about creating the “margin” in our spaces to allow things to breathe. No more crazily stacked dishes or wrinkled clothing. While I hadn’t termed it as such, I look for the white space in my calendar. Visually, I can see how calm or hectic a week is. I strive for a healthy amount of white space, which makes for a calmer me.

  5. Fantastic! I’m working on implementing this concept in my own space. When I work with clients I often refer to creating breathing room and them we take a nice deep breath together. I love creating that whole connection. I can use a lot of these points to help expand on that idea. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I had an interesting conversation with a client about passing down china. Her idea was to give once place setting to each of the granddaughters. I thought it would be better to give the whole set to one girl, who could then actually use it. I find that it can be these “unusable” pieces that end up sucking margin in the kitchen. What do you think?

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