Professional organizer Lisa Wendt (, spends her days helping other people get their stuff in order. But does she practice what she preaches? We peeked inside the pantry and closet in her Eagan home to pick up her best tips.

1. Store less than you can. Weeding out unnecessary items on a regular basis prevents clutter crisis. When Wendt and her husband moved to a larger home and doubled their space, she resolved that more storage was not permission to stash more stuff. "That's the biggest challenge: not to fill it up," she said.

2. Label. Identifying containers according to the items to be stored there helps you make quick, no-brainer decisions about where to put things. Even more important: It helps the people you live with get with the program. "I know where I want things to go, but he [her husband] doesn't," she said.

3. Color-code. Organizing your closet, both clothing and jewelry, by color might sound obsessive, but it makes you a smarter shopper and cuts down on clutter. "It keeps you from over-buying," she said, because you can see, at a glance, how many pieces you have in a particular hue. "Otherwise, I'd have 20 black T-shirts."

4. Recycle containers. You know those clear plastic tubs of salad greens or spinach? Wendt reuses them to organize things in her pantry, such as teas or frequently used baking supplies (baking powder, baking soda, salt and cornstarch). Bottles that tend to get drippy, such as oils and syrups, are stored in a shallow cardboard box or lid.

5. Think it through. When buying storage containers, be strategic and selective, she cautioned. Organize and pare down belongings first. Then determine exactly what you need, in what sizes, before you head to the store. Excess containers just turn into more clutter.

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784