Cleaning and Organizing Our Apartment

Like many things in life, I learned how to keep a clean home from Mr. Rogers. We take off our shoes, wash our hands, and change out of our street clothes right away, hanging coats and keys in the closet. I make the bed when we get up, and wipe the bathroom after a shower. If there's one thing I learned from Iron Chef, it's clean as you go- keeping up with chores prevents messes from getting out of control.

Our basic system for managing clutter is this:

  1. Learn not to purchase or keep useless things.
  2. Create a place for everything.
  3. Don't use organizing equipment. 

For storage, we make do with things we already have. A few built-in cabinets and closets, shoeboxes, and old gift boxes store what can't be folded or stacked. Owning less means our home stays neat without fuss- items can fall out of place without making the home feel like a disaster zone. We don't have kids, but my stepfather's house and yard are flawlessly tidy, and he and my mom have six kids, four cats, and full-time jobs (their home is four times the size of ours). La Reine de l'Iode is a great example of busy parents with a neat apartment, and they have more stuff than us. Cleaning, like regular exercise, is one of those things people feel they should do more of but never have time for. If these families can do it, so can single, educated 30-somethings who somehow found time to read the Divergent trilogy.


Living room

Daily Dust furniture, books, and speaker with a lint-free flour sack towel. Brush fur off the couch.
Weekly Vacuum; wipe surfaces with water and vinegar.
Monthly Sprinkle baking soda on couch; vacuum after thirty minutes.


Daily Make the bed. Our bedding is simple: mattress pad, fitted sheet, duvet, pillows.
Weekly Vacuum, wash sheets, air out mattress and bedding, wipe TV, phone, cable box.
Monthly Wash mattress pad. Twice a year, I wash the comforter. Four times a year, I wash the pillows.

Bathroom Spray vinegar on sink, shower, tub, and toilet and wipe away- it takes minutes. Vacuum and scrub floors weekly. Since we're renting, we added stainless steel adhesive hooks by the shower. They hold the weight of wet towels, but unstick and re-stick easily.

Kitchen Do the dishes, dry the sink, and wipe range daily. Scrub the sink, vacuum, wash floor and wipe counters, table, and chairs weekly. Clean oven with baking soda and laundry machine with vinegar monthly. Click here for my kitchen inventory.

General Scoop litter box twice a day or more; scrub with baking soda and vinegar weekly. Sanitize computers, phones, and iPad weekly. Mop floors and wash windows and door handles with water and vinegar monthly. Clean cabinets, closets, and under appliances bimonthly. Wash ironing board cover and clean iron in a vinegar bath bimonthly. 



Coat closet Umbrellas, hats, gloves, scarves, keys, and my purse go here. We keep shoes in their original boxes or an old wine glass box.

Linen closet Towels, cloth napkins, and cleaning cloths here. The top shelf is our makeshift liquor cabinet.

Office closet Small but important collection of books and necessary files, passports, etc. Old shoe boxes hold, from top: 1) vacuum cleaner bags, pens, paper tape, Polaroids 2) my husband's air ticket stubs and business cards in an old Ferrero Rocher case 3) Headphones, chargers, and adapters (rechargeable batteries stay in their items). Alaia boxes make the best storage because they're beautiful and buckle shut.

Entry closet Reusable bags go inside the shopping cart, and the ironing board in the recess next to it. Our cat carrier holds their passports and brush. There are extra wine glasses on the top shelf with a tool set underneath. Cat food, reusable bamboo utensils in a Pierre Herme box, and steamer/iron on bottom shelf.

Pantry Wine glasses, tea cups and saucers, and drinking glasses. I keep a limited selection of bulk ingredients in jars or repurposed whiskey bottles. Salts and spices I use often go in wire shelves above the sink.

Cabinet Cutting board, one of two small appliances, baking soda, extra jars, and swing-top bulk wine bottles. You can't see it very well, but repurposed amber glass bottles of vinegar and homemade laundry detergent are in there.


Kitchen Two pots, one pan, one baking tray, and two glass baking dishes go in the oven. With this minimal equipment, we've cooked for 25 or more (all plates, bowls, and jars are oven-safe). To save drawer space, we hang utensils using the same stainless steel hooks as the bathroom.

Bathroom Laundry goes on a shelf in the built-in hot water heater closet. My stuff is in a Ferrero Rocher box. The Dopp kit holds an electric razor and pharmacy items.


Our closet is impossible to photograph (there's a cat under the sweatshirt in these photos). We hang shirts, suits, dresses, my jeans and skirt on wooden hangers and fold everything else. I use this method for folding socks and this for underwear, lingerie, and t-shirts. Seasonal gear (swimsuits, ski pants) goes in the silver suitcase on the bottom. I rolled my husband's ties and stuck them in the box from our drinking glasses. It goes on the top shelf of our closet, behind the helmets.  I don't know how to hide our ugly cable box and modem, but I shortened the cables with toilet paper rolls.


To see more photos of the apartment, click here or visit Apartment Therapy. For a detailed rundown of cost of living and moving expenses in Paris, click here.


Kartell Componibili, vintage from LeBonCoin
Ikea sofa from LeBonCoin, similar here
Habitat Ikebana bed from LeBonCoin, similar here
Rocker, Eames
Linen sheet set, secondhand
Dining table from Leboncoin, similar here
Ikea chairs, LebonCoin
Thrifted flatware, Arne Jacobsen for Georg Jensen
Copper mugsgifted
Weck jars, secondhand
Steel spoon, similar here
Steel spatula, here
Paper lanterns, LeBonCoin
Nkuku wire shelves

Paris to Go


  1. This is a beautiful apartment. Thanks for the run-through, and the cleaning schedule. Very inspiring!

    1. Hi Emilie, thank you! I'll try to do a more helpful post on cleaning schedules in the future :)

  2. This is inspiring! Thank you for sharing in such detail - it's helpful! Would you mind sharing what type of cleaning cloths you use and/or recommend?

    1. Thanks Lauren! Hemp is great if you're going to buy new. Knitted hemp cloths are compostable and they scrub like microfiber, without the petrochemicals.

      I mostly use flour sack towels. They're lint-free and withstand tough washing. I bought some secondhand and got the rest (also well-used) from my mom and grandmother. The towels pictured here are at least ten years old:

      Here are the hemp cloths:

      You can knit your own or buy them from Etsy. I use separate towels for drying dishes and drying hands- just some Ikea towels I got from Leboncoin.They make good cloth napkins too.

  3. Oh, thank you for all the detail! I am a recent follower of your blog and haven't yet had a chance to dig into the archives. These are all such helpful and inspiring posts!

  4. Your apartment is beautiful! I've cleaned out a ton since finding your blog. I'd love to see a post on how you keep your work area neat, and tips on organizing a large amount of (school) work.

    1. Hi Amber, thanks! Great idea for a post, I'm collecting pictures of my old offices and I'm going to photograph my mom's office (she's a lawyer) so it should be coming up soon. If it's not too personal, what kind of school work and what is your set-up like at the moment? If you don't mind sharing more information we could try and brainstorm a workthrough?

      I ask because I finished grad school recently (well two years ago) and had the option to download digital textbooks and submit many assignments electronically. I still had linear algebra and science textbooks that I kept in a bookshelf and referred to while working... and anything chemistry and statistics related was paper-only. After every semester I scanned what I thought would be useful and turned the rest into new paper:

      It's been a few years since I've had a stationary office, now I commute to various offices with only a laptop, so please bear with me as I do some research. When I did have an office, there were so many windows, I didn't keep much in it- my lunch, no photos (they were all on my phone, and the sunlight yellowed the books and papers I did keep there temporarily).

  5. I'm officially jealous. I want to go to Paris so bad and if I knew that parisian apartments could look this adorable I would have left weeks ago! SO SO SO SO adorable!!

  6. Your apartment looks absolutely spotless! I wish I could say the same about mine (although some days are admittedly better that way than others). Paris looks wonderful, and I hope very much to visit one day, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying traveling there vicariously through your blog. ;)

  7. Your apartment looks absolutely spotless! I wish I could say the same about mine (although some days are admittedly better that way than others). Paris looks wonderful, and I hope very much to visit one day, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying traveling there vicariously through your blog. ;)

    1. Aw, thank you so much Clairellyn. Come visit soon! I wish I had visited much earlier!

  8. Love checking out your apartment! The light is gorgeous!

    1. Thanks! On the greyest Paris day, the whole place is bright and it really lifts the mood :)

  9. Hi Ariana!

    I'm in the last semester of my mechanical engineering degree. My desk is pretty standard and I have a medium sized book case that holds my reference books, binders with previous work, and a few other things. Overall it's not bad, but I think it could be much, much more organized. I can't wait to read/see/(hear?) your suggestions. If you like I can send you a picture of what its current state looks like. Then you can show a before and after! :)

    1. Congratulations on nearing the finish line :) Yes a picture would be great! One of my friends is a structural engineer. I just looked at his desk and will ask him for advice! I hope we can think of something...

  10. Wow! This is so inspiring to me. I like that you have a minimal amount of things; that really cuts down on the amount of things to clean and keep organized. (Plus, it just lends to a more tidy feel.)

    1. Hi Erika! Thank you so much. We were inspired by all the natural light... I love our neighbors, and when we moved in they invited us over and complained how cramped their places were, how if they could do it all over again they would preserve more of the open space. So we took their advice!

  11. I love your apartment. As much as I like looking at the older buildings in Paris (when I visit though, I don't live there), I still prefer more modern looking especially with nice masculine architectural lines which are pleasing to the eye. I wondered what you do for storing your prized personal treasure (such as from your childhood)? I have 2 small boxes in the closet and a little more in a wooden trunk, (and a large ceramic collection packed in a storage locker that I would like to somehow get rid of and close down) but often even find these things overwhelming in a place that I want to look minimalistic. How have you dealt with organizing those?
    - Patricia

    1. Hi Patricia! Thank you so much! I get feeling overwhelmed, but if you prize them and they have personal value, maybe reconsider getting rid of them. I only say this because I regret selling two of my old books and one of my old dresses- they represented something I'd achieved and a certain time in my life I'd like to remember... not to mention they would be useful to me now!

      So here is what I do with personal treasures- fair warning, my answer is not very helpful- I have one folder (an NBA Cavs leather folder, from when I worked for them) that I hang on to for sheer sentimental value. Inside are personal mementos- polaroids of me and my sister from childhood, a note from my little brother (who, at 6'1, isn't little anymore), certificates, etc. My mom saves only the prettiest art projects and trophies at her home- trophies on the piano, art in frames or in one box with ultrasounds, footprints, and a few other baby-related keepsakes. She has one box of baby clothes and blankets, reserved for any future grandchildren... heirloom dresses she embroidered, blankets crocheted by my grandma, and the cute little woolen coat and cap my grandfather, father, and brother wore!

      Everything else, I didn't feel like saving, and for the most part I don't mind parting with them. If it's something I really liked, such as an old baby romper my mom told me I insisted on wearing everyday, I give it to someone I love, that way it stays close to me. So, that's the best I could do... please tell me if you need more details, I'm sorry I couldn't be more help!

  12. I'm in the process of minimizing my house right now. I think the tip, Don't use any organization equipment, is right! I just gave away all my plastic storage drawers--I've always considered them an excuse. I'm saving up for a new, larger organic bed. Once I have those, I'm dying to buy some linen bedding and go without the top sheet. Making the bed sounds so much easier without it.

    1. That is awesome! I hear great things from people who switch to natural mattresses- improved sleep, less back pain, etc. It's crazy! It takes me literally minutes to make the bed. I'm really impressed at how well the linen sheets hold up and feel during this heat wave. Very cozy in the winter, too.

  13. I have just found your blog and I am very inspired! Could you please further explain your "house clothes"?

    1. Hi, thank you so much! I change into my pajamas or jeans and a t-shirt, or my red or linen dress (which I said I would get rid of and haven't yet). My husband changes into a t-shirt and swishy shorts :) We both have to dress up during the day but for around the house we prefer to wear something we don't mind the cats sitting on!

  14. Cleaning with vinegar every week is essential. If you clean regularly your deep cleaning will be easier. I deep clean once per month. I don`t think it is soooo much. I am trying to explain to my kids that cleaning and organizing is not only mom`s job. Greets!

  15. Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!
    bed gets too warm

  16. Hi Ariana! I've been reading your blog for at least a year now and you have really inspired me to take my "simple living" mantra" to the next level. I've seen this post before but I was scrolling through beautiful photos of your apartment and noticed you have the book "Collapse" by Jared Diamond in your closet. I bought the book when I was 15 and found it was too textbook for my liking. Did you read it, and would you recommend I revisit it? The concept is fascinating.

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