What if there was one word that could help you organize any space in your home?

There is! In fact, it is my favorite four-letter word in organizing.

That got your attention; didn’t it!? 😊 It’s not as inflammatory as it sounds! But it IS a clear and helpful tool to order any out-of-order area. It is definitive and decisive and gives purpose to your space.


As much as I enjoy organizing and optimizing others’ spaces, I also love continually improving my organizing systems around our farmhouse, Dream Acres.

Trevor and I love our morning tea and coffee and are often brewing a cup in the middle of the day for guests. But, our little beverage station was getting totally overloaded with mugs, tea, and more tea!


This was the perfect time to institute my favorite four-letter word: ONLY. 

I needed to ask myself what were the ONLY things that should live in this space.

Previously we had decided that ONLY mugs, coffee, and tea would live in the cupboard. However, we were outgrowing the space, so we narrowed our “ONLY” principle down even further to ONLY mugs in the cabinet.

The magic of the ONLY principle is that it makes future decisions FOR you! For example, when you establish a shelf in a closet as ONLY for First Aid supplies, it keeps creeping clutter at bay.

Tip: Once you’ve established an ONLY principle for a space – label! This will remind you of the decision you’ve made and will help others that use the space to honor it.

Using the ONLY principle is all about purposing real estate in your home. It turns catch-all spaces into purposeful places that serve your priorities and makes finding things easy! Plus, you can narrow a space’s purposes whenever you experience overage…which is what I did!

Once you experience the magic of this policy, you will be compelled to go around your house and give PURPOSE to every closet, room, drawer, and cabinet! Having a purpose or theme to your spaces will provide freedom and relief knowing your home is serving you!


Follow these steps to organize using the ONLY principle:

  1. Unload the space
  2. Sort the items you’re unloading by category
  3. Gather items of that category that have gone rogue throughout your home
  4. Evaluate the amount of that type of item that you have and get rid of excess
  5. Decide what will live in the space based on the quantities of each type of item
  6. Determine what (if any) products are needed to organize the items in the space
  7. Reload the space and label it
  8. Rehome items that were removed that don’t fit the ONLY principle


In our cupboard, we instituted the MUGS ONLY rule, which meant we needed to find a new place for tea. The tea needed to be nearby and easily accessible, so we evaluated adjacent spaces. I commandeered a drawer that held plastic plates from when my boys were younger. They’ve outgrown this stage (tear) so it was time to reclaim this real estate.

I wasn’t sure if I would like having my tea in a drawer, but I’ve found that it’s working for 2 reasons:

  1. I can lay the tins on their sides, making labels easy to read
  2. I can only layer one product deep in the drawer, so nothing can get hidden behind other products. This was not the case when I was using shelf space. Tea tins were tottering on top (and behind and in front of!) other tins, and I was forgetting what I had on hand!

Establishing the MUGS ONLY principle also gave some extra room for me to pull in my fine china mugs from another location. Having ALL of my mugs in one location has me feeling so much better. Streamlining spaces looks better too!


I hope this simple project in my own home has demonstrated the power of the ONLY principle and has inspired you to reclaim the real estate around your home by assigning a purpose to each space.

Check out the video above to see the how the cabinets look after instituting the only principle!



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