The Ultimate Guide to Unpacking Like a Pro: A Room by Room Checklist

You want to settle in after a long move, not stress about where you will put all your stuff. We’ve got pro tips on how to unpack everything conveniently.
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Ultimate Guide to Unpacking Like a Pro - Moving APT
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It may be a new job allocation, retirement, a health challenge, war or natural disaster or a normal change of scenery, but on many occasions in our lives, we are expected to change our location as we cannot remain in a place forever.

Relocating to be a new home can be a rewarding experience, but one that can overwhelm you, especially if you have other activities at hand. You have performed the job of packing your items into boxes or bags and hiring trucks to move them, but the first and important step to unpacking into a new home is proper and strategic planning.

It’s not just having your items thrown into any box and having them at places in your home that do not fit. It’s having a mental picture of how you want your new home to look like and mapping out a plan that would help you actualize your goal. Be rest assured that the time spent in mapping out this plan is never a loss.

Tips to Consider Before Unpacking

The success that comes with moving into a new home cannot be complete without unpacking, but there a few essential things to consider before opening up those boxes:

  • Take photos from your old home: irrespective of whether the size of your previous house is smaller/larger than your new home, it’s advisable to take photos of your previous home, especially if you want to make a replica in your new home. Take special photos of the kitchen, bookshelves and the back of the television to see the connection.
  • Make unpacking a priority: as opposed to unpacking where you may have a deadline to pack, you have more time to unpack into your new home. Do not make it a fight with time, but it’s advisable to finish it early to avoid getting distracted or exhausted.
  • Clean before touching those boxes: Most houses in estates usually get cleaned before the buyer moves in. But in cases where they are not, it’s essential to get the houses cleaned as traces of dirt and sawdust may linger in some places. Ensure that you get every corner of the houses squeaky clean or hire a cleaning agency to do it for you. You wouldn’t want to step on dirt when you start unpacking, trust me!
  • Sort the boxes for each room: It is very important to label those boxes when you’re packing. It may turn out very confusing when you start unpacking those boxes and containers, especially if they are all piled in one place. It helps you to feel more comfortable and aids the unpacking process as you may have other important things to do as well.
  • Map out a floor plan: To know which furniture is to be placed and where to ensure you map out a floor plan by using tape to carve out spaces. This prevents moving large pieces of furniture within the room after it has been set up, and helps the movers or helpers to place furniture inappropriate places.
  • Unpack only what is needed: again, unpack only what you need for the day or weeks-kitchen ware, clothes, toiletries! Take your time and unpack at your pace gradually. You do not make a home in a day.
  • Unpack one room a day: except you have a deadline to meet (which rarely happens) or a schedule you are trying to keep, it’s very important that you unpack one room completely before jumping to the next one. Make sure everything in its place. It gives you time to sort out and ask vital questions: “Is this necessary here? Will space be adequate to put all these items? What needs to go to the storage or be put out for donation?” and de-clutter without getting crazy in the process.
  • Sort out your keys: Finding the right set of keys in a new home especially when they all look similar can be a very frustrating experience. It’s important you sort out and look for a way to identify them to prevent confusion. For instance, you can use color-coded keys like –red code key for the living room, the blue key for the master bedroom, the pink key for the kids’ bedroom, etc. – or give them tags or numbers that you’d remember.
  • Make arrangements for the pets and little kids: Make plans to drop off little kids especially if they have an asthmatic condition because of the dust, also drop off pets at a shelter or with a friend to avoid them loitering around and creating a mess.
  • Set up your mind to avoid distractions: it’s okay to listen to music while you work, but avoid making use of the TV or other entertainment devices before you finish unpacking, as it may slow down the process and make it more exhausting. When you carry out your unpacking plan early, you’ll be ready to enjoy your new home in no time.

Where do I Start From

The experience of moving into a new home can be daunting and can destabilize a person if he/she does not have an organized schedule.

It’s very important that you place important items close to you, such as your keys, a water bottle, some cash, a trash bag for disposing of unnecessary items while you unpack, a change of clothes, and most especially your phone charger.

That way, you’ll avoid getting disorganized when you need these items urgently. There should also be a small table or counter to place the boxes to avoid bending down a lot…

Contrary to the popular belief that the living room must be arranged first, it’s very advisable that you unpack according to the order of importance, which will be the bedroom and bathroom, as you may want to take a quick shower and snuggle up in bed after a hectic day.

Plus, the chances of receiving visitors or friends that day are very slim. Thereafter, the kitchen, then the living room, the guest room and other parts of the house.

The Bathroom:

This is unarguably one of the most used rooms in the house and one that takes minimal time to unpack items in. Once the bathtub/shower, cupboard and sink are fixed, ensure you:

  • Unpack the essential items: unpack the things that you constantly use, like toilet paper, towels, soaps, conditioners, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.
  • Place the curtains: Have the renovators construct a rail for hanging your shower curtain to prevent water from spilling on the floor and for privacy. Many home decorators suggest that you use a curtain with the same color as the wall painting for beautification.
  • Unpack other items: you can then now unpack the other items like other toiletries, cosmetic products, etc. and place them in the cupboard
  • Medication: Also place necessary medications in the cupboard if you prefer them in the bathroom.

Taking a shower after a hectic day would do you a world of good.

The Bedroom:

One of the most valued rooms in a house, the bedroom is a place of rest and should be arranged to suit personal taste and not done in haste. Ensure you:

  • Assemble the bed first, according to the number of beds that should be in a room
  • Place the mattress on it. Even though you do not have adequate time to assemble the bed, you can place your mattress on the floor, dress your bed with a bedspread, grab your pillow and blanket or duvet or anything you use, and go to dreamland.
  • Place your curtains: As with the bathroom, make sure that you use a curtain with the same color as the wall painting or a similar shade. You would not want to wake up and see a brown coated wall behind a pink curtain, would you?
  • Make optimal use of your closet or wardrobe: Most homes come with closets and inbuilt wardrobes, so ensure that you utilize the space given. Unpacking clothes should not be done in a hurry, only bring out the clothes that you will wear immediately or for the week, and arrange the other clothes with time.
  • Set the lamps and other small bedroom furniture in strategic places like bookshelves and side tables. Putting a mirror can also serve as a focal point for placing other items around.
  • Let your kids have a say and help in the design of their room- the color of painting and beddings, the positioning of the beds and other accessories. Allow them to be creative.


Being a vital part of the house, some moving experts say that the kitchen items should be unpacked before any other room. It’s very important that you understand the layout of your kitchen before unpacking. You should unpack:

  • The major appliances first: appliances like your refrigerator, stove and microwave oven should be set up, in case you get hungry afterward. Make sure that you give your fridge waits for about 3 hours before turning it on to allow the oil within the cooling unit to return to the compressor. It should return to its normal capacity after some days.
  • The small appliances: Appliances like the coffee maker, blender, toaster, etc. can be unpacked later on. Don’t also forget to unpack jars containing sugar and cream.
  • The important items: No 1 rule of unpacking – only unpack essential items to save precious time – like the utensils, hand towels, and cookware. Unpacking unnecessary things may consume space and make the kitchen crowded.
  • Cupboards: Stuffing items into the cupboard takes a lot of time and should be done after you’ve arranged every other thing in the house. You wouldn’t want to spend one week only arranging your kitchen.
  • Breakables: This too, isn’t urgent and can be done over the weekend or when you have more free time on your hands. Unpacking breakables (all glassware, like plates, saucers, glasses, bowls, etc.) can take up a lot of time as you have to unwrap them and wash them before arranging them in the kitchen.

Living and Dining Room:

This is the focal point of the house, the part of the house that contains most family activities. Furniture:

  • Unpack, assemble and arrange all furniture pieces in a way that will fully utilize the space in the living room. It’s also very advisable to get help in moving heavy living room furniture like couches, tables, chairs, bookshelves, etc., especially if the family members are very few.
  • Electronics: Unpack the electronics (TV, game console, DVD player, etc.) and set them up. Place the TV at a strategic point in the room as it determines how all other furniture pieces will be positioned.
  • Electrical appliances: unpack and set up the lights, lamps, and fans in the room
  • Ensure that you have space in the dining room after placing your table, especially if you plan on placing your refrigerator there.
  • Books: Unpacking books is not necessary for now. You can do it later when you have arranged everything else.

Guest Room:

This should be one of the last rooms that need unpacking, as it may or may not be occupied. Like the bedroom, ensure that the beddings and accessories are placed in appropriate positions.

Storage / Garage:

After unpacking your items into the essential rooms in the house, tackle and organize how you want your storage/garage to be. There are no need for unpacking boxes that are meant for storage. It’s easier to simply place those boxes at a corner and tag them according to their function, especially if you plan on parking your car in the garage.


A home is not just any place like a school, a shopping mall or a regular place everyone goes to. It’s your place of comfort and relaxation, a place to commune with yourself and have precious moments with friends and family. Therefore, unpacking into a new home should not be taken lightly. Map out an unpacking plan, make it a priority, be determined to carry it out without distractions and soon you’ll be able to have a place you call home.

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