Create a stylish and functional home with strategies designed to store your stuff beautifully.
Are you the first person to raise your hand in favor of getting together with friends but would rather leave the organization up to someone else? Then you might have what professional organizer Audrey Thomas calls a party planner's organization personality. Because you have an extensive list of other exciting things you'd rather be doing than, say, cleaning out your closet, staying focused on the task at hand is often challenging. Take control by taking a page from this collection of ideas (and download our free organizational checklist to keep you on track). When your storage solutions are fun to use and pretty to live with, you'll be more likely to want to get organized and to stay that way.
Fashion a mudroom near a main entry point -- the garage, back door, or front entrance -- by pairing a bench with decorative hooks. Take advantage of stock cabinetry drawers to create a storage-packed bench base. Top with cushions to create a soft seat when it's time for shoe removal.
Evaluate where family members tend to dump their stuff as they enter the house. Then go with the flow -- even if the location is the kitchen counter -- and set out a catchall, such as a wicker cutlery tray for keys, sunglasses, and electronics. Most organization experts agree: Storage systems that adjust to your habits rather than vice versa have a greater chance of enduring success.
Books introduce a cozy, lived-in quality to a family room, but overflowing bookshelves and coffee tables can quickly make a space feel claustrophobic and cluttered. Go through your collection, weeding out books you know you wouldn't recommend to a friend. Arrange books you want to keep both horizontally and vertically on shelves to create an eye-pleasing sense of rhythm. Pepper a few decorative objects into the mix as another visual break. For an instant side table, top a double stack of hardback books with a tray.
Transform a metal cart into an entertainment station to make it easy to roll out a barrel of laughs on game night. Use office organizer drawers to hold dice and other small game pieces. Corral cards in a clear container or a plastic bin. To make stacking and storing games and puzzles stress-free, consider transferring the contents to sturdy, standardized clear plastic containers. When the cart's not in use, conceal its contents with fabric panels secured with small magnets.
Divide your pantry into cooking categories that match your lifestyle, such as breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Then eliminate hard-to-manage towers of canned good while making the most of limited pantry space with wire shelf dividers. Use slip-on undermount shelves to contain bread products and keep them safe from getting squashed; corral toast toppings on a lazy Susan. To simplify lunch prep, tuck bagging supplies into a basket for easy transportation to the countertop.
Store snacks and other dry goods in clear canisters -- then you'll always be able to tell when you need to restock. Coordinating plastic containers are especially helpful for holding food supplies that come in paper or plastic bags. Just make sure your containers are large enough to hold a single bag of an item plus some -- that way you won't have to store half-empty bags, too.
Pump up the color in a home office and use bold patterns to foster a happy mood. Surrounded by good cheer, it's easier to sit down and dedicate time to paying bills, filing a stack of papers, or tackling projects on your "to do" list. To create a custom desk, pair freestanding legs with a flat surface. Use a filing cabinet as center support.
Max out available space in an office closet with adjustable wire shelving. Use open baskets for supplies you access regularly and boxes with lids for infrequently used items. Divide papers to be filed in layered trays and set up file folders for items that require action in the upcoming month. Store large items at the base of a closet in vintage suitcases or wicker trunks -- or tuck these decorative holders under a work counter or desk if room allows.
Round up top-of-desk items such as pens, pencils, and scissors in stylish holders, such as new, empty 1-gallon paint cans wrapped in pretty scrapbooking papers. Use other decorative holders, such as a silver cup, muffin tin, or vintage mason jars to hold clips, staples, or stamps in fashion-forward style.
Have a spare room that needs to multitask? Tap into the double-duty power of a secretary. It's well-suited as a mini home office most days and a bedside table and dresser when guests come to visit. Increase the room's storage capacity by capping the foot of the bed with vintage suitcases or a lidded bench -- both make it easy to keep extra blankets at the ready.
Tackle an overcrowded closet by emptying the contents and creating piles of items to keep, donate, and toss. Determine how much hanging room you need for dresses, shirts, and pants in your "keep" pile. To hang twice the amount of clothing in the same space, add a second rod to your closet.
Shoes, glorious shoes: It seems you can never have too many, until you try to find a way to successfully store them. Baskets might be space-effective, but they're inefficient and far from user-friendly. Down-low racks can present an orderly front but they still make it hard to see what you own at a glance. The solution: clear boxes stored at eye-level or above so you can see what you have and easily access the perfect pair.
If you have purses stuffed into closets, tucked under the bed, and stashed in drawers, it's time to take inventory. Weed out worn or out-of-style pieces, keeping only those you love and will use. Then hang your purses in a prominent location so they're easy to spot and grab. Shower rings make it a snap to hold bags aloft on a closet rod.
When it comes to accessories, you're less likely to waste money on a duplicate (or buy yet one more piece) if you can clearly see what you already have. With this in mind, hang jewelry inside shadowboxes on a walk-in closet wall or above a vanity.
Clean up your act in the laundry by installing a countertop above a front-loading washing machine and dryer. The work surface is ideal for folding and sorting clothes and holding cleaning supplies. Got top-loading machines? You can still boost your storage capacity by hanging a shelf above the units. Add a rod for drying delicate garments.
Turn gardening chores into an enjoyable pastime by bringing an old shed to life with colorful paint. Transform the shed walls into organization superstars with sheets of practical pegboard, which make it simple to hang shelves and hooks and rearrange tools as needed. To make weeding and pruning a grab-and-go affair, hang frequently used tools on the inside of the shed's doors.