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Do you consider yourself a semiorganized person and feel less stressed when your home is neat but find that, despite your best intentions, your desk still gets buried under papers? Then you might have what professional organizer Audrey Thomas calls a schoolteacher's organization personality. Because getting things done on time is important to you, breaking larger projects into smaller steps, with staggered due dates, is a great way to stay motivated. To create a clutter-free home, look to these hardworking storage solutions that appeal to your sense of orderly calm. Download and print our free month-by-month organization guide to help keep you organized all year.
Make coming and going a stress-free affair by creating a dedicated spot for outerwear, bags, and sports equipment near your home's primary entrance. Use open storage to make it effortless to hang up coats and shed shoes. Use closed storage to house infrequently used gear to maintain a streamlined look, and tuck easy-to-lose mittens and hats in drawers.
Avoid a jumbled mess of mail and school papers by setting up a message center and inbox for each family member. Use the area to corral artwork, homework assignments, forms, and magazines as soon as they enter the house. At each week's end, go through the contents of each box; discard old material and file away things you want to keep.
Store entertainment and relaxation materials near the places they're used most. Opt for a television cabinet with doors to keep DVDs, CDs, and video games within easy reach yet neatly out of sight. Likewise, use a coffee table with hidden storage to stash blankets and reading materials so table surfaces remain devoid of clutter.
Avoid deep drawers in favor of shallow ones. Deep drawers can quickly turn into dumping grounds but shallow drawers are super efficient, making it a cinch to store -- and find! -- board games, kids' art supplies, or reading materials.
Group artwork and objects to create a strong focal point -- otherwise items scattered around a room can get lost. Vary the scale of items and gather collectibles in odd-numbered clusters to produce eye-pleasing rhythm. Just avoid cramming too many objects onto open shelves, which can quickly read as "clutter."
If young Picassos are forever bringing crayons, pencils, and paints into the living room, go with the flow and create an art station. Bins with handles make it easy for little ones to access materials and put them away -- all while exuding a clutter-free front. For gallery buzz, frame a series of favorite pieces and rotate often. Discard old artworks to cut down on paper piles.
Carve out a lot of work space -- even in a tight space -- with a U-shape desk setup, which provides plenty of space to spread out papers and files while you're working. Use an undermount tray for your computer keyboard to free up valuable desktop real estate. Hang cabinets with both open and closed storage above the desk. Use the open shelves for items you use frequently and the shelves behind closed doors for infrequently accessed supplies. Suspend a bulletin board or calendar on the wall between to keep track of upcoming events.
A lack of proper filing space can put you on the fast track to piles of paper that require a Herculean effort to tackle. On the other hand, the right number of file sleeves make it easy to keep up with incoming bills and receipts sans overstuffing. Serve up generous file storage in style by pushing together a series of two-drawer filing cabinets to form a credenza. Unite the units with a matching coat of paint and top with a bulletin board to make light work of office duty.
Transform an open bookcase into a crafts and gift-wrapping station. Slip rolls of paper over tension rods and stretch to secure between the bookcase's framework. Tuck standard-size ribbons into boxes and string extra-wide ribbon rolls onto a dowel rod supported by brackets to keep pretty trims at the ready.
Set aside one drawer in your kitchen or office area as a junk drawer. Yes, that's right: Organization experts agree that you should have a dedicated place for all those odds and ends that otherwise wouldn't have a home. The only caveat: Make sure you go through the drawer once a year to clean out items you no longer need or that belong elsewhere.
Are you tired of emptying the contents of a kitchen drawer to find the utensil you need? Try this simple trick: Repurpose an over-the-door shoe holder as a catchall. The clear, roomy pockets are ideal for holding small items. Label each pocket to make restocking simple for every member of the family.
Say good-bye to the avalanche that usually accompanies opening a disorganized kitchen cabinet full of pots and lids and say hello to a system centered on a division of labor. Try retrofitting a deep drawer with adjustable dividers sized to fit your go-to pots, putting a drop-in a wire cookware organizer, or adding a rollout drawer to an existing cabinet for a smoother cooking experience.
For worry-free weeknight meal prep, plan and shop for several meals at once, then sort the nonperishable ingredients for each into bins or baskets. Tuck a copy of the recipe into the bin and whoever's home first can start dinner.
For a calming, streamlined appearance bedside that boasts storage brawn, press a small dresser into service as a table. Use the drawers to keep reading materials contained, and let the tabletop shine as a clutter-free zone for portraits of loved ones.
Ditch the single-bar setup common in most closets for a configuration that fits your wardrobe. Carve out a slender hanging space for long clothing, add drawers for delicate items and jewelry, install shelves to corral shoes down low, and cap the whole system off with a single shelf to hold out-of-season or special-occasion gear. Still need more storage? Try lining bare walls with a slat-board system. Use the grooves to support hangers for purses or other accessories.
Keep your linens in line with a little help from slide-on shelf dividers. They keep your towels neat and upright while undershelf bins are perfect for rolled-up washcloths. For table-ready tablecloths, hang linens from rods installed on the back of the closet door. And don't forget labels -- they ensure items are returned to their proper spot, no matter who puts the laundry away.
Expect more from your garage -- transform a wall into a haven for all of your gardening gear. Customize your storage with adjustable wire shelves suspended above a potting bench. Use small, clear plastic boxes to keep potting materials dry and organized, and hang long-handled tools from inexpensive clips to keep them out from underfoot.