12 Tips for Organized Living Spaces to Help Preserve Your Sanity

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One-Room Wonder

living room after

Though light and bright, this once-ordinary builder-grade spec house encouraged clutter—not calm—because of a woeful lack of living room organization. That is until a few clever changes transformed the main-level space into a multifunctional one-room wonder that easily accommodates dining, entertaining, relaxing, and cooking.

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Show and Stow

glass coffee table

Even upholstered furniture can be smartly stored, as in the case of two colorful ottomans parked beneath a clear coffee table. They add versatility—ready to be pulled out at a moment's notice by family members wanting to prop their feet up while enjoying a good book. They're also great for seating an unexpected extra guest.

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Artful Display

living room

White inset-panel cabinets unify the various areas for a clean, unified look. Within the built-ins, smart solutions for living room organization, including pullout shelves and abundant baskets and bins, hold the stuff of daily life. Open shelves sprinkled throughout have artful displays and provide opportunities to energize the room with juicy bits of color.

Editor's tip: To see items clearly and impart a quick style upgrade, line the backs of dark cupboards or open shelves with light-color, subtly patterned wallpaper. If you're afraid of the commitment, try mounting scrapbook paper with removable adhesive strips.

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How to Wallpaper Shelves

Watch and learn how to bring pattern to a bookcase or shelving unit with wallpaper.

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Built-In Cabinets


Coordinated boxes stacked on adjustable-height shelves in a cabinet behind the sofa hold CDs, DVDs, art supplies, and photographs. Books and games are ready for family fun nights in deep, roll-out drawers below.

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Raise the Bar

living room

The wet bar doubles as a home for entertaining necessities and as a divider between cooking-related activities and relaxing. A panel that resembles a stack of drawers conceals a refrigerator and icemaker.

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Creative Cabinetry

cabient storage

A slender slide-out alongside the wet bar between the dining and family rooms gathers pretty vases on shallow shelves.

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Cozy Arrangement

open layout

While big-screen televisions sometimes pose decorating dilemmas, this one blends in between wall panels that neither highlight nor hide its presence. Tall built-ins flanking the wet bar supplement the storage needs of the family room, kitchen, and dining area. Flooring, cabinetry, and accent colors fuse the three spaces.

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Innovative Eat-In Kitchen


The kitchen is open to the dining and living areas, inviting the cook to interact with guests and participate in festivities—or answer homework questions. Custom banquette seating bordered by the kitchen island defines the casual dining area. It links it to both the kitchen and the family room. Panels on the sides of the island pop open to provide shallow areas for placing platters.

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Hidden Assets

under stove storage

Custom carpentry yields several storage surprises throughout the kitchen and living areas. Here, the toe-kick area below the kitchen cabinets conceals cookie sheets and baking pans.

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Small-Space Mudroom


A new mudroom carved from extra space in the garage smooths the family's comings and goings. Library books to be returned and letters to be mailed are gathered on the counter; shoes slip into the cubbies below.

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Secret Compartment


A hinged portion of the mudroom counter lifts to reveal a shallow compartment for tucking keys, coupons, and cell phones next to the garage entry.

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