Tips for Organized Living Spaces

One flowing space wears multiple hats as a kitchen, dining room, and family room. Learn its secrets to organized success and discover smart takeaways for your own home's busiest rooms.

One-Room Wonder

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

Show and Stow

Even the 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 or to seat an unexpected extra guest.

Artful Display

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

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.

Bring pattern to your walls with wallpaper. Here's how to wallpaper with ease.

How to Wallpaper Shelves

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

Better Built-Ins

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.

Raise the Bar

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.

Creative Cabinetry

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

Cozy Arrangement

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.

Innovative Eat-In Kitchen

The kitchen is open to the dining and living areas, inviting the cook to interact with guests and take part in festivities -- or answer homework questions. Custom banquette seating bordered by the kitchen island defines the casual dining area and 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.

Hidden Assets

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.

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 gather on the counter; shoes slip into the cubbies below.

Secret Compartment

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

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