Limited square feet. Modest budget. Busy family. Sound familiar? BHG Style Spotter and blogger (at I Heart Organizing) Jen Jones can relate. Not long after this mom of three boys decided to stay home, she realized the family organization systems needed improvement. Jen chronicled her journey on her blog, a now flourishing destination for all things organizing. Her ideas, both big and small, are designed to simplify. "The simpler we make things, the more time we have to have fun together," Jen says.
In the living room, which is directly off the home's front entry, ready-to-assemble bookcases look custom-made, thanks to trim and patterned paper on the backs of the shelves. The unit forms an all-in-one entertainment center, bookshelf, and storage catchall.
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The home's front door opens directly into the living room and the layout left no room for a designated foyer, and hence, no storage space for common foyer fodder such as shoes and backpacks. Two furniture pieces step in to corral clutter and fit perfectly into the open room's color palette of apple green and white.
The doors on the taller unit open to reveal shoe storage, and the shallow top drawer is ideal for corralling dog leashes, battery remotes, and other small items.
A low, buffet-inspired piece provides compartmentalized storage, and each boy has his own cabinet to store his backpack, boots, and homework.
Rather than storing odds and ends here and there, Jen uses a buffet in the dining room to house an assortment of vases, holiday decor, small appliances, and special dishes. The buffet storage, along with the wine-glass rack, offers storage for infrequently used items, freeing up space in the kitchen for storing everyday essentials. Rising beyond just storage units, the buffet and display of wine glasses bring style to the dining room while still performing a much-needed function.
Jen solved the problem of a small pantry with a few simple yet innovative implementations that keep chaos at bay. She divides servings of snacks into individual bags, which are placed in their own designated basket. Large packages of pasta and cereal are emptied into clear plastic containers for easy recognition. An over-the-door shelving unit packs more storage into the tight space.
Leaving not even the freezer unorganized, Jen uses a simple -- yet logical -- system of plastic bins with labels to keep frozen foods orderly.
In the playroom, a ready-to-assemble media cabinet that once would have housed bulky electronics now stands at the helm, organizing an assortment of games, books, media, and art supplies. White paint and new hardware updated the face of the piece for a more stylish presence.
In nearly every space, bins, baskets, and other creative vessels, such as galvanized buckets, are key to the home's streamlined organization. A numbering system also keeps things in order. Jen assigned each of her sons a number according to birth order. The boys use their digits to identify various belongings throughout the house.
On the wall opposite the media cabinet, custom cubby benches store bins of toys. A chalkboard table for playing doubles as a storage spot for larger bins of toys.
Framed picture labels attached to the baskets make putting toys back in the right place easy, even for young kids.
The parts and pieces that often come with kid's toys can be daunting to organize. Jen uses a toy storage system with slide-out plastic bins to store plastic pieces by color. Instructions and building plans are kept in a document box on the counter. Shelves display special toys and books and add a decorative yet fun touch to the playroom.
In contrast to the rest of the home, the master bedroom is sublimely serene. A more muted color palette and basic yet hardworking storage essentials, such as the two-drawer nightstands, encourage relaxation.
A former office space off the master bedroom (which lacked closet space) became a dreamy dressing room under Jen's eye for organization.
A pair of armoires stand in as closets and come packed with plenty of smart amenities. Jen installed wire shelving
in the ready-to-assemble cabinets on one side of the armoire to store folded garments. The other side stores hanging clothing and a tiered shelf for shoes.
Sweaters and other seasonal accessories find a home in baskets along the top of the armoire.
Jen attached adhesive bookplate labels to the wire bins to help index garments and create a specific home for each type of clothing.
Visual reminders help stave off wardrobe boredom. Jen likes to print and cut out fashion blogger suggestions from Pinterest for wardrobe inspiration. She pins the printouts to fabric-covered cork squares on the inside of her armoire.
A dresser stores Jen's husband's socks and ties, and the space above the dresser displays her jewelry on a fabric-covered corkboard and a metal vent cover.
A desk designed by Jen and assembled by her husband, Bryan, give Jen a working space tailored to her needs. Assembled from from inexpensive bookcases, shelves, and trim, the unit stores all of Jen's blogging supplies including fabric swatches, design books, and important binders. Behind the cabinet doors, Jen keeps a receipt scanner, camera accessories, address books, and office supplies.
Shelves above the washer and dryer keep laundry supplies handy, and, again, the boys' numbered bins come into play and are used to wrangle items left in pockets.
The laundry room doubles as a supply room for all the extras. A cubby shelf
holds bottled water, cleaning supplies, and extra paper goods all in individual bins and baskets to reduce any disorganization. Plus, a tool kit outfitted with all the home repair necessities is always at the ready and easy to locate.
A single corner serves as a laundry sorting station, a place for clothes to line-dry, and an ironing command center, thanks to a few easy updates. Tall labeled hampers provide designated spots for particular loads of laundry, easing the sorting process, while a hanging bar above fills potentially wasted space. The wall-mount organizer stores all of the ironing essentials in one spot.
In this small shared bedroom, style and storage reign supreme. Fun fabrics and patterns, plus the boy-approved blue-and-red color scheme, create a space designed with kids in mind. A tall storage unit between the bed keeps books and other nighttime necessities close at hand. It offers more storage than a typical nightstand but not a spot for table lamps. Instead, sconces mounted to each side of the unit provide a light source for each bed.
Since a shared bedroom means a shared closet, Jen looked for ways to get more storage out of the limited space. Double rods on both sides of the storage tower maximize shirt and pants storage. The center storage tower houses nonhanging clothes and bed linens in bins; the contents are identified with adhesive picture labels. "My sons are on board with staying organized. Labels help them understand our systems," Jen says.
To ease morning routines, Jen made cardboard circles with a die-cut machine, covered them with printed CD labels, and laminated them. She helps the boys choose their clothing for the week, using clothespins to attach pants to the hanger, then slides each outfit into its corresponding slot.
Basic wood spice racks get coats of glossy red paint to become shelves for picture books in the boys' room.
Maintaining order in the Jones home is an ongoing, collaborative process -- and the key to their success. "My husband and I sit down together every Sunday and look at our planner," she says. "We plan out the entire week: who's going to which baseball games, what we'll have for dinner each night, what chores need to be done. By taking 20 minutes each week to communicate, we can make sure we'll always be on the same page."
Jen keeps several aspects of her home efficiently organized in kits, which corral all the basics for a specific task -- including first aid, art supplies, pet grooming essentials -- into one basket.
Keep a Binder
Jen houses important information such as bills, budgets, emergency contacts, and shopping lists in a single three-ring binder, which simplifies and streamlines daily routines. The binder is available in Jen's Etsy Shop, I Heart Organizing.
Jen designed a series of charts just for Better Homes and Gardens to get you started in organization. Click the link below for the monthly budget, pantry inventory, "peek at the week," recipe reference, and shopping list charts.